Solar panels

The Ultimate Guide to Solar Panel Installation

Understanding the basics of solar panel installation is important for homeowners looking to take back control of their energy needs. While the installation of a solar panel itself is simple – it involves placing photovoltaic modules on your property to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity – it involves a comprehensive process of things to consider before you get to installation day. For example, it’s essential to understand what types of solar panels are best for your home and the costs involved. Not sure where to start? Use the Soly configurator for an instant quote or keep reading to learn more.

Sustainable savings

Ready to make money while going solar?

To set up a no-obligation consultation, we ask you to leave your details so we can contact you. Solar panels are at the heart of the sustainable revolution. Discover the benefits of solar energy at your home. The consultation will give you:


  • Exactly how much you could save with solar (up to £1,300 per year!)
  • A free, no-obligation quote on high quality solar panels
  • Industry leading performance guarantees for 25 years

Free and without obligation

Schedule your appointment with Soly over here

    Types of Solar Panels for Home Installation

    There are different types of solar panels to choose from, each with their own attributes and benefits. Here are the most common types of solar panels used for residential properties and their pros and cons to help you decide which are best for you.

    Monocrystalline Solar Panels

    In direct sunlight irradiation, a monocrystalline cell will generate slightly more power than a polycrystalline cell of the same surface area. The main characteristic of Monocrystalline Solar Panels is their colour. Mono Solar Panels have a black or dark blue colour. Mono crystalline solar panels are panels composed of 1 crystal per solar cell. In monocrystalline panels, the individual silicon crystals are further processed after the solidification process to form 1 crystal. This is in contrast to polycrystalline solar panels.

    High efficiency and power output
    Compact and space-efficient
    Long lifespan with lower degradation rates

    ✖ Higher initial cost compared to other types

    Polycrystalline Solar Panels

    Solar panels are made of the latter: silicon. Polycrystalline panels are usually blue but can also be black. The colour depends on the properties of the reflection layer on the solar cells. Compared to monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels are slightly cheaper to purchase. In contrast, the yield of polycrystalline solar panels is generally slightly lower.

    Moderate efficiency and performance
    Durable and less affected by high temperatures

    ✖ Requires a larger space
    ✖ Slightly lower efficiency than monocrystalline

    Thin-Film Solar Panels

    Thin film solar panels are almost imperceptible on top of the roof surface. They are made of a thin photovoltaic material on which a thin layer of glass is placed. Because thin film solar panels are bendable, they can also be installed on curved surfaces. The price of thin film solar panels is slightly higher, though, while their lifetime is slightly lower.

    Flexible and lightweight design
    Very cost-effective manufacturing
    Performs better in low-light conditions

    ✖ Lower efficiency compared to crystalline types
    ✖ Shorter lifespan and faster degradation

    Considerations for Residential Installation

    The type of panels you choose depends on your energy needs and available roof space for solar panels at home. Monocrystalline, used at Soly, is ideal for high efficiency and smaller spaces. It has a sleek and uniform appearance if aesthetics are a big factor for you. Polycrystalline offers a balance of efficiency and cost with a more textured, mosaic-like look, while thin-film solar panels are ideal for larger installations with more space. They offer more flexibility in design, making them suitable for unconventional spaces.

    Check out our complete guide on solar panel permits and regulations.

    Register now and receive a no-obligation quote

      Registration form
      Read our privacy policy here. You can change your cookie settings here.  

      Solar Panel Installation Regulations

      Installing solar panels on residential homes in the UK falls under “permitted development” which means you don’t need planning permission. However, you will need to meet certain criteria such as ensuring at least 200mm between the solar panels and the edge of the roof. You will also need to ensure that your roof can support the additional weight of the panels and that the electricals of the system are safe. If your property is a listed building or located within a conservation area, you may face stricter rules.

      Fortunately, you do not need to apply for any regulations or permits yourself if you choose an installer that is a member of an approved Competent Persons Scheme (CPS). Your installer should be MCS certified and a member of a CPS for microgeneration technology, such as NICEIC. After the system is installed, you will receive certificates to prove the system meets the required regulations. Local authorities may have specific regulations which change over time, so its important to check these regularly.

      What is the average cost of installing solar panels in the UK?
      The average cost of a solar panel in the UK is between £150 and £300 for a 350-watt solar panel. The most popular solar installation is a 3.5 kilowatt-peak (kWp) system. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average 3.5kW solar panel system typically requires 10 solar panels with a total cost of around £7,000.

