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The Sun generates an almost unlimited amount of energy and you can now capture that energy and turn it into free electricity by installing the latest solar panels onto your property.
What’s more, you can sell some of the renewable electricity your solar panels produce back to the grid to make money.
Solar panels are not right for every home but their popularity has soared lately.
That’s because wholesale solar panel prices have dropped by nearly two third in the last decade. As a result, tens of thousands of UK homeowners are taking up the opportunity to install their own solar PV systems and generate their own electricity every year.
Free electricity – solar panels generate electricity every day of the year to provide power to your home. Money you no longer need to pay your energy supplier.
Earn money – in fact, homeowners can now sell the excess energy their solar panel systems produce back to the grid under the Smart Export Guarantee scheme
Increased property values – although not all share this opinion, some estate agencies report a 4%+ increase in property prices for homes with solar panels
Reduced carbon footprint – by generating your own electricity, you increase the energy efficiency of your home and help the planet
People have lots of questions about solar panels and solar energy so we’ve prepared an extensive frequently asked questions section on this page which we hope will give you the information you need.
There are two types of solar panel systems – photovoltaic systems and solar thermal systems.
Photovoltaic panels (sometimes called photovoltaic modules, solar modules, or a solar cell) use semiconductors to capture direct sunlight and turn it into electricity.
Solar panels are made up from large series of conjoined solar cells – these groups of solar panels are called a solar array. When an inverter, brackets, cabling, and other elements are added to your solar array and they are all connected up to the electrical circuitry in your property, this is a solar panel system.
These solar PV systems can either be stand-alone or connected to the grid. A stand-alone solar PV system requires solar batteries to store the electricity generated by the system for use in lower-light conditions.
With a grid-connected solar PV system, your home now has two sources of electricity. When there is enough light, your solar PV system will provide power to your property and, when there isn’t, you’ll draw electricity instead from your energy supplier.
Solar thermal panels aren’t used in generating electricity but to heat water.
As with solar PV panels, thermal panels are attached to the roof of your property. Contained within these thermal panels are a mixture of antifreeze and water which is then heated up by the sun. This water is then pumped into a heat exchanger (similar to what you have in a boiler) to provide heat and hot water for your home.
The weather is a constant topic of conversation in Britain and it’s no surprise that many people doubt the efficacy of solar panels in generating energy in what is not a very sunny country most of the time.
But, to generate solar power, you don’t actually need sunlight. Even when it’s cloudy and even in colder months, solar PV panels still bring your energy bills down because, counter-intuitively, solar panel efficiency is actually greater in countries with cooler clients like the UK. Solar panels work better here than in very hot countries.
Solar panels typically are energy efficient – average solar panel efficiency ratings are between 15% and 20%. Actual real world energy efficiency ratings are also affected by the angle at which solar panels face the sun, the time of the year, and how well your system is maintained.
In the UK, the average solar panel system has an output of 4kWh. If your home is south facing and the solar panels on your roof at a 40o angle, your system will produce between a third and a half of the usable electricity you need during the day in winter months.
You can discuss with one of your engineers just how much electricity you want your solar energy system to generate. The more solar panels you purchase, the lower your energy bills. In addition, thanks to the Smart Export Guarantee scheme, you’ll more excess electricity to sell back to the grid. However, as you’d expect, the more panels you have on your roof, the higher the cost of your solar PV system.
Not sure what size solar panel system is appropriate for your home? Please get in touch with us to discuss the most appropriate solar PV system for your property.
Solar panel costs vary based on the number of panels you have in your system. The more solar power your system can generate, the more electricity you can use to reduce your bills and sell back to the grid.
The average solar panel system has an output of 4kWh which requires a total of 16 panels to be installed on your roof.
Looking at solar panel prices on jobs we’ve carried out for customers in the last twelve months, the average cost is between £5,000 for smaller installations (8-12 solar panels) and £10,000 for large installations (20-24 solar panels).
For an estimate on how much solar panels will cost for your home, please get in touch with us so we can send an engineer around to view your property and provide you with a free quote.
There are two ways to save money on your energy bills with your own solar energy system.
The first is the savings you make on the electric your solar panels generate.
On average, every extra kW of electricity generated by your solar panel system will save you around £71 a year. So, on the average UK 4kW solar electricity system, homeowners stand to benefit with a £284 reduction in the bills they receive from their energy suppliers.
The second is money you make on excess energy produced which you then sell back to the National Grid.
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) was introduced in January 2020 in England, Wales, and Scotland.
Under the Smart Export Guarantee scheme, energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers must offer to buy surplus electricity from homeowners. Each energy supplier can offer one or more tariffs for their customers to choose from.
The energy companies can offer either fixed or variable tariffs. With a fixed tariff, you’ll receive an agreed rate per kwH of electricity which you sell back to the National Grid. With a variable tariff, the amount you receive per kwH of electricity will vary according to prices in the wider energy market.
