Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Installation and Maintenance
Harnessing Solar Energy
Why rely entirely on the National Grid when you can choose the power of the sun? Here at South East Solar and Electrical in Rochester, we install and maintain high-quality solar panels – or photovoltaic (PV) panels as they are known – so that you can enjoy an eco-friendlier lifestyle and reduce your impact on the environment. Serving the South East and beyond, we prioritise customer care and tailor our approach to suit your needs.
How do Solar Panels Work?
Put simply, solar panels use the sun’s energy to generate electricity with no waste and no emissions. Cells containing a semi-conductor material capture the sun’s energy and convert solar radiation into electricity that’s perfectly capable of powering your property. Considering the sun produces 8,000 times more energy than we consume globally, it makes sense to utilise its power and make the most of this free energy supply.
Solar power has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade. PV panels have become increasingly efficient and now offer an attractive design that’ll help your property stand out.
What are the Benefits of Solar Panels?
Solar Panels for Home
Aside from looking trendy and projecting your love for the environment, solar panels have many additional benefits. They can:
- Improve Your Carbon Footprint
One of the main reasons our customers opt for solar power is that it promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle. Solar panels generate green, renewable energy and therefore no harmful pollutants are released into the atmosphere, reducing your carbon footprint.
- Reduce Your Energy Bills
Sunlight is free. So once you’ve paid for the initial solar panel installation, you can then enjoy affordable energy supplied directly to your home. You can also sell any electricity you don’t use back to the grid.
- Protect You From Future Price Hikes
Increasing demand on the National Grid is likely to lead in a price hike. Solar panels can protect you against such price hikes and help you budget effectively.
Solar Power Installation and Maintenance in Rochester and Surrounding Areas
Contact our team in Rochester, Kent today for more information about solar panel installation and maintenance.
Solar PV systems use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semiconducting material - often silicone. When the light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity.
Research suggests that solar panels add around 4.1% to a home’s value. And it’s easy to see why. Solar panels are a long-term investment designed to improve the energy efficiency of a property. They help to reduce energy bills, save the climate, and mean residents don’t have to rely totally on the National Grid. Potential buyers are likely to see the benefits of having solar panels installed and will factor such elements into their offer when looking to buy.
Solar panels will not damage your roof so long as the solar panel installation is done professionally and carefully by a reputable supplier such as South East Solar and Electrical. It is important, however, to ensure your roof is in good condition with no weak spots or holes before the work begins. This will provide a solid foundation for solar energy installation and will prevent any future issues.
Solar panel battery storage allows you to capture electricity so you can use it at another time. For example, you can store the electricity your solar panels generate during the day and use it at night. That said, some people who have solar panels installed go without battery power and choose not to add energy storage to a solar panel system. This is because they’re happy to rely on the National Grid when their panels aren’t generating electricity themselves. It’s usually people who are determined to live completely ‘off-grid’ who decide to use solar batteries.
Installing solar panels should not void the warranty on your roof if the racking system is installed according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you have any concerns or further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.
In April 2008, solar panels were designated ‘Permitted Development’, meaning that planning permission is no longer necessary. The only exceptions to this are:
- Your house is a listed building
- Your house is situated within a conservation area
It is possible to receive planning permission in these cases, but this is at the discretion of your Local Planning Authority.
Solar panel installations must pass standard building regulations for the property. The key areas are the structural safety of a building and the electrical safety of a building. Your roof must be able to support the additional weight of solar rooftop panels, and the electrical elements of the system must be safe. You do not need to inform building control yourself, however, if you use an installer which is a member of an improved Competent Persons Scheme (CPS). Your installer will get the green light on your behalf.
In the vast majority of solar installations, the existing roof can adequately handle the additional weight of the roof-mounted solar system. But, of course, no risks should be taken and an untrained eye will not be able to make this decision safely. Instead, a third-party architect or structural engineer must inspect the roof to ensure it can hold the weight of your chosen panels. A certified letter stating their approval will then be issued and the solar panel installation can go ahead.
If you’re looking to install a solar PV system, having an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is essential in order to receive the full feed-in tariff. A feed-in tariff pays you for surplus energy you produce at home via technology such as solar panels or wind turbines, and send on to the National Grid. Designed to encourage investment in renewable energy, feed-in tariff rates vary, but they can help reduce your energy bill.
After creating the feed-in tariff, the government set up legislation that requires a home to have at least a level D EPC to qualify for the full feed-in tariff. For properties with a lower rating, the owner would receive a lower rate. It is estimated that around half of UK homes meet grade D already, but some properties may need a bit of extra work.
Did you know that solar PV systems actually count towards your EPC rating and can often increase the grade you receive to the next band?
