Since the rise in household energy bills, many homeowners are starting to consider renewable energy sources to power their homes. The most common renewable energy source used by homeowners is solar energy. This blog post is a guide to solar panels, including the different types, benefits, and the common misconceptions.
What is Solar Power?
Solar power is a renewable energy source, where energy from the sun is collected through roof panels and converted into electricity. Through the solar panels, homeowners can use the energy generated to power or heat their home. They can also charge electric vehicles using the electricity generated.
What are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
In the UK, there are currently nine different solar panels available to homeowners. Each type of solar panels are made from different types of material, which change their efficiency. In this section, we explain the top three options used in the UK with their benefits and drawbacks.
Monocrystalline or Mono panels are the most popular solar panels in the UK. They are made from single-crystal silicon, which is melted into bars. These solar panels are treated with an anti-reflection coating, which improves the overall efficiency. While Mono solar panels are expensive, they have a longer lifespan and are the most efficient solar panels for households. Discover our range of Monocrystalline solar panels here.
Polycrystalline or Poly panels are another type of solar panels available in the UK. These solar panels are made from multiple silicon crystals that have been melted together and moulded. While Polycrystalline are a cheaper solar energy option, on average, they are one-third less efficient compared to Monocrystalline panels. Because of the technique used to make Polycrystalline panels, they have a shorter lifespan compared to Monocrystalline solar panels.
Thin Film solar panels are created by placing thin layers of photovoltaic (PV) material on top of one another. Because of the production process, Thin Film panels are flexible. Due to their flexibility, their efficiency rating is much lower, and they have a low power output, which can be a downside.
How do solar Panels Generate Electricity?
You may be wondering the journey the electricity takes from the solar panels to the plug sockets. At Aspecte, our solar PV panels are equipped with the inverter. Read more about the electrical journey below:
1. Solar Panel
Solar panels can be placed on a roof, on a ground mount or on a car port, the only stipulation is that they are in sunlight. Once in place, the panels begin to generate electricity as the sun’s rays hit the panel.
2. Inverter/Battery Storage
As the panels generate electricity, the concentrated solar power travels to the Inverter. If using battery storage, the energy can be stored within the system. Energy stored within the battery is Direct Current (DC) electricity, this electricity needs to go through a dedicated inverter to convert it to Alternating Current (AC). AC power is required to make the energy compatible with the grid.
4. Powering the Home
From the battery, or the inverter, the solar power is now ready to use in the home. If the power is stored in a battery, this can be used at any time of day, including the evening.
5. Optional: Selling the power to the electrical grid
If there is any excess electricity remaining, this can be sold to the national grid. Many homeowners choose to do this to generate an extra source of income.
What are solar batteries and what are the benefits?
Solar batteries are part of the solar PV system. They are used to store the solar energy produced from solar panels. While a solar panel system can operate without a battery, the power generated by the panels must be used quickly. There are many benefits of using a solar battery, mainly, the ability to store solar energy. This enables homeowners to collect and store energy until they are ready to use it. Another benefit is the reduction of a household’s carbon footprint. Using a solar battery means households are not relying solely on power from the grid. While solar batteries are an investment, they enable homeowners to save money in the long run, as well as use solar energy throughout the evening and in emergencies. Look at our range of solar batteries here.
How many solar panels does it take to power a house?
In short, it depends on the house and the number of residents. A typical Monocrystalline solar panel can produce anywhere from 250-425 Kwh of electricity. The average 3 bedroom house consumes 3,500 – 4,500 Kwh a year. It is recommended to have 4 to 6 solar panels for a 3 bedroom house. The roof space available will impact the number of solar panels that can be installed. Contact our team of experts today to discuss the number of solar panels you may need to power your home.
What are the long-term benefits of a solar panel system?
As Solar Panels are a renewable energy source, there are many benefits for homeowners. Firstly, the reduced long-term reliability on fossil fuels. Between 1 to 3 years of having a solar energy system, they will become carbon neutral. As they produce electricity, a households energy bills will start to decrease as they become more reliant on the solar energy. Solar energy systems are also known to increase a house’s value.
Common misconceptions of solar panels and solar energy systems:
Since solar panels are a long-term investment, there may be some aspects that deter homeowners from making the first step into renewable energy sources. In this section, we debunk these common misconceptions.
- They are expensive:
While the initial investment in solar panels can be costly, homeowners on average break even on their solar energy systems after 7 – 8 years. After the solar panels are installed, homeowners can sell excess solar power made to the national grid. This is an easy way for homeowners to make money from the energy they produce. Alternatively, homeowners can convert the electricity into thermal energy using a heat pump. This can be used to heat water or the home. Contact us today to discuss adding a heat pump to your solar PV system.
- They only work with direct sunlight:
While solar panels work more efficiently when they are in direct sunlight, they will also generate electricity in periods of overcast and rainy weather. Solar PV systems are designed to work throughout different weather conditions and temperatures.
- Solar Panels are hard and costly to install:
The idea of installing solar panels may deter many homeowners, as they believe it will be messy and costly. Solar panel installation is relatively easy. Our team of experts are on hand to oversee your solar project from start to finish. Find out more here.
- You can run a solar energy system without a battery:
While this is true, running a solar system without a battery in place may see energy wasted to the grid. We would recommend adding a battery to your solar PV system to maximise efficiency. Having a battery will allow you to store energy for later use.
- They don’t last very long:
This is a very common misconception of solar panels. On average, monocrystalline solar panels have a lifespan of 20 – 30 years. Speak to our team of experts to discuss our solar panel warranty, so you can have complete of mind with your solar PV system.
While a solar panel system is an investment, the benefits of renewable energy will soon shine through. At Aspecte, our friendly team of experts are on hand to answer any questions you have about solar panels and start you on the journey. Contact our team today on 01953 660550 to arrange a free estimation.