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Preparing for a Solar Panel Installation

Updated January 2024: With good preparation, a capable installer and with all the facts in hand, installing a solar panel system can be an enjoyable and very rewarding experience. As with any construction project the success and efficiency of a solar PV panel installation comes down to good planning. Some advice for potential system owners and installers preparing for a new solar panel installation is below:

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Solar PV Site Survey

Solar PV Feasibility Study

Solar PV Feasibility

Site Survey and Selection:

The starting point is to locate a viable location and get an idea of the work and costs involved. The checklist below outlines what will be needed for an accurate assesment and highlights areas that might warranty further investigation:

  • The optimum location of a PV array in relation to system performance (yields) Vs location constraints
  • Solar panel mounting inc structural requirements in relation to the additional loads imposed on roofs and buildings by solar PV panel arrays
  • Accurate roof measurements, roof condition assesments, power cable distances, integration of a new solar PV system with the existing electrical system
  • Capacity and condition of existing power supply cables, electrical compatibility checks
  • Local shading considerations in relation to chimneys, dormer windows, trees and other buildings which might affect the performance of a solar PV installation
  • Identify any electrical, roof, ground or other works that will be required at the installation site before a PV system can be commissioned
  • Identify any potential on-site hazards and risks related to a PV system and it's installation; this could include buried pipes and overhead cables, identify any site access restrictions
  • Identify the DNO and any possible grid connection restrictions, identify the acceptance process and identify any electrical works required before grid connection
  • Identify any planning permission considerations and identify the details of any applicable building regulations and the authority responsible
Roof Mounted Solar PV Panel Installation

Connecting to the National Grid: Single phase solar PV systems under 3.68kWp in size (approx 12-20 panels) and three phase systems under 11kWp (40-60 solar panels) do not usually require advanced permission from the Distribution Network Operator (the power company which maintains the local mains power network) before connecting the solar PV system to the National Grid.

Systems bigger in size and multiple installations as may be the case with new builds will require permission from the DNO before systems can be connected. If prior approval is required, grid connection applications can take upwards of 65 days so the sooner the grid connection application is made in the planning & design process the better.

Solar PV Mains Connection Mains Electricity Suppliers: Installing a solar PV system and becoming an electricity generator will change the amount of mains electricity that you need to buy and the times you need to buy it. To avoid delays and complications, if it's found to be of benefit to change suppliers it is a good idea to change before the solar PV system is installed. Taking into account your new energy usage profile and the terms and conditions of the new agreement.
Ground Mounted Commercial Solar PV Panel Mounting System Planning Permission: Planning permission is sometimes required when installing larger systems or installing solar panels in sensitive areas such as within conservation areas. Gaining planning permission can be a lengthy process so it is advisable to find out any special requirements beforehand and make a pre-planning enquiry with the local authority early in the design & planning stage. More information about Planning Permission requirements for Solar Panels can be found here: Planning Permission for Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems.
Commercial Flat Roof Solar PV Panel Installation Building Regulations & Structures: For safety and to maintain the structural integrity of the building; solar panel installations needs to be installed in compliance with the building regulations, see building regulations for solar panels. It is also worth bearing in mind that solar panel systems can operate for a very long time (40 years plus). It is sensible to make sure that underlying structures such as roofing supports, roofing materials and any other support structures will also last for the lifetime of the solar PV system. This will avoid what could later prove to be costly and complicated solar repairs further down the line.

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Mains/Grid Isolation and Surge Protection

Mains/AC Surge Protection Solar PV Systems

A whole house surge protector is installed to provide protection from transient overvoltages originating from the mains/grid. A whole house surge protector is installed directly inline and as close as possible to the incoming mains/grid supply meter, this allows for surge protection for all circuits and equipment including solar inverters, routers, stereos and other sensitive electrical equipment within the network. The addition of a 100Amp lockable isolator also allows for safe and convenient isolation of all electrical equipment within the network including consumer units, solar inverters, battery storage units and EV chargers from the mains/grid in one place.

Surge protectors are in compliance with the recently updated 18th edition amendment 2 of BS7671.

Mains/Grid Isolation and Surge Protection

 

Solar PV Surge Protection (DC Surge Protection)

DC Surge Protection Solar PV Systems

DC surge protection devices (SPDs) are installed between the solar panels and the solar inverter to protect both the solar inverter and the downstream electrical equipment from transient overvoltages of an atmospheric origin impacting the electrical system via the DC side of the system / the solar panels.

DC Surge protectors are in compliance with the recently updated 18th edition amendment 2 of BS7671.

Solar PV Surge Protection (DC Surge Protection)

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Articles: Further Information, Calculators & Solar Inverter Fault Codes

Lots of articles, calculators and technical information including links for further reading. Covering a range of topics related to the installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic and electrical systems in the UK.

/Solar PV Information Articles

Engineering Recommendation G98

Grid Connections for Micro-Generators including Solar PV Systems and Elecricity Storage Systems in the UK. Under 16Amps Per Phase, grid synchronised.

How to provide power to a house using a portable generator

In this article we show you how to power your home using a portable diesel, petrol or LPG generator. We look at changeover switches, the importance of earthing, generator loadings, how to isolate non essential loads. We ask where to locate the generator when it's in operation, how best to safely isolate the grid/mains power supply and switch to a generator supply.

Ground Faults, Isolation (ISO) Faults, RISO Low Faults and Insulation Resistance Faults with Solar PV Systems

After a number of years exposed to wind, rain, snow, ice and sometimes animals; solar panel systems can start to develop faults. The most common faults we find related to exposure are ground faults, isolation (ISO) faults, RISO low faults and insulation resistance faults. In this article we take a look at what these faults are, the possible causes and what steps are taken to identify and resolve them.

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Areas Served:

We are located in Wanborough, very close to Swindon in Wiltshire, Southern England, UK. From here we service clients within a 90 minute driving radius including the towns, cities and regions below:

Swindon: Abingdon, Aldbourne, Amesbury, Andover, Banbury, Basingstoke, Bath, Berkshire, Bicester, Blunsdon, Box, Bracknell, Bradford on Avon, Bridgwater, Bristol, Buckingham, Burford, Burnham on Sea, Calne, Camberley, Cardiff, Carterton, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Chipping Norton, Chipping Sodbury, Cirencester, Corsham, Cricklade, Devizes, Didcot, Evesham, Eynsham, Faringdon, Frome, Fleet, Glastonbury, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Henley-on-Thames, Highclere, Highworth, Hook, Hungerford, Keynsham, Kingsclere, Lambourn, Lechlade, Ledbury, Ludgershall, Lyneham, Maidenhead, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Marshfield, Melksham, Minety, Newbury, Newport, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Pewsey, Purton, Ramsbury, Reading, Ross on Wye, Royal Wootton Bassett, Salisbury, Shaftesbury, Shalbourne, Slough, Southampton, Stow, Stratford upon Avon, Stroud, Swindon, Tewkesbury, Thatcham, Tidworth, Trowbridge, Wanborough, Wantage, Warminster, Weston Super Mare, Wiltshire, Winchester, Windsor, Witney, Wokingham, Worcester, Wroughton and Yate.

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