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DIY solar panels and self-installation kits for the United Kingdom

DIY solar panels and installation kits are becoming increasingly popular with skilled tradespeople who are bringing down the cost by doing-it-themselves.


PV solar panel kits.

This range of MCS approved photovoltaic panels are used to generate electricity using the sun, but can only be installed by electricians and accredited installers.

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Evacuated solar tube kits.

This range of MCS approved evacuated tube kits are designed specifically for northern European countries. These solar tubes use the sun's energy to heat water tanks and swimming pools.

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Solar heating panel kits.

This range of MCS approved heating panels are premium 'first generation' panels that use the sun to heat your water tank. Flat-plate panels can be mounted on-roof or in-roof.

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Pros and cons of self-installation.

Self-installing can cut installation costs by around 50%.

Part P Certification and a 'good head of heights' are required.

Installations must be sign off by an accredited MCS installer.

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"When working with heights, electrics and plumbing, you should always use correct safety equipment. Use professional MCS installers if you're not sure."


Questions about DIY solar installations

Do you have a sizing guide for solar heating?

For every 100-150 Litres cylinder size, you will need one flat-panel or two square meter solar tubes.

PV solar panel sizing depends on your roof size and how you can configure the collectors, either portrait or landscape, within your roof space. Some panels will dictate the size of the inverter system so that we would recommend first measuring your roof space from your loft space.

Are all roofs suitable for panels?

Yes, if your roof space is between Southerly or West facing. If you don't have a suitable roof area, then consider a wall-mounted or A-frame installation.

Do you need planning permission?

No, unless you live in a listed building, in an area of outstanding natural beauty or an A-frame house.

Which solar technology is best for DIY?

PV solar panels are unsuitable for DIY installations.

Heating kits are installed by with good plumbing knowledge. These DIY solar panels kits supply you with MCS approved and BRE accredited PV panels or tubes.

What skills do I need to install solar heating?

Most plumbers and some self-installers have the necessary skills to install a panel system. The only part where you may need help is the roofing aspects.

Many plumbers have teamed up with local roofing companies to complete the job together. Flat-plate or evacuated tube collectors installed by observing the usual professional safety procedures before electrical, and plumbing work is carried out.

What skills are needed to install PV panels?

Apart from a head of heights, the installation requires a good knowledge of electrical principles. If you don't have these skills, then we recommend you work alongside a professional with 'Part P' qualifications for safety and peace of mind.

Which is easier to install, PV or heating?

Generally speaking, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. It depends on your experience and knowledge. You will require an entirely accredited MCS solar installers to commission the installation if you are planning on selling to the National Grid.

Can I apply to the feed-in tariffs?

If you want to apply to the feed-in tariffs currently available, then you won't be able to install as a self-install project. All installations utilising the incentives must be signed off by MCS accredited installers.

This option can be costly, so installing this technology yourself, may reduce the overall installation cost, thus saving money rather than earning money to recoup the initial value of the installation.

Will I need to install a new hot water cylinder?

If your current heating tank does not have a twin-coil system inside, then yes! Look for two unused ports at the bottom of the tank to check. The secondary coil is used to transfer the heated fluid from the heating panels via the coil into the tank.

Once installed, your solar panels will take over from the boiler's job of heating, hot water during daylight hours, so you are much less dependent on fossil fuels to heat your water supply. At night your conventional boiler regains control, only needing a small top-up at night.

We can supply panel kits with or without 150, 180, 200, 250 and 300 Litres cylinders, vented or un-vented.

How are the collectors secured to the roof?

When not using A-frames on a flat-roof, the collectors for both flat-plate and PV solar panel installations are secured to the roof batons using non-degradable brackets. No degradable silicone is used, unlike some low-quality systems, giving you peace of mind for years to come.

Full fitting instructions supplied with all kits.

What's the best way to get the collectors on the roof?

Once you have a secured scaffolding platform at the gutter height of your home, you can use a winch and pulley system for professional installers use. These can be hired by most good tool hire companies.

What's the best way to connect pipes?

Heating technology pressurised to a three bar flow. Because of this, professional installers always recommend compression joints for peace of mind.

We can provide ready-made/insulated pipework to lengths of 10, 15, 20 metres. These save time and negate the need to join lengths of copper pipework.

A word about quality

While other competing products may work quite well for the first few years, the materials used, resulting in deterioration of performance year after year. This difference is due to factors like unreliable seals, poor manifold quality or the use of reflectors that degrade over time.

A cheap option is often a false economy where longevity and performance are concerned.

Swiss research gave clear indications of where the best and worst technologies manufactured. The most effective flat-plate collectors made in Austria and Germany and the best tubes in the United Kingdom. Six of the ten worst performing evacuated tube collectors manufactured in China. Its tests show that the best performing collectors are more than twice as efficient as the worst ones.

Do you supply fitting instructions with your kits?

Yes, step by step instructions with each DIY kit.

When working with heights, electrics and plumbing, you should always use the correct safety equipment. Still, use professional MCS installers if you are not sure.

Health and safety always.

When working with heights, electrics and plumbing, you should always use the correct safety equipment. Still, use professional MCS installers if you're not sure.

Installing solar panels or solar tubes are within the capabilities of any good plumber. Part P certification for hot water tanks and electrical are essential for a safe installation.

A safe working platform using scaffolding or a scaffolding tower to gutter height is essential. A tip for some self-installers uses a local roofing company to handle the roofing work.

A well-insulated pipe run to and from the solar panel will ensure reduced heat loss and best performance once operational. A three-yearly inspection, checking the PH level of the antifreeze and seals and joints will provide a long life expectancy of your system.

With all our solar installation kits, you will receive a full step-by-step guide to help you.



Cut solar panels costs with a DIY installation

Anyone who has dealt with electricians or plumbers will know that costs can be very high when employing these tradesmen.

Those who may have qualifications and experience in plumbing or electrical practices are half way there to being able to install their solar panels.

The costs of both types of solar heating panels, i.e. Evacuated tubes and (Photovoltaic) PV solar panels, can be significantly reduced by installing them yourself. Be warned though that you will not be able to claim the feed-in tariffs which are currently available.

However, the savings made on the installation charges will far outweigh the benefits of the tariff scheme, which was only introduced to counter the high cost of installation.

The original idea of the Government's feed-in tariff scheme was to compensate the adopters of this technology by purchasing the electricity produced by the panels whether the householder or surplus used it to requirements.

As the popularity of the scheme grew, the government incentive to kick-start this solar revolution had reduced over the last 12 months.

Someone who has installed their system themselves will not receive this tariff, but the savings on the installation costs will far exceed the rate of return on investment over 25-30 year lifespan.

Predicting the weather is an essential aspect for solar installers when working on roofs.

With stable scaffolding and the right roofing equipment/expertise, most installers can and do work in most weather conditions. I doff my cap to these hard-working individuals.

However, because trying to predict global oil and energy prices is similar to trying to predict the weather and climate, the future will always be uncertain. That's why a solar installation is going to become an increasing necessity for us. Like a rain jacket, you know you are not going to use it every day, but you'd rather have it than not have it, once the outlook looks gloomy.

The fantastic thing about solar panels and the reason I have spent the last seven years singing their praises is that of their usefulness and technological longevity.

No one can predict the prices of necessary energy in five years, let alone ten or even twenty years, but whatever the future outlook, with a self-installed system, you can rest assured that your energy costs will be comparable to those in the 1980s and weatherproofed for the longer term.


Author.

"Forward with confidence."

Stuart Lovatt
Founder of Power My Home.


The UK's only PV and EV installers network.

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