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Last updated: 19 July 2019

How-To: Adding Solar Panels at Home

Learn How to Install Solar Panels

Not recently, solar-powered homes were a rarity. But with good publicity and the tax incentives schemes, solar panels became a popular sight. Investing in solar panels can decrease your carbon footprint by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon annually! Did you know that this is the equivalent of planting 88 trees every year? Although installing photovoltaics may seem like a simple process, this is more complicated than you might think. Check out this how-to install solar panels to get you started on the process already today.

Step1

Project:

What is the purpose of this project? Installing solar panels. Although this may seem like an easy task, adding solar panels to your home is not as straightforward as simply choosing a solar cell and nailing it to the roof. Investing in solar panels starts with you - specifically, you have to choose the system that is right for you and then follow a few steps that will allow to transform your idea into reality. But how can you make such a decision? How will you know if this particular system is the best solution for you? Follow this guide, to learn what is the best way to go about installing solar panels and the process will turn out to be much more fun and easy!

Step2

Why:

Investing in a solar panel system will reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your electricity bill. Not only this - you can earn money by applying for various incentive schemes offered by local authorities or the Government. But this is "step 7". First, lets get to know how solar panels actually work.

Step3

How It Works:

Solar panels (PV, photovoltaics) collect sunlight and convert that into electrical power. Solar energy captured with the use of a thin semiconducting material, usually silicon, is sent to an inverter which converts this into electricity we can use in the house.

Step4

Who To Hire:

Installing solar panels is not as simple as it may seem - slapping some solar cells on the rooftop and making sure that the array will stay in one place. Solar panel installation needs a lot of technical knowledge, normal mortals are lacking, for example installing wiring. Proper panel placement and a few square centimetres on your roof are the key to build an efficient and reliable solar panel array. Therefore, it is best if this will be left for the pros. When hiring a solar technician, be sure to find a person who:

  • uses panels manufactured in United Kingdom. This ensures that your warranty will be still protected even if the company will go bankrupt
  • offers a strong warranty. The solar panel inverter should have a warranty that covers at least 10 years and the panels themselves are typically covered for 20 to 25 years
  • can supply references from at least two recent customers
  • is a licensed technician and there are no major complaints about his work.

Step5

Project Considerations:

Before you will consider investing in solar panels, be sure to check if your roof is exposed to the direct sun during most of the day (usually between 10am and 2pm). This is a requirement for the system to work efficiently. Trees, tall buildings and even chimneys should not cast any shadows on your future solar array. This is important, as even if one solar cell stays in the shadow throughout the day, the efficiency of the entire array is jeopardised as the system is tightly connected.

Step6

Cost Range:

The cost of solar panels has dropped drastically over the years. The size of your system will also dramatically affect the price of the solar panels. For example, a 4kW solar system, which is a common household size, can cost approximately £5,000. 

Step7

Tax Incentives:

The UK government had the solar Feed In Tariff in place to incentivise homeowners to adopt the solar PV to generate electricity. As solar panels have become more affordable, the government closed this scheme in 2019. However, since then, a new scheme called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) has been established, enabling homeowners to receive payment for surplus energy exported back to the grid.

Step8

Lease, Free, Buy or Finance:

Leasing solar panel installations has become a very popular practice lately, as this is a way to defray the up-front costs. Leasing will also cover your expenses for repairs and maintenance. However, only a permanent installation comes with tax advantages and most likely increase the value of the house. Note that if you are not comfortable with either the option, you can get solar panels for zero costs. Free solar panels is a common practice but you would be surprised why is it not the best solution to go about.

Step9

Number of Panels:

This depends entirely on two things: the amount of energy that you need to generate and the level of insulation. Remember to get a good overview of those two factors.

Step 10

Insurance:

Going solar will most likely get the attention of your insurance company. Solar panel installations usually raise your homeowner’s insurance so you may expect a small increase in your insurance rates.

Step 11

Typical Project Length:

Installing the actual solar panels on the roof is not a daunting process, so you may expect to have them up on your roof in a few days time. However, the whole process from purchase to the actual installation may last for up to a month.

Step 12

Permit:

No needed. In England, Scotland and Wales, you are not required to apply for a planning permission for most of the domestic solar panel installations. But you might want to read into this if you are living in Scotland within the conservation area of World Heritage Site.

If you want to take the next step towards a greener future and want to install solar panels, then fill in the contact form. GreenMatch will provide up to four tailor-made quotes to help you find the best solution. Our service is free and non-binding.

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