Solar PV is increasing in popularity across the UK for the simple reason that it reaps tons of benefits for both homeowners and business owners. It is both sustainable and cost-effective and you dont even need to be accredited to fit solar panels on a roof! By installing solar PV panels, many people are saving hundreds of pounds off their annual energy bills as well as cutting their carbon footprint.
The main distinction between Solar PV Panels and Solar Thermal Panels is what they are used for. Thermal panels primarily provide heating for hot water as well as the home whereas PV panels generate electricity. This is the key difference between the two renewable energy solutions and although there are advantages to each system, here we are solely discussing Solar PV.
In such a technically advanced society, it is more important now than ever to have access to an energy supply. But the focus on being environmentally friendly has soared over the past couple of years and it is now a core principle which lies at the heart of many Britons.
So what exactly are solar PV panels and how can they improve your business or home? Here is a detailed guide to the resourceful product.
What is a Solar PV Panel?
It is a renewable energy system which produces electricity in a sustainable way. They are fitted onto roofs and they collect solar energy from the sun to generate electricity. As a renewable energy source, it offers a continuous supply every day without harming the environment.
Types of Solar Panels
There is a vast array of types of solar panels but fundamentally they are all made up of interconnected solar PV cells. Of all the types of panels available, there are three main types to choose from and these consist of Polycrystalline Silicon cells, Silicon cells, and Thin Film.
Monocrystalline: These are made from a solid mono crystal, as evident of the name. The lattice of the entire cell is without grain boundaries and due to the pureness of the material they make a higher level of efficiency.
Polycrystalline: These on the other hand are composed of many crystallites of different sizes and orientation. They cost slightly less to purchase and are easily recognisable by the metal flake effect. A main brand of Polycrystalline PV panels is Stiebel Eltron.
Thin Film: These use a fine layer of semiconducting material to collect the electricity from the sunlight. They are cheaper than mono or polycrystalline silicon cells.
What are the advantages?
Expected lifespan of 20-25 years.
Mono/Polycrystalline cells efficiency levels around 13-17%
Thin Film solar cells efficiency levels is 6-10%
Easy to install
Generate an income by selling unused electric units back to the Grid
Ecological energy source
Little maintenance required
Earn investment back after a number of years
If you are thinking about installing the product, there are a number of aspects which you need to take into consideration.
The size of the system is important as whether or not it will stand alone or need to be connected to the Grid. Stand Alone panels need to be high enough to operate electrical devices at night and on cloudy days whereas Grid-tied systems feed excess capacity back to the local mains Grid. If for some reason there is a shortfall, power can be drawn from the Grid to your system.
Come in various sizes including 160W, 180W, 200W, 220W. If you have a small residential property, start from 1kW with around 5-6 panels.
Cables and in Inverter may be required to complete the installation.
Maximise efficiency by the angle of panel and roof orientation. For the greatest output, mount the panel south-west facing to receive as much direct solar rays as possible and at a 90° angle with the plane of the Collector.
Rest assured you can get financial help if you are bearing the renewable energy product in mind. There are Government grants and incentives available for homeowners and business owners via the Feed in Tariff scheme. Here the technology is eligible for support and you can earn a certain amount of money per kW produced.
This article was written by Enerfina; the independent market comparison site for renewable energy solutions.