Solar power is becoming an increasingly attractive addition for homeowners and businesses seeking to retrofit their property in a way that will cut their energy bills, and help them to reduce their carbon footprint.

In the first three months of 2023 alone there were 3,985 properties in Ireland which had solar PV panels installed with grant assistance from the SEAI, almost four times as many as the same period in 2022.

As people are more any more aware of the benefits of shifting to renewable energy to generate electricity for themselves, lets look at what is involved installing solar panels on your property.

Solar PV System Components

The most obvious part. Each individual solar PV panel is known as a module. The multiple panels are wired together into a solar PV array which will collectively absorb solar energy and convert it into electricity.

Solar Panels

The most obvious part. Each individual solar PV panel is known as a module. The multiple panels are wired together into a solar PV array which will collectively absorb solar energy and convert it into electricity.

Solar Inverter

Solar panels generate electricity from sunlight as direct current (DC), which needs to be converted before it is of use. The solar inverter converts the DC electricity produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity which can be used in your house.

Single string inverters will meet your home requirements, and send and surplus power back to the grid. A hybrid inverter is better for diverting excess power to battery storage, car charging, or other needs before.

Solar Battery Storage

Solar energy is not constant. Sometimes your solar array will only be generating a portion of the electricity you use, and other times it will be in excess of what you need. Having a solar battery system will ensure that excess electricity is kept for future use rather than going to waste.

Power Diverter

An optional extra for your solar PV system, a power diverter monitors your electricity usage, and sends excess power to the immersion heater in your boiler. Using solar power for water heating can further reduce your energy bills, and dependency on fossil fuels.

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Things to Know Before Installing Solar Panels

The size and of the solar energy system that is needed for your home or business is determined by a number of factors which you should take into consideration before going ahead and ordering equipment through your installer.

Electricity Bills

It is important for any homeowner of business to have a clear idea of their energy needs before installing solar panels, as the ultimate goal in most cases is to reduce electricity bills. Knowing how much electricity you use will determine how many solar panels are needed for your installation to be worthwhile.

Roof Space, Orientation & Shading

How many panels are needed or possible for a home solar energy system is dependent on how much space there is available on your roof, and the direction which that roof faces.

South facing roofs are the best for solar power in Ireland, getting the most direct sunlight overall. While east-west facing roofs are also viable for solar power, and will get the most light in the mornings and evenings.

Flat rooftops have the advantage that solar panels can be orientated in any direction which you please.

Choosing the Best Solar Panel Installer

Choosing an installer is a very important selection, as you want a professional for the money that you’ll be committing to this project. Take the time to compare different installers in your area based on your needs, and get quotes from them.

Solar Panel Installation Steps

The solar panel installation process will be handled by your chosen installer, but it never hurts to familiarise yourself with the steps involved.

After choosing your solar panel installer, they will conduct a site visit to examine your home’s roof to determine the optimal layout and angle to ensure that your solar panels work at their most efficient.

You should also inform the installer about details such as your energy consumption to determine what size of solar PV system you need.

After the site visit, and the signing of a deal with your installer, an engineer will also visit to assess more technical information and determine how suitable your home currently is for a solar system.

The roof must be examined to ensure that it is structurally sound enough to take the solar panels, and what needs to be done to wire the panels into your home. Your home’s electrical system will also need to be examined to determine if any upgrades are required.

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to apply for that all important grant funding from the SEAI, or other source of grant assistance, to help offset the cost of your home improvements.

Depending on the size of the solar system which you intend to install on your house or business premises, and where it is located, you may also have to seek planning permission or comply with other regulations.

You are now ready to order your equipment for the solar PV system. You should consult with your chosen installer to get their opinions on what the best solar panels and inverters are your home. Longevity, efficiency, and their price will be the biggest factors which go into selecting your chosen models.

As you’re going to have live with these choices for years to come, it worth putting the time in to research the different brands of each, their strengths and weaknesses, before committing.

Now that all the elements of your solar energy system are ready to go, it’s time to have the installer hook them up.

  1. Set up Scaffolding: The first step for the installation process will be to erect temporary scaffolding around your home to give the contractor access to the roof.
  2. Install Solar Panel Mounts: These racks will be attached to your roof to support the solar panels, and ensure that they are tilted at the right angle.
  3. Mount the Solar Panels: Your solar panels are now ready to be affixed to the mounting structure to ensure they remain stable
  4. Wiring: Electrical Wiring must be done to connect the solar panels to your household electrical system, and the solar inverter needs to be connected to convert the DC electricity to usable AC.

Now that you have your fully installed solar energy system energy system its time to complete the final leg work for claiming back any grant funding.

