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Renewable technologies – solar PV, battery storage and EV charging

How solar PV works

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), harvest energy from the sun and convert it to electricity that can be used in the home. Energy from solar panels can be used to power a variety of things around a property, including immersion tanks to heat water, and charging electric vehicles. The energy can also be stored in a battery, ideal to use when PV generation is low, or is exported back to the grid.

Why install solar PV?

The solar PV market is bigger than ever. With rising energy prices and ambitious Net Zero targets leading the UK away from fossil fuels, solar PV has become one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways of generating renewable energy for homes and businesses. 

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Meet Part L Building Regulations: An uplift in the Part L building regulations from June 2022 aims to deliver a 31% improvement on current Part L sustainability and energy efficiency standards. This will be achieved through low-carbon heating, increased fabric specification and the adoption of renewable energy sources. Solar PV is widely acknowledged to be the most efficient way to achieve compliance, both with the Part L Uplift in 2022 and the forthcoming Future Homes Standard expected in 2025.

Reduced running costs: As we move towards a Net Zero UK, homes will be heavily dependent on electricity supply as their source of energy. Introducing other technologies such as heat pumps and EV chargers will further increase electricity consumption. Solar PV has the potential to offset some of these costs, especially combined with a battery storage solution and EV chargers. Users can also make use of the Smart Export Guarantee, in which system owners are paid for the electricity they export back to the grid. 

Low Maintenance: On average, solar PV systems can last around 25 years. It is recommended that an annual service is conducted to ensure everything is working as it should. Panels should be cleaned to remove debris, which will ensure they’re performing to their full potential and prolong the life of the system. Solar inverters typically have a warranty of 5 -10 years, so inverter replacements may need to be considered. 

Ease of installation: Solar PV installations are relatively straightforward. After an assessment of the property’s energy requirements and roof space available, a PV proposal can be generated which will demonstrate annual yield. A site survey will enable a contractor to choose relevant fixings, ensure the proposed PV system will fit on the roof space available, and establish how the PV system will be connected to the consumer unit. They can make relevant applications to the local grid (if required), consider scaffolding requirements, and then get started. 

Increased saleability: Installing solar panels has been shown to increase the value of properties. Data showed a solar PV system can increase property value by £1800 plus £330 per year in reduced running costs. 

Solar PV
Solar PV

Types of solar systems

Solar can be installed on a range of applications but most commonly on rooftops. Unshaded, south-facing roofs generate the most yield, but southwest and southeast arrays are also considered highly efficient. It’s possible to install on tiled, metal, pitched, and flat rooftops, as well as on the ground in open areas. 

In-roof solar systems

Solar panels can be integrated into the roof using ‘in roof’ solar PV systems, these systems are ideal for new build properties and extensions as they reduce the cost of building materials, since fewer roof tiles are needed. The panels are generally secured against the roof battens, flashing is installed and then tiles are placed up to the flashing. This creates a watertight, seamless installation with a high aesthetic. 

On roof solar installations

On-roof solar mounting solutions can be used for rooftops that are already built. Pitched roofs with tiles will use roof anchors to fix to the roof joists, solar PV panels are installed on rails above the roof. There are also mounting solutions available for metal roofs and flat roofs. 

Ground mount

In instances where roof space is limited, it is possible to install solar panels on the ground. This can be done using ground-mount frames which are either ballasted with weight or fixed to the ground. 

Battery storage

Surplus PV energy can be stored in a battery for use at a later time. Some battery solutions have a backup facility which means they can power essential loads in the event of grid failure. Most battery solutions also have the option to charge from the grid. While electricity prices are at an all-time high, users can charge their battery from the grid at cheaper night-time rates and then discharge to power loads in the property to prevent them from paying the peak electricity rates.

EV chargers

The Government announced in 2021 that all new build homes will need to include an electric vehicle charger. Using surplus PV to charge a vehicle is a great way of reducing energy costs. Electric vehicle chargers can also be retrofitted to existing properties for homeowners or businesses considering Electric vehicles or fleets.

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Solar PV