free solar panels UK

Where Can Free Solar Panels Be Used?

I get a lot of questions about free solar panels and one of the most common ones is about where these free solar panels can be used. If you are only just finding out about getting solar panels free than you may not be aware of the conditions that need to be met in order to qualify.

The most recent question was about whether they could use the free solar panels on their caravan. I get similar questions about placing them on sheds, garden offices and even on narrow boats. Whilst in theory you could place solar panels almost anywhere as long as there was only minimal shading and the panels faced more or less south. In practice however the free solar installers will only fit panels in a location that is more or less guaranteed to still be there for at least 25 years. This means that they will only install solar systems on homes or business premises.

Solar panels on a shed or caravan

The main reason that solar power has taken off in the UK is due to the feed-in tariff. This is a tax free grant system put in place by the last government to encourage people to generate and use their own clean energy. These clean energy cash back payments are made to anyone generating solar power from photovoltaic panels. But there are some rules put in place to stop people abusing these grants.

caravan solar panelsThere are currently no free installers that will provide a system to anyone other than homeowners and commercial property owners. This is unlikely to change. If you do live in a housing association or council property you cannot claim the free panels as you do not own the building that you live in. However many social housing organisations are starting to install panels on their properties so it may be likely that you will get a system installed in the near future.

You could in theory buy a solar panel and the associated electronics so that the power generated from the panel could be used in your caravan or garden shed. You would not however be able to install and connect it up yourself. If you install a DIY solar system you will not be able to claim any grants, you need to hire an MCS certified electrician to do this in order for you to be able to claim the grants.

I don't know of anyone who has personally done this but you could buy a single solar panel powerful enough to charge a battery or set of batteries and get an MCS qualified electrician to install it. A 250 watt panel could earn you about £90 tax free in government grants in the first year and then continue to pay you for up to 25 years. The cost of a single panel battery connected system and set up may cost around £600 - £700 to get it up, running and certificated.

Off Grid solar power installations

You can claim the clean energy cash back grants for solar photovoltaic systems that are connected to the grid (grid-tie) or stand alone (off-grid). A typical grid tied system would be one that is installed on the roof of your house. A typical off grid system could be one that is installed on a shed or narrow boat. As long as the panels you are using are one that have been certified for use in the UK by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and you use a similarly certified MCS installer to fit the panels then you can claim the grants available.

If you are looking for a simple DIY option for your motorhome, caravan or other leisure vehicle then there are several solar kits available to do this. You will not however be able to claim any grants or get any free panels going this route.

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