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Solar PV: check whether it's suitable for your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

With the feed-in tariff, solar PV panels are more accessible than they have ever been, but you still need to make sure you've got a suitable site before you install them. In this video, Stuart Houghton of Abacus Renewable Energy talks through the key things to check:

If you prefer to read, here's the summary:

1. A predominantly south facing roof, although south east to south west is fine.

2. From flat roof to 45 degree angle is OK. Optimum in the south west is 38 degrees. The steeper the roof, the better it is in winter. Shallower is better in summer.

3. Shading can significantly reduce the output. What you don't want is something that is shading any part of the panel permanently all day. 


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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5 comments - read them below or add one

Jeff B

Jeff BComment left on: 24 October 2010 at 5:06 pm

Regarding shading of PV installations. Our neighbour has a line of ash trees along the edge of her garden. Currently although they cast some shadows over our lawn they are in no danger of shading our south facing roof – yet – as they are too far away. Although we get on well with her generally, the trees are a sensitive subject. We recently had to move our satellite dish because when the trees are in leaf the signal reduces to about 30% which effectively meant no TV picture. The fact that this cost us about £120 left her distinctly unmoved! So now that I am considering installing PV panels you can understand I am a bit nervous of what the future might hold. I have told her of my plans and she assures me that the trees are probably as high as they are going to get. Even the idea of just trimming back the trees to the height they are now, if/when they shade my roof, appears to be a non-starter (incidentally I neither expect or want them to be cut down).

At the moment, after scanning the web, it seems clear that we have no legal redress what-so-ever as the law is heavily weighted in favour of the tree owner. Obviously if the trees were already shading my roof then I would be foolish indeed to go ahead and install PV panels and it would be perfectly understandable that the law would not come to my aid under those circumstances. However I can imagine that this will be become a hot topic in years to come as we are not talking about the mere “inconvenience” of a neighbour’s trees here e.g. the shading of lawns/garden plants or the nuisance of autumn leaves, but rather direct interference with my ability to generate “green” electricity and actual loss of income.

 I wonder what other’s opinions might be on this subject? Has anyone already experienced this type of dilemma?

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 24 October 2010 at 4:53 pm

This is a very interesting point, as fast growing trees can go from nothing to serious shading in much less than 25 years ... any ideas anyone?

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Jayhawk International Ltd

Jayhawk International LtdComment left on: 21 October 2010 at 4:01 pm

With Solar Thermal and the RHI in Limbo for the time being, we as an innovator and pioneering small business, have partnered with the manufacture/importer of a PVT panel, which has to be of greater interest to those seeking some hot water heating which can be stored and used later, that solar PV, which cannot be stored.

With our first new 18 panel PVT and heat pump/wood burner stove back up project sold to a cliant in Cornwall that will cover the underfloor heating and hot water, the next step for our company is in adding a new phase change material (PCM) into our thermal store hot water tanks.

The use of this new patented PCM into our proven thermal store tanks, allows us to over size the heat genarated such as solar thermal, without the need to oversize the hot water tank.

Those reading this who are into solar thermal heating, not just a tank of hot water, please feel free to contact me 

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Jayhawk International Ltd

Jayhawk International LtdComment left on: 21 October 2010 at 3:51 pm

Having spent 18 years designing and developing solar thermal hot water and heating systems, my concern is, given the current stampede to jump into the PV frenzy, is that established suppliers as Jayhawk had become, could now close down while we wait again to know how the RHI will work.

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DPL Electrical Services Limited

DPL Electrical Services LimitedComment left on: 19 October 2010 at 5:13 pm

With the rapid increase of Solar PV installations in the UK, perhaps we should be thinking about other things as well. 

What about Fireman's Switches?  If you have a fire in your home, will the Fire Service be able to extinguish the flames by pumping water onto your 4kWp generating station on the roof?

Perhaps we should also be considering fitting surge protection to these PV installations, as a matter of course.  What say you?

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