Solar Panels can be a wise investment, and can hugely improve your home’s environmental credentials. There are two main categories of solar panels suitable for home use. The first is solar photovoltaic, sometimes referred to as solar PV, which generates electricity from sunlight. The second is solar thermal, which uses the sun’s energy to heat water for use in your home. Both technologies are rapidly becoming more affordable and government funding is often available to help install and maintain these panels.

By installing solar panels you can cut your energy bills, generate income by selling excess power back to the national grid, and improve your home’s environmental credentials. However, solar panels cannot be installed on all properties. To make sure that your home is suitable for solar panels, consider the following points.

The Type of Roof

One of the most important factors in determining your home’s suitability for solar panels is the type of roof on your property. A south-facing roof will catch the most sunlight and thus generate the most power, but east-west roofs can also be suitable. If the roof of your property faces north it is unlikely that the panels will catch enough sunlight to make your investment worthwhile.

Roof lights and dormer windows can also affect suitability. If too much roof space is taken up by windows or other features you may not be able to fit enough panels to make a significant impact on your bills. A qualified solar surveyor will be able to advise you on whether solar panels are a good fit for your roof.

Conservation Areas and Listed Properties

Planning permission is not usually required to fit solar panels, but this can change in the case of listed buildings and homes in conservation areas such as national parks. Check with your local planning authorities or with a local solar surveyor for more information on planning requirements in your local area.

Flats and apartments

Solar panels can be installed on apartment buildings or houses which have been converted into flats, with the permission of all the owners of the roof. In some shared properties the owners of all the apartments will have partial ownership of the roof, whereas in others the owner of the top floor flat may have full ownership of the roof. Check the deeds of your property to see which of these is the case, and if the roof is shared you will need to share the installation costs and grant money with your neighbours.

Rented Properties

Renters can also benefit from installing solar panels with the permission of their landlord. Tenants will get the reduction in power bills but government grants and payments for selling back electricity will usually go to the property owner.

Solar panels are an excellent investment, and can be installed on a wide variety of properties. However, before deciding to install you must work out whether your roof is appropriate, who owns the deeds to your roof, if your home is a listed building and, if you rent, whether the landlord will give permission. If these factors are suitable, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of generating your own hot water or electricity.

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