Solar Panels

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Should I Install Solar Panels On My House?

The answer to this question isn’t as easy as a yes or no, it is different for each individual & each property, this guide will look into solar panels and help you decide if they are a good fit for you. Electricity costs in the UK under the current government price cap are around 3x more expensive than they were in 2020, which means that the repayment period on solar panels is much quicker now, as you will be saving 3x more than you would have previously. The other thing to bare in mind is that keeping the price cap in its current position comes down to government intervention, in fact the bill payer is only actually paying around 2/3rd of the cost of a kWh of electricity, as 1/3rd is being paid for by the government, so if and when that government support is ended or reduced then the costs will rise up significantly. Without predicting the future, history shows that utilities prices have been rising faster than inflation and there are no signs of that changing soon, which in our view makes a solar system installation a very good investment.

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Solar Panels Cost - How Much To Install a Solar System?

Like with most things, the cost will vary dependant on a number factors, such as the specification and size of the system,  location & access. The majority of households will use electricity through the day time, then in the evening after the sun has gone down, which is why most new solar installs come with solar storage batteries too. A solar storage battery can store the excess electricity generated by solar panels, so that you have a reserve for a time of day when you are using more than what is being generated, plus in the evening once the sun has set. Most households in the UK install between 3kw to 6kw of solar power, which will cover a large proportion of the average electricity bill, with battery storage ranging between 3kw & 10kw per system.

A typical solar storage system with battery storage should cost between £9,000 to £13,000 to install, however the initial cost can be offset by by the savings on the electricity bill. A 3kw to 6kw solar system annually will generate between 2000 to 5500 kWh, so providing you use or store that power, multiplied by the standard rate electric price of 34p, is between £680 to £1870 of savings per year, or monthly works out at between £56 to £155 a month. If you need or want to use finance to fund your solar installation, then you could take out a plan which matches the monthly savings that the system makes, which means that for electricity and capital repayments combined, you would be paying the same, or less than you are right now for electricity alone.

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How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar photovoltaic panels work by absorbing sunlight into the photovoltaic cells, which produce a direct current (DC). Each photovoltaic cell is made up of a sandwich consisting of two semi-conducting materials, usually like the silicon which is found in computer chips and microelectronics, when the sun shines it creates an electrical field which has a positive and negative charge, that charge is then pushed out of the silicon, on to metal conductive plates and then into wires. The power which is still in direct current is wired into an inverter, the inverters job is to convert the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) which what lights and sockets use in the UK. 

If you also add in solar storage batteries, these are commonly located at the point after the inverter, however solar storage batteries do store energy in direct current, when your house then calls for power stored in the battery, it will push the electricity back through the inverter to convert it back to alternating current (AC) which can then be used by your household appliances and lights.

Here is a video from the Energy Saving Trust to show how solar works in 60 seconds.

Is There Any Funding Available For Solar Panels?

Unfortunately there is no funding available for solar panels right now and because solar panels have a relatively fast repayment period (10% – 30% per year), it is extremely unlikely that will change any time soon. The rise in electricity costs in the UK starting in the second half of 2021 has drastically increased demand for solar panel installations, often causing stock shortages on batteries and components, with such high demand there isn’t a need for government intervention to tempt consumers to go green and install a solar system at home. Businesses are also following the same path for the same reasons, manufacturing businesses and others as such that have vast electricity usage are finding excellent financial businesses cases to install solar panels. Businesses which are high consumers of electricity due to their nature, can have even faster repayment periods than residential homes, this is because they could use a larger proportion of the electricity generated, instead of sending it back to the grid, which isn’t as profitable, also business utility rates per kWh can be up to 3x higher than residential electric rates. The repayment period for businesses to get their money back in fuel savings alone can in some cases be as short as 2 years!

Will Solar Panels Add Value To My House?

Yes, any home improvement will add some value on to your property, especially when the improvement is a ‘green’ improvement, however it is difficult to say how much in pounds. If you have a substantial sized solar system which saves a lot of money you can assume this will add more value to your home that a smaller system that could be viewed as a novelty. The true test of value is if you are planning on selling up, houses with solar panels do attract a higher price due to the financial savings that they make, but not only that, they make the house more sellable and can attract a wider audience, for example a buyer who is driven to buy a home with green credentials over a fossil fuel dependent home.

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Do Solar Panels Need To Be Serviced?

Solar panels are designed to be really low maintenance, they have no moving parts or things that need to be replaced like filters or bearings. Almost all solar panels which are sold now have self cleaning glass, in the manufacturing process they use a hydrophobic coating which stops water droplets from sticking to the surface, then when there is rainfall it washes the dust & dirt particles off with it, which is where the name ‘self-cleaning’ comes from. If you live in an area which is surrounded by forestry and wild life it may be a good idea just to hose or sweep out around the panels incase there is a build up of leaves or similar, however this isn’t very common as most areas which would be susceptible to such conditions wouldn’t be a preferential place for panels to be installed in the first place.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Panels

Commercially available solar panels are available in two types, Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline which in most cases you will be able to identify as the dark blue solar panels, and the black solar panels. The difference in the two is not just colour and performance, it is also the technology which is in them too, specifically the crystals of silicon, which in the Monocrystalline panels is one single crystal, compared to Polycrystalline panels which have several fragments of silicon melted together, making them 30-50% less efficient that than the black panels. The manufacturing process of producing polycrystalline panels actually produces less waste than moncrystalline, however due to the latter producing much higher electricity yields per square foot, the moncrystalline panels are still universally favoured for both financial and environmental gains.

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Advantages of Solar Panels

  • Reduces electricity bill – The amount of money wasted because you are giving it to your electricity supplier is vastly reduced, which means you save money from the day your system is installed.
  • Energy Independence – You are in control, even if your solar system doesn’t quite cover your whole bill, any price rises of electric will only have a minimal effect on your outgoings.
  • Low maintenance / Low maintenance costs – Solar panels need little to no maintenance, which means little to no maintenance costs once the initial installation is completed.
  • Compatible with other renewable products – Solar panels compliment other technology such as electric vehicles & air source heat pumps, by providing free power for them to run!
  • Never ending source of power – You can rest assured that the sun will circle the earth every 24 hours, which means that you will be generating some electrical power every day.
  • Protects the roof from weathering as much – Although it is lower on the list of reasons to get solar panels, the cover that your roof gets by having solar panels on it will reduce the weathering effect on your roof tiles.
  • The  look really smart! – Solar panels can look great on your roof, especially if they are put on neatly and in-line, the black Monocrystalline ones are the most stylish and complement newer modern buildings the most.

Disadvantages of Solar Panels

  • You many not have a good roof for solar – Some roofs due to their design just aren’t right for solar panels, this could be because it is facing the wrong way (north), it is in poor condition, it could be heavily shaded by another building or trees, or you could have dormers & velux windows and therefore isn’t any space left.
  • Upfront cost – Solar panels do give a great return on investment, however unfortunately solar panels are not cheap to buy initially, so unless you have some money saved up or access to credit, you might not be able to get them.
  • You might not like the way they look – Some people may have an image in mind of what they want their home to look like, sometimes that image doesn’t include solar panels. We don’t think roofs are particularly great to look at anyway, so putting solar on there can only be an improvement, but each person has their own preferences.



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