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Solar - Is Your Home Viable?

01. Equipment Involved

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The Equipment You Need For A UK Home Solar Panel System

Know what's involved and where it goes, so you can understand if your home is suitable.

Originally written 12th December 2023. Updated 25th December 2023

Before investing in a solar panel system for your home, it's important to first assess if your home is viable for solar power generation. Three key factors to consider are the amount of sunlight your home receives, the available space for installing solar panels with relevant equipment, and the condition of your house. Once you've established that your home is a good candidate for solar panels, the next step is to ensure you have the right equipment for the system. The essential components of a solar panel system include the solar panels themselves, inverters, battery storage, distribution board and a electricity meter / grid.  By ensuring you have the necessary equipment, you can effectively harness the power of the sun to generate clean and sustainable energy for your home. 

 

Solar panels - restrictions and considerations

 

​When choosing to install solar panels, there are several restrictions and considerations to keep in mind. One of the main considerations is the amount of sunlight / shade that your location receives. If your property is covered in shade for a significant portion of the day, solar panels may not be the most effective option for you. Dormers, velux windows, chimneys, trees, buildings and other obstacles can restrict the available space, reducing the amount of solar panels in your array as well as causing shading. Optimisers are a great way to minimise loss of efficiency due to shading, which we cover in another article here. Roof pitches of 30 - 40 degrees angles are optimum in the UK and see the most amount of sun overall, for the longest time period. These are typical for most houses but coupled with being south facing and free from obstacles,  homeowners really have a chance to generate a decent amount of solar electricity.

The condition and angle of your roof will also impact the effectiveness of solar panels, as well as the potential need for structural reinforcement for the weight. Solar panels roughly weigh 20kg each and with added mounting equipment, can add up to having a problem. Having solar panels removed / refitted often invalidates your workmanship warranty with the installer, which would be essential for any major roof repair. Cracked tiles, leaks, rotting timber, warped frames, buildup of mould and infestations are all signs to get a professional roofers' assessment carried out. It is important to research and consider these factors before deciding to install solar panels in order to ensure that they will be a worthwhile and effective investment for your property. 

The number of solar panels needed will depend on your energy consumption and the size of your home. They come in all different sizes but generally at time of writing, most will fit into a 2m x 1.2m rectangular space. Additionally, you will need to consider any local regulations or homeowner association restrictions that may limit the placement or appearance of solar panels on your property. Some areas have specific laws or regulations that dictate where and how solar panels can be installed such as conservation areas and newly built houses.

Home Solar Inverters - How big are they and where do they go?

The inverter’s job is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used to power the home. It also manages the flow of electricity, ensuring that excess power is either stored in a battery or fed back into the grid.

Home solar inverters are typically relatively small devices, ranging in size from about the size of a shoebox to a larger briefcase. They are usually installed in a convenient and accessible location near the solar panels, often on a wall in the loft or garage. In most cases, they are mounted near the solar panels to reduce the interconnection process and reduce production loss.  Ultimately, the size and placement of the inverter will depend on the specific solar energy system and the layout of the home, but they are generally designed to be unobtrusive and efficient. 

Battery Storage - Home solar battery sizes and locations 

The size and placement of a home's solar battery can greatly impact how efficiently and effectively energy is stored. The size of the battery system will depend on the energy needs of the household and the size of the solar panel system. Larger battery systems can store more energy, but they also need more space for installation. Typically, most UK homes with solar and batteries have a 6kw storage capacity, which is usually enough for about half a days electricity usage.

For homes with limited loft space, smaller and more compact battery systems may be necessary to get the equipment in place. The battery wants to be well ventilated and not buried with clutter and insulation, reducing over heating / efficiency issues. Alternatively, they can be easily installed in a garage, utility room or even on an exterior wall. The size and placement of the home solar battery should be carefully considered in order to maximize the benefits of energy storage, keep accessible for wiring and meet the household's energy needs. 

Distribution Board - Feeding the solar energy to your home safely and cable routing

The distribution board plays a crucial role in feeding the solar energy to your home. As the solar panels generate electricity from the sun's rays, the energy is then directed to the distribution board, which acts as a central hub for distributing the power to different areas of your home. The distribution board contains circuit breakers and safety devices that ensure the safe and efficient flow of solar energy to your devices / appliances, allowing you to power your everyday activities with clean and sustainable energy. By effectively managing the flow of solar energy, the distribution board enables you to maximize the benefits of your solar panel system and reduce your reliance on grid electricity.

It is highly recommended that you get your current home electrical distribution board and wiring checked before a solar installation to determine good working condition by a certified electrician. Poorly wired homes can cause serious problems in the long run and can be a potential fire risk. When thinking about solar system equipment placement, consider the cabling route required to feed back to the consumer unit to power your home. Imagine a piece of string from the solar inverter, running down to your unit. Can it follow an existing cable route within the house or is it likely it will have to be taken outside and back in again through a different wall? Consumer units that are located in the middle of the house that are far away from a exterior wall, often are considerably harder solar installations to complete. 

Electricity Smart Meter / exporting back to the Grid

A smart meter for electricity is a device that can monitor and record the amount of power consumed in a home or business. One of the key benefits of a smart meter is its ability to track energy usage in real-time, allowing consumers to better understand and manage their electricity consumption. In addition, smart meters can also enable homeowners to export excess electricity generated by their renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, back to the grid. This not only helps to reduce electricity bills for the homeowner, but also contributes to a more sustainable energy system by allowing the grid to benefit from additional clean energy sources. By incorporating the ability to export back to the grid, smart meters play a crucial role in promoting the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies, and can help to facilitate the transition towards a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure. 

Solar Panels
Inverter
Distribution Board
Battery
Smart Meter
Rooftops
Replacing Tiles
Solar panels
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Bite-Size Summary:

Equipment Includes..

Solar Panels

Additional links:
Warranties

Solar panels are large and prefer unshaded sunlight making small and shaded roofs unlikely to benefit fully. Poor conditioned roofs will want to be repaired prior to a solar installation.

Inverter

Degree
University Name

inverters want to be as close to the solar panels as possible with also keeping ease of wiring back to the mains in mind. limited or no loft space often makes installation more difficult. outside or downstairs options are possible

Distribution Board

Degree
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Briefly describe your degree and any other highlights about your studies you want to share. Be sure to include relevant skills you gained, accomplishments you achieved or milestones you reached during your education.

Distribution Board

Degree
University Name

Briefly describe your degree and any other highlights about your studies you want to share. Be sure to include relevant skills you gained, accomplishments you achieved or milestones you reached during your education.

Distribution Board

Degree
University Name

Briefly describe your degree and any other highlights about your studies you want to share. Be sure to include relevant skills you gained, accomplishments you achieved or milestones you reached during your education.

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Index

Solar - Is Your Home Viable? Index

1

Equipment Involved

2

Roof Space

3

Roof Condition

4

Roof Angle

5

Orientation

6

Energy Usage

House in the Countryside

7

Obstacles & Shading

8

Wiring & Cable Routes

Type Of Roofs & Tiles

9

10

Equipment Locations

11

Scaffolding

12

Planning & Permissions

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