Before you decide to install solar panels on your roof there are some practical considerations to take into account. It doesn't matter if you are installing the panels yourself or a company is installing them for you, this information is vital to you.
Your roof has been specifically designed to take the load generated by the roof tiles and chimney if you have one. There are two forces that act on your roof. The gravitational pull with the tiles bearing down on structure and the force of the wind lifting the roof upwards. This means that your roof is supporting the weight and at the same time preventing anything on the roof being blown away.
When you introduce a new structure to your roof you need to be sure that it will not compromise the integrity of your roof. Solar panels are typically fixed directly to the roof rafters or the roof battens. Adding solar panels to your roof could potentially increase the load by a quarter.
Typically this increased load will not cause your roof to collapse but if the panels are too heavy for the roof it can cause the roof to sag over time. The other danger is that a strong wind could lift the panels off the roof damaging the roof itself.
It is important that a structural engineer certifies that your roof is strong enough for the size of the solar array being fitted. It may be that your roof needs strengthening which can cost up to £500 for the work to be professionally done. This needs to be taken into account when considering buying your own panels or taking up one of the free solar panel offers.
Whilst there will probably not be any need to obtain planning permission to install solar in the UK there are some exceptions and provisos. Generally however permission is not needed. This is not however to be confused with the need to meet building control regulations. An MCS certified installer will be able provide certification for electrical safety.
An installation may require building control sign off, this can be determined by contacting you local authority. If you have hired a company to do the installation then they will do this on your behalf.
If you are considering having solar panels on your roof you may be concerned about any damage the panels may do to the structure of your building. There are two forces at work on your roof, gravity pushing down and wind trying to lift the roof or panels.
Your roof is designed to take a normal expected load such as the weight of the roof tiles and the weight of equipment and people working on your roof and layers of snow. Prior to panel installation a structural survey will be done to see if the roof supports need strengthening. You should not expect any roof damage due to the solar panels baring any natural disasters.
It would be wise to check your building insurance, you should also advise them if panels are installed. Also check with the installer to see if they have any coverage during and after installation. There should be a warranty on the installation should it be damaged or stop working due correctly.
It is important that you are clear about the installation process and warranties or guarantees that you have. Make sure your roof is assessed structurally to determine if it requires strengthening. Double check for planning permission requirements and building control sign off. Check to see if you are insured should the panels cause any damage to your roof.
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