2019 UK Edition – Are Solar Panels & Battery Storage A Good Investment For Your Property?
by Susie McArthur | May 23, 2018 | Energy
Here in the UK, we’ve witnessed a dramatic rise in installations of “solar photovoltaic (PV) panels”
all over the country; there are probably houses in your own street with this technology fitted to the roof.
The UK now boasts over 12,000MW of installed solar capacity, compared to just 31MW at the beginning of 2010. Love them or not, they have helped greatly in the reduction of our carbon footprint!
With the recent end of the Governments “Feed in Tariff” consumers are now looking to “self-consume” and use all of the electricity produced from their systems instead of putting it back into the grid.
This is now being made possible with the introduction of battery storage which is now available and affordable.
No doubt you’ve heard plenty about solar panels, but could you own them yourself?
What questions should you ask to determine if your home is suitable, and what are the consequences for your investment if your home isn’t exactly right? Let’s find out.
Do you Qualify for the Government Feed-in Tariff?
Are Solar Panels Right For Me?
1. Orientation Is Key
The way your roof faces can make a big difference to its suitability for solar. In an ideal world, you would have a pitched roof facing due south, ready to catch the maximum amount of sunshine throughout the day, but how many of us live in a house that is so perfectly orientated? As a general rule, if you have a surface which faces south-east or south-west, that’s fine. You can even install panels on a roof which faces due east or west and you will only incur approximately a 15 per cent drop in energy output.
2. How much roof space do you have?
Unlike solar thermal (hot water panels) which is not much bigger than a radiator, solar PV (electricity panels) require a larger amount of space. As a rough guide, you’ll need an area of about the size of a parking space for a typical array, although the precise size will depend on the capacity of the system you are installing.
3. What about the shade?
Heavy shading is bad news for solar panels. Take note of any tall trees, chimneys and other buildings nearby, and decide whether they are likely to cast a shadow on your solar system at any point during the day.
4. How strong is your roof?
Most modern roofs will be able to accommodate the weight of solar panels, no problem. However, it is important to work with an installer who carries out structural assessments to ensure your roof is not damaged. An old or weak roof doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have PV, only that you’ll need to take steps to strengthen it first.
5. What’s the angle of your roof?
The ideal angle for a solar panel is between 30 and 45 degrees, which isn’t a million miles away from every type of angle you’ll normally see on a pitched roof in the UK.
It is possible to install panels with pitches as shallow as 15 degrees up to 50 degrees, but outside of that range, the efficiency would start to reduce significantly. You can have solar PV installed on flat roofs using a frame to angle them perfectly, but you’ll need to make sure that the flat roof can take the weight.
6. Where do you live?
As a general rule, it doesn’t matter where you live as the more recent panels work on daylight and not direct sunshine. However, the more daylight you get, the better your panels will perform.
7. Can I use the Energy I generate?
Yes, you can, all energy that you generate can be used immediately, or if you add battery storage then you can also store the energy to use a later time.
Many Energy saving tip websites advise that if you have Solar panels installed then alter your consumption habits such as;
Run your washing machine during the day
Slow cook your dinner through the day
Charge up your electrical appliances during the day
Heat your hot water during the day
The reason for operating your electrical goods during the day is that your Solar Panels will be
generating free electricity to use and can offset your daily consumption by optimising the times in
which you use energy.
8. Can I store the energy to use later?
If you add a Battery Storage System, it allows you to greatly optimise your consumption during the day.
You will benefit more from your system before any unused energy goes back to the grid and will also store excess energy generated for later use.
Technology is moving fast and “Grid Sharing” means that you will also be able to sell any excess energy back to the grid from your battery if and when it suits you to do so.
If you’re thinking about installing solar, or solar with the addition of battery storage, considering these questions can help you to understand whether your home is suitable or not, but you should not base your decisions on this alone.
An installer will be able to conduct a free home site suitability survey to establish for sure whether solar is the best technology for you, and what you could expect from your system by way of a return.