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A Guide To Integrated Solar Panels

In the quest for sustainable energy solutions, Integrated Solar Panels (commonly referred to as In-roof Solar Panels) stand at the forefront of innovation, revolutionising the way we harness the power of the sun. Unlike traditional solar installations that sit atop rooftops on top of your roof tiles or in the grounds of a property, integrated solar panels seamlessly merge with the architecture of buildings, offering a harmonious blend of aesthetics and functionality. In-roof solar panels require roof tiles to be removed so they can be embedded, and are ingeniously engineered to be fully waterproof, functioning seamlessly as roof tiles whilst generating solar energy to power your home.  

In this article, we explain the integration process of in-roof solar panels, examining their functionality, and explore their pros and cons. Our aim is to offer you a comprehensive guide to understanding these innovative solar solutions.

How do integrated solar panels work?

Integrated solar panels are fitted into a roof in a way that they become a part of it, just like regular roof tiles, and in most instances, there is no need to alter the underlying roof structure. Roof tiles are removed to expose the felt and batten roof, and plastic trays are fitted to this roof structure. Conventional framed solar PV modules are then mounted into these trays and roof tiles (or slate tiles) are used to fill around the trays for a seamless finish.  

They are designed to fit snugly into the structure of the roof, so they don’t stick out or look different from the rest of the roof. Essentially, when you look at a roof with integrated solar panels, you won’t be able to tell that they’re there, when in fact they are quietly working to generate electricity from the sunlight that hits them. This way, they provide both the function of protecting your home and generating clean energy at the same time. 

In-roof systems operate on the same principle as traditional solar panels but with the added functionality of being seamlessly integrated into a roof structure. These panels are typically made up of photovoltaic cells, which are semiconductor devices that convert sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect. When sunlight hits the surface of the integrated solar panel, the photovoltaic cells absorb the photons (light particles), exciting the electrons within the cells and creating an electric current. This electricity is then collected and converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) by an inverter, making it usable for powering electrical devices within your home or building.  

What are the advantages of in-roof solar panels?

In-roof solar panels offer several significant benefits for homeowners and businesses alike: 

Seamless Integration

Unlike traditional solar panels that are mounted on top of the roof, in-roof panels are integrated directly into the roof structure. This integration provides a sleek and seamless aesthetic, enhancing the overall appearance of the building. 

Lightweight With Enhanced Durability

In-roof solar panels can simultaneously offer durability with a lightweight design. By replacing traditional roof tiles and eliminating the need for mounting frames, they significantly reduce the overall weight load on your roof. This not only enhances their structural integrity but also makes them more resistant to wind forces. Unlike conventional solar panels, which can be susceptible to wind uplift due to their raised profile, in-roof panels sit flush with the roof surface, minimising the risk of damage even in the most severe weather conditions. With no gaps beneath the panels for wind to penetrate, in-roof solar systems remain securely in place, providing peace of mind regardless of the elements. 

Increased Property Value

The integration of solar panels into the roof can increase the property value of a home or commercial building. Potential buyers are often attracted to the energy-saving features and modern design elements offered by in-roof solar systems. 

Energy Efficiency

By harnessing the power of the sun, in-roof solar panels generate clean and renewable energy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering electricity bills. This sustainable energy source also helps to reduce carbon emissions, contributing to a greener environment. 

Space Optimisation

In-roof solar panels make efficient use of available roof space by serving a dual purpose as both roofing material and energy generators. This optimisation allows for greater flexibility in design and layout, especially in areas with limited space for traditional solar installations. 

Enhanced Planning Approval Potential

Integrated solar panels boast a streamlined and lightweight design, making them particularly appealing for securing planning permission, especially for heritage or listed buildings. Unlike traditional solar installations, in-roof panels offer a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing finish, seamlessly blending with the existing architecture. Additionally, their minimal weight means they pose little to no strain on structures that may have weight restrictions, ensuring compliance with planning regulations. This combination of visual appeal and structural compatibility enhances the likelihood of gaining approval for solar projects, even in historically significant or restricted areas. 

