With energy prices at an all-time high, there is now an ever-increasing demand for renewable energy sources. Many individuals and businesses are turning to solar panels as a solution for their homes and company premises.
Rapidly growing in popularity and now used across the planet, solar panels are becoming a sought-after commodity in the UK. The good news is solar panels can work on cloudy days too, and even a couple of hours of sunlight can aid your energy consumption needs.
In the past, solar panels were perceived as an expensive option for homeowners. A substantial increase in efficiency and in public demand has ensured their price tags are now more affordable.
Best of all, using solar panels means reducing the pollution emitted by energy producers in the UK, resulting in cleaner skies and oceans for future generations.
Crown Energy is here to help. Our ‘How to get solar panels for the home and what are the benefits?’ guide will cover how solar panels work, their advantages, disadvantages, and how to have them installed.
How do solar panels work?
Although it may sound a little complicated at first, solar panels work in a straightforward manner. The following is a brief explanation of how these panels operate:
- Once solar panels have been installed, they will absorb sunlight. Sunlight contains photovoltaic (PV) cells.
- The absorbed sunlight will then be converted by the panels, into direct current (DC) energy.
- This energy is then transported to an inverter located inside the house.
- The inverter will convert the energy into an alternating current (AC), used to power most household electrical items.
- This current streams through the house’s electrical panel, providing appliances with power.
- Any excess electricity generated by the panels can be stored in a battery for later use, or sold to the electric grid for extra cash.
How do solar panels generate electricity?
This process of electricity generation is an interesting one.
The sun continuously releases energy in the form of massless elementary particles called photons. These photons travel at the speed of light to Earth. It has been calculated that just one hour of energy received from the sun could potentially power the entire planet for a full year had we had the means to harness it all.
When these photons contact solar cells, the electrons are separated from their atoms. The solar cells have conductors attached to both their positive and negative sides, they create a complete electrical circuit. When the now separated electrons flow through the circuit, this results in the generation of electricity.
Solar panels consist of numerous cells. Multiple panels (modules) can be interconnected to create a collection of panels known as a solar array. The greater the number of panels, the greater the amount of electricity generated.
What are the benefits of solar panels?
There are several reasons why the installation and use of solar panels are beneficial. The following are a few of the good reasons to consider using this form of energy:
1. Less money spent on electricity
The main reason why people want to have solar panels installed is to reduce their energy costs.
Although there will be an initial expense to purchase and install your solar panel or array, you’ll recover this money over time through reduced electricity bills. If your solar setup produces more electricity than you require, you can sell this excess energy to the National Grid.
2. Low maintenance
One of the greatest features of solar panels is the low level of upkeep required. As these panels are placed at an angle on the roof, the rain generally keeps them clean of dust, dirt, and little gifts from our pigeon friends. It is advised to give them a proper wiping every so often to ensure they can operate at their full potential.
When taken care of and operated correctly, your solar panels could last you up to a quarter of a century without losing any of their energy generation capacity. Only the inverter may need replacing after a decade or so. You have the option of buying a battery that includes an inverter.
Obtaining power from energy plants means a lot of energy gets wasted en route to your home. When your house is being powered directly by solar panels on your roof, there is far less energy wastage involved.
5. Increased property value
Solar energy won’t only reduce your electricity expenses but will potentially increase the value of your home. This is because houses with renewable energy sources are currently in demand and could fetch a higher price than those without.
6. No permit hassles
Solar panels are classified as ‘permitted development’ and do not require a permit for installation in most cases. There are a few regulations regarding the installation of solar panels. It’s a good idea to consider these before making your decision.
7. You can still switch suppliers
The installation of solar panels in your home won’t affect your right to switch energy suppliers if/when needed.
8. Independence from the National Grid
Having the capacity to generate electricity means you are less dependent on the National Grid for your supply. The entire grid could collapse, and you should still have the means to generate enough electricity to survive.
