Solar Panels for Home

Solar Panels for Home

The world is grappled with the negative consequences of climate change and global warming. Amidst melting ice caps and shrinking eco-systems, which are the result of human activities, there is a need to reflect and ponder on our actions for the benefit of our environment and our planet which has sustained us for so long.

Excessive use of fossil fuels is a cause of concern. It leads to the depletion of these precious assets but also produces enormous amounts of pollution which propel global warming and the greenhouse effect. Many international agreements have been signed to bring positive environmental change but nothing would work unless the change is desired and made from the grassroots level. The people would have to take responsibility and the authorities should support them.

Turning to clean and green energy alternatives are the need of the hour. One such way to obtain renewable electricity is by installing solar panels in homes.

The solar electricity panels are called photovoltaics. They trap the sun’s heat energy and then transform it into electricity that can be used to power your household appliances. Thus, solar panels help to generate green electricity.

Working of solar panels

Working of solar panels

A photovoltaic solar panel comprises numerous cells that are made of silicon which is a semi-conductor. When the sun’s rays fall on sheets made of silicon, it generates a current flow.

These cells do not require direct sunshine and can even produce electricity in cloudy weather. The amount of electricity generated depends on the amount of sunlight. The more the sun’s heat, the more is the electricity produced.

The solar panel system is composed of not just one but many panels. Every panel produces 250-300 W of electricity when there is good sunlight.

 An average PV system has 10 to 15 panels that produce ‘direct current electricity. As the electricity used in home appliances is called’ alternating current’, an inverter is also installed with the solar PV system for converting direct electricity to alternating current. The electricity is used for running household appliances and the excess can be sent back to the grid.

Space required for installing solar panels

Solar panel installation takes some roof space. A system of about 3 to 4 kW would take around 16 to 20 m2 roof area. One should take care that the system should not be shaded by the trees or chimneys or any buildings as it could reduce the system’s output. It is important to select an ideal place for placing the system.

It should be put where maximum sunlight is available, to get the most electricity. A south-facing roof is ideal, east or west facing would also do fine but north-facing roofs are a sure no. A system that faces west or east would produce 20% less electricity than one facing south.

However, if you have no choice and your roof is shaded or there are barriers to sunlight then you can get optimizers. If there is no shade, then optimizers would not generate extra electricity but can be used for their monitoring functions.

Do you need permission for installing a solar panel at home?

Photovoltaic systems are ‘permitted developments’ and usually there is no need to take permission from the authorities. But some places might be exceptions and you can confirm with the local planning office to be sure. In case you reside in a building, or an area that is near a national park, you might face some restrictions.

Secondly, to get a solar photovoltaic system installed, you would need to get yourself registered with your Distribution Network Operator, which supplies you with electricity. And then, the installation company would get the solar panel registered in your name.

Benefits of installing solar panels in homes

Benefits of installing solar panels in homes

There are many advantages of solar panels. They reduce your dependence on the national grid. During the day, you can completely depend on solar panels for providing you electricity while in the evenings you could depend on the grid.

Solar panels produce clean and green electricity by absorbing the sun’s energy but one should always try to limit their energy usage. It would also lower your electricity bill and your carbon footprint.

You can also claim what is ‘ a smart export guarantee tariff’ in which you can get paid for the units of electricity you send to the grid. This would only be possible if you use your renewable electricity judiciously.

To do this, you should try to do all the household chores during the day when an ample amount of sunlight is available. For instance, all the washing and ironing should be done by family members during the early part of the day so that you avoid using these appliances during noon and send most electricity to the grid. This has twin benefits, one environmental and the other financial.

You can be innovative and environmentally conscious too, by pairing solar panels with other renewable energy run devices such as ground source heat technology or hot water systems. Hence, your solar panels can power the heat pump or many of these systems could lead to the creation of thermal storage, where you keep electricity for future use.

Also, homes that have a solar photovoltaic system installed can be sold for a high value, hence this system raises your house’s market value.

As people are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, there is an increasing demand for spaces with renewable technology that is readily available. For instance, many people tend to buy houses that have space for a small kitchen garden or an already working solar panel system.

Buying a house with solar panels installed is cheaper than buying one without them and then adding the system separately.

You could also go for photovoltaic diverters for consuming more electricity from your solar panels. These diverters are also not very costly and do not require regular maintenance.

It is seen that most times of the year, solar panels either produce electricity less than your needs, making you dependent on the grid for some time or they produce more than what you need, which is exported to the national grid.

So a PV diverter can transfer this excess electricity to your heater in your hot water tank and you can get hot water all day. A PV diverter saves this electricity and prevents it from going to the grid. Independently, solar power cannot meet all the electricity needs most times, but it helps to decrease your water heating bills too.

A PV diverter would add up to £500 to the total installation price. You can also get more panels installed to get more electricity for meeting hot water needs. This might be a beneficial and comfortable settlement for those living in colder areas, requiring hot water almost throughout the year.

Cost of Installation

An average-sized solar photovoltaic system is 3.5kWp and you can get it for £4,800 approximately.

The cost is influenced by the type of installation you opt for. Also, if you have ongoing repairs or renovation in your house, it might come cheaper as you would not have to pay extra for scaffolding. The solar PV system also comes in different sizes which have a bearing on the cost. Accessibility to the roof, amount of sunlight received, presence of shade are some factors that can alter cost as you might need to get additional devices then.

You can choose solar panels or tiles and there is also an option for tiles that are to be integrated into the building or panels that can be installed on the roof. Rooftop panels are the least expensive and tiles are very costly.

Then, there are other solar panel systems such as ground-mounted whose cost is difficult to ascertain as it depends on their distance from the house.

There are many installers and many companies that produce solar panels and tiles. You can do thorough research on the internet before deciding which product to go for.

Maintaining solar panels

Maintaining solar panels

Solar panels require little to no maintenance

In the UK, rooftop panels are installed slightly tilted at 15 degrees and are usually washed by rain. In the case of ground-mounted systems, there can be a build-up of some rubble, especially if you live in a region with some amount of pollution. So, in this scenario, you can clean them once a month.

The installer would guide you regarding maintenance checks, to ensure that all components are working fine. This would comprise guidance regarding the major inverter fault signals and troubleshooting.

You should always monitor your system’s performance and the amount of electricity it usually generates to ensure that everything is working properly.

The life of solar panels is about 25 years but you would need to replace the inverter before that. It would cost you  £600 to1,000.

 Latest inverters carry out online monitoring and can send you emails if the system becomes faulty or if there are functioning issues. Many inverters come with a minimum five-year warranty.

Solar panels have numerous benefits and are the future of our planet. They produce green electricity while saving on fossil fuels. If you can, you must make a shift towards getting solar panels for your home and contribute to a reduced annual carbon footprint.