A1: South facing is ideal but an east facing roof will still deliver 75% of the energy of a south facing roof.
A2: No. But the the position is less clear if you live in a conservation area. We have asked Bradford Council to clarify the situation and this is what they have said:-
Planning permission is not usually required to install solar panels on the roof of a house in a conservation area, even if the roof faces a highway. However, planning permission is required when installing solar panels or other equipment on a house wall fronting a highway within conservation areas.
Notwithstanding the above, in all instances, installations must meet certain conditions:
•the solar panels shall, so far as is practicable, be installed so as to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building
•the solar panels shall, so far as practicable, be sited so as to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area
•any solar panels no longer needed for micro-generation are removed as soon as is reasonably practicable
In respect of these requirements, it is left to the discretion of the local planning authority to interpret the terms. To avoid any uncertainty, we would recommend that householders apply for pre-application advice or contact the Planning Advice service (01274 434605) to determine if planning permission will be required for solar panels. If the property is in a subdivided building, e.g. a flat within a larger building, planning permission will be required regardless of other considerations.
A3: No. Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher power output than polycrystalline panels but are more expensive. Hybrid (HIT) solar cells are as good as mono crystalline ones. Thin film are least efficient but cheaper. If you have a small roof space the more expensive more efficient panels will be worthwhile.
A4: Which? did a survey in May 2019 asking customers to score the different brands. There wasn’t much difference between the 15 brands with Hyundai, Canadian Solar and Sanyo at the top but Romag was clearly at the bottom.
A5: Commonly, 25-30 years for the panels and 5-10 years for the inverter. Insurance can be purchased for extending the warranty of the inverter.
A6: Which? asked solar panel customers in April 2019 about the problems they had experienced. About 10% had problems with the inverter and on average the problem occurred 4 years or so after installation. The next most common problem was nesting birds with 3% of customers reporting this.
A7: In a place like Ilkley, with very little air pollution, a heavy shower should be enough to clean them. If birds perch on your roof and soil the panels or you see a heavy build up of dust, maybe yes, you will need to clean them.
A8: Yes, but consider roof integrated panels when you replace the roof. Solar specialists can fix the panels and flashings before the roofing contractors fix the roof covering around them. And the solar panels will probably have a longer life than the new tiles.