Solar panels are a popular choice for those wanting to generate their own electricity. They’re relatively quick to install, easy to maintain, and can save you money while reducing your carbon footprint. There are a few things to consider when thinking about installing them, though – we are going to run you through some of these.
The three main things to think about:
- The roof you install the solar PV system on should ideally face between south-east and south-west.
- The inverter (which changes the direct current generated into alternating current to be used by domestic appliances) should be placed close to the PV panels, to minimise transmission losses.
- The roof should not be prone to overshading from trees or other buildings.
Be careful about the placement of your panels. Although solar PV panels are at their most efficient when facing south, they will still generate some electricity in other generations – but not as much. It’s worth taking this into account when thinking about whether or not your home is suitable. North-facing orientations should be avoided.
The angle of the panels is also really important. A mid-point between horizontal and vertical – such as a typical UK house roof at around 32° – will be ideal. The solar panels being able to self-clean is important, so the minimum tilt you need to allow rain to wash away dust is 15° off horizontal. If your array will be facing east or west, a shallower tilt angle will work better, as the sun is lower in the sky as it moves away from due south. If you have a flat roof, you can mount panels on frames and angle them where they will get the best yield possible.
You can get an automatic solar tracker, which moves your panels to make sure they are always facing the sun. However, these are more expensive and don’t perform as well as their stationary counterparts in harsh weather conditions.
Shadows have a big impact on the performance of solar panels. If your panels are even slightly shaded by large trees or nearby buildings, they will not work as effectively. This is because solar panels are connected into ‘strings’ – and even if only one cell in a string is blocked, the output of the other panels in the string drops sharply. If some shading is inevitable, you can cheat this to a certain extent by arranging modules so that shadows will affect one whole string if possible, rather than the end cell of multiple strings.
Solar panels produce electricity in direct current (DC), which needs to be converted into alternating current (AC) before it can be used in the home. Systems include an inverter for this reason, and to work at maximum efficiency, it should be installed as close to the panels as possible. Most choose to place it in the loft.The placement of your diverter is also important if you are hoping to claim Feed in Tariff payments.
It’s well worth doing your research to find a good solar PV installer, as they’ll know all the above and will be able to ensure that it is taken into account.
Optional extras for maximum efficiency
Solar PV diverter
Installing a solar PV diverter will make sure you maximise savings on your bills, by allowing you to use as much of your self-generated electricity as possible. Without one, any electricity from your solar panels that is not used straight away is sent to the National Grid, and you’ll have to pay to import electricity like anyone else at times when the sun isn’t shining. If you install a diverter, it sends surplus electricity you don’t use to your immersion heater, meaning you’ll save money on water heating.
Solar PV battery storage
You could even go one further and install a solar battery storage system – although it’ll cost you. This allows you to store the electricity you generate, to be used whenever you want it, leaving you less reliant on national energy stores, and cutting your bills even further as a result.
Installing solar PV
Are you thinking about installing a solar PV system at home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust. You can find one of these tradespeople on our easy to use local installer map.
Alternatively, if you would like us to find you a local installer to help install a solar PV system in your home, just fill in the form below and we will be in touch shortly!