Solar electricity systems capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
PV cells don’t need direct sunlight to work – you can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.
To decide if solar electricity is right for you, here are a few considerations;
Location – you will need a roof that faces within 90 degrees of south and isn’t overshadowed by trees or buildings. If roof surface is in shadow for parts of the day, your system will generate less energy.
Roof Strength – Solar panels are heavy and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight especially if placing on top of existing tiles. It is important to ensure that the existing structure is able to carry the load of the panels and this will need to be checked by a structural engineer and proven. In cases where strengthening work may be required, structural calculations will need to be prepared for building regulations. Failure to provide adequate support for the weight of the panels could result in serious structural damage being caused to the remainder of the property which is costly to fix.
Building Regulations – If you wish to install a solar panel on your roof building regulations will normally apply. The ability of the existing roof to carry the load (weight) of the panel will need to be checked and proven. Building regulations also apply to other aspects of the work such as electrical installation. It is advisable to contact an installer who can provide the necessary advice.
Planning Permission – you don’t need planning permission for most home solar electricity systems, however, the following limits apply;
- Panels should not be installed above the ridgeline and should project no more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface.
- If your property is a listed building, installation is likely to require an application for listed building consent, even where planning permission is not needed.
- If your property is in a conservation area, a World Heritage Site planning consent is required when panels are to be fitted on the principal or side elevation walls and they are visible from the highway. If panels are to be fitted to a building in your garden or grounds they should not be visible from the highway.
All solar installations are also subject to the following conditions:
- Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the appearance of the building.
- They should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area.
- When no longer needed for microgeneration they should be removed as soon as possible.
Information taken from The Planning Portal.
For further details on planning permission for solar panels, contact the planning portal direct www.planningportal.gov.uk
For advice on roof strengthening works, contact Brewsters on 0800 027 5130 or visit http://www.structuralreportsonline.co.uk/
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Brewsters are Chartered Structural Engineers and Surveyors who provide a full range of specialist Structural Engineers Reports to assist in the house purchase / selling process.