      Infographic illustrating the step-by-step solar panel installation process.

      Discover our top tips for solar panel installation.

      Solar Panel Installation Checklist

      Here is a detailed guide for how to install solar panels:


      Preliminary Assessment

      Determine your energy needs and assess the suitability of your property for solar panels. Evaluate the orientation of your roof, shading, and available space. Estimate your potential energy generation and cost savings.


      Financial Planning

      Research and estimate the costs to install solar panels, including inverters, mounting systems, and installation. Explore your financing options, government incentives, and grants. Obtain multiple quotes from reputable installers.


      Necessary Permits and Approvals

      Check your local regulations for permits and building code compliance. Apply for and secure any necessary permits. Check whether you’re eligible for government incentives.


      Choosing a Certified Solar Installer

      Choose an MCS-certified installer with a proven track record. Verify their insurance, warantees, product quality, and certifications. Review and sign a detailed contract outlining the scope of work, costs and timelines.


      Site Assessment

      Conduct a thorough on-site assessment with the installer. Finalise the solar panel system design, considering optimal placement and orientation. Ensure the installer provides a detailed plan.


      Sourcing materials

      The installer will order the solar panels, inverters, mounting equipment, and necessary electrical components. Confirm delivery schedules and inspect the materials upon arrival to ensure they’re up to standard.



      Before work begins, ensure the roof is able to support the solar panel system. The installer will inspect and reinforce the roof structure if required. They will install roof penetrations, flashings, and supports.



      The installer will plan and install electrical wiring from solar panels to the inverter and main electrical panel. They will ensure compliance with electrical codes and standards, as well as as conduct insulation checks and verify electrical connections.


      Installing panels

      The installer will secure mounting brackets to the roof and align and attach solar panels to mounting brackets, ensuring proper spacing. They will connect solar panels electrically according to the designed configuration. Finally, they will perform a thorough check of all connections to ensure that its functioning safely.



      It’s important to use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and safety glasses. Ensure the working area is clear of debris and hazards. Adhere to proper ladder safety practices.



      The installer will need a drill and screwdriver for securing mounting brackets, as well as electrical tools for wiring and connections. A torque wrench is handy for tightening bolts to specified values.



      Keep all permits, approvals, and contracts easily accessible. Document serial numbers of installed components. Maintain a record of the solar panel system's design and configuration.

      Choosing the Right Location for Your Panels

      Choosing the right location for installing solar panels on the roof is essential for maximising sunlight and optimising energy generation. Follow these steps to ensure an ideal setup:

      Roof Orientation: Determine the direction your roof faces. South-facing roofs receive more sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere, while north-facing roofs are preferable in the Southern Hemisphere.

      Tilt Angle: The tilt angle of solar panels affects the amount of energy they produce. A tilt angle equal to the latitude of your location is a good starting point, however, you may need to make slight adjustments based on your specific location.

      Potential Shading: Identify any potential shade sources, such as nearby trees, buildings, or structures. Choose a spot with minimal shading throughout the day.

      Solar Path Tools: These tools can help you visualise the sun’s path throughout the year. This can help you choose a location that receives maximum sunlight year-round.

      Roof Pitch: The pitch or slope of your roof impacts how much sunlight your panels capture. While a steeper pitch can capture more winter sunlight, a shallower pitch may be more suitable for summer.

      Optimal Placement: Install solar panels closer to the ridge of the roof, especially on sloped roofs, to reduce shading from other parts of the structure. Allow for enough spacing between the rows of panels.

      Roof Integrity: Ensure that the location you choose can safely support the weight of the solar panels. Consult with a structural engineer if necessary to assess the roof’s load-bearing capacity.

      By following these guidelines, you can choose the best location to install solar panels on your roof. This ensures optimal exposure to sunlight, minimising shading and maximising energy generation. Implementing these considerations is a crucial step in the process of how to install solar panels effectively and efficiently.

      Assessing the Cost of Solar Panels for Your Home Installation

      Learn about government incentives for solar panel installation.

      Financing Solar Installation
      Here are some options for financing your solar installation.

      Cash Purchase
      Paying for your solar panels in cash offers the highest long-term savings, as you don’t pay interest. However, this requires a significant upfront investment that may be challenging for some homeowners.