The best rates on offer from energy suppliers tend to be between 5p and 6p per kWh.
If you have an older electricity meter, you may notice that it starts to run backwards when electricity you’ve generated but not used is sold back to your energy supplier after you install solar panels on your home. If this is the case, get in touch with them to let them know as soon as possible.
The Smart Export Guarantee scheme replaced the old feed in tariff system which was far more generous to homeowners with a solar panel system. The Renewable Home Initiative offered homeowners a quarterly tariff based on the number of kWh of heat your thermal solar system produced but this scheme was ended in March 2022.
Yes but it may take 20 years to do so. The best way to ensure the quickest return on your investment in your solar energy system is to invest in the latest panel technology.
Although there will be some immediate savings to be made by buying cheaper solar panels, there are questions on how efficient many of them actually are and whether they require more maintenance nd servicing when they’ve been installed for ten years or more.
There are three main types of solar cells on panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.
Monocrystalline cells are the most expensive but they have the highest efficiency rates, perform better in low-light conditions, and make better use of space.
Polycrystalline cells have slightly lower energy efficiency levels, take up more space, and have a shorter working life than monocrystalline cells but they are cheaper.
Thin-film cells are the cheapest of all and offer surprisingly degrees of temperature tolerance. They are very cheap in comparison to monocrystalline but they’re very inefficient and take up a lot of space. You’re most likely to see thin-film cells on caravans and motorhomes.
If there are buildings and trees which could block some or all of the sunlight reaching your solar panels, you’re unlikely to get the size of discount you might be hoping for on your energy bills.
The solar panels on your roof will be most effective at capturing sunlight in the hours between 9am and 3.30pm. For your solar panels to be most effective, your roof should be south facing. North facing roofs will capture far less sunlight significantly the benefits of installation.
Also important is the tilt of your roof. The optimal tilt is 34o and deviation on either side from that figure reduces the financial benefits solar panels can deliver. It is possible to use brackets to adjust the angle of the tilt but this has its limitations.
Did you know that nearly four per cent of British electricity is generated by solar panel and that over 1 million homes have taken advantage of the steep drop in solar panel prices in the last ten years?
Solar panels mean a cheaper electricity bill for you and your family. As well as lower electricity costs, you can make money from the Sun’s energy all year around by selling the excess electricity you generate back to your energy supplier. Solar panels cost money but you can recoup your investment in renewable energy back in full over 20 years.
When you buy solar panels, you’re also reducing your carbon footprint and reducing our country’s reliance on fossil fuels like coal and oil. The technology is subsidised by the government and the energy industry through the Smart Export Guarantee scheme and it also has the full backing of the Energy Saving Trust.
Solar power delivers all year round too. Even during winter, your solar system will continue to produce electricity for you and your family.
With the right battery storage set-up, you can disconnect from the grid and become completely self-reliant for electricity. They’re particularly useful for the thousands of homes not on the grid because connecting them would be too expensive.
And the best solar panels provide you with 25 years of use with little to no maintenance required.
Renewable energy systems like solar PV requires significant upfront investment. Average prices range from around £5,000 for a smaller solar power system to £10,000 for a large solar panel system.
You may find the poor positioning of solar panels on your roof affects the amount of electricity it can generate adversely. In addition, if nearby trees or building obstruct sunlight from getting to your roof, you won’t enjoy the full benefit of your new solar panel system.
Solar panel performance is also affected by the time of year. You’ll like get more electricity than you actually need during summer but, without battery storage, you’ll have to buy the electricity you need to run your home from your energy suppliers.
You may need to let your insurer know that there has been a change to the structure of your home. If you do decide to install solar panels to your home, it’s best to speak with them before going ahead.
Even if they’re fine with you installing a solar panel system on your roof, you may need to pay extra on your insurance to cover damage and this premium will reduce your overall savings from reductions in your electricity bills.
Solar power systems do not require a great deal of maintenance during their lifetime but it’s worth getting them checked regularly by PlumbProud.
To ensure maximum performance, rinse off any branches or leaves which have blown on to them with a garden hose.
What if you want to store the electricity your solar panel system captures for use in your own home later on?
Solar battery systems launched a few years ago and, as a result of the significant investment into car batteries as the world moves away from the internal combustion engine, their performance has improved greatly recently.
Solar battery storage systems still attract a premium but, in common with solar panel prices in the last decade, they have begun to fall. Expect to pay up to £6,000 for a solar battery storage system in the current climate.
With the launch of the Smart Export Guarantee, it’s begun to make financial sense for homeowners to invest in solar panel systems again.
To speak with us about the advantages and opportunities of installing solar PV panels on your property, please call us on 01604 343053 or or click the button below to go through to our enquiry form.
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