The world is trying to combat climate change through different means. One major way to reduce the carbon footprint is by using renewable sources of energy. As of 2020, only 20% of the energy consumption in the world is through renewable energy.
Solar power is one of the primary sources of renewable energy. The UK is one of the countries trying to shift its power generation source to solar power. As of 2019, the UK has approximately 1,004,062 solar PV sites developed in different locations.
Even homeowners are shifting to green and clean energy by installing solar panels in their homes. If you are a homeowner wanting to go the solar way, there are certain things you need to know.
The solar panel system guide will provide you with all the necessary information about installing solar panels at home. It focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of having a home solar system. The guide also tells you what you need to consider when installing a solar panel system at home.
- 1 Why Should You Have A Home Solar Panel System?
- 2 Are Solar Panels An Efficient Choice In The UK?
- 3 What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels?
- 4 What Are The Main Components Of A Home Solar System?
- 5 How much do Home Solar Panels Cost?
- 6 Financial Options for Solar Panels
- 7 Advantages of Home Solar Panels
- 8 Disadvantages of Home Solar Panels
- 9 Things to Consider When Installing Home Solar Panels
- 10 How can you Get Solar Panels in Your House?
- 11 Final Thoughts
Why Should You Have A Home Solar Panel System?
Installing solar panels in your house can be a significant step towards contributing to the betterment of the environment. You will be attaining energy independence and also decrease your utility bills. When you generate your electricity, you will not have to depend on utility companies.
The rise of electricity costs has been creating problems for thousands of citizens. Hence, the dependency on solar power will help protect citizens against thing rising costs.
Solar energy is trapped in the solar panels, which help in generating electricity for your household. Depending on the size of your house, you will need to look for the perfect solar panel system. You can power different electrical equipment at your home without raising your electrical costs.
Installing photovoltaic panels at your home will also help increase the value of your home to a great extent. In the UK, houses with solar panel systems have a higher resale value than those without.
Are Solar Panels An Efficient Choice In The UK?
Everyone knows that the climate in the UK is not always sunny. This can give rise to confusion and doubts regarding the efficiency of solar panels in the UK. However, it is worth noting that the weather in the UK is ideal for solar panel efficiency.
Solar panels work best on sunny days, but they do not always need direct sunlight. Even on cloudy days or during winters, solar panels can generate considerable energy. Moreover, solar panels are ideal for cool weather since they can get overheated in extremely warm weather.
Solar panels will work efficiently as long as the panels are clear of snow. A phenomenon called the albedo effect results in solar panels being highly efficient in snowy climates. This is because the whiteness of the snow will reflect the sunlight, which will help in more production of electricity.
Apart from the climate, the angle of the solar panels is also a crucial factor in deciding the efficiency. Most households in the UK have south-facing solar panels, and this helps in increasing efficiency. You also need to decide the correct angle to face the solar panels to get maximum sunlight.
What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels?
Before installing solar panels, you need to know the different types of solar panels present in the market. Not all solar panels will be suitable for your house, and you need to decide which one will work best for you.
Each of the solar panels is made from silicon which is a semiconductor. You can also consult with your solar installer to know which solar panel will be the right choice for your house. The three types of solar panels are as follows –
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from one large piece of silicon. They are highly efficient and are a compact panel system. These solar panels are costly and will last for about 25 to 30 years.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple silicon panels. These solar panels are larger and are not as efficient as monocrystalline solar panels. However, they are much more affordable and would last for about 25 years.
Amorphous Solar Panels
Amorphous solar panels are made from thin silicon layers present on supporting materials like glass or plastic. They are the least efficient solar panels and also the largest. However, these solar panels can also be highly beneficial since they can perform well in low sunlight. Amorphous solar panels will last for about ten years.
What Are The Main Components Of A Home Solar System?
The solar panel system in your home consists of several components. Apart from the obvious use of solar panels, other components are crucial for the system. Below are the components and the features present in your home solar system.
One of the main components of the solar system is the solar panels. These panels are made from photovoltaic cells or PV cells. These cells absorb the sunlight and convert the light into DC or direct current electricity. An average-sized will require around 20 solar panels.
The solar panels will be placed on mounting racks. These mounting racks are of two types – adjustable and fixed. It is clear from the name that fixed racks are set at a fixed angle, while you can manipulate adjustable racks at different angles.
You can move the adjustable racks to face the sunlight when the sun changes its position. Homeowners can use both these mounting racks for retrofitting the solar panels on their roofs.