      Solar Loans
      Solar loans allow homeowners to spread the cost of solar panels over time with fixed or variable interest rates. You will need to make monthly loan payments, but the overall cost may still be lower than traditional energy bills.

      Solar Leases
      Solar leases require little to no upfront cost, but the leasing company owns and maintains the system. You will need to sign a long-term contract and make monthly lease payments, but these may reduce the savings you can expect from owning the panels yourself.

      Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)
      A PPA is a financing agreement that usually involves a landlord leasing the space on a property’s roof to a solar energy company that installs solar panels for free. The tenants will have access to all the energy they produce at a reduced, predetermined rate. After an agreed number of years, the landlord will own the panels.

      The Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO4)
      The ECO4 pays homeowners up to £14,000 for the excess electricity you generate and feed back into the grid. To be eligible, you will need to meet certain criteria, such as earning below a certain annual income.

      Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
      SEG pays homeowners up to £160 per year for any surplus energy they feed back to the grid. It provides ongoing financial benefits to homeowners with eligible solar panel systems.

      Home Upgrade Grant
      The Home Upgrade Grant is available to 45 local authorities in England. This provides grants of up to £10,000 to households for green measures including solar panels.

      0% VAT Incentive:
      Until 2027, homeowners will automatically pay 0% VAT on energy-saving products such as solar panels. This helps to lower the overall cost of solar installation.

      Tips for Maximising Incentives
      Stay informed about changes in government policies and incentives to significantly reduce the overall cost of solar panels. Work with certified installers to ensure you’re eligible for incentive programs. The combination of financing flexibility and financial support programs makes solar energy more accessible for a wider range of homeowners.

      Essential Tools and Equipment for Solar Power Installation

      Installation Best Practices
      When installing solar panels, select an MCS-certified installer with reliable experience. Certified installers adhere to industry standards, ensuring a safe and efficient installation and they offer workmanship and product guarantees for peace of mind. Choose high-quality solar panels, inverters, and mounting equipment (not all products are made equal) and install solar panels with secure and weather-resistant mounting to stand the test of time.

      Do you need an electrician to install solar panels?
      In most cases, a certified solar panel installer will handle the entire installation process, including the electrical work. An electrician may do the electrical work and wiring. Choosing professionals with expertise in solar panel installations ensures compliance with electrical codes and safety standards.

      Request a free quotation for solar panels

      Calculate your savings in less than a minute

      Free and without obligation

      Solar Panels Installation: DIY vs. Professional Services

      Why a professional solar install might be the right choice for you.

      compare icon

      Professional Solar Panel Installation

      • Higher initial costs, but expertise reduces the risk of errors.

      • Certified installers bring extensive knowledge and experience.

      • Typically quicker and more efficient, as installers are experienced and work in teams.

      • Installers handle the permitting process, ensuring compliance with local regulations.

      • High-quality installation with adherence to industry standards, minimising the risk of issues.

      • Typically comes with comprehensive warranties and professional support.

      • Strict adherence to safety protocols, reducing the risk of injuries.

      • Consistent and optimised performance with professional design and installation.

      compare icon

      DIY Solar Panel Installation

      • Lower initial costs, but potential for mistakes.

      • Requires a good understanding of electrical systems and roofing.

      • DIY installation of solar panels might be time-consuming, especially for first-time installers.

      • Homeowners are responsible for obtaining permits and approvals. There may be costs associated with this.

      • The quality of installation all depends on individual skill level and attention to detail.

      • As a consumer, you depend on individual parts warranties. These warranties are often lower.

      • Higher risk of accidents without professional training.

      • Performance may vary based on the quality of the installation. You’ll have to make a solid plan yourself.

      Comparing DIY vs. Professional Solar Installation

      DIY installations can save on labour costs as you don’t need to hire professionals. This can be appealing to homeowners with relevant skills. Completing the installation yourself can provide an opportunity to learn and upskill yourself, giving you a sense of accomplishment. However, solar installations require a vast amount of expertise in structural and electrical work. Mistakes may lead to inefficiencies, safety hazards, or damage to the solar panel system which can be costly.

      The Advantages of Hiring a Professional
      Professional installers have the technical expertise that ensures optimal long-term efficiency and maximum energy production. Professionals are aware of and adhere to local building codes and regulations to ensure the legality and safety of the solar installation. Reputable installers often provide warranties on workmanship and equipment for peace of mind and protection against potential issues. Professional installers work efficiently, completing the project in a shorter timeframe than if you had to learn and do it yourself. This ensures minimal disruption, while ensuring a faster return on your investment.

