One of the biggest questions that surrounds solar panels is, ‘do they even work in the UK’? It’s a worthwhile question; nobody wants to invest in something that they aren’t sure on. As a matter of fact solar panels can benefit businesses in a number of different ways.
This blog will go into detail about why people want this technology, what conditions it works best in and why it’s beneficial for people in the UK.
What You Need To Know About Solar Panels
All of us want to live a sustainable life or, at best, reduce our carbon footprint, and solar panels are an innovative technology that can do just that. Installed on the roof of a building, it’s possible to convert sunlight into energy to power your home and save money off your energy bills.
It isn’t as simple as it sounds though, and there are a number of things to take into consideration before committing to solar panels. For example, they can be fairly expensive at first and may not be suitable to your property.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
In a nutshell, solar panels are an environmentally friendly way of utilising electricity to power your home. It requires the use of photovoltaic cells that are able to convert sunlight to electricity.
This is the most amazing part of this technology, and being able to utilise electricity that your panel produces to power any appliances in your home is a great benefit. Don’t worry about having to use it all though, as any spare can be sent back to the national grid in exchange for payment.
Are Solar Panels Able To Work Properly In The UK?
In a word, yes. Even though the UK isn’t the sunniest of places, and despite the name of this technology, there isn’t a need for direct sunlight. The day could be excessively cloudy or overcast, yet they’d still be able to function.
Of course, this isn’t without sacrificing efficiency. When it’s cloudy, a solar panel’s energy generating capacity is reduced by around 50% when compared to direct sunlight. You are still able to use the electricity produced to power your home.
How Do I Know If My Home Can Use Solar Panels?
Although properties all over the UK have already taken advantage of solar panel technology, there are certain areas and roof types that simply can’t accommodate it. Our guidelines below should give you a good idea on if solar panels are a suitable option for you or not.
Do you own the property?
If the property you live in is rented, you have to approach the landlord first before you install solar panels. This is due to a need for work on the building that requires a small amount of construction. Most landlords won’t mind, as the number of benefits outweigh the installations.
Do you live in a flat?
For those living in a basement apartment or middle floor flat, solar panels aren’t suitable for you as installing them can be problematic. Not only is it a struggle to reach the location where the panels would be installed, but all the wiring and other equipment may not have the necessary space to function properly.
Which way does your roof face?
It’s well known that south facing roofs receive the most light. North facing get the least and are often left damp. East facing roofs get the morning light, whereas west facing has the most sunlight in the afternoon and evening. In most cases, schemes won’t accept north facing roofs due to the lack of light they receive throughout the year.
Does your roof suffer from shade?
Even though solar panels don’t require direct sunlight to function properly, if the technology doesn’t collect enough sunlight then it can end up not being worth the installation. For this reason, roofs that have to deal with a lot of shade may not be acceptable.
What size is your roof?
One of the best things about solar panels is how they can be installed in so many different circumstances. Even if you have an awkwardly sized roof, there are a number of different solutions. Generally though, a larger space gives you far more options and greater versatility.
Is your building listed or in a conservation area?
Due to strict law, buildings that are listed or situated in conservation areas can have strict regulations to adhere by. In most cases it’s not possible to make any significant changes to the existing construction. Although there may be a solution to this, in the majority of circumstances it can cause a large problem.
However, it’s worth remembering that there are always exceptions to each rule, so don’t think you have to miss out because you fit into one of these criteria.
Will My Electricity Quality Suffer Due To Solar Panels?
This is a definite no, as you won’t realise there’s a difference. In the event that a panel isn’t producing a large amount of electricity, you will simply use power produced from the main grid.
A common misconception is that solar panels replace the energy you use on a daily basis. This isn’t true, as they are used as a supplement from an eco-friendly source when it can. On the flip side, if you end up generating more power than you need it can be sold back to the National Grid. There is an agreed rate which is available from the Feed-in Tariff Scheme.
Do The Solar Panels Need To Be Turned On?
This is also a no. Solar panels are always on, ensuring you can make the most of the suns energy whenever possible.
What’s The Lifespan Of A Solar Panel?
On average, a solar panel will be functional for anywhere over twenty five years, generally around forty. It does depend on what type you go for, the conditions they have to deal with and how they’re positioned.
There is also a feature called an inverter. This is what converts the direct current to an alternating current, something that the grid runs on. It’s important that it’s replaced around every twelve to fifteen years so you can get proper electricity distribution.
Do Solar Panels Need Planning Permissions?
As stated above, if you live in a listed building or a conservation area then always check first. If the panels are visible from the roadside then it may require you to seek planning permission first..
Before you commit to having this technology installed ask your local council planning office. They will explain if you need permission or not.
How Will I Know If I’m Using The Produced Electricity?
You will rarely notice a difference between using electricity produced by solar panels and that from the National Grid. Even when the two are transitioning there’s little chance it’ll have an effect. As the process is done automatically, there’s no need to worry about making sure your self-produced power is being used.
Is It Still Possible To Switch Gas And Electricity Provider?
Yes, even though you have solar panels it’s still possible to switch your gas and electricity provider. The Feed-in Tariff will carry on coming from the same supplier as your power is still going to the same national grid, the only difference will be your energy coming from a new provider.
The reason for this is because of the Feed-in Tariff being a subsidy paid for by a number of energy companies. This means the firm you’re with when you take out this tariff are the administrator of rates. Officially, the energy company you were originally with when having solar panels installed are called the “FiT licensee”.
How Do Solar Panels Work With My Current Gas And Electricity Provider?
It’s safe to say that solar panels are a stress free energy saving measure, as you won’t notice a considerable change. In the majority of cases the notable effect is lower energy bills. Your energy provider will still take readings from your meter occasionally and charge you for power use.
How Do You Make The Most Of Solar Panels?
Whilst there isn’t much you can do about controlling the weather, there are a number of things you can do to make the most of electricity you produce. Use electrical devices, such as slow cookers, washing machines, and chargers during the day, as this is when your solar power is most likely to be used.
In certain cases it’s possible to store any energy you produce thanks to the installer. An immersion heater which is directly connected to your panels is just one of the ways you can do this, so it’s worth taking into consideration.
Solar Panels, Ideal For The UK
After reading this blog it’s clear to see that solar panels are an acceptable measure to make the most of in the UK. If you have any further questions call us today on 01492 588 282, or get in touch on Twitter: @greendealshop