9. Night-time usage
Although solar energy is created through sunlight – meaning your home should have plenty of energy during peak usage times – it’s possible to use this energy to power your home at night. To do so, you’ll require home battery storage as part of your solar setup. This way, your panels will convert energy during the day and store it in your batteries for night usage.
10. A renewable source of energy
Perhaps the best reason to go solar is that it’s a renewable energy source. The sun relentlessly provides energy and will continue to do so for millions of years.
11. A clean source of energy
Solar energy produces no harmful air, water, or noise pollution. This is great news for us, future generations, and for all the other creatures with whom we share the planet.
Reasons why solar panels may not work
It can be very frustrating to complete a solar installation only to find the setup isn’t generating electricity. If this happens, or your system decides to stop working one day, it may be worthwhile to consider the following:
- Zero power output can be caused by defective panels, a broken inverter, or a faulty charge controller.
- The inverter is a vital part of your solar setup as it converts DC electricity into AC electricity used in the home. If not working correctly, a good idea is to contact the supplier and get them to inspect, fix, or replace it.
- It’s best when panels are situated on a south or south-west-facing roof. This will maximise the amount of sunlight they can capture. Do not place panels on a north-facing roof, as they won’t receive much sunlight. Ensure your panels are in the correct position to function at full capacity.
- Ensure there is no obstruction of sunlight by trees or other buildings. When installing your solar system, consider trimming any foliage that could reduce the direct sunlight your panels receive. Position your panels to avoid shadows cast by other buildings wherever possible.
- Make sure your solar panels are clean. If they have become covered in dirt or bird droppings, this could affect their efficiency. You could consider pigeon-proofing your solar panels. This is something an installer could take care of for an extra cost.
How to check if my solar panels are working?
The following actions will help you check if your solar panels are working correctly:
Examine your electricity bill:
If your electricity bill is more, the same as, or only very slightly less than before you installed your solar panels, then your solar panel system is not working as it should.
Inspect your invertor:
As previously mentioned, the inverter is a primary component in your solar setup. If this part is faulty, your system will stop working.
Look at your solar meter:
Your solar meter supplies you with information on your system’s productivity. It displays how much energy your solar panels generate in total kilowatts per hour. If the figure is increasing, it’s unlikely your system has a problem.
Check the weather:
Remember that your solar setup will produce far more electricity on sunny days. It can still generate energy when the weather is cloudy, but its capacity will only be at 10 to 25 percent.
Contact your solar supplier:
After your solar panels have been installed, it may save some time to get your supplier to inspect and test the system to make sure it’s operating effectively.
How much do solar panels for the home cost?
Switching to solar panels for home in the UK can lead to significant savings and potential earnings. By harnessing the power of the sun, homeowners can reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources and lower their electricity bills.
The cost of a solar panel system installation in the UK varies depending on your property requirements and other factors such as your location and solar panel sizes to name but a few.
If you opt for a four-kWp solar panel system, you are likely to save around £210 to £514 per year on electricity bills. This calculation is based on the October 2022 Government Energy Price Guarantee, and depends on the size of the installation and energy usage.
Additionally, through the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, homeowners can earn money by selling any surplus electricity generated by their solar panels back to the national grid. This scheme provides a fixed payment for every unit of electricity exported, offering an opportunity to earn an additional income stream.
While the exact earnings vary based on factors like panel size and location, households can potentially earn several hundred pounds annually from this scheme. Switching to solar panels not only contributes to environmental sustainability but also presents a viable financial investment for homeowners in the UK.
I want to switch – how do I get solar panels at home?
So, you’ve decided to install a solar panel system in your home.
The first step is to get an installer to survey your property to ensure you’re sold the right system for your premises and energy requirements. Contact Crown Energy and we can take care of your solar panel installation from start to finish.
We will liaise with the relevant bodies to arrange the inspection, provide a market-leading cost, and schedule for the solar panels to be installed. Our assessment could also reveal the projected performance and savings for your energy bills – though this will only be a rough guidance, not a guarantee.