PV systems are an invaluable partnership whose benefits increase year-on-year.
Are PV solar panels financially worth it?
The UK absorbs around 50-60% of The Sun's radiation compared to the equator. Add your annual energy/fuel costs x 30 years (panel lifespan). Add inflationary pressures = your approx future energy costs. Compare this figure to the cost of installing a PV system.
How do PV systems work?
Photons of light strike the electrons in the p-n junction and energize them, knocking them free of their atoms. These electrons are attracted to the positive charge in the n-type silicon and repelled by the negative charge in the p-type silicon. Electrons align into the circuitry to create a current:
The Inverter switches the resulting current from DC to AC.
Power will be dispersed around the home, storage and export.
Production will be recorded in a management system.
Both inverter types have positive and negative attributes.
String Inverters are the original way of altering Direct Current to a useful Alternating Current. Micro-Inverters are smaller additions to each panel.
Mico-Inverters are more complicated to install and thus typically add about 20% more to the cost of the installation. The simpler String-Inverter makes PV more affordable, and easier to access and maintain thereafter.
Micro-Inverters are typically used if shading is an issue, such as a split-roof configuration. They're often sold as giving a small increase in performance, but from a longer-term maintenance point of view, they're difficult and costly to replace if required. Any performance advantage may be negligible.
Unless there is a specific reason for doing so, then I advocate for keeping it simple by installing a traditional String Inverter and keeping the installation cost to a minimum.
Photovoltaics in cooler climates.
Photovoltaic cells work more efficiently in cooler temperatures. Panel degradation occurs much quicker in hotter climates, just like redlining a car engine will reduce lifespan and efficiency too.
Can photovoltaics heat a water tank?
PV-to-hot water converters heat traditional hot water tanks by using solar-generated electricity directed to the heating coil. This device eliminates the requirement for boiler usage most of the year.
How much roof space?
Although PV solar arrays take up a lot of roof space, most homes in the UK are suitable. Additionally, they can be ground-mounted A-frames if garden space or land allows.
Do I need planning permission?
No planning permission is required unless listed or conservation area.
What maintenance is required?
No maintenance is required. Photovoltaic is a 'solid-state' energy conversion process with no moving parts.
Do solar panels work on cloudy days?
This answer depends on the density of the cloud. Use a solar-powered calculator, and it'll work fine outside in the daylight hours. A PV system works on cloudy days, just not at peak performance.
Will the installation process have a big impact?
Once the panels are fitted, the internal components don't take up much space inside. The overall installation process is usually completed within 2-3 days.
How long does PV last?
Photovoltaics installed in the 1960s are still working today. Degradation is minimal consideration when choosing a system. Monocrystalline solar panels still have an 80% generation capacity after 20 years.
What about solar panel cleaning?
Photovoltaic solar panels are coated with a microscopic layer of titanium dioxide during manufacturing. When ultraviolet light falls on the glass, the coating reacts with organic matter to break it down. With that said, a periodic cleaning using de-ionised water will ensure the best performance.
The cost of a PV solar system depends on system size installed. Additionally, prices vary widely across different installers due to operational differences. Battery storage may be added later to bring down the cost.