Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Solar Electricity (PV) Panels

Solar panels for electricity (otherwise known as Photovoltaic or PV panels) use the sun's energy to produce electricity that can be used within the home, any surplus can be fed back into the national grid via the Government's Feed-in Tariff, earning you money.

Solar panels for producing electricity are very different to those that produce heat to warm water, more information on those can be found in our solar thermal section.

How Do Solar Electricity Panels Work?

Solar electricity systems comprise single PV cells connected together to form modules, these are then connected together to form an array. When Sun shines on the array an electric field is created across two layers of semi-conducting material, the stronger the Sun, the greater the amount of power produced.

The amount of power produced depends upon the number panles installed within the array, you can expect to generate approx 100 kWh per sq/m per year.

Solar Electricity Method
  1. The solar PV panel generates DC electricity from the Sun.
  2. The inverter converts the DC supply into useable AC current suitable for the home.
  3. The power is fed into the mains.
  4. The PV solar panel produces electricity all day which is metered so you know exactly how much is being produced.
  5. The power is used within the home as you would normally, you won't notice any difference.
  6. You can sell any unused energy back to your electricity supplier.

How Much Does a Solar Electricity Installation Cost?

The cost of your solar panel system will depend on a number of factors, including the number of solar panels installed and the ease of installation, etc. The price of the technology has fallen considerably in the last couple of years. Currently you should expect to pay around £4,000 to £6,000 for a 2-4kW system. You can calculate the expected cost and payback of a solar photovoltaic system using Solar Guide's Solar PV Calculator.

Do I Require Planning Permission for Solar Electricity Panels?

In conservation areas planning permission may be required, please consult your local authority for rules and regulations in your locality, if you live in a listed building you will not be allowed to attach solar panels to it, you may consider installing an 'A' frame hidden in the garden somewhere.

Benefits of Solar Electricity

  • A typical 2 kw system could produce up to 1600 kw/hours per year which is around 50% of the average households electricity.
  • You can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, a solar PV system could stop up to 16 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in it's lifetime.
  • Modern technologies allow solar panels to make the best use of the british climate, even in cloudy/broken sunshine.
  • Your house value will increase, possibly covering the costs, if not more. A recent survey by MORI found people are willing to pay up to £10,000 more for a home built to high environmental standards.

Are Grants Available?

There are incentives available for Solar Photovoltaics via the Feed-In Tariff. Systems must be installed by an MCS accredited installer, you can find a local MCS installer at the Solar Guide site.