How We Installed Solar Panels In Three Days With No Scaffold (2023)

This residential property in South London required solar panel fitting and other roof maintenance services to improve its energy efficiency.

With limited access due to close neighbouring residential properties and narrow entryways, learn how our talented rope access technicians overcame access issues to fully install this client's solar panel pitch.


Like many others in the UK, our client had been struggling with rising living costs and skyrocketing energy costs. They had been looking at their options for several months and were interested in a renewable source of energy for their home.

The client had previously enquired with another company but was told that their roof would not allow enough panels to be installed to produce sufficient energy due to some pre-existing damage to their tiles. They were informed that panels could only be applied to certain areas of their roof.

Our client got in touch after seeing one of our Spectrum Specialist Support vans in their local area. They were aware of our other services and were assured by our extensive roofing experience. At Spectrum, we have over twenty years of experience in roofing-related works, including solar panel installation across London and the South East. As we regularly offer roof maintenance and repairs, we assured the customer that we could repair their roof, thus restoring structural stability to the load-bearing beams, before fitting solar panels for them.

The client's property was a detached two-storey home, on a private residential road, with a narrow driveway that posed access issues for larger machinery. Before our pre-site assessment, the client had concerns about the roof's pitch being too shallow.

How We Installed Solar Panels In Three Days With No Scaffold (1)

Pre-Site Assessment

A pre-site assessment is an essential component of our services to gather the details of the project and determine what action needs to be taken. As this customer's roof had some pre-existing tile damage that needed repairing, we assessed the damage caused by this and evaluated which waterproofing solution would provide the best results once the damage had been repaired. We evaluated the load-bearing capacity of the roof. We determined that any water damage caused by the damaged tiles was minor but would need fixing before solar panel installation.

Once we established if the property was suitable for solar panel installation, we got to work on assessing which roof was the best to install the solar panels. Although the client had concerns about the pitch of the roof being too shallow, we confirmed that the planned area had a pitch of 25°. A roof with an angle of less than 15° is considered too shallow, as the panels would no longer be able to be considered self-cleaning. This would mean they would need cleaning regularly, which is an unnecessary burden. Though 25° is regarded as a low-pitch roof, with some minor panel adjustments, this caused no issues.

Once a decision had been made on which roof to use and the square footage available, we presented the customer with different solar power options and explained how much wattage can be generated per sq metre on the roof. Before providing a quote, we always ask the customer to provide a ​​utility bill. This is essential to accurately estimate the potential return on your investment and the energy cost savings available.

Some factors we consider when assessing a property's energy potential are location, adjacent properties, landscape and any other energy blockers like hills and trees. While on site, we also noticed a few environmental factors that must be addressed. Certain trees on the property were casting significant shadows onto the home and would require cutting back regularly to ensure solar efficiency.

We advised the customer of the options that suited their energy needs and budget. The whole system was customised to their needs, down to the panels, inverters, rails and batteries. We always ensure the selected equipment was compatible and, therefore, MCS certified.

When the customer had chosen a solar method, we sent over our quote, installation timeframe and energy score. For this property, the quote included the repair and waterproofing services required before installation. If you are interested in receiving a solar panel installation quote for your property, just get in touch with our helpful team who will take you through the process.

The Project

Roof Repairs

The roof repairs consisted of a full water test on arrival to identify the cause and location/s of the problem, after which we provided a detailed report of our findings with some remedial cost recommendations to restore safety and functionality to the affected area. We reviewed the possible repair options with the client's budget, timeframe and requirements in mind.

As always, the aim was to locate and repair a leak and prevent it from reoccurring, particularly as this repair was required before the solar panel installation could begin.

After completing the roof repairs, the roof was re-assessed for structural stability. Ensuring the roof is safe before installation is essential, as affixing the rails will require drilling into the roofing materials. If any damage isn't spotted, e.g. rotten beams or cracked tile, there is the potential for water ingress through this area which will be much more difficult and costly to repair once the panels have been fitted.

Access Assessment

Our site assessment determined that we would need a small cherry picker on site for two days to raise the panels and rails to the roof while the installation took place. The uneven ground at the reverse of the property meant that our cherry picker needed to be at the front of the property on the driveway. This would also prevent damage to the client's garden and ensure our operatives were as non-disruptive as possible.

As this was a private residential road, we placed notices around the site to inform residents and neighbours of the works being carried out and what times of day we would be causing any noise. We also clearly signposted any heavy machinery or vehicles for absolute clarity.

We laid flooring protection inside the property to protect surfaces while the panels were wired into the home. Protective mats were also used on the driveway and grass to protect the client's property while the cherry picker was on site.

How We Installed Solar Panels In Three Days With No Scaffold (2)

[images from our most recent training session]


First, roof anchors are installed into the tiles for the mounting rails to be attached. This forms the base of the solar panel pitch and is what the panels are attached to. The mounting rails are locked to the roof anchors, and the panels are then affixed to the mounting rails using clamps.

Panels are loaded onto the cherry picker to be lifted to height and installed one by one by our team of IRATA-certified abseilers. Our years of rope experience mean we can install anywhere without expensive access equipment or scaffolding services. Using compatible solar products means that the panels can clip straight into the rails, ensuring swift installation.

Once the panels have been placed, the wiring must be drilled into the home and linked to the batteries and switches where the residents can control the energy. This client wanted the controls for their panels to be available in the kitchen, so we drilled pilot holes in discrete locations to thread the cables through to the area requested. As we require access to the property, we placed protective mats on all carpeted areas while we were inside. The batteries could have been stored outside if the client wanted to reduce drilling. Still, as we were only inside for one day, they opted for the convenience of having the batteries and switches inside.

Once the wiring was run through the home, an electrician connected the inverters and other electrical equipment. The electrician also connected the system to the internal switches controlling the system from inside the building. The circuit supplying the inverter must be certificated by an electrician registered under one of the competent person schemes like NICEIC or NAPIT.

Having an NICEIC electrician sign off on a solar panel installation is vital and ensures your system is safe. As a company, we are MCS-certified. Upon completion of solar panel installation, a certificate will be issued, which serves as proof that your installation has been designed, installed & completed to the highest standard using only MCS-certified products by an MCS-accredited installer.

The Result

As a result of this solar installation, this customer has significantly reduced their energy costs and reliance on the national grid.

Though they were initially told they could not have solar panels, our extensive history in roof repair expertise allowed us to repair the client's initial issue, and provide them with their dream solar installation. The tree pruning required to optimise panel efficiency also let more light into the home and garden, which was an unexpected benefit.

The client was extremely happy with the lack of disruption caused and even managed to host a garden party while we fitted the panels.

"We were very impressed with how efficiently the team worked and how little disruption there was.

We were able to host a party while people were working on the roof!"


How long does it take to install one solar panel? ›

A typical install will take between 4-6 hours, depending on system size. You only need to be there if access needs to be granted to install equipment in the garage, for example. Depending on the solar energy system's size, most home solar panels can be installed in a single day.

What happens to solar power when there is no load? ›

What Will Happen If No Load Is Connected To A Solar Photovoltaic System? No “electricity” will be generated. Voltage and current are required for electricity. You have voltage (i.e., potential) but no current when the load is unplugged.

How do solar panels work when there is no sun? ›

Solar panels use ultraviolet light to create power. Even on a cloudy day, there is ultraviolet light present. Infrared light, which can also be used for solar energy and is present on cloudy and dark days, is lower in energy than visible light, but solar panels are still able to convert it into electricity.

What to do before installing solar? ›

Before installing solar panels
  1. Read our information on Buying solar panels? ...
  2. Consider your current electricity needs. ...
  3. Choose a system size that is fit for your needs, and consider any future needs (such as changing heating or hot water to electric). ...
  4. Understand the financials.
Feb 22, 2023

What is the best way to install solar? ›

Right now, the best way to install solar is through a qualified professional who holds a certification to do so and works with high-quality solar panels. The industry-standard certification is awarded through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

How much does 1 solar panel generate a day? ›

How much power does a solar panel produce in a day? Solar power from a single panel in a solar panel system typically produces about 2 kWh per day.

How long does a solar panel work in a day? ›

So, even though the average day is exactly 12 hours, the power you actually get on your panels is equal to about 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day. Since the typical modern solar panel is about 19% - 21% efficient, you will get about 1200 watts per square meter of panel.

