Do Ground Mounted Solar Panels Need Planning Permission?

If you’re thinking of putting solar panels in your San Diego house or anyplace else in California, one of the first questions you’ll want to ask is whether you’ll need a permit. Yes, to put it succinctly.

However, the good news is that it’s pretty easy to perform, especially if you deal with a licensed San Diego Solar Panel Installer.

It is critical to consult with an experienced specialist since installing photovoltaic panels without first obtaining the necessary permits can result in catastrophic consequences. There may be fines or you may be obliged to remove the panels in some cases.

Is it possible to put solar panels on the ground?

A ground-mounted solar power system is exactly what it sounds like: a system of solar panels put on your property’s ground rather than on your home’s roof.

Solar panels that are fixed on the ground can be positioned anywhere on your property that has enough open space and decent sun exposure. Depending on how the racking system is set up, the panels can be placed anywhere from a few inches to a few feet off the ground. The panels feed energy to a solar inverter, which can be found either behind the panels or within the house.

Residential ground-mount solar systems are often constructed using 60-cell solar panels, which are the same size as those used in residential rooftop solar systems. Larger, 72-cell solar panels are utilized in larger-scale ground-mounted systems, such as those used in solar farms.

Backyard solar panels, free-standing solar panels, and ground-mount PV systems are all terms used to describe ground-mounted solar panels.

Can I install solar panels in my garden in the United Kingdom?

Home solar systems are generally deemed ‘permitted development’ in England and Wales, as long as the building’s aesthetic faade is taken into account. If you live in a conservation area or, as in William’s case, a listed building, there are several restrictions that must be followed.

Living in a conservation area or a listed building does not always preclude you from benefiting from solar panels, but you should notify your local council before proceeding with any installation.

A ground-mounted system is classified as a ‘permitted development’ if the array is no more than 4 meters high, is positioned at an agreed-upon distance from the property, and is no larger than 9 meters square. If you have any doubts, you should always seek counsel from your local government.

If you’d like to learn more about a home solar system for energy, please fill out our brief, no-obligation form and a member of our staff will contact you.

Do solar panels in the United Kingdom require planning permission?

Solar panels, like any other major house improvement, are only allowed to be installed if certain conditions are met. These rules and regulations are in place to decrease the chance that your solar array will become a problem or a potential hazard in the future.

Permitted Developments

Solar panels were designated as ‘Permitted Development’ in April 2008, which means that no planning clearance is required. The following are the only exceptions:

In certain circumstances, planning permission may be granted, but only at the discretion of your local planning authority.

Aside from that, solar panels must adhere to standard building codes, which include ensuring that the roof can take the additional load which your MCS-certified installer will do for you.

Rules for fitting Solar PV to your roof

  • A solar array should not be higher than the roof’s highest point (excluding any chimney)
  • The panels should be removed from the roof once they are no longer needed to generate electricity.
  • Solar panels must be installed in such a way that they do not alter the appearance of the structure or the surrounding region.

Is it possible to install solar panels in your backyard?

Rooftop solar isn’t the only option for solar technology to adapt to your requirements and preferences. Your backyard can also be useful. Solar panels can be installed in a variety of areas, including barns, pergolas, and garages. These locations can give power to your home even if they aren’t directly connected to it. You’ll also be eligible for financial incentives if these systems are fixed. Here are six less-known spots in your yard where you can install solar-powered enhancements.

Is ground-mounted solar less expensive than roof-mounted solar?

Much of the higher cost is due to the additional materials required, such as reinforced pole structures and cement foundations. Due to the more extensive mounting method, labor costs for ground-mounted panels are considerably greater.

Furthermore, mounting a photovoltaic array at ground level exposes the electrical components to rabbits, squirrels, and other garden pests. You may need to bury your cables to keep creatures from eating them.

With a rooftop array, you won’t have to dig trenches for subterranean wiring, which is an extra cost.

Are there any construction codes that apply to solar panels?

Solar panel installations must meet the property’s regular construction codes, which is a legal requirement for many home upgrades.

The structural safety of a building (Part A) and the electrical safety of a building are the two most important elements (Part P). The added weight of rooftop panels must be supported by your roof, and the system’s electricals must be safe. In addition, standard health and safety procedures must be followed.

If you hire an installation who is a member of an approved Competent Persons Scheme, you won’t have to file your own building rules application (CPS). Your installer should have MCS certification and be a member of a microgeneration technology CPS, such as NICEIC. Following the system’s commissioning, you’ll obtain certificates proving that it complies with all applicable regulations.

