Photovoltaic solar panels harness energy from the sun to produce electricity for your home. They rely on daylight, not necessarily sunshine, so it doesn’t matter if you live in a cold climate: as long as your roof is not shaded by other buildings or trees and is facing within ninety degrees of south, you can generate enough energy with solar PV to power your lights and electrical appliances.
One of the main advantages of having solar PV is that you can actually make money from them. Apart from the fact that your own energy bills will be greatly reduced, the government’s Feed-in Tariff means that you get paid by your energy provider for the electricity you generate. Furthermore, you can connect to the National Grid and sell any excess power back to your energy company, providing even more additional income.
What does Solar PV cost?
Installation costs vary according to the amount of panels you are having added, and the kind of panels you choose (see below for more information on panel types). A rough estimate for a typical 3 to 4.5 kWp solar PV system is somewhere around £7000. It is a good idea to get a few quotes from different suppliers so you can find the best deal possible. And remember with the Feed-in Tariff and the money you will save on your energy bills it is possible to make around £600 per year.
Different Types of PV Solar Panels
There are different kinds of solar panels that vary in efficiency and consequently price. The three main types are:
The cheapest cell type, these panels have an efficiency of around 13% (this refers to the amount of sun’s energy which is used by the system per unit area)
A little more expensive than polycrystalline cells, the energy efficiency is around 15%.
Combines crystalline with a thin film and is the most efficient of the three, at somewhere around 17% and higher.
When you receive a cost estimate from a supplier, make sure you know which type of cell is being quoted for.
Solar PV Maintenance
Make sure you ask your installer for anything you will need to know about looking after your panels. In general very little needs to be done, a simple clean with warm water and some washing up liquid is usually enough. If you are worried about reaching up there, many window cleaning companies will happily give your solar panels a once over.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
With solar PV installed you will make a big reduction in the amount of harmful emissions your property is responsible for. According to the Energy Savings Trust, a standard solar PV system for the home could save over a tonne of carbon dioxide annually – more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime.