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ASK THE EXPERT


when choosing the correct size solar PV installation for your self-build:


HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY WILL BE USED Each self-build home will require a specific amount of electricity to power all the appliances in the property each year. The latest OFGEM figures show that an average UK household uses 3,731kWh of electricity per annum. Based on the latest solar performance estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a 2.25kW solar PV kit would generate enough electricity to cover 50 per cent of the average UK consumption each year.


THE SIZE OF THE AREA WHERE THE


PANELS WILL BE INSTALLED Solar panels can be installed on tile or slate pitched roofs, flat roofs, metal or wooden roofs, and on the ground. The number of panels a self-builder can install may be limited by the available area, but with well thought-out design, it is generally possible to achieve an effective solution. Generally, installing the solar panels on a south facing elevation at a 35-degree angle will result in optimal performance.


BUDGET


Ultimately, budget will dictate the size of the solar PV kit that can be installed. A lower budget will require a compromise on the number of panels that can be


16 www.sbhonline.co.uk


installed, resulting in less energy being generated. However, it is still possible to realise significant energy savings with small solar installations, if designed correctly.


Ideally, if the budget is favourable, it is worth increasing the number of solar panels. This will maximise the amount of solar energy generated, resulting in bigger financial savings and a faster ROI time. Some solar PV kits are modular in nature, making it possible to buy the kits incrementally, helping to spread the purchase cost across a few months/years.


PART L BUILDING REGULATIONS AND SAP CALCULATIONS


All self-builds have to meet Part L of the Building Regulations ('Conservation of Fuel and Power'), part of which is passing the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculations. Along with equipment such as energy efficient windows, solar PV is a cost-effective method of meeting these requirements. As factors will differ from build to build, opening a dialogue with your SAP assessor regarding the use of solar PV is recommended at an early stage of the build process.


CAN I ADD BATTERY STORAGE? The pairing of solar PV and battery storage is becoming more common practice in self-builds, and if implemented correctly, electricity bills can be reduced further using this


Most


installations have an average return on investment period of between 6-10 years


method. Battery systems work by storing surplus electricity from the solar PV system, and allowing it to be used at a later time rather than exporting it back to the National Grid.


For homeowners who will not be at home during peak sunlight hours, battery storage can be worthwhile if specified and executed properly. However, at present battery storage technology is expensive, and when coupled with the fact a battery storage system may need to be replaced 5-15 years after installation (depending on the technology), doing a cost/benefit analysis is imperative before embarking on this approach.


Mark Chewter is managing director of Plug In Solar


may/june 2021


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