How can solar panels help you? The basics!
Solar panels are tipped to be about to make a return as a favoured energy source for homes as tabloid headlines warn against skyrocketing energy bills and homeowners look for more efficient options. Indeed solar panels were in growing demand a few years ago thanks to government grants funding them, but their progress has slowed as homeowners were faced with increasing costs.
There’s never been a better time than now to investigate into efficient energy sources, and here, we cover off the basics of solar panels. Could you be part of their resurgence to residential areas across the UK?
A solar energy system is made up of a number of panels varying with the size of the array within. Each panel has a number of cells; and it’s these that capture the energy.
Sunlight hits the negative silicon layer of the panel, exciting and galvanising the electrons within it. These electrons then move through the interface into the positive silicon layer below, creating an electrical flow. Contract strips to the top and bottom of the positive silicon layer collect the electricity and carry it into the property.
The amount of electricity produced is a dependent on just how galvanised the electrons get, and therefore how much they move. This is dependent on the intensity of the sunlight, as more sunlight will result in more movement. However, despite popular misconception, this doesn’t mean that it’s entirely reliant on bright sunshine all the time! Residual energy can be stored and can still be gathered through cloudier weather, too.
A common misconception of solar panels is that they produce entirely free energy for the home; but this isn’t quite the case when you consider installation and maintenance costs. However, the cost of such energy is considerably cheaper than mainstream electricity supply prices.
The most cost efficient way for homeowners to manage solar panels in their home currently is to install a solar battery storage system. This stores up the power gained during the day to provide it when primarily needed: in the evening. This then can feed back the majority of power generated through the day back to the grid, for which the homeowner will be paid (currently around 5p/kWH, but this is rising in line with other energy prices).
The cells within a solar panel last for a very long time, but there can be failures in the electrical connection between the panels. Repair costs can high, but some solar panel installers offer a minimum of 25-years on a guarantee or warranty of the panels so any such malfunction can be covered by this. The most comprehensive guarantees covering off as many elements of the panels as possible tend to average out at around 10-years.
Solar panels can run a whole house on their power alone, but they should not be relied upon. With the majority of electricity demand in winter, when the sun is shining less and so the power being generated is less, the daily demand for energy through this period should be calculated; and should be factored in choosing the size of the solar array required. For example, a typical home usage may required 20kWh a day through the winter months, but a standard solar array only produces around 3kWh. In order to meet this need, a considerably larger array would need to be installed.
More commonly, homeowners choose to use their solar panels in conjunction with other renewable electricity methods. Hybrid solar panels are available for both electricity and hot water generation, and many homeowners use wind power tech to boost energy.
Modern solar panels are designed to work on both cloudy and rainy days, but their best results will be achieved on bright and sunny days. The weather will, therefore, impact energy generation, but will usually not halt it altogether (although this technically could happen in an extreme weather event).
Solar panels don’t work through the night as they function using sunlight; which does mean that their performance is further inhibited through the winter months as daylight hours are lessened.
While the initial rounds of government funding to encourage the installation of solar panels by homeowners has now ended, there are other funding options available.
ECO4 is a currently open scheme that will run until March 2026. £4billion has been set aside by the government to be fed through at £1billion per year. This is to be invested to improve the energy ratings of homes and reduce emissions. Although not specifically solar panel focused, ECO4 allows low-income households the opportunity to replace their inefficient heating systems with more eco-friendly options; including solar PV systems. ECO4 is currently open to low-income, fuel-poor and vulnerable households receiving benefits. There are specific property requirements to be met, but if granted, energy bills could be reduced by as much as £1,600 per year. ECO4 offers free and partial funding toward the installation of solar panels.
Although not a funding scheme for installation, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is also currently active and enables small-scale low-carbon electricity generators to receive competitive payment for surplus energy exported back to the grid. All licensed suppliers with over 150,000 customers are obligated to meet this tariff, and smaller suppliers can choose to join the scheme voluntarily. This can heavily reduce the ongoing costs of solar panels and energy bills long-term.
Refresh Renovations have worked with solar panel installers worldwide to integrate eco-friendly and energy efficient solutions for homeowners. Get in touch and we can arrange a free, no-obligation property visit to scope out what’s best for you.
All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.
If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support you with a high quality, efficient home renovation, get in touch today. Your local Refresh Renovations consultant will be happy to meet with you for a free, no obligations consultation.