Choosing the right Solar PV system for your home is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. With a wide range of residential Solar Panel options and installation types available, it’s essential to understand the factors involved in selecting the ideal Solar PV system. This is why we’ve put together a short guide on the purchase process with some valuable insights to help you navigate the process effectively.
We’ll explore the different types of Solar PV installations, guide you in selecting the right system for your home, explain the importance of Solar Panel size and capacity, and outline the Solar PV installation process. Additionally, we will touch upon residential Solar financing options, potential government incentives, and the importance of Solar energy system maintenance. By demystifying the process, we aim to make Solar PV installation accessible and understandable for homeowners.
The first factor you’ll have to investigate when considering a residential Solar system is how much space you have available. Most residential Solar systems are installed on a home roof, although it is also possible to install ground-based systems if you have the land to spare. If you choose to install panels on your roof, you’ll need to consider how much space is suitable. Chimneys, vents, and skylights break up a continuous roof and make it difficult to calculate the total usable space.
However, at Cahill Renewables we use a satellite-based estimation system to provide an up-front quote on how many panels you’ll be able to fit without needing to book an appointment to visit the property. Once you’re happy with the design, brands, and price, we confirm this design with an on-site survey to make sure our estimations are correct.
Roof pitch, orientation, and shading can also impact the amount of Solar a system will generate. The orientation and tilt of your roof play also a role in the efficiency of Solar Panel performance. Ideally, the roof should have a south-facing orientation to maximize sunlight exposure throughout the day. East and west orientations can also work well, although they are slightly less efficient. Typically, an east or west roof will generate around 80% of what a south roof will on an annual basis.
Sometimes east & west roof spaces are better than an entirely south-facing system. An east and west system will produce a far more linear energy production curve throughout the day, meaning that there’s less wear on your expensive battery storage from sudden jumps in energy production.
The tilt angle of the roof should be optimized to receive the most sunlight based on your location. Shading from trees, neighboring buildings, or other structures can significantly impact the performance of Solar Panels. It’s essential to assess the shading patterns throughout the day and year to determine if any adjustments, such as tree trimming, are necessary to ensure optimal sunlight exposure for the panels. If you need expert advice on shading, our team can advise during the initial estimation of the system. A surveyor will also take note of any potential difficulties during the on-site visit.
Residential Solar Panels typically come in a single size of around 66 by 40 inches. This can vary slightly by manufacturer, but it’s unlikely that choosing one brand over another will make an impact on the space available for panels. The maximum output of a panel is far more important when comparing brands, as residential panels typically range between a maximum output 350 and 430 Watts. Choosing the right-sized system is important and it depends on the overarching goal for the project. For example, purchasing a 5kW system for a home that typically only consumes 1,500kWh PA is overkill if achieving the best ROI is your goal. On the other hand, a 5kW system for a property that consumes 5,000kWh PA may be undersized. Reaching out to our team will give you an estimate that helps you decide the size of your system for your particular residential requirements.
There’s also a variety of battery technologies available to choose between, but most residential properties have one key decision to make: low-voltage or high-voltage storage. Each type has its advantages and considerations, which we’ll walk you through below.
Most HV and LV batteries are made up of the same chemical composition, which is LiFePO4 (commonly referred to as LFP). However, it’s the way the batteries are designed internally that makes all the difference. The main advantage of high-voltage Solar batteries is an increased charge and discharge rate. This gives you the ability to charge the Solar battery system at a rate of up to 7.5kW. You can charge these from off-peak periods, or using surplus Solar energy. either on an off-peak period or from surplus-made solar. This also means the batteries can discharge and provide your home with up to 7.5kW of energy at any time, which is great if you’ve got a high-wattage appliance like a hot tub you want to run when the sun is down.
Low-voltage solar batteries are considered somewhat outdated, but they can be a sensible option for those looking for a more economical or competitively priced battery storage system. Low voltage batteries typically charge and discharge at a rate of 2.5 to 3kW which leaves you less independent, but may still prove a viable option if you don’t have lots of greedy appliances running in your household at the same time.
Solar panels are also an important choice to consider. Gone are the days of choosing between Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline panels, as Mono is now considered the industry standard. That said, the Solar and renewables industry as a whole is developing at a blazing pace. As such, it’s important to make sure your Solar distributor isn’t installing old, outdated technology. At Cahill Renewables we are a distributor (and huge fan!) of the newly released Eurener NEXA TOPCon Bifacial panels. They’re an all-black, ethically sourced, maximally efficient that takes advantage of ambient light in the environment with an under-panel Solar element. We’ve considered many panels over the years, but the Eurener NEXA TOPCon is our preferred panel.
Your Home Solar system selection will depend on your specific needs and property. The most common types include on-roof installations, in-roof installations, ground-mounted systems, Solar tiles, and Solar carports. We’ve already covered most of the important aspects of rooftop installations, which are most popular due to their space-saving nature. That said, there are some notable advantages for each type.
● In-roof systems prioritize aesthetics over maximum production. Typically, with in-roof systems, we need to retain a larger border to install flashing. This is necessary to make sure there’s a tight water fit around the system, otherwise, leakage into your roof can occur with a poorly installed in-roof system. Ultimately, this means that there’s less roof space being used for Solar production than a roof-mounted system, but some customers do prefer how they look.
● Ground-mounted systems offer flexibility in terms of orientation and can be placed directly due south as they’re not bound to your roof. They’re more expensive due to the mounts required but can result in maximum ROI.
