PV cells are panels you can attach to your roof or walls. Each cell is made from one or two layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced. PV cells come in a variety of shapes and colours, from grey “solar tiles” that look like roof tiles to panels and transparent cells that you can use on conservatories and glass. The strength of a PV cell is measured in kilowatt peak (kWp). That’s the amount of energy the cell generates in full sunlight.
Solar technology is a silent, pollution free way of producing electricity and is one of the most popular sources of renewable energy in the world. It makes perfect sense in the current climate of dwindling oil reserves, rising fuel costs and global warming, to tap into a free, natural energy resource.
Solar PV panels require light to generate electricity, so the modules still work when it is cloudy, although when it is overcast they are less efficient. When it is slightly overcast, the panels may produce as much as half the power they would in sunny conditions. When the sky is heavily overcast, this could reduce further. Temperature is less important than how much light there is. What’s more, a clear cold day is perfect, because pv modules operate better at cooler temperatures.
To tell if solar electricity is right for you, there are a few key questions to consider:
Do you have a sunny place to put it? You’ll need a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, and isn’t overshadowed by trees or buildings. If the surface is in shadow for parts of the day, your system will generate less energy.
Is your roof strong enough? Solar panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles. If in doubt, ask a construction expert or an installer.
Do you need planning permission? In England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you don’t need planning permission for most home solar electricity systems, as long as they’re below a certain size – but you should check with your local planning officer, especially if your home is a listed building, or is in a conservation area or World Heritage Site.
Most typical household installations take between 1 to 2 days to install. The main part of the works takes place on the roof and scaffolding will need to be erected. We ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and customer care is our priority.
PV modules have a life span of over 25 years, but should last much longer since there are no moving parts.
Prices for PV systems vary, depending on the size of the system to be installed, type of PV cell used and the building on which the PV is mounted. Typical prices range from £5,000 to £7,000 for each kilowatt installed. PV panels require minimal maintenance and are designed for approximately a 25 year working life, with performance even after 30 years being 80% of that when new. Although the panels need to be reasonably clear of dust and debris, the rain is sufficient to clean them on a standard pitched roof. We do however offer annual maintenance should you wish your panels to be checked and cleaned if required.
Electricity requirements vary depending on the size of your house and how energy-efficient the building and appliances are. A standard three-bedroom house consumes approximately 3500 kWh of electricity per annum, excluding heating and cooking (Source: Energy Savings Trust). A full 4kW system could generate up to 75% of a households annual needs.
For maximum efficiency, solar panels should be mounted on a south-facing roof at a 30 degree angle. However, with modern technology, Photovoltaic’s can be installed almost anywhere.
With a ‘Grid-connected’ system, any excess power generated is fed back into the electrical supply Grid. Where you will be paid an additional 3 pence per kilowatt by your electricity company, because there is no way of knowing the exact amount of electricity sent back to the grid your energy company will offer to take 50% of the generated power produced. It is in your interest therefore to use as much of the generated energy as possible during daylight hours.
A generation meter is installed between the inverter and consumer unit, this will record the power supplied by the Solar PV installation.
Give us a call or fill in a contact form and we will provide you with a free no obligation quotation. We will also be able to answer any questions that you have regarding solar electricity and discuss the opportunities available to you.