In simple terms, a solar photovoltaic system converts sunlight into electricity. The resulting electricity is then converted into AC power by an inverter so you can use it in your own home or if you have an excess, feed it back into the National Grid and get paid for it.
With a solar PV system you can become less reliant on non-renewable energy sources and lower your impact on the environment by generating your own, clean electricity. According to Government figures, each kWh of solar electricity represents a saving of 0.43kg of carbon dioxide. That means a typical 2kWp sized solar PV system could save nearly a tonne of carbon dioxide per year.
When there is enough daylight, you can use clean electricity generated by your own home system. Because you’re not drawing your supply from the National Grid, this means you could reduce your electricity bills significantly.
You can enhance the capability of your home generating system by installing a battery storage solution like Sunplug or Tesla Powerwall that helps you to use the electricity generated by your solar PV system even when the sun goes down.
A solar PV system can generate income as well as power. The UK’s feed-in tariff, introduced in 2010, means that anyone generating electricity from small-scale, renewable sources like solar PV can feed excess energy back into the National Grid and receive a payment for every kWh fed in.
Although solar power costs very little to generate, the cost of installing a solar PV system can be quite daunting. The savings you can make by generating your own power, plus the value a solar PV system can add to your home represent a solid long-term investment.
If you want to spread the cost of installation, finance options are available at competitive rates. If you’re interested, get in touch and our team will be more than happy to talk them through with you.
Not every property is suitable for solar PV. You need enough roof space for the installation of solar panels - the bigger the space, the more electricity it can produce. Your roof also needs to be south-facing. It will need to be unshaded by taller buildings or trees and ideally, have a 35°- 40° angle. You may also need planning permission issues if your property is:
- In a conservation area
- In an area of outstanding natural beauty
- In a national park
- A listed building
This depends heavily on the type of property, its location etc. The weather will also have an effect how much electricity you can generate and how much you need to use. The table below gives a credible example though, of what a typical solar PV system will cost to install, how much electricity it could generate and the savings you could (both in cash and in carbon dioxide) in the first year of use.
Installation cost (incl VAT)
|Income from generation tariff (3,656kWh x £0.0432)|
|Income from electricity exported (1,828kWh x £0.0491)|
|Savings on grid-supplied electricity (1,828kWh x £0.1400)|
|Return on Investment|
Before you can install a solar PV system, your home needs an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC rates a building’s energy efficiency from A (the most efficient) to G (the least). To install a solar PV system, you will need a rating of D or above. Read more about EPCs on the uSwitch website.
An accredited energy assessor will grade your home’s energy performance. To find one near you, go to Gov.uk.
You will need a certified solar panel installer to advise you on all the regulations surrounding solar PV. We’ve teamed up with Which? Trusted Trader The Phoenix Works who can (if you choose) handle the entire process from initial enquiry to final installation.
Whoever you choose as you installer, they will need need to visit your home to perform a solar energy survey. This will ensure you get the right system for your property as well as an accurate projection of the amount of power you’ll be able to generate.
Once your solar PV system is installed, it’s largely maintenance-free. Your installer will give you a troubleshooting checklist and details of regular maintenance checks. Provided your panels are kept clean and clear of overgrown foliage, they should last 25 years or more. Your inverter might not last quite as long as this, but provided it’s properly maintained it shouldn’t need to be replaced for years.
Read more in our content hub article: Top reasons to use solar energy.
If you’d like us to contact you about installing solar PV, get in touch and register your interest.
1. 10% of the UK’s renewable energy is provided by solar power(1)
2. Enough sunlight falls on the earth in one hour to meet global energy demands for an entire year(2)
3. More than 80% of the UK public support solar power(3)
4. Over 670,000 households now have solar power, along with thousands of businesses, schools, farms and community groups(3)
5. The global solar power market between now and 2035 is estimated (by Deutsche Bank) to be worth $5trillion(3)
6. The world record for solar-powered flight was set by Solar Impulse - a privately-funded project whose aircraft completed the first fully-solar powered circumnavigation of the globe in July 2016(4)