Over 10,000 properties in the UK now generate electricity through the use of solar panels on the roof of the property. This is seen as a cheap and environmentally friendly source of electricity and income, with payment being received from energy suppliers for unused electricity being sold to the National Grid.
The price of solar panels and the associated micro generation converters are getting lower all of the time, and so installing these systems is becoming an increasingly attractive investment.
However, there are certain things that you need to consider before committing to installation:
- Is your property suitable – does it have a south or westerly-facing roof large enough to justify the expense of the installation? Are there any shadows caused by chimneys, etc? Will the panels interfere with later development plans for the property, such as loft conversions?
- Is the roof structurally safe enough to take the weight of the panels and do you have the space for the converter apparatus?
- What is the energy rating of your property? Most properties that have been sold in the last few years will have an energy performance certificate (EPC). Your EPC rating will determine the level of feed in tariff you will receive for unused electricity that is sold to the National Grid.
- What deal does your existing energy supplier offer in relation to FITs and will you need to make separate arrangements with other suppliers?
- Are there any planning permission issues? Are there any restrictions on your deeds regarding structural alterations or altering the outside appearance of your property?
- Will an upgrade of the electrical system at the property be needed?
- Does your building society consent to the structural alteration to the property? You will need to inform your lender even if you are paying cash for the panels. If you are not paying cash, but are entering into a lease agreement, it is essential that you contact your lender at an early stage for approval and also take legal advice on the terms of the draft lease. Not all agreements are acceptable to all lenders and you may be restricting your options regarding remortgaging or selling the property in the future.
- Make sure that you get the permission of your insurers to the alter the property.
- If your property is leasehold, you must obtain the permission of your landlord.
Solar panels will clearly become more popular in the future and will be part of a range of options open to householders to micro-generate electricity from renewable sources. However, before committing, ensure that you answered the questions above to ensure that no complications arise at a later date.