Can 1 solar panels power a whole house? ›

Fact vs Myth: Can Solar Energy Really Power an Entire House? [2023 Update] One of the most frequently asked questions by homeowners in regard to solar power is, “can it really power my entire house?” The answer to that is actually quite simple – yes, solar can indeed power your entire home.

What happens to solar panels when battery is full? ›

If there's no more storage space because your solar battery is full, the renewable energy generated will simply stop being absorbed from your solar panels. Your solar panels will continue to generate energy but it will not be used or stored until there's demand or space for it.

Can I use solar if power goes out? ›

Power Outages and Solar Energy

The answer is simple. Solar power will not serve as a backup generator. Solar energy will go out just like other forms of energy do during a severe storm. Keep in mind, however, that this does not make solar energy any less of a valuable investment for your home.

Do solar panels run without electricity? ›

Solar panels alone won't work during a power outage—but when paired with solar battery storage, they can. See how solar battery storage keeps your solar systems working during an outage with reliable, renewable solar power, and why we need clean energy now more than ever.

Do solar panels work in rain? ›

Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.

How many hours of sun needed for solar panels? ›

Ideally, your solar panels should receive at least four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Do solar panels generate electricity at night? ›

Do solar panels work at night? No, they do not. However, there are a few ways that your nighttime power usage can be offset by solar produced during the day, including net metering and battery storage.

What I wish I knew before installing solar panels? ›

15 Things to Consider Before Installing Rooftop Solar Panels
  • Does your roof need repairs? ...
  • What is the shape of your roof? ...
  • Which direction do the slopes of your roof face? ...
  • How much weight can your roof handle? ...
  • Where will the water go? ...
  • What about nature's other surprises? ...
  • How do you connect to the grid?

What time of year is best to install solar panels? ›

Ideal Weather for Solar Panel Installations

It can also be wet and rainy in both the spring and summer, which is not ideal for solar panel installation. Alternatively, the fall is the best time of year to install solar panels because the weather is mild and in many places, it's dry.

Do solar panels increase home insurance? ›

You may not see an increase in your homeowners insurance premium after installing solar panels on your roof. However, you'll likely need to raise your coverage limits to account for the replacement cost of your solar panels, which will likely result in some increase to your premium.

How many solar panels are needed to run a home? ›

An average home needs between 17 and 21 solar panels to fully offset utility bills with solar. The number of solar panels you need depends on a few key factors, including your geographic location and individual panel specifications.

Do solar panels save money? ›

Besides the federal tax credit, solar panels increase property values while lowering utility bills. Compared to gas or electric heating systems, solar panels save you much more in the long-run. Your solar panel system can pay for itself in three years!

How long do solar panels last? ›

The industry standard for most solar panels' lifespans is 25 to 30 years. Most reputable manufacturers offer production warranties for 25 years or more.

What is the highest watt solar panel? ›

For residential panels, the highest wattage solar panels available are around 500W, which is more than enough for residential use. The wattage for residential panels is limited to 500W due to the need to ensure that the panels' size will fit on most rooftops.

How much power does my 400 solar panel make in a day? ›

However, in general, you can expect a 400-watt solar panel to produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 kWh to 2 kWh of energy each day. This is enough to power a number of devices and appliances, including lights, televisions, mini-refrigerators, fans, and more.

How many solar panels do I need for 30 kWh per day? ›

The average US household uses around 30 kWh of electricity per day, which would require 5 kW to 8.5 kW solar system (depending on sun exposure) to offset 100%.

Can a solar panel work 24 hours? ›

It might seem that solar power, since it comes from the sun, is only available when the sun is shining bright. But no! Solar energy, once captured, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to power our lives wherever solar panels are installed.

Do solar panels work on hot days? ›

Heat can “severely reduce” the ability of solar panels to produce power, according to CED Greentech, a solar equipment supplier in the United States. Depending on where they're installed, hot temperatures can reduce the output efficiency of solar panels by 10%-25%, the company says.

Do solar panels work better at night? ›

Do solar panels work at night/in the dark? Strictly no—solar panels are not too effective at night. But it's now easier than ever to store energy your panels produce during the day.

