Commercial solar panels
Eliminate Your Business Energy Bills With Commercial Solar Panels
Welcome to our ultimate guide to the world of solar panels for business.
Commercial solar panels produce cost-free, renewable electricity that protects your company against today’s sky-high electricity prices.
However, the details of commercial solar panels can be complex, so we’ve produced this guide to help get you up to speed. Here are some quick-fire links to the key parts of this guide:
A commercial solar panel array is a huge investment, whatever the size of your business. It’s important to understand exactly what you’re purchasing and how much electricity it will generate.
Here are the essential things to understand when deciding whether commercial solar panels are right for your business.
A commercial solar panel system is designed to efficiently convert the solar energy from the sun into 230V, 50Hz electricity that normally comes from a plug in the UK. Here are the key steps:
Solar panels used at commercial properties are long-life assets that will reliably generate renewable energy for decades. A commercial solar setup has various components that need to be considered from a lifetime perspective.
The general consensus for solar panels is that modern panels will reliably generate electricity for 40+ years and degrade in efficiency by only half a percent each year.
A typical manufacturer’s warranty will guarantee that a panel will still produce 85% of its original power output after 20 years. Given this strong promise, it’s safe to say manufacturers are confident panels will perform for much longer than this.
Other electrical components, like the inverter, will typically need replacing after 13 years. If you’ve chosen a system with solar batteries, these may need replacing every 10 to 15 years.
There are two key factors to consider when estimating the number of solar panels your business needs. These are:
Let’s first start with space. Businesses in the UK seeking to generate a lot of electricity will require a lot of space and it’s often a limiting factor. First, calculate the maximum number of solar panels your business could actually fit. See our section below for the dimensions of a typical solar panel.
Secondly, calculate how much electricity you want to produce from your commercial solar panels. Here’s our handy article on calculating business energy usage.
The table below is a rough guide to how much electricity you should expect to generate from a single solar panel in the UK. Divide the amount of electricity you would like to generate each month (in kWh) by the monthly electricity generation of each panel below to get the number of panels you will need.
|Average monthly peak sun hours
|Monthly electricity generation from each 400W panel
Source: Average peak sun hours – climate.biz, 0.75 factor applied to account for real-world conditions.
Note: The exact power generation from a solar panel is affected by factors such as the type of commercial solar panels you choose, the angle of your roof and the daily weather conditions.
Commercial solar panels are typically rectangular in shape and approximately two meters in length and one meter in width.
As a guide, the below table shows the dimensions of a range of panels currently available on the market.
|1.925 x 1.040m
|1.722 x 1.134m
|1.722 x 1.134m
|2.278 x 1.134m
Source: Solar panel choices available solartradesales as of 1 September 2023
Solar panel technology is ever-evolving fast, producing panels with greater efficiency and lower cost. Here’s a summary of the different types of solar panels currently available as options for businesses.
We’ve categorised the types of commercial solar panels into the material composition of each.
Generation: First generation
Average cost per panel: £250 to £400
Life expectancy: 30 to 50 years
Composition: A single crystal of cylindrical silicon ingot
Advantage: Highest efficiency solar panel on the market
Generation: First generation
Average cost per panel: £225 to £250 per panel
Life expectancy: 30 to 40 years
Composition: Multiple crystals of silicon ingot
Advantage: Cheaper alternative to monocrystalline panels
Generation: Second generation
Efficiency: 7 – 13%
Average cost per panel: £200 to £250
Life expectancy: 10 to 20 years
Composition: A thin film of cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium selenide or amorphous silicon mounted between layers of glass.
Advantage: Light and easy to install, more ascetic.
Below, our business energy experts answer all the common questions about commercial solar panels.
Typically not, installing commercial solar panels is a permitted development under The Town and Country Planning legislation (see Class J). However, this legislation allows for a pretty long list of circumstances requiring planning permission.
Commercial solar installers will perform a planning permission assessment as part of a site survey to identify any issues.
It’s important to rely on professional solar panel installers to avoid any structural issues with your roofing and to ensure that the solar panel racking does not interfere with the property’s drainage.
Roof-mounted solar panels on commercial properties can be easier as they typically have flatter roofs.
Solar panels generate some electricity in cloudy conditions, but you want your solar panels to get as much direct sunlight as possible.
Under overcast conditions, your solar panels will produce anywhere between 10% and 60% of their regular power output, depending on how thick the cloud cover is.
When rain clouds block sunlight and darken the sky, system output will be 40–90% lower.