Minimal Maintenance Requirements

Integrated solar panels offer the advantage of reduced maintenance needs compared to traditional solar installations. Since these panels sit flush with the roof surface, they eliminate the possibility of birds or pigeons nesting underneath, sparing homeowners the hassle of bird-proofing measures. Furthermore, the absence of visible fixtures means there are no spaces for debris to accumulate, ensuring a cleaner appearance with minimal effort. With in-roof panels, maintaining a pristine look is effortless, making them an attractive and low-maintenance option for sustainable energy generation. 

Are There Any Cons Of In-Roof Solar Panels?

In-roof solar panels have pros and cons. They’re pricier to install due to extra materials and complexities, needing careful planning and risking leaks if not done right. They also limit design choices, potentially raising cooling costs by blocking ventilation and making repairs tricky. These panels may be less efficient than traditional ones due to being embedded in the roof, which could affect sunlight exposure and airflow. Retrofitting them usually means re-roofing, as they’re integrated into the roof’s structure, ensuring proper installation but adding to the expense. 

Which Type Of Integrated Solar Panel Shall I Choose?

There are a number of integrated solar panel systems on the market to choose from. However, there are two ways to achieve an in roof solar system: 

1. Use standard panels mounted using an in-roof frame such as the GSE system.

2. Use a bespoke system for which the panels are made specifically, such as Viridian or SolFit. 

At Tarven Solar Energy, we typically recommend the GSE systems as they offer the least expensive route. Plus, the GSE system is a mounting system, allowing the in-roof installation of standard solar panels on new buildings or buildings being renovate. The system fits 90-95% of solar PV panels available on the market and can be designed to cover the whole roof surface, if necessary, subject to panel size.  

Other benefits to GSE in-roof solar panels include: 

  • They are renowned for their lightweight, watertight, and cost-effective design. 
  • They provide a durable yet affordable option for integrating solar power seamlessly into your property. 
  • These systems, which rank among the most widely used in-roof solutions in the UK, boast exceptional versatility.  
  • Can accommodate around 90-95% of Solar PV panels and can be installed in both portrait and landscape orientations, serving a wide range of roof types and pitches, including those with wood or metal structures.  
  • GSE systems hold certification to MCS012 standards, ensuring that your solar panel setup remains eligible for export payments, thus maximising your return on investment. 
  • Crafted from 100% recyclable polypropylene, GSE panels exhibit superior craftsmanship and resilience. Their flexibility and ability to withstand shock and temperature fluctuations make them a durable and eco-friendly choice. 
  • GSE In-roof systems come with a comprehensive 10-year guarantee, providing peace of mind and long-term reliability for your solar energy investment. 

So, are integrated solar panels worth it? Let’s look at the facts we have uncovered: 

Integrated solar panels seamlessly blend with building architecture, enhancing aesthetics and potentially increasing property value. Their lightweight design ensures durability in severe weather and promotes energy efficiency by generating clean power, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering electricity bills. With minimal maintenance requirements and space-saving design, they offer a hassle-free solution for sustainable energy generation, suitable for a wide range of buildings and locations. However, there are a few challenges. In-roof solar panels are costly and complex to install, posing leak risks and limiting design options. They might hinder ventilation and be less efficient due to integration into the roof. Retrofitting often involves re-roofing for proper installation, adding to the expense. 

We would always recommend consulting with a professional solar panel installer to weigh up whether in-roof solar panels are right for your bespoke requirements. If you think integrated panels are for you, get a free in-roof solar panel quote today. Or just give us a call and we can chat things through 020 3937 5577.

Choose us for high-quality solar panel installation or electrical services. Getting started is as simple as contacting us on 020 8087 0216 or sending an email to enquiries@tarvenlimited.co.uk.