Solar power systems are growing in popularity across the UK, with around 970,000 homes reportedly having solar panels installed (SOURCE: www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/popularity-of-solar-power). Advantages are multiple, from lower electricity bills to smaller carbon footprints; ability to store the energy produced to the potential for making money on any unused electricity. However, as with any technology that is making its mark on the world, there are several misconceptions that exist which are causing some people to be cautious. Here, in no particular order, we address five such misconceptions and try to give some reassurances about each one.
There is not enough sunshine in the UK to make installing solar panels worthwhile
In 2021, the UK recorded a staggering 1,387.8 hours of sunshine (SOURCE: Annual sunshine hours 2021 | Statista). The summer of 2022 went down in history as a heatwave with temperatures over 40 degrees C in places, and days of glorious sunshine enjoyed across the country. While it is true that the UK’s weather experiences peaks and troughs when it comes to seeing the sun, there is more than enough sunshine available for a solar power system to be worth its financial outlay in the longer term. Today’s powerful solar power systems are able to extract solar energy from the sun and turn it into electricity on even dull and cloudy days.
Solar panels are not very efficient or effective
There are figures out there that quote solar panel efficiency at around 15% to 22%, which may not sound much at first. However, this is because the sun doesn’t hit all the panel surfaces all the time and some of the energy sourced from the sun turns into heat and not light and so cannot be collected. Never fear though, as the sun produces immense amounts of solar energy – so much so that solar panels really don’t need to be more than 22% efficient to produce enough energy for a typical household’s needs. What’s more, as with any technology of its type, solar power systems and photovoltaic panels are increasing in power, efficiency and performance all the time. The global focus on combating climate change and switching to renewable energy sources makes now a great time to see advances in solar technology.
Living sustainably and ‘going green’ costs a lot of money – not enough to be worth the environmental benefits
At first glance, solar power systems don’t appear to be cheap. Solar panels do come with an initial cost, as do other forms of renewable energy installed as part of a sustainable living drive. However, the savings you can enjoy on your electricity bills after getting solar panels will help offset that cost. As can becoming involved in schemes to sell any unused electricity that you generate back to the National Grid and so help reduce the use of fossil fuels further. Adding a battery to your solar power system can also help you store excess electricity and use it when the sun is not shining. This helps save money on the fuel bills at night or during darker days, as you don’t have to rely on expensive conventional electricity sources to keep the lights and heating on.
Installing photovoltaic panels can damage my roof
Solar panels are normally not attached directly to the roof, and therefore will not damage tiles, chimneys or roofing materials. Rather, they sit on special frames that keep them pointing in the right direction with the right amount of space between and under each panel to ensure their optimum performance. Solar panels are highly durable and can actually do a good job of protecting your roof from damage caused by heavy winds, storms, rain etc. The panels can be taken off the roof easily for maintenance or replacement without harming the surface underneath. You can even remove them temporarily when replacing your roof.
If I don’t own my own house, I can’t benefit from solar power
While the vast majority of tenants will require their landlord’s permission to have solar panels installed on the property in which they live, there are other ways to benefit from the technology. Look into whether there is a community solar programme near you, for example. These allow multiple households to take advantage of a single, shared solar array. The arrays are installed off site and their purchase and installation costs are shared between everyone who signs up to taking part. You can buy into such a scheme at the level that best suits your budget.
Once you have decided to switch to solar power to provide electricity for your home, there will be a number of decisions to make and preparations to complete before a solar panel install can take place. It is well worth engaging the services of a consultant to make sure that you get the right configuration for your individual property and energy needs. This can help you avoid costly mistakes. It can also speed up the installation process so that you can start saving money on energy bills sooner, rather than later.
Areas to consider when installing solar power
As with any larger-scale project of this nature, there are several aspects to bear in mind. Here are six of the main questions to ask and factors to consider before confirming your final choices for your domestic solar power installation.
How much space do you have?
As a rule, solar panels need at least four to seven inches of space between rows when installed on a roof or flat surface. This is to allow room for the frame to expand and contract with changes in temperature and weather conditions. A further twelve inches is required between the panels and the edge of the roof or surface in order to comply with building regulations and keep the frame secure. A key first step is to measure the available space that you have and work out the size and type of solar panel set-up that will fit and best suit the space.
How much energy do you use?
Energy use in domestic properties can vary depending on the size of the building, how many people live or are based there and the type of appliances and energy usage that are involved. A solar power consultant will be able to tell you how much energy each type and size of solar panel system can produce and the best fit for your individual household’s energy usage. You can also gain useful tips and advice on cutting down on energy usage and choosing the right solar panels to reduce your fuel bills.