There is another option which is solar shingles made by Tesla. You can use these to mount solar panels by replacing your existing roof and not retrofitting it.
The lithium-ion battery is an optional component that not all homeowners may opt for. Having a battery will help store the excess solar energy, which you can use during emergencies. Even though there are other battery options, lithium-ion batteries are the most common.
An inverter is a large box that converts direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) electricity. An alternating current powers your house, and the conversion is necessary. Inverter sizes are measured in kilowatts, similar to solar panels. Hence the size of your solar panels and inverter should correlate.
Physically the inverter would be half the size of one panel, but the weight can be a couple of hundred pounds. It is better to ask your solar installer about the right inverter size for your house.
How much do Home Solar Panels Cost?
The cost of solar panels in the UK can be anywhere between £350 and £500 per panel. However, the actual cost would vary depending on the type and size of the solar panel system. Ideally, most homeowners choose a 4 kW system that can cover about 29 sq. m. of your roof. This would cost you approximately £6,000.
Due to the advancements in solar systems, the cost of solar panels has seen a significant decrease. Below we have mentioned a table that will give you an idea of the solar panel costs for your household.
It is essential to remember that these are approximate costs, and the actual cost might vary by a lot.
|Solar Panel Size||Approx. Cost||No. Of Panels||Roof Area (sq. m.)|
|3 kW||£5,000 - £6,000||12||22|
|4 kW||£6,000 - £8,000||16||29|
|5 kW||£7,000 - £9,000||20||32|
|6 kW||£8,000 - £10,000||24||43|
The initial cost of installing a solar panel system is relatively high. It will go higher as the electricity generation capacity of your system goes up. However, in the long run, the savings for such systems will also be very high.
Financial Options for Solar Panels
You get several financing options for your solar system. The primary option is to pay upfront for the installation. However, there are a few other financial options that you can avail. Below are the financial options that you can use.
As already mentioned, the primary option is to buy the complete system upfront. This can be a substantial financial burden for many people; however, owning the system will be financially beneficial for you.
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
SEG is a grant that was introduced on 1st January 2020. This is the only solar funding that you will find in the UK. This funding allows small-scale electricity generators that produce low carbon to get payments for the extra energy they send back to the grid.
The grant is not a direct government one but is given by licensed suppliers. These suppliers need to provide export tariffs to their customers. Homeowners who have a regular solar system up to a capacity of 5 MW will be eligible for the SEG.
According to the new system of VAT pricing, solar panels can avail a tax reduction of up to 5%. People above 60 years, those who receive income or disability benefits will be eligible for this tax reduction.
Feed-In Tariff (FIT)
The FIT was started in 2010 and was successful until 2019 when the scheme stopped taking new applications. However, people who are still registered under this tariff can enjoy the benefits. This scheme states that people who generate electricity using solar panels and wind turbines will be eligible for a payback amount.
The payback amount will be based on each kilowatt per hour produced and excess electricity sold back to the grid. There is no fixed amount for FIT, and it will vary depending on the technology type, installation time, and system size.
There will be two types of payments that a certified installer will tell you about. These are the Generation Tariff and Export Tariff. Generation tariff is given on the energy that your solar panels produce and use. This ranged between 6.38 and 13.88 p per kWh/h.
On the other hand, an export tariff is given on the excess energy you sell, and you get 4.77 p per unit. You will not get the FIT in Northern Ireland.
Apart from the ones mentioned here, there may be other financial options you can get. Your solar installer will guide you in this aspect and help you choose the right financial option.
Advantages of Home Solar Panels
A solar panel is a very beneficial investment and helps produce environment-friendly energy. The benefits of installing home solar panels are –
Decrease Electricity Bills
When household increases their dependency on electronic gadgets, there will be an increase in their utility bills. Moreover, the price of electricity is increasing day by day. You can reduce your utility bills by shifting to solar energy.
The solar panels produce free energy, which you can store for future use. You can also get incentives for the excess energy that solar panels produce.
Get Money Back
You can make money using the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which sells the excess energy back to the grid. Energy suppliers that have 150,000 or more customers will need to provide an export tariff to their customers. This tariff should be more than zero.
Homeowners with a maximum of 5 MW capacity will get money back on the solar panel investments. However, this is a fairly new grant, and previous homeowners may be registered under the feed-in tariff.
Reduction in Carbon Footprint
When you shift to renewable energy sources like solar power, you help in reducing your carbon footprint. Traditional energy sources like fossil fuels, oil, and coal, release carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants in the air, which solar energy does not.
