There are high numbers of remote villages that still need electrification in some countries. Extension of the central electrical power network to these villages is not viable owing to the high costs and power losses involved. Isolated power systems such as rural microgrids based on renewables could be a potential solution. Photovoltaics (PV) technology is particularly suited for countries like India due to factors such as the available solar resource, the modularity of the technology and low technology costs. It was identified that unlike larger isolated power systems, rural microgrids have a low energy demand as the loads are mainly residential and street lighting. Hence, these microgrids could be of a single-phase configuration. At present, the typical procedure followed by planners of rural networks does not consider the importance of PV source siting and optimisation of network structure. An improved design procedure is introduced in this work based on the use of centres of moments for central PV system sizing, simulated annealing for network structure optimisation and load flow based parametric analysis for confirming the PV microgrid structure before detailed software-based PV design. Case studies of two remote villages are used to inform and illustrate the design procedure.