When do you need to use energy?
Many homes use more electricity at night, when there is increased demand for lighting and heating. That said, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us are working from home than before. So, this could affect energy use during the day as well. If you find your household using more energy at night, consider installing a solar power system that connects to a storage battery. That way, you can keep any electricity that is not used in the day in reserve for use at night, when the sun is not out. Or for cloudy or dull days when the solar energy coming from the sun’s rays is not as powerful.
What type of solar power system do you need?
Most solar panels available today produce between 250 and 400 Watts of power. More accurate figures will depend on where you have placed the panels and how much exposure they get to the sun, how long for and how well maintained (or otherwise) the system is. A solar panel consultant can let you know how each type of system performs in terms of amount of energy produced, ease of storing it and whether it will fulfil your electricity needs in full, or only partially.
What type of local building regulations are there?
This question will depend entirely on what documentation is held by your local authority, Land Registry etc. Some types of housing and local areas will be subject to more stringent building regulations and planning permissions than others. For example, listed buildings and conservation areas will have more rules to follow when it comes to projects such as installing solar panels than others. This must be carefully checked to ensure that you do not fall foul of the law and therefore end up with added costs, irritating delays, unhappy neighbours and so on.
What financial incentives are involved?
Finally, installing solar panels might represent a large investment at first, but there are a number of financial advantages in doing so. For a start, most households find that their electricity and gas bills go down as the reliance on the National Grid lessens. There are even schemes to help you sell back any unused energy and so help offset the initial investment in solar panels. Many householders can also find that installing solar panels adds value to their property when it comes to selling it further down the line.
It cannot have escaped many people’s attention that energy prices have been rising rapidly over the past months. Consumers everywhere are growing more and more concerned about how to pay their fuel bills. So, why is this happening? Repercussions from COVID-19, as well as other global events, such as the conflict in Ukraine and its wider political fallout, have collided to place enormous pressure on oil supplies and energy prices around the world. Energy companies going bust have also had a large impact on supply versus demand. Media headlines about the energy crisis are frequent and fuel prices are increasing very quickly.
In April 2022, Ofgem (UK government department that regulates UK gas and electricity companies) announced an increase to the energy price cap of an average of 54%. At the time of writing, this looks set to rise even further in October, although the Government has just announced measures to keep the price cap at an average of £2,500 for a typical household (SOURCE: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-bills-support/energy-bills-support-factsheet-8-september-2022). This will go some way to help combat the escalating costs, but it will not totally solve the problem. Particularly as winter is around the corner with colder temperatures and increased demands for energy. If not enough is done to slow down the rate of energy costs, fuel bills could reach staggeringly high amounts for many energy customers in 2023 and beyond.
Solar power: surge in demand?
The prospect of much higher energy bills could spark an increase in interest for many around solar PV panel systems for domestic and commercial use. Installing solar panels will not result in immediate energy bill reductions – indeed, the system will require an initial financial outlay to buy it and have it fitted. However, in the longer term, some experts are predicting that solar panels could save householders as much as £3,000 per year (SOURCE: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/news/solar-pv-could-pay-off-as-soon-as-three-years-amid-energy-price-cap-rises) if conventional energy prices continue to rise at the same rate.
Interest in renewable energy, such as solar power, heat pumps etc., is high right now, not only because of the rising costs of electricity. Sustainable living and working is a major agenda item for businesses, government departments, charities and other organisations. Switching away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives could play a large part in reducing carbon footprints. It could radically change behaviours around energy production and consumption too, as people wake up to its possibilities.
What’s more, the energy produced by solar panels can be stored for use when the sun is not so strong, or at night. Excess can be sold back to the National Grid to help ease pressure on electricity supplies. This is possible through the Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. The SEG scheme replaces a previous feed-in tariff (FIT), which was slightly more generous. However, it still helps households generating solar power to get paid for the electricity they do not use themselves.
While energy prices have soared, the costs of installing solar panels have remained far more stable. They can also be reclaimed within a family’s budget, thanks to a reduced reliance on the National Grid for power. They can also add value to a property when it comes to selling up and moving home or commercial premises. It is thought that the financial ‘break-even’ point for an installed solar panel system is around 15 years. Therefore having an existing system already in place can help add value to domestic housing or commercial premises prices.
The best way to set up solar panels
The best situation for a solar panel system to be installed is on a south-facing, sloping roof that receives direct sunlight between the hours of 10am and 4pm. There should be plenty of space for the panels to be installed and the area should not be shaded by trees, other buildings etc. This is ideal for harnessing the maximum amount of solar power. The roof should be in good condition so that the panels can fix strongly to it without being able to fall or wriggle loose during heavy winds or storms.
