What are solar panels?
Solar panel systems, also known as 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.
Solar PV systems work best on south-facing roofs (to take advantage of as much sunlight as possible). Similarly, the further South in the country that you live can have an impact on the effectiveness of the installation. The key factor for solar PV effectiveness is daylight hours, the South of the country gets slightly more so enjoy slightly better performance. The difference is only small however, irrespective of where you live in the UK a solar PV installation can provide significant benefits.
Sunlight owns domestic solar PV systems across England and Wales and is delighted to report that its systems perform to a high standard and are all monitored daily by our experienced administration team.
How do solar panel (PV) cells work?
The cells on solar panels are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cells it creates an electric field across the layers. To put it simply, the stronger the sunshine the more electricity is produced.
Groups of these cells are mounted together in panels, on domestic PV systems they are typically mounted on the roof of a property.
The advantages of solar PV
- Cut electricity bills – A solar PV system will generate electricity from the day that it is commissioned. Any electricity used within the property that is generated by the system is free to use.
- Cut carbon emissions – Electricity that is generated by renewable energy and does not release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical domestic solar PV system could save 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes of carbon per year.
- Reduce reliance on the National Grid – The UK’s National Grid is coming under more and more strain from continued increases in energy demands. A solar PV system cuts a household’s reliance on the Grid and leaves it less vulnerable to continued increase in energy costs.
Potential Cost Savings
It can be quite difficult to accurately predict the amount of energy savings a solar PV system can offer as it is very dependent on the circumstances of an installation, property and the living arrangements of those who live there.
The table shown below, issued by the Energy Saving Trust, demonstrates potential energy cost savings across varying locations and living situations. The data is based on a 4kWp system, which is typically the largest solar PV system that is installed on domestic UK properties.
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Maximising the benefit of Solar PV
If you have a solar PV system you should tailor your energy usage around the electricity that the system generates wherever possible. Tips to getting the most from your installation include:
- Large appliances – Try to use large appliances, such as your washer and dryer, during daylight hours.
- Timer Switches – If you are frequently out of the house during daylight hours consider using a timer switch so that you can set your appliances to turn on when your panels are generating the most electricity.
- Electricity Suppliers – Speak with your electricity supplier and submit regular meter readings. Many energy suppliers estimate bills and may not consider your solar PV installation and reduce the estimate accordingly.
- Stagger Usage – Try to stagger your energy usage across the day. Solar PV systems can only generate a finite amount of electricity at one time. Consider using your appliances on a staggered basis to reduce the chance of drawing supplementary power from the National Grid.
- Old Appliances – Assess the appliances within your home and consider whether they are efficient enough to get the most from your solar PV installation. New washing machines can consume up to 5 times less power in comparison to older models so it is important to consider efficiency when the time comes to replace your appliances.
- Storing Energy – Consider investing in battery storage technology. Storing any energy that would typically not be utilised within your home will ensure you maximise the best possible benefits from your solar PV system. If you are interested in adding a battery storage option to the solar PV installation on your property contact Sunlight today. (hyperlink to contact page)