Solar Panels For Garage Roofs: All You Need To Know

  • There is usually no need for planning permission
  • Have your garage roof structure assessed beforehand to prevent any potential damage
  • A positive step towards energy independence
  • Utilise unused garden space
  • Keep the aesthetics of your main house intact

Solar panels are rapidly becoming a favoured choice for powering garages, presenting a sustainable and efficient energy solution for various needs. Beyond their practical advantages, solar panels are also gaining popularity as a strategic alternative for planning applications, making them an appealing option for homeowners, especially those in conservation areas and listed properties, seeking to adhere to regulations. Additionally, with the ambitious 2025 Net Zero target on the horizon, installing solar panels is a proactive step homeowners can take towards achieving energy independence and promoting environmental sustainability.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about installing and using solar panels for garages. From understanding the fundamentals of solar technology to evaluating their benefits and navigating planning requirements.

Can You Have Solar Panels On A Garage Roof?

Absolutely, you can install solar panels on a garage roof in the UK. In fact, they are a great choice. They typically lie in plentiful, unobstructed sunlight and with the right placement and installation, you can maximise your garden space. Roof type isn’t typically a problem either, whether flat or sloped, attached, or detached, your solar installer should be able to design a system that not only maximises your space and sunlight absorption, but also shrinks your carbon footprint too.

While it might seem obvious given the topic of this article, let’s consider some of the key details:

Firstly, it is indeed legal to install solar panels on your garage roof in the UK. For most outbuildings, including garages, solar panel installations fall under permitted development rights, meaning you generally won’t need planning approval. However, specific conditions must be met to ensure your project qualifies for permitted development. Therefore, it’s always wise to check with your local planning authority to confirm compliance with these regulations.

Additionally, you need to ensure your garage roof is strong enough to support the solar panels. The structure should be robust enough to withstand wind lift, the added weight of the solar panels, and any snow loads during winter. The garage should be constructed from high-quality, durable materials to ensure it doesn’t collapse under the weight.

For a typical installation aimed at providing green energy to a residence, you’ll need around six to nine solar PV panels. This setup requires a larger garage, more akin to a single garage-sized workshop.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to power just the garage itself, a smaller solar panel setup might suffice. These systems typically generate less electricity, ideal for lighting or powering small devices and spaces. However, if you need to power heavy machinery or other high-energy equipment, a grid-connected system might be more suitable.

How Are Garage Roof Solar Panels Connected To Your Property?

In terms of the connection process, garage roof solar panels connect to your home much like house roof ones. After the solar panels are securely mounted onto your garage roof and positioned to capture the maximum amount of sunlight (which typically means facing south in the UK), an inverter is installed. The inverter is usually located in the garage or a nearby utility area. The inverter is the magic component which converts the direct current (DC) produced by the solar panels upon absorbing the suns light, into alternating current (AC) which is the type of electrical energy we can use in our homes.

The inverter is connected to your home’s electrical system via wiring. The cables will be run from the solar panels to the inverter and then from the inverter to your home’s main electrical panel. It goes without saying that the wiring must be done in accordance with local electrical regulations. The AC electricity generated by the solar panels is fed into your home’s main electrical panel, allowing the solar energy to be distributed throughout your property, powering your appliances and devices.

If your solar panels produce more electricity than you use, the excess energy can be sent back to the grid through a process called net metering. This requires a special meter that tracks the energy you export to the grid and the energy you import from it. You may receive credits on your energy bill for the surplus power you generate. Most solar panel systems come complete with a monitoring system which is installed to track the performance of the panels in real time. It’s great for viewing how much energy you are producing and using, helping you to optimise energy consumption.

Some homeowners add battery storage to their system as well, allowing them to store any excess solar energy produced during the day for use at night or during power outages. It’s very handy if for instance, you have an electric vehicle that you want to put on charge overnight.

For a professional explanation on the workings of solar panels, check out Tarven Solar Energy’s easy-to-understand guide to how solar panels work.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Solar Panels On Garages?

