What do I need to consider if I am thinking of installing solar panels on the roof of my house?
Generally, unless a residential property is a Listed Building, planning consent is not required for the installation of solar panels as installation is permitted development under planning legislation. However, there are more issues to consider. For example, care must be taken to make sure that access remains available for repairs to be carried out to the property after the installation of the panels. The insurers of the building must also be informed of the installation of the solar panels otherwise the insurance policy may be invalidated if the insurers are unaware of the installation when a claim is made.
There are two ways to install panels. Either panels can be purchased outright or they can be leased from the panel providers. If the panels are leased and there is a mortgage on the property, the lender’s consent will be required to grant that lease. Great care must be taken to make sure that the householder’s interests are protected in the lease. Generally the solar panel provider will require a lease for 25 years which is approximately the expected lifetime of the panels. Purchase of solar panels can be costly but it tends to be that the bigger the initial cost, the more electricity the system can generate and the greater the long term savings.
Consideration also needs to be given as to the effect the installation of the solar panels will have on the future saleability of the property. Might it be a benefit that increases the value of the property or something that would put off a would-be buyer?
The solar panels are connected to the utility grid through the existing consumer units and electricity meter. A new meter installed by the provider measures the amount of kilowatt hours the panel system generates. Typically, a household can produce half of its own electricity during daylight hours. Readings are taken quarterly and the figures supplied to the electricity supplier to enable the householder to claim the feed-in tariff payments.
Time is now running out to enter into these arrangements as the Government will not guarantee the feed-in tariff payments unless the installations have been completed by 3rd March 2012. The current payment arrangements are guaranteed for 25 years. This may well change when the current deadline expires.