If you’ve been hearing a lot about solar panels recently, you may be aware that their prices are continuing to fall, and this fact alone is usually enough to pique interest.
Considering the ongoing rise of electricity prices, solar panels are simply making more and more sense to households and businesses across the UK. The prospect of free energy at a reduced premium (not to mention the benefits for the environment) is too tempting to ignore, and is perhaps what has led you to this article!
Before you make a decision on getting solar panels for your home or your business, you’re no doubt keen to know a bit more about them, and we are happy to oblige. Here’s part one of our roundup of things you should know about solar panels.
They’ve been around for a long time
It might surprise you to learn that the flashy photovoltaic technology of solar panels dates back as far as the 19th century. In 1839, a major breakthrough in the evolution of solar energy occurred when a young French scientist named Edmund Bacquerel discovered the ‘photovoltaic effect’ whilst doing research in his father’s lab.
When exposing an electrolyte cell to light, Bacquerel found that its energy increased, thus unlocking a new realm of solar possibility. In 1883, American inventor Charles Fritts made the first ever working solar cell, which achieved a solar efficiency of 1%. We’ve come a long way since then; today, most solar panels have an efficiency of around 20%, and some can reach as high as 50%.
They work in cloudy weather
While it’s true that maximum efficiency is achieved when the sun is shining, your solar panels will still generate electricity on cloudy days and during winter. This is because the photovoltaic cells on the panels generate power from daylight, not sunlight or heat.
Let’s face it, if solar panels were reliant on nothing but direct sunlight, the UK solar industry would be doomed.
They can make you money
Back in January 2020, the government launched the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme, whereby solar panel users get paid for any excess energy they send back to the National Grid.
Based on which tariff you secure, a 4kWp solar panel system could currently make you close to £400 per year. So in addition to the monthly savings you’ll make on your energy bills, you could also earn a nice bit of pocket money.
They require no maintenance
Once your solar panels are installed, you can basically forget about them. They require very little maintenance over the course of their long lifespans, save for the occasional hose down if too many leaves settle on the surface. But if your panels are on a slanted roof, the rain will do most of the cleaning for you.
Other than that, the only bit of maintenance you need to be aware of is the inverter, which typically needs replacing after 10-15 years. It’s also a good idea to have an installer examine your systems every 5 years or so, just to make sure everything is working as it should.
They are not as expensive as you might think
The price of solar panels has dropped quite significantly over the past few years. Previously you’d have expected to fork out over £6,000 for an averagely sized 3.5kWh system, whereas now you can now easily secure one for less than £5,000.
This is due to a number of factors, including advancements in the tech and government support schemes. And as high-quality solar panels become more and more readily available, it’s likely these prices will continue to fall.
You don’t need planning permission
Solar PV is classed as permitted development, so as long as your panels don’t protrude more than 200mm off the edge of your rooftop, you will not have to apply for planning permission to install a solar system on your house.
Naturally, there will be restrictions within protected sites or on listed buildings, but you can potentially get around this by applying for listed building consent from your local council. Approval usually depends on whether or not the panels are deemed to damage the character of the building or cause major structural changes.
Get in touch today to start your solar journey!
That wraps up part one, but feel free to jump right on to part two – we talk about increasing the value of your home, your reduced carbon footprint, and a bunch of other good stuff!
If you’re keen to start saving (and making!) money with solar panels, get in touch today! We’re happy to answer any questions you might have, and we can arrange a free, no-obligation site visit.