Can solar panels power a fridge? ›

Short Answer Is Yes You Can Run A Fridge On Solar Power

The short answer is yes because the energy requirements of almost any fridge fits into the output power of even small solar energy systems.

How many solar batteries are needed to power a house? ›

A 400 amp-hour 6 volt battery can provide around 2.4 kilowatt hours of power. A three-day battery bank planned to provide 90 kilowatt-hours of electricity to an average American household. The previous example battery can provide2,4 kilowatt hours, while 38 batteries would be needed.

How many watts does a house use? ›

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American home uses an average of 10,632 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. That's 29,130 watts (W) per day, which can be divided by 24 hours to get an average of 1,214 W to power a home throughout the day.

Can I install a solar panel system myself? ›

Again, the answer is yes. If you can drive lag bolts and assemble prefabricated parts, and if you're willing to spend a day or two on your roof (or not, if you're mounting your panels on the ground), you can install your own solar system.

Can you install solar panels by yourself? ›

It is possible to do the process of installing solar panels on your own. There are solar systems designed specifically for DIYers that, while sometimes time-consuming, should be more than doable. It's worth noting, though, that many DIY solar panels are not designed to hook up to the traditional energy grid.

Can I add solar panels to my system myself? ›

Can You Add Solar Panels To An Existing System? Yes, it is possible to expand most solar energy systems, but it isn't always cost-effective for various reasons. In some cases, adding solar panels might be more complicated and expensive than it may seem, but it is typically feasible.

What is the simplest solar panel setup? ›

An on grid set-up is very simple, you simply put some solar panels on your roof and then connect them to a grid inverter which is then connected to your existing electrical network in your house. This can be on any scale depending on your need and budget.

What equipment is needed for solar energy? ›

In order to go solar, you need solar panels, inverters, racking equipment, and performance monitoring equipment. You also might want an energy storage system (aka solar battery), especially if you live in an area that doesn't have net metering.

What is the best voltage for a solar system? ›

For the most cost-space-benefit, here's a good rule of thumb that engineers use to determine the best voltage configuration for your system. If your solar array capacity is: < 1000W then 12V is Good. > 1000W and < 2000W then 24V is Better.

Can I plug a solar panel into an outlet? ›

Costs can vary depending on your location and situation. Plug-in solar offers a homeowner the possibility of plugging a solar system into a wall outlet and producing renewable energy without paying for professionals to design and install the system. It's also easy to move a plug-in system to a new home.

How many solar panels are needed to power a house? ›

An average home needs between 17 and 21 solar panels to fully offset utility bills with solar. The number of solar panels you need depends on a few key factors, including your geographic location and individual panel specifications.

How do you wire solar panels to a house? ›

Connecting Solar Panels to House Electricity
  1. String and Install Solar Panels. Before you can connect solar panels to your house's electricity, you have to install them on the roof of your home. ...
  2. Connect Solar Panels to Inverter. ...
  3. Wire Battery Into Home Circuit Breaker Panel. ...
  4. Connect Inverter to Fuse Box.

How many watts of solar do I need? ›

You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household's hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel's wattage. Use a low-wattage (150 W) and high-wattage (370 W) example to establish a range (ex: 17-42 panels to generate 11,000 kWh/year).

How can I use solar panels directly without a battery? ›

Powering a load with solar panels without a battery can be achieved by using a DC to DC inverter, and an additional DC to AC solar inverter if we are dealing with an AC load.

Can I have 2 solar systems? ›

You can add a new solar system, although two systems working side-by-side can make adding batteries and backup trickier. The benefits of this third approach: With a new system, you get a separate warranty. Installing a new solar system may be cheaper than upgrading.

Why can't I install my own solar panels? ›

DIY installation may be illegal where you live according to local zoning laws. Most home DIY all-in-one solar panel solar kits (including items like solar batteries, and inverters) are designed for off-grid use, which means you can't use them and remain connected to your utility.

How many solar panels can I put on my roof? ›

To calculate how many panels can fit on your roof, simply divide your open roof space by 17.5 square feet (or however large your particular solar panels are). For example, if you have 1,000 square feet of open, available roof space, that works out to enough space for about 57 solar panels.


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