The sun is a free and renewable source of energy that we are only beginning to be able to harness. You could have solar panels installed on the roof of your home to generate your own energy and sell any excess energy to the national electricity grid.
It does not need to be a sunny day – solar panels can still use indirect sunlight when it’s cloudy!
How does it work?
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) is the process of converting sunlight (Photons) into electricity (Voltage). Solar cells, which are joined together to make up a solar panel, convert the natural energy of the sun into energy we can use in our homes.
A solar cell has thin layers of semi-conducting material, which is charged differently to allow the photons to move between the layers and generate a voltage – this is then transferred into your home through an inverter.
The output of a solar PV system is measured in Kilo-Watt Peak (kWp) – this is the maximum energy it could generate at peak performance on a clear day in the summer. The largest system you can get is usually 4kWp.
Is it suitable for my home?
Solar PV may not be suitable for every type of home, there are a number of factors that determine whether you should install solar panels or not.
- Orientation of your property and its roof
- Solar PV works best when it’s facing south, south-east or south-west. A solar panel can still capture indirect sunlight when facing north, although this is not advised as your output would be poor.
- Shape, size, and pitch of the roof
- It is best to ensure the roof has adequate space to fit a suitably sized solar array. The pitch of the roof is also important and should be between 20-60 degrees to ensure it can capture enough solar energy.
- Shading problems
- Any shading, such as from trees or other buildings, will reduce the potential output of the solar panel.
- A solar panel produces energy mostly during the daytime – if you’re not going to be using any energy during the day you should question whether solar PV is suitable for you or not. There have been advancements made in battery storage technology, which could provide a solution to this.
- Planning Permission
- Remember to check if there is any planning permission needed.
What are the benefits?
The sun is free! – once you’ve paid the installation costs, you won’t need to buy as much energy from the grid. Remember you probably won’t be able to generate 100% of the energy you need.
Reduce your carbon footprint – solar energy is green and renewable, and using it doesn’t release any harmful pollutants into the atmosphere.
Functions in urban areas – unlike some other renewable systems, solar PV can be installed in urban areas provided there is enough sunlight.
Generate income – you should be able to sign up for the Feed-in Tariff once you’ve had the system installed. You’ll be paid for the energy you generate, even if you use it! You’ll also get an additional payment for any energy you export back into the grid.
If you’d like further advice on solar PV you can arrange a free and impartial advice call with one of the team.
Our energy advisors can be contacted by: