Solar energy is one of the biggest most effective sources of renewable energy in the world. Solar panels give us a greener alternative to other forms of energy and power, such as central heating, and help reduce our carbon footprint whilst operating.
A solar PV panel, also known as photovoltaic systems (solar PV systems), uses semiconductor technology to convert energy from the sunlight to produce energy and generate electricity and sometimes even excess electricity that can power your household.
The solar cells are made of semiconductors like silicon, connected electrically and packed in a single frame, known as a solar panel. A connection of multiple solar panels is called a solar array.
Solar panels are no longer oversized or bulky. They are now designed aesthetically. Integrated solar panels give users high efficiency and a modern, sleek look.
- 1 What are Integrated Solar Panels?
- 2 Solar Panels – How do They Work?
- 3 Pros of Integrated Solar PV Panels
- 4 Cons of Integrated Solar PV Panels
- 5 Can You Get Integrated Solar Panels in the UK?
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Conclusion
What are Integrated Solar Panels?
Integrated solar panels are commonly known as in-roof solar panels. They are similar to conventional solar panels installed on top of slates or roof tiles, but instead, these are integrated into the roof. They replace a section of the roof with no tiles under them.
Integrated solar panels are specifically designed to be as strong as the normal roof tiles and be weatherproof but also include photovoltaic cells or PV cells to produce electricity for homes.
Often referred to as solar roof tiles, roof-integrated solar panels are not designed to look like roof tiles and are not generally a complete roof systems solution.
Solar Panels – How do They Work?
- Sunlight is converted into DC electricity through solar panels.
- This DC electricity is wired through a DC switch.
- To invert this electricity from DC to AC electricity, it goes through a solar inverter.
- The use of solar battery storage is optional.
- From the solar inverter, AC electricity now flows through an electricity meter.
- Moving forward from the electricity meter, this AC electricity now goes to the fuse box from where it enters into the household’s electricity system.
- Solar electricity can finally be used for household purposes to power appliances and lights.
- The excess electricity that goes unused or is stored can then be fed to the grid.
Pros of Integrated Solar PV Panels
The in-roof solar panels are known for their bulkiness and non-aesthetic appeal, and while the newer models are more modernized in design, the integrated solar panels are a step further. Since they’re installed as a part of the structure of the roof, they sit tight with the roof tiles and blend with the roof space more seamlessly. Tiles aren’t required under an in-roof system. Since this kind of solar system is installed as part of a roof’s structure, the roof-integrated system has solar panels sitting snugly with the roof’s tiles and blending in more seamlessly.
Lower Cost of Installing Solar Panels
As newer technology has become more popular and more manufacturers are offering integrated solutions, the costs of solar panels have come down considerably compared to on roof panels. In fact, an integrated solar system is a more cost-efficient option than a total solar roof replacement. Integrated solar panels are quite affordable, unlike the more expensive than on-roof panels.
New Builds & Roof Replacements
Roof integrated panels are best suited for roof replacements or new building projects and can also be retrofitted. That is because the panels are installed at the same time as roof tiles, meaning that technicians or roofers installing solar tiles won’t have to walk on the finished panels. However, since integrated systems are not placed on top of tiles, they do not require a mounting frame and are pretty lightweight themselves.
Restricted Planning Permission
Integrated solar panels are designed so that you can alter them to match certain colour schemes and sit flat with the roof. They are more likely to meet the planning permission in listed buildings or protected areas. They are lightweight, do not add to the roof’s weight, and are a better choice for older and delicate architecture.
Solar panels are already pretty low-maintenance, but integrated panels go a step further. Since integrated solar panels don’t have a mounting frame, there’s no room for birds to nest underneath.
Cons of Integrated Solar PV Panels
It’s important to note that one key disadvantage of integrated solar panels is that they are around 5-10% less efficient when generating energy than traditional solar panels. It happens because, unlike the on-roof solar panels, integrated panels sit fit in a tray rather than mounted on brackets meaning that there’s less air ventilation around the panel to help keep it cool. This lack of ventilation can lead the panels to overheat and generate less electricity on extremely hot days.
Retrofitting is Complex
Retrofitting or adding panels onto an existing solar PV system is definitely possible with integrated solar panels but also complex. It implies that installation will take longer than usual and be more expensive.
Can You Get Integrated Solar Panels in the UK?
Yes, manufacturers have been selling integrated photovoltaic panels widely across the country. There are plenty of UK-based companies to choose from, which include:
- GB Sol: A Wales-based solar manufacturer, GB Sol has over 20 years of expertise in the solar industry, and their roof-integrated systems have won many awards. GB Sol offers products that can be more expensive.
- GSE Integration: GSE supplies panels in the UK, and the materials used are 100% recyclable! It is on the cheaper end of the price spectrum.
- Viridian: This Cambridge-based company’s system has five different solar panel ‘kits,’ suitable for all kinds of roof styles.
- Romag: Their roof-integrated solar panels work with all types of roof covering, including clay, slate, concrete tiles, or a ‘whole roof’ solution.
Is an array worth the investment?
Due to the high price of electricity and a 25% fall in solar panel prices since 2014, an array is worth the investment. An ordinary house with up to 3 residents can easily cover its electricity costs with a 3kW solar panel system.
What system ensures electricity?
Grid-connected systems make use of a local utility grid to ensure that we are never without electricity.
Are solar batteries required in solar panel systems?
Adding solar batteries to the system can reduce your reliance on an energy supplier, thus increasing energy savings, reducing energy bills even further, and making you energy efficient.
How many types of solar panels are there?
There are 2 types of panels:
- The electricity-producing PV or photovoltaic panels
- The heat-generating solar thermal panels
Most companies offer free solar panel quotes. But the total cost of panels depends on how many panels you need for your home, which depends on your energy consumption. You can recover this cost in the long run as the Solar Trade Association has been arguing that households be paid a fair market rate for the solar power they contribute to the solar electricity system just as all other generators are.
That, in turn, will lead to solar panels turning into an additional source of income for the households. If you want to generate your own electricity with solar technology, integrated solar panels are the way to go. You can also sell your surplus electricity generated and sell it to suppliers.
Solar panels are the way to a bright and sunny future where you can save money on more electricity bills and reduce your carbon emissions by 13%.