You normally won’t need to seek planning permission for installing solar panels, but it is wise to double check if you are unsure. Always get multiple quotes for solar panels, or consult an expert advisor, such as UPS Solar to find the best match for your property and energy requirements.
Installing solar panels brings many benefits. These include promoting a greener way of living and reducing reliance on the National Grid. However, when it comes to selling a property with solar panels attached, these benefits could prove even more compelling. There is more and more evidence that solar panels help sell a home. It has been estimated that homes with solar panels can sell for around 4.1% more than those without (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels). A National Home Energy Survey also revealed that 65% of those asked revealed a preference for buying somewhere that already had a working solar panel system installed (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels).
Why solar power sells
Once a solar panel system is up and running, it saves the householder, or property owner money on their electricity bills. It does this by powering the property via the sun’s rays, converted into useable electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated technology. However, the initial outlay of buying and installing a solar PV system is not insignificant for most household budgets. In fact, it can take a few years for the investment to break even and start saving money – as many as ten or 15 years.
By having everything in place when you buy a property, this outlay has already been made by the previous owners. So, this need not feature in the new owner’s budgeting plans, beyond general maintenance and upgrades as required. Here are some more reasons why solar power systems already installed can be a draw for house hunters.
1. Save on electricity bills
As the solar panel system is already in place, savings can start to be seen on energy bills from the start – when compared to conventional energy sources. It is thought that the average household with a solar energy system installed would only need half the electricity from the National Grid than those without photovoltaic panels on the roof. Buying a house is an expensive time, with all the extra costs that accompany the purchase. So, any extra help with paying the utility bills will be very attractive to prospective buyers
2. Make money on unused electricity
In addition to saving money on bills, new house owners could enjoy an income from the electricity they do not use. This can be sold back to the National Grid under the UK Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. For houses that had their solar panels fitted prior to the SEG scheme overtaking the previous Feed-in Tariff (FIT) arrangements, which ended in April 2019, the financial benefits could be even higher. Check out the latest position with regards to this online when you come to sell the property to keep potential buyers informed.
3. Help combat climate change
It is a well-known fact that sustainable energy sources are a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. Solar panels can help a household save significantly on the amount of carbon it produces every year. Additionally, the reduced reliance on the National Grid means that fewer fossil fuels are used up to power the property. This could be a very compelling reason why someone keen to lead a sustainable lifestyle may wish to buy a new home with solar panels already in place.
4. Increase your EPC rating
By law, buildings that go up for sale or rent must have an EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate in place. This tells potential buyers how energy efficient the property is and flags up any possible areas of concern. Ratings go from A (the best) down to G and gives an idea of how high the energy bills are likely to be for the property. Landlords seeking to let a property must have an EPC rating of C or above. EPCs are valid for ten years. Solar panels can help increase the energy efficiency of a home, as they help lower energy bills and the associated carbon footprint.
Questions to ask when buying a house with solar panels
For buyers, therefore, choosing a home or property with solar panels can be extremely advantageous. However, it is important to make sure that they are correctly installed and performing as required. Some questions to ask vendors about their solar panels could include:
- Are the solar panels fitted securely, and have there been any problems with them?
- When were they installed and how much time remains on any warranties in place?
- Is there a FIT or SEG arrangement in place to sell any unused electricity back to the National Grid?
- Do you have a maintenance contract in place and with whom?
- Does the property come with a solar battery to store energy for later use?
For any further questions on selling or buying a home with solar panels, contact the experts at UPS Solar.
When you think of solar panels, we’re betting you conjure up images of a sloping roof with panels fixed on firmly to capture the sun’s energy at an optimum angle. However, the system can work just as effectively on flat roofs as they do on slopping ones. Depending on the type and size of the system you choose, flat roof solar panels can actually work more effectively than some sloping ones. So, whether you are interested in flat roof solar panels for a domestic property or commercial premises, read on to find out the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they are such a great investment.
Why Choose Flat Roof Solar Panels?
In some cases, the choice of which type of solar panels to invest in is made for you – if you only have space for them on a sloped or flat roof, for example. However, if you do have some flexibility, it is well worth looking into flat roof solar panels. Here are the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they can be a winning solution.
1. Versatility in How They Are Installed
When you fit solar panels to a sloping roof, you need to work with the existing angle and pitch of the roof. This is not the case for flat roof panel installations. As there is no pitch, the system can be angled as you choose, in order to capture the most sun and work as efficiently as possible. A good angle for solar panels is somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees.
