mother and daughter playing in pretend rocket ship

Are Solar Panels Suitable for your House?

So Energy

Many UK residents are exploring the use of solar panels because of the many benefits they offer households. The benefits of solar include reducing your monthly electricity bill, increasing your energy independence, and reducing your impact on the environment by taking advantage of renewable energy. 

However, you may be wondering, “Is my house suitable for solar panels?” There are many factors that you need to consider that will affect whether solar panels will be an effective solution for your home. 

The factors that affect how suitable your home is for solar panels are:

  • Location: Residences in the south of the UK will have greater potential energy output than residences in the north.

  • Roof angle and orientation: The best roof angle is 30 to 40 degrees, with south-facing roofs offering the highest efficiency in the UK. 

  • Roof materials: Most roof materials are suitable for solar energy, with the exception of asbestos, glass, and thatch.

  • Roof condition: The strength and integrity of a roof must be suitable to support the weight of solar panels and their frames during regular and windy weather.

  • Available roof space: You’ll need enough roof space to install the required solar panels.

  • Shading analysis: Ideally, a shading analysis should be done so that your solar panels can be positioned on your roof where they won’t be affected by shading at any point in the day.

  • Local regulations and permits: You don’t need planning permission when adding solar panels to your home unless you live in a listed building or conservation area.

 To begin with, we’ll briefly explore how solar panels work and then dive into the factors that could affect your home’s suitability for solar panels in greater detail so that you can start taking advantage of solar energy and the Smart Export Guarantee

Understanding how solar panels work

 A solar panel is a device that’s designed to capture solar energy. It does this using photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into DC electricity. Three main types of solar panels are used to do this: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, which need to be considered before you decide which solar panels to use for your home.

Factors that affect your house's suitability

 The type of solar panel that you want to use in your home solar installation is not the only major factor to consider before you buy solar panels. There are a number of factors that affect your house’s suitability, and the answer to the question, “Can I get solar panels on my house?” These factors are:


1. Location

 In general, the closer you are to the equator, the longer the days are, and therefore, the higher the potential output of solar panels. So, the further south your home is, the higher the potential energy your solar panels will be able to produce.


2. Roof angle and orientation

 To maximise the output of your solar panels, they should be positioned at an angle of 30 to 40 degrees and face south in the UK. Solar panels on a southward-facing roof will have the most direct exposure to the sun, improving their overall efficiency and electricity output, as well as your solar panel's return on investment. The next-best orientation is roofs facing either east or west, followed by a north-facing orientation.


4. Roof materials

 The next elements to be aware of are the roof materials and the overall condition of the roof. Solar panels can be installed on roofs made from a variety of materials, including asphalt, metal, and tar. However, glass and thatch roofs may require additional assessment before your solar installation can go ahead. Roofs with asbestos will also require the asbestos to be removed first before solar panels are added. 


5. Roof condition

 Even if a suitable roofing material is used, the condition of the roof must be assessed before solar panels can be installed. This is to ensure that the roof is strong enough to support the weight of solar panels and their supporting frames, as well as the additional stress wind might cause with the added weight. 

 If a roof is currently in good enough condition for solar panels, an assessment must be done to ensure that maintenance work isn’t required before the end of the solar panel’s lifespan. If this is the case, it’s recommended to do the maintenance before installing the solar panels.


6. Available roof space

 An assessment of your energy consumption may require you to get a certain size of solar system, but none of that matters if you don’t have enough roof space for the required solar panels. We’ll be able to advise on this once we assess your roof’s capacity.


7. Shading analysis

Objects that cast sharp or strong shadows on your solar panels can dramatically affect their output at different times of the day. This is because many solar panels are connected using a parallel system that limits the solar generation of each panel to the amount of electricity produced by the least effective panel. Shading can be caused by numerous objects, including chimneys, poles, neighbouring homes, trees, and even snow, bird droppings, and dust. 

A thorough analysis beforehand can minimise the impact of shading on your solar panels. When it’s impossible to avoid shading entirely, solutions such as bypass diodes, micro-inverters, or connecting solar panels using a series system instead of a parallel system can be considered.


8. Local regulations and permits

 In the UK, homeowners don’t require planning permission to install solar panels. However, you’ll need to contact your local planning authority if your home is a listed building or in a conservation area. 

 While this does remove some red tape, this doesn’t mean that you can simply install solar panels in any manner you like. An MCS-certified installer will follow all the required regulations when adding solar panels to your home. 

Make sure your home is ready for solar panels

 Before you commit the time, energy, and money to install solar panels, it’s important to make sure your home meets or addresses the requirements set out above. While this may seem daunting to do on your own, even with our solar panel suitability checker for the UK, a professional solar provider can help you assess the suitability of your home quickly, easily, and affordably. 

So Energy is ready to help you switch to solar

 If you’re unsure whether your home is suitable for solar or you’re ready to move ahead with a solar installation, our experts at So Energy are ready to assist. Contact us to answer the question, “Is my roof suitable for solar panels?”, learn more about the solar solutions we offer, or get a quote for a solar system for your house.