The best thing about solar panels is that they last for about 25 to 30 years and require little to no maintenance. You might need to change your inverter after every 10 to 15, but o extravagant or tiresome maintenance is required. The only maintenance required is keeping the panels clean and having an installer inspect the system every year.
Efficient All Year
Solar panels can function efficiently all year round, even during winters. They are also able to generate a substantial amount of energy during winter or cloudy days. During sunny days, you will get the optimal use of solar panels.
Solar panels offer independence from the grid, which is especially beneficial for houses in remote areas. These systems provide effective energy solutions and are affordable. You can use solar batteries to store excess energy and use them during the night or in harsh weather conditions.
Disadvantages of Home Solar Panels
Despite having so many benefits, solar panels also have certain drawbacks. Knowing these disadvantages is essential before you think of installing a solar panel system. The disadvantages are as follow –
Expensive Initial Cost
The initial costs of solar panels are very high. It can be somewhere around £5,000 to £10,000, which you will need to pay upfront. Even though financing options can help you earn your money back, the initial cost might be too much for some people.
Need Specific Placement
The placement of the solar panels needs to be right to get its complete efficiency. If you have an odd-shaped roof or a shaded space or are surrounded by large trees or buildings, the efficiency could decrease. You need to ensure that there are no obstructions to getting direct sunlight.
High Efficiently During Daytime
Even though you can use solar energy at all times, solar panels work only in sunlight. The excess sunlight is stored in batteries or sent to the grid, then used at night or off-peak times.
Things to Consider When Installing Home Solar Panels
The number of solar panels and the cost of the system will depend on several factors. A professional solar installer will be able to provide you with the right quote based on these factors. Below are the things or factors you need to consider when installing a solar system in your house.
Solar Panel Dimensions
There are many sizes of solar panels, which is the first factor you need to decide on. The standard size of a home solar panel is approximately 65″ x 39″. This is a universal size, but there can be a difference in the measurements depending on which solar panel you choose.
Solar Panel Wattage
The wattage produced by each solar panel is different. Solar panels that produce higher wattage are costlier. You should also remember that even though most solar panels can last for about 25 years, their efficiency will decline with time.
The average energy consumption in most households is about 1000 kilowatts per month. You can look into your previous electricity bills and see how much kilowatts your house consumes each month.
You can look into the battery storage option if you want to have energy stored during emergencies. Even though this is an optional criterion, several homeowners choose to use energy during off-peak hours. If you are choosing a battery system, you can reduce the number of solar panels.
Roof Shape and Size
One of the main factors that installers will assess is the shape and size of your roof. If your roof has an odd or unique shape, it may be hard to install solar panels. Moreover, the space should not be shaded and should have direct exposure to sunlight.
As mentioned above, you can only install the solar panel if your roof gets direct sunlight exposure. If there is a particularly shaded area or your roof does not get ample sunlight, the number of solar panels may increase.
From this, you can understand that it is hard to determine the number of solar panels you need for your house by yourself. You will need to depend on the expertise of a solar installer. They will consider these factors and provide you with the right plant to install a solar system in your house.
You should also know that roofs are not the only place where you can install solar panels. Many houses also have ground-mounted solar panels. However, these grounds need to be open, spacious, and have direct sunlight exposure.
How can you Get Solar Panels in Your House?
If you want to install a solar panel system in your house, there are certain steps you need to follow. Below are the necessary steps for getting a solar panel system.
The first thing you need to do is contact a solar expert. This solar expert will visit your house and look into the space. They will take the necessary measurements for the roof and see if the structural integrity of your roof and house is suitable for a solar system.
The solar expert will then provide you with all the suitable solar panel options. They will tell you about the types of panels, the number of panels, and their placement. These factors will depend on your requirement and need from the solar system.
Once you have decided on all the factors, the next step would be to get a cost estimate. The solar expert will provide you with the estimate, which will include labour and material costs. After this, you can schedule the time for the physical installation.
Physical installation can be done within a day or may take up to a week. This depends on the type of solar system you are installing and the size.
Solar panels may be an expensive solution, but they are a very clean energy source. Even though the initial costs can be high, you will get your money’s worth within a very short span. Moreover, you can take loans on solar panel installations or avail other financial options.
You will need to choose a certified installer who can install the solar panel system in your house. Moreover, the installer can guide you to choose the right solar panels and financing options.
By installing solar panels, you will be contributing to making the world a safer and cleaner space for future generations. Moreover, you will not have to worry about using depleting elements to produce energy.