What Are The Pros & Cons Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
Below are the positives and negatives of ground-mounted solar panels:
- Safer than rooftop
- Produce more solar energy
- Easy to install and maintain
- Space below the ground structure can be used
- Take space in your yard
- Need longer cables if far from the inverter
- Need a very sunny spot with no shading
Solar Panels And My Property
Solar panels on a property will give rise to legal implications for home owners, councils, lenders and insurers.
Installation of solar panels on a property will require careful consideration of financing arrangements, the lease of roof space , a lenders requirements , title, planning and building regulations.
Feed-in tariffs What are they?
In April 2010 under the Energy Act 2008, the Government introduced a scheme of fee-in tariffs where it makes payments to consumers for electricity generated by accredited installations using certain renewable and low-carbon technologies, including solar panels. For solar power, these payments are guaranteed for 25 years and are intended to help overcome the cost of installing and operating renewal energy technology.
How to pay for Solar Panels
The easiest option is to pay outright for the installation of solar panels. However, the incentives for home owners in generating solar, coupled with the cost of installation, led to a number of solar panel providers entering the market. These providers offered free installation and maintenance of solar panels in exchange for a 20 to 25 year lease of the roof and air space above it usually taking a rent of all the money that would have been earned by the home owner under the FIT scheme or the free electricity.
Solar Panels and Planning Permission
Where there is any doubt, the matter should be raised with the local planning authority and their confirmation obtained before proceeding.
What Kind Of Permits Do I Need For Solar Panels
When getting solar panels, the permit requirements will vary by both your state and town, but there are some commonalities.
Applicants for solar panel installation permits will usually need to provide the following information, at a minimum:
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If Your Solar Installation Is To Be Installed Within Your Land But Not Attached To Your House:
- The first standalone solar PV installation is considered Permitted Development. Beyond that, any additional units will require planning permission.
- The solar panels must be sited in a way that least impacts the appearance of the area, and at least 5 meters from the edge of your property.
- The system must not stand taller than 4m, and must not exceed an area 9m².
What If I Live In A Listed Building
The UK is awash with historical beauty, and although this means our streets are often overflowing with alluring architecture, it also means some houses need planning permission before they can install solar panels.
Listed buildings essentially celebrate a houses historical architecture. If your home is a listed building, it means that it needs to be part of a planning system to protect its historical characteristics.
If you manage to get listed building consent to install solar panels, youll still need to get planning permission on top of this. Think of it as an extra layer of protection for your unique home. Consent is usually dependent on the placement of your panels, and the current condition of the listed building.
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Solar Panels Mounted On A House Or A Block Of Flats Or A Building In The Grounds Of A House Or Flats
You need only apply for full planning permission or householder planning permission to install a solar panel when any of the following apply:
- It would protrude more than 20 centimetres from the external surface of the wall or roof slope, when measured perpendicularly
- The highest part of the solar panel or equipment will be higher than the highest part of the roof. This excludes any chimney
- It would be installed on a wall in a conservation area which faces a highway. This includes roads, paths and public rights of way
- Your house or flat is a listed building, or within the curtilage of a listed building. Curtilage means within the garden or grounds.
- If your house or flat is a listed building you must also apply for listed building consent.
- Stand-alone solar panels on domestic premises
You need only apply for full planning permission or householder planning permission to install a stand-alone solar panel when any of the following apply:
What If I Dont Get All The Necessary Permissions
If you install a solar panel system without the proper permitting and approvals, you could find yourself subject to fines as well as having your panels removed by local authorities.
Its also possible that the installation of the system will be considered unpermitted development and may therefore be required to be removed if it covers more than 35% of your roof.
For this reason, its best to be as thorough as possible when doing the proper research and ensuring that you have all the required permissions well in hand before taking any steps toward installation.
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You May Need Permission If
- You live in a building that has a strata agreement
- You live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association or some other type of council
- You want to install panels on a street-facing roof
- You own a heritage-listed home, or any other home with special status with unique renovation restrictions
- You live in a heritage-listed neighborhood, where visible home improvements and additions are restricted
Is Council Approval Required For Solar Panels
Council Permission to Install Solar Power Every council is different and we must emphasise that it is the homeowners responsibility to comply with council regulations. Firstly, if your solar system is installed on a roof that does not face the street, you will not need permission from the council.
When did building regulations come into force for solar panels?
In April 2008, changes to legislation were made. This deemed that the installation of solar panels became a permitted development. As a result of this, planning permission is no longer required for solar panels unless the building is listed or located in a conservation area.
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Stand Alone Solar Panels Installations
All the following conditions must be observed:
- Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area.
- When no longer needed for microgeneration panels should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable.
All the following limits must be met:
- Only the first stand alone solar installation will be permitted development. Further installations will require planning permission.
- No part of the installation should be higher than four metres
- The installation should be at least 5m from the boundary of the property
- The size of the array should be no more that 9 square metres or 3m wide by 3m deep
- Panels should not be installed within boundary of a listed building or a scheduled monument.
- if your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site, no part of the solar installation should be nearer to any highway bounding the house than the part of the house that is nearest to that highway.
Note – permitted development rights for solar panels are available for both single houses and buildings which consist wholly of flats.
Note – If you are a leaseholder you may need to get permission from your landlord, freeholder or management company.
Square Metres Was Enough Solar At The Time
12 square metres of solar thermal is more than any family needs, so the restriction doesnt cause any trouble there. Similarly, the 12 square metre limit was also not a problem for solar PV at the time when it was introduced. This is because, back in 2007, solar PV was way more expensive than it is today, and the average system was much smaller. In fact, more than 12 square metres of solar PV panels on the roof of a house would have been pretty much unheard of at the time.
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Why Do I Need A Permit To Install Solar Panels
Getting a permit for your solar panels is not only the law, but it is also for your protection. The reasoning and regulations vary from state to state but the basic reasons are the same. The permit allows the local, state, and federal government to regulate solar power in their area.
Building permits also help make sure that your construction isnt interfering with anything. Ecosystems, other utility grids and more can all be affected by installing your panels. Getting a permit will ensure you are covered.
Other Things To Consider
You will also need to check that there are no restrictions on development at the property as a result of:
- any conditions imposed on the original planning permission
- it being covered by what is known as an Article direction
- the deeds of the property listing restrictions that apply
Any of these could have removed ‘permitted development’ rights for certain types of development. If you are unsure of any possible restrictions applied to your home, complete a Householder Enquiry Form and we will check this for you and let you know whether it is within your ‘permitted development’ rights or if planning permission is required. There is a charge for this service, £86.40 .
It’s important to make sure the roof structure, walls and existing coverings are in sound repair prior to installation.
If planning permission is required to install solar panels on a domestic property, you will need to submit a householder application for planning permission.
You will need to include:
- a location plan
- roof plan
- details of the proposed installation
If the site is within a conservation area, you will also need to submit a design and access statement.
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Solar Panel Building Regulations
Solar panel installations have to pass standard building regulations for the property – its a legal requirement for many home improvements.
The key areas are structural safety of a building and electrical safety of a building . Your roof must be able to support the additional weight of rooftop panels and the electricals of the system must be safe. Standard health and safety practices must also be adhered to.
You do not need to make your own building regulations application if you use an installer which is a member of an approved Competent Persons Scheme . Your installer should be MCS certified and a member of a CPS for microgeneration technology, such as NICEIC. After commissioning of the system, you will receive certificates to prove it meets the required regulations.
Other Planning Permission Exemptions For Solar Panels In Ireland
In Ireland, many extensions up to 40 square metres are planning exempt. You may be able to use this planning permission exemption for solar panels by installing the panels as part of your extension. Similarly, you dont generally need planning permission for garages up to 25 square metres in Ireland. Such a garage could potentially accommodate a large solar panel system without planning permission. Finally, theres an exemption for works of improvement that do not materially affect the external appearance, thus rendering the appearance inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. This could potentially allow you to install solar panels without planning permission, as long as theyre not visible from outside your property.
