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Domestic solar panels come in many configurations. PV with ancillary plugins are best for most people. Installation types come with a variety of different costs and configurations.
Do we get enough sunshine?
Solar panels work in diffused light conditions and work on most cloudy days.
The UK receives 60% of the solar energy compared with the equator. Each square metre of the UK receives between 900-1400 kWh annually per year.
How long do they last?
PV solar panels installed in the 1960s are still generating today. A real testament to its longevity. A three-decade lifespan is standard.
What about flat-roofs?
Yes. On an A-frame to angle the panels at 20 and 50°.
How much power?
Photovoltaics can generate approximately 800 kWh/year per kW size installed.
Independently tested, the panels delivered 900-1400 kWh (3.6 GJ) of clean green, energy (depending on geographical location) per year in the UK. Peak output is 1.6 kW, similar to an immersion heater requirement.
You'll be credited via an export tariff.
"Solar panels are a significant step forward for humanity."
Save 70% on your energy costs over three-decades.
PV solar panels may reduce energy bills by about 70%, with the system paying for itself in eight to twelve years, depending on your household's electricity consumption.
During the spring, summer and early autumn months, solar heating should generate all, if not nearly all your hot water requirements. Even in the winter months, it should produce around 50% of your needs.
Additionally, your boiler will merely have to top-up, rather than heating your tank entirely.
Battery storage and/or electric vehicle add further benefits.
Can they replace energy bills?
No. You won't be able to replace totally, but you can expect free electricity, hot water and vehicle mileage for the majority of the year.
Extend the life of my boiler?
50% of all systems installed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway were to supply space heating systems, while in Sweden and Canada it was more. These countries have a similar climate to the UK.
Solar heating supplies hot water to your tank, thus extending the lifespan of your boiler because your boiler won't fire up as often.
What hot water temperatures can I expect?
On sunny days, temperatures of 75 Celcius can be achieved (45 Celcius is hot enough for bathing). This figure is dependent on microclimate, geographical position and the type of technology.
Can they add value to my property?
A 2009 survey by MORI found people are willing to pay more for a solar-equipped home compared to one without.
Do I need to clean my solar panels?
Solar panels have a self-cleaning glass surface. However, depending on your location, and may be more prone to environmental dirt, i.e. Tree resin, urban dust or bird poo. If these are an issue, then most window cleaners can clean.
PV-heating converters work side-by-side with tank-based heating systems all year round.
Will solar panels produce all my electricity?
In most cases, no, but this depends on your consumption rate and the size of the system installed. Large-sized systems might be able to while running alongside a battery storage device.
Roof-mounted or ground-mounted?
PV arrays can easily be installed on A-frames or ground-mounted.
Do I need planning permission?
No. From 6th April 2008 planning permission will not be required for solar panels unless you live in a listed building. Even then, most councils will allow installations in most cases.
Why solar, not wind turbines?
Installing a domestic-scale wind turbine for most homes in the UK is unsuitable because of:
1. Planning restrictions
2. Unreliable urban wind speeds and poor outputs.
3. Structural issues with attaching a wind turbine to a home.
You need a large-sized turbine to make a dent in the average home's utility bills. Government testing has confirmed this. Urban locations don't have high enough wind speeds with vibration problems that could lead to structural property damage.
The output of domestic-scale wind turbine on a pitched roof house in a large city such as Manchester as an example would be less than 150 kWh a year; which is 2% of the energy consumption of an average house.
Solar panels come with unique technical terms. Do you know your Polycrystalline from Monocrystalline?
In partnership with the Renewable Energy Consumer Code.
A unit of measurement. A KW (Kilowatt) is made up of 1000 kWh (Kilowatt-hour) and is widely used to distinguish PV system sizes and performance.
Photo-Voltaic. Photo refers to Photon which is a particle emitted from the sun. Voltaic refers to Volt of electrical current produced.
A type of photovoltaic cell. The most efficient of the three categories of PV solar panels that convert up to 15% of the photons into usable electricity.
A type of photovoltaic cell. The PV cell converts up to 12% of the photon's hitting the panel into usable power.
A type of photovoltaic system. It was once dubbed as the saviour of solar technology because it's cheap to produce. However, this panel only gives a convert rating of 7% of the photon's hitting the panel, in comparison to 15% for Monocrystalline panels.
The maximum amount of output that a solar panel system can generate. It's when the sun is halfway across its transit across the sky at midday on a sunny day.
An integral part of a PV system, it switches the current from DC (direct current) to a more useful AC (alternating current).
A widely used on or off switch' in most large-scale electrical machinery to allow a quick shut down.
A display unit to demonstrate your daily, monthly or annual PV systems production rates.