For household solar panel installation, you must have a post works BER assessment carried out to show how the improvements have affected the building’s energy rating. Your installer must also complete a Declaration of Works form, and submit it to claim the grant.

Solar Panel Installation Steps

7 Years

A typical solar installation is fully paid back within 7 years. All solar panels we recommend are under warranty for 25 years, so you will enjoy at least 17 years of free energy generation.

0% VAT

As of 10 May 2023, the government has removed all VAT on solar installation and solar panel supply. This means solar has never been more affordable!

Government Grants

There is a range of government grants available for all new solar installations. Our team will guide you through the application process.

Can you install solar panels DIY?

While it may technically be possible for people to install their own solar PV systems, it is highly recommended that you leave the job to a qualified installer.

Solar energy installation is a complicated task that will require heavy physical labour on your rooftop, and extensive knowledge of electrical wiring to connect the system.

In addition, in order to qualify for SEAI grant funding, the solar system must be installed by a registered contractor, so you could be losing out on up to €2,400 if you do it yourself.

Cost of Solar Panels

How much solar panels cost is dependent on a number of factors including the type of panels purchased, challenges with the installation process, whether you purchase any add-ons, and any grant funding available.

Solar PV technology has come along way in recent years, with the cost of solar panels falling dramatically in the past decade as investment in the sector has skyrocketed.

Another good piece of news for Irish homeowners thinking of making the switch has been the abolition of VAT for domestic solar energy, which could save as much as €1,000 for the average homeowner.

Obviously you want to buy good quality solar panels with a high efficiency to ensure you’re getting the best value for money, and the best energy output they can produce.

The cost of your solar panels will be affected by the type of solar panel technology you choose to go with.

how much you can save with solar energy

Monocrystalline Panels

The most efficient, and thus most expensive type of solar panel, mono-crystalline panels are made from a single silicon crystal. They produce the most electricity per square metre, with an efficiency of around 17% – 23%, and thus will take up less roof space overall.

Thin-film Panels

Easy to produce, and flexible unlike other varieties of solar panel, Thin-Film panels are made by layering a film of photovoltaic material over a substrate, or several layers of film. They are less efficient than any type of crystalline panel, with most reaching around a maximum of 15%, and have a shorter lifespan. However, they are also the cheapest variety commonly used in home installations.

Polycrystalline Panels

Made from melting multiple silicon crystal fragments together, this is a faster and cheaper process, but results in a less efficient solar panel which produces less energy. They have an average efficiency of around 13% -17%, and a shorter lifespan than monocrystalline panels.

Planning Permission for Solar Panel Installation

One good piece of news for homeowners is that planning permission is no longer required for rooftop solar panels in Ireland, aside from a few restrictions depending on your location.

In most areas homeowners and businesses are allowed to erect unlimited amounts of rooftop solar panels without needing planning permission.

In 43 Solar Safeguarding Zones (SSZs) near airports, aerodromes, and helipads, solar panel installations of up to 300m² are allowed without needing planning permission.

For ground-mounted solar PV panels, up to 25m² worth of panels can be erected without planning permission for private houses, and 75m² for all other types of buildings except apartments.

Online Solar Assessment

Speak with a member of our team and determine the type of solar that best suits your situation

  • Fill in the solar assessment

  • A solar expert will call you with 24 hours and ask any questions they have

  • We will email across accurate quotes, detailing the timeframe, costs, available grants and next steps

Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar panel maintenance costs are typically low, needing little but to be kept clean. The year round Irish climate of rain also tends to make them very effective at self-cleaning here.

Your solar panels should also be inspected every five years of so by an installer to ensure that all is in working order.

However, before doing any cleaning or other maintenance on your solar panels, make sure that you consult their warranty conditions to ensure that this doesn’t void the warranty.

The average warranty for solar panels covers them for most of their effective lifespan, so it could be better value to leave them be.

FAQs

Yes, the basic SEAI grant for homeowners and businesses provides up to €2,400 to install solar panels. The amount of grant funding is ties to the size of the size of the solar PV system being installed. In order to get the SEAI grant, you must choose from their list of registered Irish solar installers.

If you don’t want the added expense of installing a battery storage system, there is also the option of selling surplus energy generated by your solar panels back to the national grid.

Solar PV systems typically have an estimated lifespan of 20-30 years, with the majority covered under warranty for a period of 25 years. They will not suddenly stop working after this period, but will lose their efficiency over time.

Yes, while some people might think the Irish climate is not suited for solar energy, the solar output here is more than sufficient to see electricity generated year round. With high electricity prices and falling costs of solar technology, solar panels can pay themselves off in as little as six years.

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