What you stand to gain when you use solar electricity.
Save money you spend on electricity bills. All the money you need is the one time installation cost. Sunlight is free, hence no need for extra running costs.
Make money from the electricity you use. In the UK, Feed-in Tariff is a scheme by the government that pays you for the electricity you generate, not minding you using it.
Make money by generating electricity to the national grid. From the electricity you generate you could choose to export to the national grid and get paid for it.
Save the environment from harmful emission. Generating solar electricity is clean. It don’t release harmful gases and pollutants to the atmosphere. This way, you ensure the purity and cleanliness of the atmosphere.
What’s the working principle behind solar (PV) panels?
Solar panels are made up of PV cells – short form of the name Photovoltaic cells. Basic Greek teaches us that names with the prefix “photo” are related to sunlight. We also know that “volt” is the yardstick for quantifying electromotive force. Hence, PV cells generate electricity from sunlight.
They are usually made up of silicon semiconducting material of opposite charges. Light particles shine on them and knock off electrons, which in turn causes electricity generation. The stronger the light’s intensity, the more electricity is produced.
The rate at which PV cells generate energy at peak performance in full direct sunlight during the summer is called the “Power of a PV Cell”. It is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp).
PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When these cells are put together in groups and assembled, they form the solar panels you know. Different solar panels can be put together and be mounted on your roof or on the ground. Most times than not, PV systems consists of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, but you can fit solar tiles instead.
Solar tiles and slates
Instead of installing solar panels on existing roof tiles, solar tiles are designed to be roof tiles and still produce electricity at the same time. Using them replace the need for conventional roof tiles. As expected, they are very expensive; they cost up to two times the cost of the average solar panel. Because of their expensive nature, they are usually only considered to be an option where panels are not considered appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.
Maintaining Solar PV
There is little to do when it comes to maintaining Solar PV. In fact, all you mostly need to do is to keep the panels relatively clean and ensure that trees don't begin to overshadow them, blocking off sunlight. In the UK, tilting your panels at 15° ensures they are cleaned by rainfall. Your installer should hand over to you a written schedule of periodical check and maintenance. It should explain how to detect fault in the inverter and how to troubleshoot it. You just observe your system closely, taking note of the amount of power generated in different weather conditions. This will make you know when the system is at fault. Ideally, the panels’ lifespan should be about 25 years or more. However, sometime during this period, you would need to replace the inverter. They cost about £800. Be sure to enquire from your installer what you need to do to maintain the panels before installation.