Solar Energy Information Before You Install
Thinking about solar? Heres what you need to know before you buy.
1. You can live in cloudy Britain and still use solar panels
How solar panels work in the UK is exactly the same as anywhere else. You dont have to live in an area with wall-to-wall sunshine to generate solar energy. Solar panels work even through clouds. However, the more sunshine you get, the more energy youll generate.
2. You need a south-facing roof
Ideally, you need a south-facing or south-west facing roof. With the latest technology most homes could benefit from solar PV. Only north facing roofs are not suitable.
3. You shouldnt need planning permission
Good news most homes dont need planning permission to install solar panels. However, if you have a flat roof or live in a conservation area you might want to check with your local council before going ahead.
4. You can still switch suppliers
Of course, you are still free to switch suppliers if you have solar panels. No matter which energy supplier youre with when you get them fitted, you can still change.
5. You need a certificate
Youll need an Energy Performance Certificate and a rating of D or above to qualify for a FiT. An EPC rates a building on its energy efficiency, A is the most efficient and G is the least efficient. Gov.uk can point you in the right direction of an accredited energy assessor.
If youre not ready for this step, but are trying to be more environmentally-friendly, then take a look at our low-carbon tariff.
Best Solar Panels For Your Home November 2021
Shopping for home solar panels and feeling like youre lost in a sea of information? If youre like most homeowners, the hundreds of solar panel options on the market today make your head spin in confusion.
To simplify the process of choosing the best solar panel for your home rooftop or backyard, weve done a lot of the legwork for you.
The following list of the nine best solar panels for home use will help you decide on the best residential solar panel so you can take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit incentive program before its slated to end.
If purchased before the end of 2022, 26% of your residential solar system cost can be applied to your federal income tax as a tax credit. In 2023, it drops to 22%. After that, its up to Congress to extend it or not.
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In the description for each PV panel, youll find important technical ratings for each one. If theres something unique or noteworthy to mention, it will be there, too.
Following the list are brief explanations of the technical terms youll read about the nine best home solar panels plus a few tips on how to decide on the best solar panel for your home.
Things To Consider When Building A Solar
In the last 10 years, homes with rooftop solar arrays have gone from curiosity to commonplace. It’s a trend perhaps best exemplified by Home Depot’s decision to start stocking solar panels in 2001 .
The technology has been available for decades — NASA has been using solar-powered satellites since the 1960s, and as far back as World War II, passive solar heating systems have been used in U.S. homes .
Getting active solar systems in the mainstream residential market has proved a challenge, though. Active solar power uses arrays of photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity, and it has traditionally been a prohibitively expensive technology.
The benefits of residential solar power are obvious: Energy from the sun is endless it provides clean energy with no greenhouse-gas emissions and it can save people money on their electric bills . But there are factors to consider when deciding whether solar power would be a good choice for you — and cost is only one of them.
In this article, we’ll look at five of the most important issues to address when you’re thinking about investing in a residential solar-power setup. Using photovoltaic energy is a very green and potentially rewarding move, but it’s not quite as straightforward as getting your power from the established electrical grid.
The first consideration is one you may not have thought of: Do you have to do anything to the solar panels once they’re up there on your roof?
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Solar Installation: How To Find A Qualified Installer
Its important you choose a certified installation company because they will be able to advise you on all regulations. It’s best to talk to a few installers and get their estimates. Most of them will give you an idea of costs over the phone before arranging a survey on your home. Ask them how long the work will take as well as what the warranty and/or guarantee for their work is. If any guarantees are insurance-backed this will help you avoid any surprises later. If you’re looking to qualify for FiT then your system will need to be installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme accredited installer.
How Do You Build A Solar Oven
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Solar Power For The Home: Benefits
A significant benefit to PV installation is a lower energy bill, but the magnitude of this benefit depends on the amount of solar energy that can be produced given the available conditions and the way in which utilities charge for electricity.
The first consideration is the solar irradiation levels available in the home’s geographical location. When it comes to using solar panels, being closer to the equator is generally better, but other factors must be considered. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory produces maps for the U.S. showing solar irradiation levels the tools on its website provide detailed solar information for specific locations within the U.S.
Similar maps and data are available in other countries as well, often from government environmental agencies or renewable energy organizations. Equally important is the home’s orientation for rooftop arrays, a south-facing roof without trees or other objects obstructing sunlight maximizes the available solar energy. If this is not available, panels can be mounted on external supports and installed away from the house, incurring additional costs for the extra hardware and cables.
The final benefit is the potential effect on a home’s value due to the addition of a solar array. In general, it is reasonable to assume that solar panels would raise the value of most homes.
Solar Power For The Home: Costs
Solar power is capital intensive, and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense.
Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter , metering equipment , and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear.
Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid . The installation labor cost must also be factored in.
In addition to installation costs, there are some further costs associated with operating and maintaining a PV solar array. Aside from cleaning the panels regularly, inverters and batteries generally need replacement after several years of use.
While the above costs are relatively straightforwardoften a solar installation company can quote a price for these for a homeownerdetermining subsidies available from the government and/or your local utility can prove more of a challenge. Government incentives change often, but historically, the U.S. government has allowed a tax credit of up to 30% of the system’s cost.
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How To Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need
The formula we used to estimate the number of solar panels you need to power your home depends on three key factors: annual energy usage, panel wattage, and production ratios. What does that mean exactly? Here are the assumptions we made, and how we did our math:
Annual electricity usage: Your annual electricity usage is the amount of energy and electricity you use in your home over a full year. Measured in kilowatt-hours , this number is influenced by the appliances in your home that use electricity and how often you use them. Refrigerators, air conditioning units, small kitchen appliances, lights, chargers, and more all use electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , the average American household uses 10,649 kWh of electricity per year, so well use that number as the ideal solar panel system or solar array size, which would mean you could offset 100 percent of your electricity usage and utility bill with solar panels . If youre interested in getting a more exact number based on your personal energy usage, check last years utility bills to find out how much electricity you used. Once you have that number, feel free to plug it into the equations below.
Advantages Of Solar Energy
Solar energy is the one of the most effective sources of renewable energy because of the reliable amount of sun the world gets. The ever-advancing technologies that are emerging will continue to harness this source in better, easier and cheaper ways making solar the fastest growing renewable energy source.
The carbon footprint of solar PV panels is already quite small and, as the materials used in them are being increasingly recycled, it continues to shrink.
3. Save money
Your electricity bills could decrease quite a bit because of the power you are generating and using, and not buying from your supplier.
4. No permit required
As solar panels are considered permitted development you usually don’t need a permit to install them on your roof. There are a few limitations you need to bear in mind before installation.
5. Low maintenance
Once installed, solar panels require very little maintenance. They are generally installed at an angle which allows rain to run off freely, washing dirt and dust away. As long as you keep them from becoming blocked by dirt, solar panels could last for over 25 years with little loss in efficiency.
Investing in a solar power system makes you less reliant on the National Grid for your electricity. As an energy generator, you can enjoy cheaper electricity throughout the day. And if you invest in battery storage, you could carry on using solar energy after the sun goes down.
9. Property value
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Solar Panel Size Dimensions
If you refer to the physical solar panel size dimensions, we can start off by saying that each manufacturer has its own optimal dimensions. This largely depends on their own technology.
As you might already know, solar panels are comprised of an arrangement of cells. Depending on the number of cells in the panel they are larger or smaller.
Traditionally, solar panels come in two different configurations: 60-cell and 72-cell. However, if you go to Panasonic or SunPower, they offer 96-cell panels.
But solar energy does not stop in large rigid solar panels.
You can also find small solar panels, and they are ideal to mount on motorhomes, boats, and caravans. Check out our guide on the best boat solar panels.
Solar panels also come in flexible and foldable configurations, making them more practical and easy to carry in case youd like to take them on your hiking or camping trips.
An Overview Of The Transparent Solar Panels
In order to generate power from sunlight, solar cells embedded on a solar panel are required to absorb radiation from the sun. Therefore, they cannot allow sunlight to completely pass through them . So at first, the idea of transparent solar panels might seem preposterous and completely illogical because a transparent panel should be unable to absorb radiation.
But thats not necessarily the case, researchers have found. In fact, thats not the case at all.
The solar panels created by engineers at the University of Michigan consist of transparent luminescent solar concentrators . Composed of cyanine, the TLSC is capable of selectively absorbing invisible solar radiation including infrared and UV lights, and letting the rest of the visible rays pass through them. So in other words, these devices are transparent to the human eye but still absorb a fraction of the solar light which they can then convert into electricity. Its a relatively new technology, only first developed in 2013, but its already seeing some impressive developments.
Surprisingly, the researchers at Michigan State University also claim that their transparent solar panels can last for 30 years, making them more durable than most regular solar panels. Basically, you could fit your windows with these transparent solar cells and get free electricity without much hassle for decades. Unsurprisingly, this prospect has a lot of people excited.
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Install The Solar Panels
Once the frame has been attached, the installation of the solar panels can begin. The panels are clamped to the aluminium frame but not too tightly at first, in order to have some space to adjust them slightly later. Once all panels are set up in their position, they are firmly secured to the frame.
Are There Grants For Solar Panels In The Uk
In the UK, you can earn money on your solar panels through various solar panel funding opportunities. Currently, there is the Smart Export Guarantee and the Feed-in Tariff .
The Feed-in Tariff was one of the governmental solar panel grants that encouraged the use of renewable energy in the UK, and solar PV was one of them. It was introduced in 2010 and offered a tariff to homeowners that generated and exported renewable energy.
In 2019, the government closed this scheme. Those that are currently still registered under the FIT continue to receive the payments as per their agreement, but no new applications are accepted.
Since the 1st of January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee has effectively replaced the FIT. With the SEG, UK homeowners can earn money by exporting surplus energy back to the grid.
The SEG requires that all energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers must offer a tariff for electricity sold to the grid. Individual energy suppliers have a lot of flexibility in how they want to set up the tariff, but it has to be above zero. A good export tariff is 4-6p/kWh.
Another option for solar panel funding is the new VAT reduction on energy-saving products. If you are over 60 years of age, or are on income- or disability benefits, you are eligible for a price reduction on your solar panels. There are specific eligibility criteria, which you can read on the government’s website.
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Standalone Storage Vs Solar
Outside of one utilitys pilot program in Vermont, nearly every residential-level storage installation in the US is paired with solar. There are a number of co-benefits of installing storage with solar, including the ability to access certain financial incentives and the ability to power your home independently of the grid for longer, but there may be some instances when standalone storage makes sense for your home or business.
To get a feel for the tradeoffs between standalone storage and solar-paired storage, check out this article.
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Reducing Fossil Fuel Dependency
The vast majority of the energy we consume is non-renewable. This comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas fuels that will one day run out. Because of this, we should consider using more renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic cells. If everyone were to do this, we would considerably reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
Reducing fossil fuel dependency can have many positive effects. Not only can it help to conserve supplies of natural resources, but it can also help to clean up the environment.
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Solar Thermal Costs Considerations In Bc
Solar thermal systems are complex systems which can be installed in various different configurations depending on application, geographic location and site conditions.
The average cost for installing a domestic solar hot water system is about $6,000 for a small family. Evacuated-tubes are about 20% to 30% more expensive than flat-plate collectors.
A solar hot water system can provide water heating needs all year round. In the summer, it can provide up to 100% of hot water needs and in winter it can provide up to 25%. A solar hot water system can easily be integrated with your existing domestic hot water system to provide you with hot water all year round.
The true savings realized with installing a solar hot water system will depend on the type of system installed, its location and your home’s existing hot water system. For example, solar hot water systems are most efficient when used to heat a swimming pool. A professional contractor can help you design and install the most optimum solar hot water system for your home.
Solar Battery Charging Basics: Use A Solar Panel To Charge Your Battery
Solar energy has become one of the most valuable sources of renewable energy. People globally have gone solar since it helps reduce the ever-rising power utility bills. If youre using solar panels to generate electricity, you may be required to understand the solar battery charging basics.
When trying to solar charge batteries, it is essential first to understand the several steps involved and the essential components that must also be there for the charging process to occur.
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