Planning permission for solar panels

Solar panels, in most circumstances, do not require planning clearance because they are allowed developments. Depending on whether the property is residential or commercial, there are a few standards that must be met.

Domestic installations

Solar panels installed on a private home’s roof or wall are considered authorized development (i.e., they don’t require planning permission) if the following conditions are met:

  • Panels should not protrude more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface and should not be positioned over the ridgeline. On a sloping roof, these parameters will be met if the panels are positioned parallel to the roof. They are unlikely to be fulfilled if the panels are installed on a level roof, as the panels will be installed at a minimum of a 5-10 degree slope to the horizontal and will protrude more than 200mm over the roof in this instance.
  • Even though planning approval is not required, if your property is a listed building, the installation will almost certainly necessitate an application for listed building consent. All installations should be checked with the local planning authority.
  • When panels are to be installed on the major or side elevation walls and are visible from the highway, planning consent is necessary if your property is in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site. If you’re installing panels on a structure in your garden or grounds, they shouldn’t be visible from the road. We urge that you double-check all installations with the local planning office to be safe.

Unless the array is less than 9 square meters, ground-mounted installations require planning clearance, but even then, you should check. The portal implies that’standalone’ systems (we think they mean ground-mounted systems, but it’s worth double-checking with your local government) don’t require approval as long as they follow some very rigorous guidelines:

  • Land in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site should be hidden from view from the highway;

Commercial installations

Most non-domestic solar projects under 1 MW are considered approved development under regulations enacted in April 2015, as long as the following conditions are met:

  • Panels protrude less than 200mm perpendicularly from the roof or wall plane (pitched and wall installations);
  • panels are at least 1 meter away from the building’s external boundaries (pitched and flat roof installations);
  • Panels must protrude less than 1 meter from the roof surface and cannot be the tallest component (flat roof installations);
  • A ground-mounted array must be no larger than 9m2, no higher than 4m, and no wider than 3m in any direction.
  • if the installation is on a listed building or a building within the grounds of a listed structure, or if the installation is on a scheduled monument site;
  • if the structure is on Article 2(3) designated land and the equipment is not mounted on a highway-facing wall or roof slope;

For systems larger than 50 kW, the Local Planning Authority must provide Prior Approval, which is a less rigorous process than a planning application. This will evaluate the development’s design and appearance from the outside, with a focus on the impact of glare on nearby landowners.

Rooftop domestic installations under 4kWp

The structural report may be the only stumbling block for domestic rooftop installations. If the house has a single phase supply, an application to the DNO is normally required if the system size exceeds 3.68kWp (this limit is 3.68kWp per phase, so 11kWp on a 3 phase supply). For systems under 4kWp, permission to connect to the grid is frequently granted.

Non domestic installations and larger domestic installations

  • Permission from the Planning Commission (if applicable) (allow 10-11 weeks). If planning permission is required, we will normally spend two weeks putting together the application, followed by an eight-week wait for the planning department to decide on the application’s outcome.
  • Application for DNO (allow 11 weeks). Installations requiring more than 3.68 kWp (on a single phase supply) or 11 kWp (on a three phase supply) will require an application to the relevant DNO (network operator), such as Western Power or SSE, in addition to planning clearance. Occasionally, the DNO will approve the connection if specified additional costs are paid to enhance the grid (transformer or cables) in the area.
  • Work on the grid/installation of a three-phase connection (allow at least six weeks if required). If the DNO discovers extra grid work or a 3-phase connection needs to be constructed on the property, the timeframe will likely be extended by six to many months, depending on the speed of the operator.
  • Report on the structure (allow one to two weeks). The structural analysis, which confirms that the roof can withstand the increased stresses imposed by the panels, is the final hurdle to clear for roof mounted systems. As a result of this research, additional strengthening work may be required. As long as the job isn’t too extensive, it can be done concurrently with the panel installation. Alternatively, because panels are lighter than roof tiles, you may go with an in-roof system rather than an on-roof system.

We normally apply for planning approval, submit an application to the DNO, and compile a structural report all at the same time, so that if everything goes smoothly, all of these hurdles can be cleared in 11 weeks. The installation can then begin, which usually takes four to six weeks after the planning decision is made. Depending on the magnitude of the project, installation can take anywhere from one to three weeks, with a total project timeframe of roughly five months.

We may delay applying to the DNO or creating the structural report until the planning application is determined at the client’s request and to save our (and their) costs if the planning application fails. This usually adds two months to the proceedings, bringing the total period to seven months.

