Photovoltaic panels

Photovoltaic or solar electric panels generate electricity when exposed to light. The daylight needed to generate the electricity is free, however, the equipment can be expensive.

Suitability for your home

The economics of using photovoltaic (PV) panels for a specific application should be carefully investigated before installation. Different green energy technologies are more suited to some types of homes than others. Contact Bryson Energy to find out whether solar power is right for you, or whether you should be considering another technology, like wind power or micro-combined heat and power.

How PV panels work

PV systems use energy from the sun to create electricity. The panels require only daylight, rather than direct sunlight, to generate electricity. When light shines on a panel, it creates an electric field across layers of silicon in the cell, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity is. Power can be used straight away or linked back into the power grid.

Installing PV panels

You can use PV systems for a building with a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, as long as no other buildings or large trees overshadow it. If the roof surface is in shadow for parts of the day, less electricity will be produced.

PV panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panels are placed on top of existing tiles.

PV panels come in a variety of shapes and colours, including:

  • grey 'solar tiles' that look like roof tiles
  • transparent panels that you can use on conservatories or glass to provide shading as well as generate electricity

Installation costs

Most domestic systems are between 1.5 and 3 kilowatts (kW) and can produce around half a domestic property’s electricity requirements.

Solar tiles cost more than conventional panels,and panels that are integrated into a roof are more expensive than those that sit on top. If you plan to have major roof repairs carried out, it may be worth considering PV tiles, as they can offset the cost of roof tiles.

Planning permission

You may have to get planning permission to fit a PV system, especially in conservation areas or on listed buildings. Always check with your divisional planning office about planning issues before you have a system installed. Obtaining planning permission after the system is in place can be difficult and expensive.

Maintenance

Systems that connect to the grid require very little maintenance. You just need to ensure that the panels are kept relatively clean and that shade from trees isn't a problem. The wiring and components of the system should be checked regularly by a qualified technician. Stand-alone systems (not connected to the grid) need maintenance on other parts of the system, like batteries.

Remember to insulate first

You should make sure that your property is properly insulated before installing renewable technologies.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.