Are they worthwhile?
Yes. This graph from the Energy Saving Trust (March 2022) is for a four bedroom detached house in the South of England with surplus electricity heating water rather than being exported to the grid. There are many variables so it is a rough guide especially as. rising electricity prices increase savings from generating your own
How much do solar panels cost?
The average domestic solar PV system is 4.2kWp and costs around £6,500 (Energy Saving Trust). A diverter switch to use energy, not needed for other household purposes, for water heating would cost around £800.
Is you house suitable.
Generally you need a roof facing in a southerly direction. A good way to find out is to use the Energy Saving Trust’s calculator: https://www.pvfitcalculator.energysavingtrust.org.uk.
Mostly domestic solar panels are regarded as permitted development but there are possible restrictions. Mid Suffolk council directs enquiries to the Planning Portal.
Solar panels on listed buildings are not ruled out by Historic England but listed building consent and Planning Permission is very difficult to get. For other buildings in a conservation area the main requirement is that the panels should not be visible from the road or other right of way. Talk to the conservation officer.
How much space is needed?
A typical 4kW array requires 16 panels — a little under 26 sq m. To get an idea of this, look up at the roof of 22 Gracechurch Street, opposite the hairdresser’s.
Exporting to the grid
Surplus electricity is exported to the grid but at present you cannot get much more than 5p a unit so it is far better to use as much of your own power as possible. This is why a diverter switch is a good investment. You need to have a smart meter supplied free by your energy provider.
Battery storage is another option that may be worth exploring.
Use the Energy Saving Trust calculator
Before using the link above. check the orientation of your roof. If you don’t know or don’t have a compass download a compass app to your phone, Check the pitch of your roof and estimate how much your roof is shaded by trees or other buildings.
If you want to talk to someone who has solar panels
Come along to the next Green Team Recycling Collection of medicine blister packs, writing instruments, tooth products. and Tetra Paks on Saturday 1st October from 9am to 11am outside the Lion on the Village Green when advice will be available.