The following is a typical installation timeline for a large-scale household or non-domestic installation:

The installation process

After you’ve made a reservation for an installation, the procedure for domestic installations is as follows:

  • A specialized project manager will be assigned to oversee all elements of your installation. At Spirit Energy, your project manager will be your personal point of contact, and you will be able to reach out to them at any time before, during, or after the installation.
  • We will schedule a technical survey on a day that is convenient for you if you have not already had one. One of our installers will visit your home and do a thorough technical inspection.
  • We will inspect your roof throughout this survey to ensure that it can withstand the panel load. Our structural engineer partner will offer you with structural calculations. It’s possible that we’ll need to make minor repairs to your roof.
  • Our planning department will call you and obtain the relevant information to file a planning application if the installation requires planning authorization and you have requested our assistance.
  • We normally install within 4-6 weeks after the date you sign the installation contract, though we may be able to do it sooner depending on our installers’ availability.
  • If your project necessitates scaffolding, we will arrange for scaffolding to be erected prior to the start of the installation. Our installers will be on site from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. throughout the installation. It takes two to three days to complete a standard installation.
  • Our lead installer will fully test and commission the system at the conclusion of the installation. We will welcome you to inspect every part of the work that has been completed. Our technicians will be able to explain what each component does and how to operate your new system in detail. You will be given a complete handover package that includes instructions on how to manage the system as well as all necessary certifications.
  • Finally, we will send you an invoice for the remaining money after you are completely satisfied with your new system. (On residential retrofit installs, we require a 25% deposit up front, with the remainder required within 7 days of completion.) Along with the 25% deposit, we have a stage payment plan for new construction.)

For domestic installations that do not require planning approval, you may anticipate to have your system up and operating within 4-6 weeks of contacting us, or sooner if you are in a hurry, as stated in the section on project timescales above.

What are the costs of ground-mounted solar panels in the United Kingdom?

A single solar panel can cost anywhere between 350 and 500, depending on the size and type of setup. A 4kW solar panel system, which costs roughly 6,000 and covers around 29 square metres of your roof, is one of the most typical household sizes.

How much room do you need for solar panels on the ground?

Each option offers advantages and disadvantages when comparing roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar panels. The best solution for your property will be determined by the site’s circumstances as well as your design preferences. The following are some of the advantages of a ground-mounted system:

  • Because there is no rooftop work involved, the installation is safer and easier to undertake yourself.
  • The solar panels and other system components are also easily accessible, making maintenance and repair easier.
  • If you need to use that part of your yard for something else in the future, you may remove and relocate a ground installation.
  • If solar panels clash with your roof design or exterior, a ground installation provides clean, renewable energy without detracting from the aesthetics of your property.
  • Ground-mounted solar panels produce more electricity because they may be positioned to take advantage of local sunlight. This reduces the amount of money you spend on electricity.
  • On farms, the ground beneath ground-mounted solar panels can be used to cultivate low-light plants or create shaded grazing areas for livestock.

Ground-mounted solar panels, like any other investment, have drawbacks that must be considered:

  • Because a supporting structure must be built, ground installations are more expensive. This step is skipped in a rooftop installation.
  • Even when ground-mounted solar systems are permitted, the regulatory process is more complicated than for rooftop installations.
  • A ground installation takes up area that could otherwise be used for other structures or landscaping.
  • Ground-mounted solar panels are more vulnerable to tampering, animal damage, and other annoyances since they are more accessible.
  • New structures or growing trees can shadow a ground installation, whereas a rooftop system is less likely to be shaded over time.

If you’re thinking of installing ground-mounted solar panels, make sure your property meets the requirements. In general, you’ll need a space that isn’t shaded, and you should check to see whether any nearby structures might block sunlight in the future.

Remember that each solar panel covers around 18 square feet, so if you want to install 20 of them, you’ll need about 360 square feet of open space. Although rooftop solar panels are more frequent, some homeowners find that ground-mounted solar panels are a superior investment.

They’re perfect for large properties with plenty of open space and no barriers producing shadows. When combined with a tracking system, a ground installation produces more electricity without increasing the amount of solar panels you need to buy.

If you’d like to get a free estimate from a top solar company in your area to start comparing the costs of a ground-mounted or rooftop system for your house, click below.

Do your neighbors have any objections to solar panels?

What options do they have? There isn’t much your neighbors can do legally if your installation is approved development or has planning clearance. You don’t want to jeopardize your friendship with them, though. If their issues are not addressed, they can continue to make your life difficult and unpleasant.