Solar power is becoming an increasingly viable, eco-friendly and affordable way to generate clean electricity, particularly as energy costs and utilities reach record-high prices!
GR Regan has compiled this guide to answer all your questions about how solar panels work, how much they could save, and the installation process itself.
Should you have any remaining queries, please feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.
What Are Solar Panels and How Do They Work?
Solar panels – also called solar PV or photovoltaic panels – absorb natural, free sunlight and convert it to electricity, using a converter to change the current to AC electricity we use in our standard plug sockets and lights.
Each panel includes cells built from semi-conductive layers and is installed in a grid-shaped pattern on property roofs.
You don’t necessarily need year-round sunshine, and solar panels work well on any roof aspect that isn’t north-facing. They are used throughout the UK to gather solar energy even when it is cloudy.
The biggest advantage is that once you have bought your solar panels and the associated components, such as a battery and inverter, you can generate enough electricity to power your home forever without paying for mains electricity.
However, don’t panic if you’re worried about gloomy winter days – you stay connected to the grid, so if you need a small amount of mains power because your solar battery has run down, you can do so without any issues.
Once you have installed a solar energy system, you can switch energy suppliers if you wish.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
There are all sorts of variables – how many panels you’d like, how large they are, where they need to be fitted and the type and size of solar battery! As a rough guide, most standard residential solar energy systems cost around £6,500.
Some properties aren’t suitable for solar panels, so it’s best to consider these factors before you start calculating your long-term cost savings:
- Available roof space: a solar energy system requires roughly 25 square metres as a maximum.
- Aspect: south-facing roofs are ideal for solar panels; although you can fit a grid on a roof that faces east or west – north-facing roofs don’t tend to work well.
- Shading: if overhanging trees surround your roof, this will limit the energy production capacity of a solar panel.
Provided none of these caveats apply, and you have the space on your roof, you should be able to install a set of solar panels.
You do not typically need planning permission because solar panels fall under permitted development rules. You will, though, need to register your solar energy system with the relevant Distribution Network Operator who supplies the electricity in your area.
What Are the Advantages of Fitting a Set of Solar Panels?
Solar panels are now more cost-effective than ever and are a free form of renewable energy that helps homeowners minimise or eliminate their electricity bills.
The average property can reduce utility costs by up to £405 a year.
Still, this saving can be considerably higher for larger homes, those with south-facing roofs or large solar panels, families with high-energy consumption requirements and where surplus energy is sold back to the grid.
Solar Panels Generate Renewable, Clean Energy
Solar energy is free, available everywhere, and doesn’t produce any harmful greenhouse gases. Switching to solar means you can cut your carbon footprint, especially since the recyclable materials in PV panels are also eco-friendly.
This method of energy creation is efficient and avoids energy loss, which is common throughout national power networks.
Reducing Mains Electricity Usage Saves Money
If your solar panels produce sufficient electricity to power all of your appliances, you may find that you do not require any external electricity whatsoever. It is often wise to install a solar battery alongside your panels to store excess energy and have this available on demand.
Properties in areas with regular power cuts and blackouts are entirely independent. They can use solar power day and night without any impact if the mains grid has a power outage.
Additionally, you can sell unneeded electricity to the grid, supported by the Smart Export Guarantee.
Solar Panels Can Increase Property Values
A low-maintenance set of solar panels requires very little upkeep – rain runs down the angled panel, and a professionally installed solar energy system can last for decades.
The investment pays for itself within a few years. It then provides ongoing savings, making houses with solar panels worth a premium on the property market with fuel savings and continued efficiencies.
How Long Does it Take to Install a Set of Solar Panels?
The first advice we would offer is always to use a qualified solar panel installer – there are various regulations and cost factors, all of which GR Regan can run through with you.
Most solar energy systems can be fitted inside a day or two and usually require scaffolding to be in place for up to a week. However, complex projects or larger installations may take slightly longer.
Before we attend your property to fit your solar panels, we will:
- Arrange a site visit to ensure the roof is suitable, and recommend any preparatory work required before we can fit your solar panels.
- Produce a shading analysis and inspect the aspect of your roof to suggest the ideal placement position.
- Provide a full quotation with breakdowns of each part of the project.
There are several additional services should they be required, such as wildlife proofing to avoid damage caused by birds and other wildlife.
What Type of Solar Panels Should I Buy?
Solar panels are made in two ways – PV or photovoltaic panels are the most common for residential homes and convert solar energy into electricity.
Thermal panels work differently and heat water for central heating systems. A PV system is more efficient for most UK homes because our properties use much more electricity than any other utility.
A professionally fitted solar energy system lasts around 25 years, with inverters needing replacement after a decade or so.