Having solar panels installed has many benefits. These include:
- Reduced energy bills as you’re not paying for generated electricity
- Protection against rising power costs
- Return on investment by selling the solar panels’ excess power
- Reduced carbon footprint with positive environmental consequences
- Energy independence that doesn’t rely entirely on the National Grid
This all depends on how big your property is, the size of your roof and your energy requirements. As a rule, the average one-bedroom house needs six solar panels, a typical three-bedroom house requires ten panels and a five-bedroom house will usually need 14 panels. Solar PV experts will be able to guide you appropriately and will ensure your roof can hold the weight of the number of panels required.
Even though maximum efficiency is reached when the sun is shining, electricity is still produced on cloudy days and during winter. Solar panels typically need around four hours of sunlight a day to function effectively; the majority of residents in the UK will find this requirement can be easily met, even when the weather is poor.
Solar panels work most effectively when exposed to direct sunlight. According to some experts, homeowners could lose as much as 40% of their potential solar power generation due to shade. This is because, as a shadow is cast over a panel, the amount of sunlight reaching the surface is reduced, thereby affecting the power output of your PV modules. There are many ways to avoid the effects of shading on your solar panels however, so speak to our professional solar panel installation team today.
Generally speaking, a 3kw or 4kw solar panel array will be able to produce enough energy to power a home containing a family of four or five people. A 2kw or 3kw array, on the other hand, will be able to supply enough energy to power a smaller home. A 4kw system will, on average, generate around 3,400kwh of electricity per year.
Believe it or not, solar panels can actually get too hot to work efficiently (which, fortunately, isn’t really a problem in the UK due to our temperate climate). They produce less electricity when conditions aren’t right and tend to operate best at around 15-35 degrees Centigrade. Solar panels won’t usually stop working if they’re too cold.
Solar panels won’t usually work during a power cut. This is because your system is likely to be connected to the grid by default. Engineers may be working to fix the issue and therefore safety measures are in place to reduce the risks of electric shocks - including shutting down your system when the power is off.
However, there are ways to still use your self-generated electricity when the power goes out. If you live in a property that isn’t connected to the National Grid, then your home will carry on drawing solar power as normal. If you have certain add-ons installed alongside your panels then you may be able to carry on using them. Most solar systems these days come with a battery, which stores power that you don’t use or export to the grid. A battery set up in the correct way can be used to power your home for a brief time.
Studies have shown that solar panels last for 25 to 30 years. This is good news for anyone concerned with the potential longevity of their solar power system. Even better, the panels won't simply stop working after several decades – they’ll just gradually get less efficient.
In general, solar panels require little maintenance once they’ve been installed and are a hassle-free addition to your home. Regular service checks, however, are immensely useful for keeping them operating at their peak, ensuring that you're always getting the very best out of your solar PV system throughout their operational lifespan, which can be up to 30 years.
Solar panels have no moving parts and therefore require very little maintenance. An annual service is recommended to ensure your solar panels remain as efficient as possible and to detect any faults early.
In the UK, solar panels don’t require regular dusting or cleaning, due to our high levels of rainfall. If dirt happens to build upon the solar panels, however, it’s advisable to give them a clean to ensure they continue to generate as much energy as possible. After all, dirt and dust prevent the solar panels from capturing sunlight. Plus, the better the condition of the solar panels, the longer they’re likely to last.
A service will typically set you back about £100 once a year. That’s a small price to pay for an energy-efficient property – and given the rising energy costs, you’ll likely save that by not using the National Grid. Staying on top of solar panel servicing also prevents any kind of damage which might prove more costly.
A single solar panel costs around £350-£500, but the price can vary depending on the size and type of the system you choose. The overall cost will depend on how many solar panels you need to power your house.
While the national average is 9.5 years, it takes only 8.4 years in Plymouth, Exeter and Truro (the top three) for a domestic solar panel installation to pay for itself. Don’t forget that they also last around three decades, making solar panels great value for money.
Although there aren't any grants in the traditional sense, there are opportunities for solar panel funding in the UK. Currently, the only scheme open to new applications is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This came into effect on 1 January 2020 and allows solar panel users to receive payments for selling surplus energy back to the grid. All homeowners with regular solar panel systems are eligible.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the energy in sunlight into electricity, and this is effectively free electricity that can be used in your house. Any electricity generated by your solar panels also means you’re not using energy from the National Grid, so your bills could come down significantly, depending on the system you choose.
If you’re thinking about installing solar panels, the running costs you need to think about include cleaning, which is inexpensive, and annual servicing which can be around the £100 mark. You might want to check that your solar panels are covered by your home insurance too.