Are solar panels suitable for my home or business?

The requirements for both solar heat or electricty generation are the same. The optimum site is a shadow-free roof area oriented between southeast and southwest with an incline of 20° to 60°. For domestic hot water about 1 square meter of collector is required for every person in the household. An effective system with the same output can also be achieved on a west or east facing site using a larger array of panels. Solar panels can also be fitted to flat roofs or wall mounted.

Planning and building regulation requirements for solar panels

In many cases fixing solar panels to your roof is likely to be considered 'permitted development' under planning law with no need to apply for planning permission. There are, however, important exceptions and provisos which must be observed. For example if you live in a listed building then listed building consent may be required even if you do not require planning permission.

For detailed planning information for solar panels visit the government's planning portal

Can I meet all my hot water and heating needs with solar energy?

In our latitudes, up to 70% of the overall annual hot water needs of a household can be covered by solar energy. The level of contribution does of course vary from season to season. During the summer months, the entire hot water demand can be met solely by the solar system - and even during the cold season, the sun has enough power to contribute up to approximately 30% of the required energy. When run in combination with a heat pump or traditional boiler your hot water demand can therefore also be covered in winter. Simarly solar energy can make a contribution to heating in spring and autumn when used to pre-heat water in a storage tank before it is super-heated by a heat pump or boiler.

How much of my electricity needs can I meet with solar energy?

Solar PV is generally used as a complimetary means of supplying electricity. This means you still need to be connected to the mains grid (or have another means of supply). It can help you make significant savings on your bills because the energy you generate is free, you can earn money from the goverment’s Feed-in Tarrifs scheme (FITs) simply for generating your own electricity and in addition to this you can also sell any unused elctricity back to the grid.