● Solar tiles fit on your roof like Solar Panels but can be fitted more closely on roofs with an uneven topology and can blend closely with existing roof tiles. However, these are around four times the cost to retrofit and are more commonly installed in conjunction with a new roof.
● Solar carports provide the dual benefits of energy generation and vehicle shelter, which are great for electric vehicle owners.
By assessing your property, we can help you understand the personalized advantages and disadvantages of each installation type to help you make an informed decision. Let’s dive a little more into each one.
Solar roof tiles offer an innovative way to harness Solar energy and save on energy bills. They function similarly to traditional Solar Panels but are designed to look like ordinary roof tiles. While Solar tiles provide aesthetic benefits, there are some key considerations to keep in mind.
Solar tiles use the same photovoltaic technology as Solar Panels, allowing you to generate renewable energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Solar tiles offer advantages such as durability, as some brands claim to withstand extreme weather conditions, and aesthetics, as they blend seamlessly with the roof. They can also be cost-competitive when combined with a roof replacement.
However, there are differences between Solar tiles and Solar Panels. Solar tiles are generally more expensive and less energy-efficient than Solar Panels. The cost per square foot of a Solar shingle system depends on the portion of the roof covered by Solar tiles but often works out far more expensive than an in-roof system. Their efficiency may be compromised due to limited airflow similar to in-roof systems, although larger roofs can accommodate more tiles and mitigate this issue.
Solar carports, also known as Solar canopies or sometimes Solar pergolas, are structures built over parking areas that incorporate Solar Panels to generate renewable energy. They offer a way to utilize otherwise unused space in parking lots while providing shaded parking for vehicles. Our bifacial panels come into a league of their own when used in a carport, the light reflecting from the car paintwork or windscreen hits the back of the panel and can boost production by up to 10%! Solar carports are similar to ground-mounted Solar Panels but are designed to accommodate cars, with the panels oriented at an optimal angle for sunlight exposure.
Solar carports are widely adopted in commercial settings, where large canopies can cover parking lots and generate significant amounts of electricity. In residential applications, Solar carports are less common but offer advantages over rooftop installations. They eliminate issues related to roof angle, orientation, and size, providing a more flexible and efficient option for homeowners. The cost of Solar carports may be slightly higher compared to rooftop or ground-mounted systems due to the additional mounting required in constructing a carport, but it is expected to decrease in the future as they become more commonplace throughout the UK.
Ground-mounted Solar systems are a type of Solar installation where photovoltaic panels are mounted on the ground, typically on a structure or racking system using metal or concrete supports. Ground-mounted systems generally offer better efficiency and performance compared to rooftop installations. They can be optimized for the ideal orientation and tilt, ensuring maximum sunlight absorption throughout the day. The unobstructed airflow beneath the panels also helps with cooling, improving overall system efficiency. We prefer using the Bifacial Eurener NEXA TOPCon panels for ground-mounted systems, as they get the maximum efficiency out of the Bifacial system.
Ground-mounted systems are generally easier to access and maintain than rooftop installations. They also provide easier access for technicians during installation or repairs, as there’s no need for scaffolding or harness systems. Maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the panels or inspecting the system, can also be performed far more conveniently and safely.
However, ground-mounted systems are usually significantly more expensive than roof-mounted systems due to the extra cost of materials and labor for installing ground-mount supports. This can still be more economical if the ground system produces significantly more energy than the alternatives, but each Solar installation is unique. Once you’ve chosen the right install type, you’ll need to consider the funding options available to you. We have two types of ground-mounted systems, one’s better on the eyes and the other is a bit better on the wallet.
Residential Solar financing options can make Solar PV installations far more affordable for homeowners. The UK is currently encouraging homeowners to upgrade to renewable energies in a variety of ways, but there are a few that stand out. Most importantly, renewable installs are rated at zero percent VAT until 2027, after which it is set to return to 5%. Solar panel installation companies like Cahill Renewables can help you take advantage of this temporary reduction in VAT, which only applies when energy-efficient materials and installation are bought together.
Choosing the right Solar PV installation for your home requires careful consideration of residential Solar Panel options, installation types, system size, and capacity. There are many different variables that need to be correct for a Solar system to be profitable, and the choices involved can be a little overwhelming.
Understanding the Solar PV installation process, exploring residential Solar financing options, and recognizing the importance of regular system maintenance are all equally vital. By following this guide, you can navigate the process confidently and make an informed decision that aligns with your energy needs, budget, and sustainability goals. If you need more help, you can always give us a call.
At Cahill Renewables, we consider ourselves renewable energy consultants here to guide you through the process. We take a far more ‘hands off’ and pragmatic approach towards Solar installs, as it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. We won’t send over double-glazing-esque salespeople to your home and we don’t offer you cookie-cutter style options.
Firstly, we have an introductory call to understand the overarching goal(s) of the project, the budget in mind, and the limitations that may present themselves. Once we better understand the lay of the land, we draw up a proposal from satellite imagery and email it over for you to peruse in your own time and at your own pace. We encourage people to come back to us and tweak the original design if necessary until you’re happy with the price, brands, and aesthetics. Once you are, we’ll arrange for an independent third-party surveyor to attend and ensure the measurements from our satellite imagery are accurate, and discuss cable runs and inverter/battery locations. When the surveyor has signed off on the plans and you’re happy with the final design, we get to work!
Ready to choose the ideal Solar PV installation for your home? Contact Cahill today for a personalised consultation and start harnessing the power of Solar energy for a brighter and more sustainable future.