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A Step by Step Guide to Solar Panel Installation

If you’re anything like us, you’ve noticed that more solar panels are making their way onto the roofs of UK homes.

Feeling inspired to get a set of solar panels for yourself? One way you can cut back on costs is to install the panels yourself – but there’s a lot you need to get right. Or perhaps you just want a better idea of what installers will actually do to your home when attaching the solar panels?

Either way, we’ve got all the information you need about solar panel installation waiting for you on this page.

Want to get ahead of the game and invest in a set of solar panels? Speed up the process and find the best deal by using our easy-to-navigate tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

Someone installing solar panels

How are solar panels installed?

Despite being intricate bits of kit that can actually generate electricity from the sun, solar panels are generally pretty easy to set up.

Before you’re able to crack on with the actual installation, a professional surveyor will need to go into your loft and check the integrity of both the roof and the rafters. This is a key part of the process, as they will assess whether it’s safe for you to have solar panels on your roof.

Once this is done, the team of professionals will be able to start installing solar panels onto your property. We’ve outlined the seven simple steps (plus an optional one) they need to take to do this below.

Step one: Set up the scaffolding

If you’re getting solar panels installed onto the roof of your house, the installers will need to construct scaffolding around the building before they can crack on with the process.

This will take the most time out of all the steps – usually about a day – but will mean the installers can have safe and secure access to the roof.

Step two: Attach the roof anchors

Ever wondered how solar panels on a roof stay put? It all comes down to the anchor points.

The installer will have to lift some of the roof tiles to fix the anchors to the rafters in the loft. This will give the solar panel mounts a stable foundation, and will make sure they don’t get damaged in stormy weather.

Step three: Secure the solar panel mounts

Once the roof anchors have been fixed to the property, the installer will attach the solar panel mounting system to them. The framework will run both vertically and horizontally across the roof, and will support the base of the solar panels.

The solar panel mounting system makes sure the panels stay in place – whilst also helping to position the panels at an optimal angle on a roof, which will lead to more sunlight exposure.

Step four: Install the solar panels

Once the mounting system is set up, it’s time for the moment we’ve all been waiting for – getting the solar panels onto the roof.

The installer will start by placing the solar panels onto the mounting system – without fully securing them just yet. Once they’re happy with the angle of the panels, the installer will then tighten up all the bolts and nuts across the system to secure them in place.

Step five: Wire the solar panels to the inverter

Most panels come pre-wired from the manufacturer, which means they just need to be connected to the inverter.

It’s worth bearing in mind that smaller solar panel systems connect a single series of wires to the inverter, while larger systems connect several parallel wires.

An inverter is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a solar energy system, as it converts the direct current (DC) electricity, which the solar panel generates, into alternating current (AC) electricity.

The inverter is usually installed near the breaker panel, which is the main distribution point for electrical circuits in your home, and could be placed either indoors or outdoors.

Overall, installing the inverter should take between 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the system.

Although this step sounds easy, it’s better to get a trained professional installer to carry out this part, as things can easily go wrong. But if you do decide to do this part by yourself, make sure to shut off the household’s electricity supply beforehand.

Step six: Connect the inverter to the consumer unit

The inverter should then be connected to the consumer unit – a type of distribution board – to be able to generate electricity.

The installer will also connect a generation meter to the system at this point, which will monitor the amount of electricity the solar panels actually produce. You can also use your computer or another device to check your solar system’s performance, to make it a bit easier.

Step seven: Test the solar panel system

Once the installer – or you, if you’ve been brave enough to try this – has finished all of these steps, the last thing to do is make sure it’s all working properly.

This is just a case of switching the power back on and monitoring each part of the system to make sure things are ticking along correctly.

Optional step: Connect the inverter to the solar battery

Some people also decide to pair their solar panels with a solar battery, which will store any excess energy that can be used on cloudy days or during the night time.

If you have a solar battery in your solar system, you’ll also need to connect the inverter to the battery. This step should be taken just after step six, when you set up the inverter itself.

Someone installing solar panels

How long does a solar panel installation take?

Solar panel installations typically take about two days to complete.

Most of this time is actually taken up by constructing the scaffolding, which means if you’re not installing your panels onto your property’s roof, it’ll take much less time.

Once the scaffolding is up, the panels could be installed in less than a day.

However, bear in mind that the time it takes to install solar panels could be affected by the type of property, the size and complexity of the solar panel system, as well as any unexpected, dangerous weather conditions (which will postpone the work).

Can you install solar panels on your own?

Technically, yes, you can install solar panels on your own – but it’s not recommended.

If you go ahead and install your solar panels, you might not do it at the standard you’d ideally want – not to mention you could fall and hurt yourself.

In fact, 17% of people who attempt DIY projects cause themselves injuries, according to a MyJobQuote survey.

Next steps

Hopefully you feel more confident about the process of installing solar panels onto your roof.

Think you’re ready to install solar panels now – or let a professional do the work? Well there’s one key thing you’ll need first: solar panels.

Luckily, it’s never been easier to compare solar panel prices – with our easy-to-navigate tool. All you have to do is provide a few quick details, and our expert installers will be in touch with free quotes for you to compare.

Beth Howell Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

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