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What Permits Do I Need To Install Solar Panels
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Solar panels need proper electrical and construction work for proper installation. It is not just as simple as that.
You would need to obtain permits from the local government to install the solar panel, and these permits are established to ensure that you do not end up paying unnecessary fines.
What permits do you require to install solar panels? Well, it depends upon each state. The National Electrical Code , which was adopted throughout the United States, first included the solar PV system under its purview in the year 1984. The International Building and fire codes had its requirements for PV systems and governing construction codes for local installations in 2012.
These codes are subject to be updated once in three years, and the local governments need not compulsorily adopt the revised regulations.
Because of this lag, it becomes tough for the solar panel installers to work under various localities.
Let us look in detail at the various permits required for installing solar panels.
Shop Around For An Accredited Installer
Get a range of quotes from different solar and battery installers. Youll find a list of accredited installers on the Clean Energy Council’s website
Ask for a written quotation and contract before signing up. Understand the following:
- the total price of the system and installation
- proposed start and completion dates
- specifications of the size and output of the system as well as the inverter specifications
- estimates of the average output of the system, including an estimate of output during the best and worst months of the year
- warranties and guarantees.
If you have any problems with your solar installer you can contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.
In most circumstances, your solar installer will manage your connection to the grid.
You can also get more information about connecting your solar PV system to the electricity network from your electricity distributor, which will be Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy or Essential Energy. Take a look at your most recent bill to check the name of your distributor.
- Essential Energy: 13 23 91 or visit the Essential Energy solar web page
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What Are The Permit Requirements For Solar Panels
There are many things you must have in order before you receive your solar panel permit. Depending on your state, you may have to submit complete plans. By having these plans on file, you can avoid any unwanted headaches down the line.
You must submit plans for your roof, construction, elevation, electrical, location, and more. These comprehensive documents will allow your local governments permitting office to get a good idea of your plans. This will let them make an informed permitting decision.
Once your documentation is submitted, you may have to attend local government meetings. In these meetings, you will present your plans and the board will approve or deny your request.
Be prepared to answer questions and provide any additional information.
What Kind Of Permissions Might I Need In Order To Add Solar Panels To My Home
Getting a permit to install solar panels isnt just about going down to City Hall and filling out a form. There may be local, state and federal building or safety standards you must comply with. Even if youve had solar panels installed before, the rules may have changed, or the rules may be different for your new location, so you still need to verify that youll be in compliance.
You may also need to have a local electrical inspector approve that youre meeting the appropriate electrical codes. Presumably, you already have homeowners insurance. Your insurer may also have regulations about any additions to your house that you need to comply with in order to avoid invalidating your policy. The power company may also need to be notified and clear your solar panel plans.
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Solar Panels Mounted On A House Or A Block Of Flats Or A Building In The Grounds Of A House Or Flats:
You need only apply for full planning permission or householder planning permission to install a solar panel when any of the following apply:
- it would protrude more than 20cm from the external surface of the wall or roof slope, when measured perpendicularly
- the highest part of the solar panel or equipment will be higher than the highest part of the roof. This excludes any chimney
- it would be installed on a wall in a conservation area which faces a highway. This includes roads, paths and public rights of way
- your house or flat is a listed building, or within the curtilage of a listed building. Curtilage means within the garden or grounds.
If your house or flat is a listed building you must also apply for listed building consent.
How Do I Find Out If I Need A Building Permit
- Ask your local council. Your local council will be in charge of building permits and regulations and should be able to provide you with a quick answer. Give them a call, or the information may even be available on your local council website. If a permit is needed, you should also find information as to how you go about getting one and any other advice you need before installation.
- Ask your solar installer. Your solar installer or any solar installation companies in your area will know the rules of your area and any building permits required, and if they dont then you might want to take that as a warning.
Solar Run is a solar retailer who can help you install solar on your rooftop.
- Get quotes for solar panels and battery storage
- Clean Energy Council approved retailer
- NSW, VIC, SA, QLD and ACT
Be sure to ask your solar installer how they can help with this. Many solar installation companies will manage your applications for you on your behalf, which will save you time and stress.
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