      While DIY solar panels may offer potential savings and personal satisfaction, the complexity of the task, safety risks, and the need for expertise make professional solar installation services beneficial. Hiring professionals ensures a safe, compliant, and efficiently functioning solar panel system, providing homeowners with long-term benefits and peace of mind.

      Preliminary project

      Ensuring Your Roof Can Support Solar Panels

      Preparing Your Home for Solar Panels Installation and considering solar panels? Start with a roof evaluation to make sure everything is checked before installing.

      Roof Inspection

      Thoroughly inspect the roof's surface before installing solar panels. Look for signs of wear, damage, or deterioration, including cracked or missing shingles, or water stains. The age of the roof and structural integrity are important parts of the roof inspection.


      Check for Leaks

      Fixing any existing leaks is essential to prevent water damage to both the roof and the solar system. Examine the surroundings to identify potential shading issues is also important, as steeper pitches may enhance winter sunlight capture.


      Evaluate Roof Pitch

      Consider the roof pitch, as it can impact sunlight exposure. Roof Orientation is also a big thing. Determine the orientation of the roof. South-facing roofs receive the most sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere for maximum energy.

      Potential Roof Upgrades or Reinforcements

      If the roof’s structure is not deemed fit to hold the panels as is, consult a structural engineer to assess and reinforce the framing of the roof. If the roof is old and in need of replacement, consider installing a new roof with proper roof anchors and mounting options. This ensures that the panels are securely attached and are likely to last longer. Apply reflective coatings to the roof to enhance energy efficiency. This can reduce heat absorption and maintain a cooler temperature for solar panels.

      By thoroughly assessing the condition of your roof, addressing any necessary repairs or upgrades, and taking into consideration factors like shading and orientation, you can optimise your roof for installing solar panels on your home. Consulting with professionals and ensuring the roof is in optimal condition will contribute to the safety, efficiency, and longevity of the solar system.

      Maintenance and Care for Your Home Solar Electric Systems

      Post-Installation Solar Panel Maintenance Tips
      Get tips on maintaining your home solar electric system year-round. Here are some maintenance tasks you should perform regularly to ensure your system continues to operate optimally:

      Visual Inspection
      After you’ve had your solar panels installed, inspect the solar panels often to check for any signs of damage, dirt, or debris. Identifying any issues early on can prevent long-term damage and its associated costs.

      Clean the solar panels at least once a year, especially if dust, pollen, or bird droppings accumulate. Dust and debris can reduce the panels’ efficiency.

      Check for Shading
      Check your roof throughout the day for any new sources of shading, such as growing trees or new structures.

      Electrical Inspection
      Inspect your home solar electric systems, including wiring and connections, for any signs of wear or damage.

      Monitoring System Performance
      Regularly check the system’s performance through monitoring tools or software. Detecting deviations in energy production early on means you can troubleshoot and repair any issues as soon as possible.

      Seasonal Maintenance
      Seasonal maintenance is essential for ensuring optimal performance of home solar electric systems, especially considering the UK’s varying weather conditions throughout the year. Remove snow from the solar panels in winter and clear away pollen and debris in spring. Trim any overhanging branches in summer and fallen leaves in autumn to capture as much sunlight as possible. Heavy rain can help clean solar panels naturally, but occasional manual cleaning may still be necessary. Inspect the mounting systems after storms or high winds to ensure stability.

      Register now and join the solar revolution

      (Text continues after form)

        Registration form
        Read our privacy policy here. You can change your cookie settings here.  

        Monitoring and Troubleshooting Your Solar Panels

        Several monitoring systems are available to track the performance and energy production of solar panels installed in your home:

        • Online Monitoring Platforms: Many solar systems come with online platforms that provide real-time data on energy production, system efficiency, and historical performance. You can access these platforms via mobile apps.
        • Inverter Displays: Inverters often have built-in displays or apps showing real-time and historical energy production. Homeowners can check these displays for real-time insights into their system’s performance.
        • Energy Monitoring Devices: Additional energy monitoring devices can be installed to track household energy consumption and compare it to solar production. These devices help optimise energy usage for efficiency.
        • Smart Meters: Using a smart meter provides detailed information on energy consumption and generation and help identify areas for improvement.

