A complete guide to solar panels

Solar Panel Information-

Solar power is one of the most popular and effective kinds of renewable energy in the world. We use the natural power from the sun to generate electricity for our heating and electrical purposes at home or within businesses. Your system can either create electricity or heat your water whilst decreasing the levels of carbon dioxide produced.

Solar panels give a greener alternative to different forms of power, this includes central heating, as pollution or emitting greenhouse gases has no occurrence whilst operating. There have been many developments over the past few years into the technology of PV modules and more recently battery storage. More than ever they are accessible and affordable. Solar power is the way forward to save homes and businesses hundreds of pounds yearly on electricity bills.

Solar power works using individual PV cells. These are connected to each other to form the solar panel systems made up from cells and conductive materials. They are then able to convert solar power from the sun and produce electricity used to power all around your home. Our solar advisors within our business can help you decide if installing solar panels could be right for you.

Types of Solar Panels-

The type of Solar PV panels and which one you choose is all dependent on what you will be using them for, as well as the available space and money you are willing to spend on them. Solar has made plenty of upgrades to be where they are today. They are now much more advanced, making them not only more efficient but more aesthetically pleasing too. The main types of solar panel available are:

  • Mono-crystalline solar module: these kinds of solar panels don’t use as much space as the polycrystalline panels but are more or less the same efficiency. However they can potentially be priced at a higher cost.
  • Polycrystalline solar module: as well as the other panels the process of making these panels is much simpler. Making them cheaper means they are slightly less efficient at a higher temperature. However, do not worry when they are used for residential purposes. But they do nevertheless require more space due to needing more of them.
  • Thin film solar cells: the way these work is by using substrate and photovoltaic cells as well as using several layers of material onto a substrate base. There are various materials that can be applied, they are easy to produce en masse and their price can potentially be cheaper, in addition to the increase of flexibility.
  • Amorphous silicon solar cells: usually these cells have various layers which are stacked to improve their efficiency, but compared to other types these are less efficient.
  • Biohybrid solar cells: these have been made to utilize an increased natural method of photosynthesis by combining organic and non-organic matter. This means up to 100% efficiency, but the production is less power overall.

Roof tiles that are solar are also available to purchase. They look like normal roof tiles and can incorporate a battery. If you have a listed property these solar tiles can often be the better option, the most sales are from people who feel solar panels don’t look very attractive. The tiles are a great deal more expensive than photovoltaic PV.

There is also a difference between solar panels and solar cells. Solar cells contain all the necessary parts to proceed the process of converting sunlight into electricity. The cells are connected to create a solar panel which produces more electricity.

Energy storage is becoming a lot more efficient. With solar batteries increasing in popularity, solar power your system produces during the day can be kept and stored for later use, for example at night or on cloudy days when less power is generated. This is a great way to make sure your home is a lot more energy efficient and you get the best out of your panels.

It is a common misconception that the sun must be directly shining on a solar panel for it to work efficiently, this allegation is false. They can still generate electricity even on dull days, however they are a lot more efficient in summer on sunny days than winter as the sun is allocated higher in the sky.

The Benefits of Solar Panels-

Here are a few of the many benefits to generating solar electricity-

  • It’s green: pollution does not occur while solar panels operate, so by using them you are using clean energy to power your home or business, resulting in the reduction of your carbon footprint.
  • Save on cash: any electricity you produce is completely free of charge and it can be used to power anything within your home and, or business for free. This lowers your energy bills and saves you money long term. Also you will be able to make money from the Smart Export Guarantee which replaces FIT, meaning a faster return on investment.
  • No planning permission: installing solar panels doesn’t require special permission. Some rules need to be put into place and followed but mostly it’s simple.
  • It’s renewable: the sun will always be around to power your solar system and they even work on cloudy days, so you will be provided with plenty of free electricity all year round. Adding a battery storage device will save your electricity produced and use it for the evening too. Additionally this cuts your carbon footprint.
  • Efficient all year: solar power is produced all year, not just when the sun shines most.

Any disadvantages to solar?

Cost- there is initially a high cost to installing solar panels, although they have decreased a lot over the years they will continue to do so. They have become a lot cheaper and easier to manufacture which means the cost of purchasing them has significantly lowered. Although the savings you make on energy bills will result in outweighing the initial cost.

Dependence on sunlight- They are most effective in bright sunlight, but do still work on cloudy days. They do not work during dark nights which means some power from the grid will need to be used during these times. To maximise their efficiency it is best to have a battery installed to store power ready to use during the evening.

Their maintenance costs are low, and the warranty lasts for around 25 years which results in 25 years of lower energy bills! The panels themselves could last even longer, potentially up to 50 years if serviced at least every 3 years by a certified installer. The inverter, however, will probably need to be changed after 15/20 years.

Are Solar Panels suitable for my property?

You should always think about what is suitable for your home before purchasing. Location and which way your roof faces is a main aspect to think about. In the UK the south is best as they will be receiving sunlight all day.

A few questions to consider are;

How big is your roof? How many panels do you need? Will they fit? Will they be shaded in a certain area (big trees nearby)? It is important to receive good quality quotes that take all these specifications into account.