Solar Photovoltaics

What is it?

Solar panel electricity systems, also known as solar photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.

What is it suitable for?

Most properties in the UK are suitable for Solar Panels.

A Solar PV system will work in all weather conditions, even on a cloudy and overcast day.

You will need a South, East or West facing roof of around 10m2 or a plot of land of similar size.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have the perfect roof. We have experts who can design a system working around any obstructions (chimneys, loft windows, etc) you may have.

What are the benefits?

  • You can cut your electricity bills. Sunlight is free, so once you've paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced.

  • Get paid for the electricity you generate. The UK government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme pays you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it.

  • If your system is producing more electricity than you need, you can sell the surplus back to the grid through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.

  • Cut your carbon footprint. Solar electricity is green renewable energy and doesn't release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save over a tonne and a half of carbon dioxide per year.

How does it work?

Solar panels capture light and convert it into free, green electricity for your home.

PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting 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. The electricity produced known as a direct current (dc) is converted into alternating current (ac) which all households use in the UK, via the Inverter. The electricity is then fed into your consumer unit and can then be used for various appliances.

When you generate more solar electricity than you are using, the excess is automatically supplied back to the grid.

How does it compare?

Solar PV:

  • They provide clean energy for over 30 years
  • They come with a warranty of 25 years or more
  • They can provide you with 60% or more of your household energy needs, depending on your consumption and the size of the system
  • They generate the most power in the summer, when the sun is strongest
  • They can provide enough energy to power high-consuming appliances like a refrigerator, tumble dryer or air conditioner
  • They protect your roof, thereby extending its lifespan
  • They can be integrated into your roof for optimum aesthetic value

Solar Thermal:

  • They are up to 70% efficient in collecting heat from the sun
  • They will cut your gas and electricity usage
  • They require less space on your roof than a solar pv system
  • The up-front cost of installation is less than a solar pv system
  • It takes less time to recover your initial cost, typically only 3-5 years
  • The technology is less complex and very dependable
  • The technology is widely used in other parts of the world

Costs & Savings

Costs:

  • A typical Solar PV system will cost around £3,000 to £8,000 fully installed, dependent upon the model chosen, and the size of the system.

Savings:

  • Independent figures from the Energy Saving Trust suggest in standard 4-bedroom house you could save £135 per annum on electricity.
  • In addition, you should be able to earn around £475 per year through the Feed in Tariff and an additional £95 per annum from the export tariff.