        Troubleshooting Tips for Common Issues

        Here are some tips for troubleshooting common concerns:

        • Reduced Energy Production: Check for shading issues, dirt or debris on the solar panels. Regular cleaning and monitoring shading can increase energy production.
          Inverter Errors: Monitor inverter displays for error messages. Consult the user manual or contact the installer if any issues arise.
        • Electrical Connections: Regularly inspect electrical connections for signs of wear or loose wires. Ensure all connections are secure and consult a professional if needed.
          Online Monitoring Alerts: Pay attention to alerts from online monitoring platforms. These can signal potential issues such as a drop in performance or a malfunctioning component.
        • Weather-Related Concerns: Be aware of extreme weather conditions that may impact solar panel performance. Check for damage after severe weather events.
        • Inaccurate Readings: If monitoring systems provide inaccurate readings, consider resetting or recalibrating the devices. If the issue persists, contact the installer for assistance.

        Maintaining solar panels installed at home is a managable and straightforward process. Once you’ve had your solar panels installed, regular monitoring, cleaning, and addressing issues promptly ensures that your system operates efficiently. With proper attention and care, solar panel systems can reliably generate clean energy for decades.

        The Long-Term Benefits of Having Solar Panels Installed

        Graph depicting the long-term cost savings and efficiency benefits of solar panels. Read the latest research on solar energy efficiency.

        Maximising Solar Energy Efficiency at Home
        Here are some strategies for increasing your energy efficiency, while maximising the benefits of having solar panels at home:

        • Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrade to Energy Star-rated appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and HVAC systems. Energy-efficient appliances consume less power, reducing overall energy demand.
        • LED Lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights throughout the home. LED bulbs use significantly less energy, maximising your solar energy at home.
        • Proper Insulation and Sealing: Seal and insulate the walls, roofs, and floors to reduce the need for heating and cooling.
        • Smart Thermostats: Install programmable or smart thermostats to regulate heating and cooling systems efficiently.
        • Energy-Efficient Windows: Invest in double-pane or low-emissivity windows to reduce the loss of heat. Energy-efficient windows help maintain a stable indoor temperature, reducing the workload on HVAC systems or solar energy at home.
        • Solar Water Heating Systems: Integrate solar water heating systems to provide solar power for your home. Solar water heaters use sunlight to heat water, reducing the reliance on conventional energy sources.
        • Energy Storage Solutions: Consider energy storage solutions, such as home batteries, to store excess solar energy for later use. Energy storage enhances the reliability and flexibility of solar energy systems, allowing you to use stored energy during periods of low sunlight, such as nighttime.

        Common Questions and Concerns About Solar Panels on Your Home

        Read our FAQs addressing common questions and concerns about home solar panels.

        Addressing Common Installation Misconceptions
        Solar Panels Only Work on South-Facing Roofs.
        Solar panels can generate electricity effectively on roofs facing any direction. While a south-facing roof is optimal, east and west-facing roofs can still provide substantial energy production. Installers can optimise the system design to capture sunlight efficiently, making solar panels on your home viable regardless of which direction your roof faces.

        Solar Panels Are Not Reliable in Cloudy or Rainy Weather.
        Solar panels can generate electricity even on cloudy days. While their efficiency is slightly reduced in overcast conditions, they still produce power. Rain can actually help clean the panels, improving their performance. Solar panels are designed to withstand various weather conditions, making them a reliable source of clean energy over the long term.

        Solar Panel Installation Is Too Expensive.
        The cost of solar panel installation has significantly decreased in recent years. Additionally, government incentives, rebates, and financing options make solar energy more accessible. Many homeowners find that the long-term savings on energy bills outweigh the initial investment, making solar panels a cost-effective choice over time.

        Solar Panels Are Only for Warm Climates.
        Solar panels work in a variety of climates, including colder regions. In fact, solar panels often perform better in cooler temperatures. Advances in technology have improved their efficiency, allowing homeowners in diverse climates to benefit from solar panels on their homes.

        Solar panels are highly reliable and durable. Modern solar technology has evolved to withstand various weather conditions, including rain, snow, hail, and extreme temperatures. Most solar panel installations come with warranties that guarantee performance for 20 to 25 years, showcasing their longevity and the confidence manufacturers have in their resilience. Homeowners can trust that their investment in solar panels will provide a dependable and consistent source of clean energy for years to come.

        Stay in touch with Soly

        Ready to harness the sun? Contact Soly for your solar installation needs.
        contact image