Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Solar Panels in Older and Historic Buildings

How do solar panels work?

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels (also known as a solar photovoltaic system or PV) are roof or ground-mounted panels which generate electricity.

You can use solar panels to capture the sun's energy and convert it to electricity to power your home.

The Energy Saving Trust has a comprehensive guide to solar panels.


In homes, the typical installation is a 4kW array consisting of 12 to 16 panels. Each panel measures about 1 metre by 1.5 metre.

A solar system also needs an inverter. This small device, typically sited in a loft or utility room, converts the direct current electricity produced by the panels into the alternating current electricity needed to power a home.

Can solar panels work for my building?

The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity will be generated by solar panels.

The ideal placement for solar panels is a roof or ground space which faces between south-east and south-west.

East and/or west facing roofs can also work.

The panels should avoid as much shading as possible, including by trees in leaf the summer.

  • Next
  • Installing solar panels on historic buildings

  • Share this: