More and more households in the UK are turning towards solar panels for their energy production. Over 3,000 installations are being carried out each week according to trade association Solar Energy UK.
The solar panel installation process, however, remains relatively unknown. You might be wondering if you can take care of it yourself or if you’d be better to call in a professional. And how much would it cost?
In this article, we will cover the step-by-step process of solar panel installation. We will also answer the questions you might have around the process and help you find accredited solar panel installers.
We have broken down the installation process of your solar panel into eight key steps.
Before any installation takes place, the structural integrity of your property will be assessed by professionals. They will only go ahead with the installation if they consider that your roof and rafters can support the weight of a solar panel.
The first step to solar panel installation is putting scaffolding in place. This is the most lengthy step in the whole process, taking about a day, but will ensure the installers’ safety as they access your roof.
The installers start by setting up mounts, ensuring that the solar panel remains securely fastened to the roof and protects it from potential damage in bad weather.
This is done by lifting some roof tiles in order to fix anchor points to the rafters. To these roof anchor points are attached the solar panel mounting system.
The mounting system supports the foundation of your solar panels, keeping them in place at the optimal angle to receive sunlight.
Without fastening them at first, the installers will place the solar panels onto the mounting system. Once the correct angle is achieved, the panels are fastened with bolts.
Your solar panel will most likely be pre-wired before installation, meaning that the wiring process can be skipped. The only thing to do is connect the wires to the inverter. The bigger the solar panels, the more wires you need to connect to your inverter.
One of the fundamental components of your solar panel, your inverter converts direct current (DC) produced by the panel into alternating current (AC), which is energy that your home can consume.
The installers will set up the inverter by the breaker panel, a sort of hub for all electrical circuits within your home.
The installation process will take around 4 to 6 hours.
If you have decided to also buy a solar battery, enabling you to store energy produced by your panel for later consumption, then the inverter will be connected to it.
The inverter will be connected to your building’s consumer unit, the distribution board within your energy system that sends electricity from the mains to all circuits within the house.
Connecting the inverter to the consumer unit will enable your panel to start producing energy. Installers will then connect a generation meter, monitoring how much electricity your panel generates.
As a final step, the installer will turn the power off and on multiple times to ensure that everything is working properly.
Including setting up scaffolding, the entire process can take up to two days.
The installation of the panel itself will take less than a day. If weather conditions are dangerous, however, installation may be delayed.
The price of installation can vary, depending on the amount of energy generated by your panel, the size and layout of your roof, and the quality of your system’s components.
Since the price can vary wildly, it is hard for us to give an estimate. You can request a quote here.
For more information on solar panel prices, read our dedicated article here.
The space you need will depend entirely on the size of the panel. Keep in mind that the bigger the panel, the more electricity it will generate.
Each solar panel is around 1.3 - 1.7 m2. The most common size for your panel is 1.6 m2.
Your smallest available system is made up of 6 panels, a 2x3 formation, covering 9.6 m2 and generating 1.3 kW. This, however, is a rather small system. The average size is a 4 kW system, made up of 18 panels and covering approximately 28.8 m2.
Your installer will explain what size system is best for your system.
For more information about sizing, read here.
When looking for installers, make sure they are MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified. This certification, focused on low-carbon emitting contractors and technologies, ensures the quality of installation.
To learn more about this certification, read here.
The MCS website can help you find an accredited installer. Go here to find out which accredited installers are in your area.
Some accredited solar panel installers covering London are:
Installing your solar panel is a straightforward process though calling in professional installers is recommended. Making sure these installers are accredited by MCS is highly important, so as to ensure a high standard of installation.
Please answer a few quick questions about your project to retrieve your quote.
Is my home suitable for solar PV panels?
A solar panel will be most effective if you have a south-facing roof. This will ensure maximum sunlight reaches the panel.
You will also have to make sure that your roof can support a panel, and that it has a large enough area for panel installation.
Do I need planning permission for solar panels?
How is my solar panel installed?
In a process that takes less than a day, your panel will be fastened to your roof and connected to your home’s electricity grid.
Where can I find an accredited solar panel installer?
On the MCS website, you can find a comprehensive list of accredited installers in your area.
Do I need planning permission to install a solar panel?
No, formal planning permission is not required.
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