With so much of the UK’s energy still produced by fossil fuels, and energy prices from major providers continually souring, solar panel installation offers UK residents the chance to generate their own sustainable power, reduce carbon footprints, and make big savings in the process. But despite its growing popularity in recent years, and the apparent prevalence of solar panels, a surprising number of people still know very little about the practicalities and considerable benefits of a solar-subsidised residential property. Here we aim to give an overview of the prospect for UK homeowners, starting with the fundamentals…
How do solar panels actually work?
Solar panels are made up of photovoltic cells that are placed between layers of semi-conductive material. The cells allow particles of light in the sun’s rays called ‘photons’ to displace the electrons in atoms, thus generating electricity. An inverter then converts this electricity from a direct to an alternating current so that it can be used to power appliances and systems in your home, and subsidise bills from your existing energy suppliers. You can also earn money by selling any surplus energy back to the grid.
Does the UK get enough sun for my home to benefit?
We all know the UK has a reputation for its lack of sunshine and for generally unpredictable weather. And although it may not be as sunny as many of us would like, you‘ll be pleased to know that this is not a problem when it comes to installing solar panels on your home and reaping the rewards. This is because solar panels don't require direct sunlight in the way we might assume, and in fact still work in cloudy or overcast weather. Although this sort of weather does naturally reduce their output capacity by comparison with more direct sunshine, solar panels are nonetheless beneficial for homes in the UK virtually all year round.
But is my home suitable for solar panels?
Solar installation is possible for a very large number of properties in the UK. While south-facing roofs are widely touted as the ideal, any roof that isn’t constantly under heavy shade is perfectly viable given the right system. Similarly, while a greater surface area is obviously better, a good solar installation company can create solutions for almost any size roof. If you live in a basement flat, don’t own your property, or live in a listed building, solar panels might not be an option, but otherwise we’re confident that we can provide a bespoke solar installation solution to suit your specific needs.
Will my solar panels require much maintenance?
Solar Panels are incredibly low maintenance. You don’t need to switch them on each day, they have self-cleaning glass, and they typically require nothing more than a basic check once a year. What’s more, most come with a 25 year guarantee and in fat last a decade or more beyond this most of the time. Even the inverter that converts the energy produced into alternating current will typically last 15 years before it needs replacing.
How can I make the most of solar energy in my home?
There are a number of things you to make sure you are using the solar energy in your home most effectively. Here is breakdown of our top tips.
Use energy-hungry devices during the day
High consumption devices such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dish washers should be used predominantly during the day when your solar panels are producing. As many of these devices have timers, this can help you plan ahead in order to get more out of your solar-generated power.
Use an immersion diverter
Those who are already producing solar electricity should consider using an immersions diverter. These ingenious systems, sometimes also called solar PC optimisers, allow you to divert surplus solar electricity in order to heat your immersion tank. While this obviously represents additional costs, much like solar panels, these will be more than offset by the ongoing savings from further reducing grid electricity usage. During the summer months, the constant demand for hot water can even be met exclusively by solar electricity.
Invest in a solar battery
The cost of solar batteries has dropped in recent years and they represent a smart investment now more than ever. In fact, they are arguably a must for residential systems when you consider that they eliminate wastage by allowing homeowners to utilise almost 100% of the energy generated by their solar panels.
Get in touch
If you’re thinking of investing in solar panels and in your home is in Manchester, Cheshire or the Northwest, get in touch with Atlantic Renewables today. We are fully accredited by the MCS, and will complete a free Solar Survey of your property, using advanced software to help create a bespoke system for you. Our experienced technician can also advise you on usage in order that you get the very most of solar energy in the home, and in so doing release yourself from the grip of the major energy providers.