Before installing any kind of solar energy on your garage in the UK, you need to weigh up the associated pros and cons:

Is It Worth Putting Solar Panels On My Garage?

When weighing up whether or not to put solar panels on your garage or other outbuilding, you need to think about:

  • What you use (or will use) your garage for
  • How much power you need – for instance, is it simply to power the activities in your garage or your whole property?
  • The size, age, and condition of your garage
  • The strength and stability of the roof
  • The position of the building
  • Your budget

When considering how you use—or plan to use—your garage, solar panels can be life-changing, if you spend a lot of time there and need electricity for lights, appliances, gym equipment, garden tools or office appliances. Imagine the savings and eco-friendly benefits of powering your garage with solar energy instead of mains electricity, especially for heating or lighting purposes. The amount of solar energy you’ll need will depend on your specific usage, making it a tailored, cost-effective solution for your garage’s power needs.

How Much Electricity Can Solar Panels On Garages Generate?

The electricity generated by solar panels on a garage depends on several factors: the number of panels, the roof’s orientation, and the panels’ performance. Let’s break this down to help you visualise it better.

Roof Size And Solar Panel Capacity

Garage roofs are generally smaller than house roofs, limiting the number of solar panels that can be installed. Despite this, a modest solar setup can significantly impact your energy usage. If your garage isn’t too large, the solar panels might generate enough electricity to power tools and other equipment you use there. Imagine running your power drill or charging your EV on free, renewable energy—reducing your carbon footprint and saving on energy costs!

Efficient Use Of Space

Because garages usually require fewer panels than a house, the installation is more cost-effective. You can maximise your garage roof space to meet your energy needs without the hefty installation costs associated with a larger residential system. Picture a compact, efficient solar array neatly fitted on your garage roof, quietly harnessing sunlight to power your devices.

Redirecting Power To Your Home

Another exciting possibility is directing the electricity generated by your garage’s solar panels back to your home. This setup would require running wiring from the garage to your home’s electricity meter. Envision a seamless connection where your garage not only powers your tools but also contributes to your household energy supply, making your home even more sustainable.

Let’s say you install four solar panels on your garage roof. If each panel generates around 300 watts of power, you could produce about 1.2 kilowatts of electricity on a sunny day. This could be enough to run several power tools simultaneously or charge batteries for later use. If you have a particularly sunny spot and the panels are optimally oriented, the output could be even higher.

Do You Need Planning Permission For Solar Panels On A Garage?

Whilst in most cases a property will not need planning permission for solar panels, especially if they are on a dwelling and not easily seen from the road, some properties, like listed buildings, flats, or those in conservation areas, might need permission to preserve the area’s look and function. Again, always check with your local planners to be sure.

How Can I Check If My Solar Installation Is Permitted Development?

Can Neighbours Object To Solar Panels?

There is nothing stopping neighbours expressing their concerns with your solar panel project, but they can’t necessarily prevent you from installing them, provided your project adheres to planning regulations and Permitted Development guidelines.

How Much Do Solar Panels For A Garage Roof Cost?

This is a hard cost to provide as it can vary widely depending on several factors, including the size of the system, the quality of the panels, the installation complexity, and any additional components such as inverters and batteries. However, to give you a good idea of what to expect, a small solar panel installation project (6 panels) (with no additional battery storage) would come in around £4,500. Check out Tarven’s solar panel cost guide which includes some real-life cast studies of different sized projects.

Why Choose National Timber Buildings For Your New Timber Garage

If your current wooden garage, or other timber building isn’t structurally sufficient for solar panels and you’re considering investing in a brand-new garden building, we’re here to help. With over 40 years of experience in designing, manufacturing, and erecting bespoke garden buildings throughout the UK, there’s nothing we can’t assist you with.

All our wood is sustainably sourced and tanalised®, ensuring durability and environmental responsibility. Our buildings are bespoke, traditionally made, quality checked, and crafted in our UK-based workshop. While we don’t install solar panels ourselves, we can recommend trusted, professional solar companies who would be delighted to help you add solar panels to your building, either upon completion or at a later date.

Contact National Timber Building today, to discuss your requirements through.