Usually manufactured in Aluminium to save weight and corrosion, the a-frame allow panels to get installed on a flat-roof or ground-mounted.
The last thing you want is to reflect light away from your collector. Anti-reflex coating gives a protective layer with anti-reflection properties.
The mounting area comes between the roof anchors and the panels themselves. The roof rails are required to be precisely parallel with each other for a perfect alignment of the array.
PV solar panels can be used alongside the National Grid (on-grid) or separately while storing any excess power to a battery storage device (off-grid).
A network of power that span the entire UK. Usually associated with Pylons, the web also spans the underground urban environments right up to your front door.
PV solar panels are made up of individual cells. Each cell converts sunlight to Electrons, and all those of Electrons get directed into channels and wires. A collective array (panel) increases the watts generated and the amount of power produced.
An alternative technical phrase for a collective.
A particle emitted from light. The sun is the most significant emitter of photons and can be used to power and heat our homes with solar panel technologies.
An electrical current is made up of these. Electrons are always attracted to Earth, which can be manipulated to create electricity and power our appliances.
Qualification to install electrical components. Most PV solar installers come from an electrician background.
The 'Micro Certification Scheme' (MCS) was set up in 2010 to regulate the quality of alternative technologies and the installers who install them.
As part of the process of installing, an inspection of the property will be required to assess suitability, roof access, wire/pipe routing and other technical potential issues.
A calculation that allows the potential productivity of a solar installation accurately.
Electricity-generating solar panels that include Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline modules. 'Photo' refers to the Photons emitted by the sun and 'Voltaic' refers to the Volts of power produced.
Solar heating panels.
A type of solar panel for heating water (thermal) and in some cases space heating. These kinds of technology come in three categories. Evacuated tubes, thermodynamic and flat-plate glazed panels.
It is combining solar heating and heat pump technology. This (thermodynamic) hybrid technology allows the user to gain heat for heating and hot water all the year round and even on rainy and wintery days.
A heating panel that use vacuum tubes to accumulate heat from the sun. This kind of technology comes in two types: Direct-flow circulates a Glycol anti-freeze solution through the actual glass tubes. Heat pipes heat-up a copper tube within the tubes and heat the Glycol mixture in the header section. Direct-flow is the most efficient of these two systems.
A solar panel that uses a flat-glazed appearance to give a velux window appearance. Flat-plate panels categorised as 'on-roof' and 'in-roof' panels which added to various types of roof coverings.
An industry term for a solar panel.
A solar heating system contains a pump, valves and ability to alter settings by the installer.
A specialist anti-freeze mixture with a balanced pH level to transfer the heat collected in the solar panel down to the storage tank. The flow of the glycol mixture will set to '3 bar' pressure only
A small over-flow tank designed to allow expansion within the system. The breathable ability allows the system to reach very high and low temperatures without breaking the system.
A digital box that records daily, weekly or annual yields of your solar panels. The controller also allows you to change the settings. Consult with your original installer before making changes.
Solar-rated hot water tank.
Traditional hot water tanks are very inefficient. A solar-rated tank has much better heat preservation properties that also incorporate a solar coil to route the solar-heated glycol.
A finned-coil that resides inside a solar-rated hot water tank gives more efficient heat exchange than non-finned-coils.
A commonly used pressurised hot water tank when installing alternative technologies. Most people prefer a pressurised-system because it gives quicker fill times in the solar-heated bath.
Vented tanks work alongside a cold refill tank in the loft. Gravity feeds the hot water tank.
Today, it is glass used in modern solar panels and evacuated tubes glass. The low iron content of the glass allows more of the sun's energy to absorb rather than reflected in the standard lens.
An installer who works on pressurised or un-vented hot water tanks require-by-law to be G3 qualified. Do not let anybody without this accreditation install a pressurised hot water tank in your home.
An integral part of the pump station, this gauge allows the installer to set the three bar pressure and the homeowner to check in the future.
This gauge allows setting the flow rate of the pump within the pump station and the homeowner to check its operation.
Some heating systems use a variable flow pump. This valve alternates the flow according to the amount of heat generated by the solar panels. A non-return valve prevents backflow and only forward flow only.
Safety relief valve.
This valve prevents over-pressurisation and increases safety. Excess Glycol antifreeze gets expelled into a bottle similar to a sink overflow system.
There are two ways to connect the pipes to a solar heat installation. The old-fashioned way is brazing/soldering. We would recommend that your installer uses the 'compression' style of connecting pipework to prevent future leaks.
Armoflex is the insulation sleeves that wrap around the pipes of a heating system. This layer protects the heat from external losses and keeps heat from escaping down the length of your piping.