DIY Solar Panels UK

If you’re one of the thousands of UK residents seeking to escape the grid and take power back into your hands to mitigate high energy bills and living costs, installing solar panels is the way to go!

Depending on where you live, a solar panel system installation can save you up to £630 per year and cut around one tonne of your carbon footprint annually.

Installing solar panel systems can cost several thousand pounds, with labour accounting for 10-30% of the total cost, depending on location and complexity.

To try and save on costs, you may consider a do-it-yourself (DIY) solar panel installation, provided you have the right skill level and expertise.

But is a DIY solar panel installation legal, and what regulations and responsibilities do you need to know?

This guide explores the legal considerations for DIY solar panel installation and the requirements to fulfil when installing solar panels in your home.

Is Solar Worth It Key Takeaways:

  • A do-it-yourself solar panel installation is not illegal.
  • You’ll typically not need planning permission to install solar panels on the roof of your residential property.
  • You’ll need permission to install solar panels on a listed property or a conservation area.
  • There’s a zero tax obligation for solar panel installations on residential properties until March 2027.

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Is DIY Solar Panel Installation Legal?

Yes. DIY solar panel installation is perfectly legal. However, installing DIY solar panels requires you to assume some legal responsibilities.

You’ll need MCS certifications to sell your home with the panels included. MCS is a mark of quality that demonstrates the installer and solar panels meet the highest standards.

A certified engineer must conduct the certification to uphold the necessary standards and procedures.

The issue is that most certified engineers will refuse to certify solar panel units they did not install when you perform a DIY solar panel installation.

You may also not be able to qualify for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which allows you to sell any extra energy back to the grid since most operators require solar panels to be installed by MCS-certified installers.

Do You Need Planning Permission for DIY Solar Panel Installation?

In most cases, installing solar panels on the roof of a private home falls under permitted development rights, meaning you don’t need planning permission.

If you’re undertaking a DIY solar panel installation for domestic purposes and your building isn’t listed or a conservation area, you don’t need the local authority to approve the work.

To qualify for permitted development under UK legislation and be exempt from planning permission, ensure that:

  • You don’t install solar panels above your roof’s ridgeline or the highest point of the roof, excluding chimneys.
  • The solar panels don’t project over 20cm above the roof’s surface, but they may project by up to 60cm for flat roofs.
  • You make every practical effort to preserve the aesthetic appearance of the building during installation.

If the DIY solar panel installation is on land instead of your roof, the first installation will be permitted development, but any additional units will require planning permission. You must also ensure that:

  • The panels have minimal impact on the area’s appearance
  • The panels are at least 5 meters from the edge of the property
  • The panels are not taller than 4 meters and don’t exceed an area of 9 square meters.

If you’re still learning about solar, refer to our complete advice section for more help and advice, which includes guides on the best solar panels, costs of installing solar and if solar is worth it.

DIY Solar Panel Installation on a Listed Building

Listed buildings in the UK have national, historical, or architectural significance and have protection against alterations or additions that can alter their appearance.

They feature more stringent requirements, and if you’re doing a DIY solar panel installation on a listed building, you’ll need to apply for a Listed Building Consent (LBC) from the local planning authority.

Your LBC application can succeed if you can show the council that:

  • The DIY solar panel installation is reversible, and you can remove it in the future without any structural damage to the building
  • The installation will not significantly detract from the building’s aesthetic qualities or alter them
  • The listed building where you’re attempting the DIY solar panel installation is structurally sound enough to support the development.

Obtaining an LBC shouldn’t be too difficult, provided you can prove to the council that you’re committed to adding and maintaining the solar panels to a high and compliant standard.

Remember, an LBC isn’t the same as planning permission, so you’ll need both before proceeding.

Can Your Neighbours Object A DIY Solar Panel Installment

Provided you have the necessary planning permission or your DIY solar panel installation falls under permitted development, it’s unlikely that your neighbour’s objections will impact the installation on your property.

However, it’s wise to be proactive and take steps to ensure a cordial relationship with your neighbours.

You can limit the impact the installation of the solar panels will have on your neighbours by involving them from the start and notifying them about the possible noise or visual impact the panels will have.

Ensure you take visual considerations into account by doing a neat installation and trying to keep the solar panels out of view from the neighbour’s property or public roads if possible.

Although they may not influence your DIY solar panel installation, it doesn’t hurt to maintain a good relationship with your neighbours since they can also impact you or your way of life with their projects and installations.

Are There Any Tax Obligations for DIY Solar Panel Installations?

No. You’ll not have any tax obligation for a DIY solar panel installation on your residential property.

In April 2022, the UK government introduced a zero-rate VAT on installing energy-saving materials like solar panels in residential accommodations to encourage households to adopt renewable energy sources.

The relief aims to help reduce installation costs and will last until March 2027.

Final Thoughts on Legal Considerations for DIY Solar Panel Installations

DIY solar panel installations are perfectly legal, but you must assume the responsibilities that would have been passed on to a certified installer.

Although it can save you money on the total costs, performing a DIY solar panel installation isn’t recommended unless you have the necessary expertise and experience.

Sources used in this article:

  • https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/solar-panels/
  • https://mcscertified.com/
  • https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/596/schedule/2/part/14/made
  • https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8602/