Panels can go in the middle of the flat roof or to either side with no obstacles in their way. Installers use specially designed brackets to fit the flat roof solar panels securely and then angle them exactly as they need to. If there are concerns over whether they will withstand heavy weather conditions, metal frames or ballast can be added for extra support and weight.
2. Self-Cleaning and Safer Maintenance
One concern that many people have about installing solar roof panels is how they can keep them clean and free from damage and general wear and tear. The UK sees a lot of rain, which helps the panels to ‘self-clean’ as the water runs down them. This is still possible on flat roof solar panels, as they can be angled slightly to allow the rain to do its work. Maintenance and repairs can often be easier on flat roofs too, as there is generally enough space around the panels for someone to stand safely for as long as they need when checking and working on the panels.
3. Better Looking Configurations
Solar panels can be hard to hide on a sloping roof, as they will stand out visually from many angles. When installing them on a flat roof, however, the angle can be adjusted so it is less intrusive to the surrounding views. They are more discreet from street level and do not require homeowners to remove attractive tiles or terracotta embellishments from a sloping roof. Flat roofs tend to be fairly practical and simple in design, making the addition of a flat roof solar panel less of an intrusion. In fact, some modern, industrial flat roof designs can positively benefit from having stylish flat roof solar panels installed on top of them.
4. More Wind-Proof
We have already mentioned how the rain can still help keep flat roof solar panels clean if they are angled up enough to allow the water to run down them. Conversely, however, the wind can be far less useful to solar panel systems, especially if they are fitted to sloping rooftops that are too tall to withstand high winds without sustaining damage. Choosing your own angle for a flat roof can enable you to adjust the slant to account for high winds and keep the system safer and less prone to storm damage.
5. Easy Access to Green, Renewable Energy
Flat roof solar panels are just as effective as sloped roof configurations in providing renewable, sustainable electricity direct from the sun’s rays. They are made up of the same type of photovoltaic cells, which capture the solar energy before the system converts it into useable electricity for the home or workplace. An additional battery for solar power storage can also be connected to the system so that any surplus electricity that is not used right away can be stored and used later. For example, when the sun’s rays are absent at night, or weaker or obscured during a cloudy or dull day.
Solar panels have become a common sight on rooftops and flat surfaces across the UK. More and more homes and commercial buildings are benefitting from access to renewable energy from the sun to light, heat and power essential appliances. The working technology of all types of solar panels is straightforward. Photovoltaic cells embedded in solar panels capture energy directly from the sun’s rays and convert it into useable electricity
The electricity can either be used immediately or stored in special batteries for use later on when the sun is not as strong or during the night. However, there are many different types of solar panels to choose from, which makes switching to renewable energy more versatile than ever before.
Panels and their pros (and cons)
The great thing about having different types of solar panels is that you can choose the most effective, convenient and affordable configuration for your individual circumstances. Here are four of the most popular types of solar panels to compare their advantages and disadvantages.
1. Standard solar panels
This type of solar panel is arguably the most recognisable and popular option on sale today. They are sturdy and easy to install and can be positioned to capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible. This accuracy results in higher yields of energy, making returns on the initial investment possible much earlier on. Normally made up of silicon wafers, each panel contains several rows of photovoltaic cells that do the actual conversion work. Monocrystalline cells appear black, while polycrystalline ones have a blue tone, due to how the light interacts with their surfaces.
A sheet of glass goes on the top of each panel and the whole unit is framed to add extra rigidity and strength. Pros include easy availability and installation, effective efficient energy conversion and affordable prices. Cons include the fact that other, more modern technology is available for households or businesses looking for the latest innovations in renewable energy.
2. Thin-film solar panels
This lighter option is slowly capturing more and more of the market as people look for less obtrusive ways to generate solar power in their businesses or homes. They are extremely versatile, as they can be manufactured in foldable and roll-up formats. This allows them to be fitted more closely to the contours of an existing roof or flat surface. They can also be fitted to a caravan or mobile home for solar power generation on the move.
However, they are less efficient than standard solar panels, so they may need to cover a wider surface area to generate the same amount of electricity. They also require more complex disposal at the end of their working life, due to the toxic cadmium telluride that is often contained within the film.
3. Solar tiles
Solar tiles offer the huge advantage of being more aesthetically pleasing than other types of solar panels. They can be interlocked and replace standard roof tiles, rather than being placed on top of them. They can be a more discreet option, and work well on an existing roof, as well as provide an excellent alternative energy course for a new build.
However, solar tiles are not always as efficient as some of the more traditional solar panel types and can therefore take longer to recoup initial costs via electricity bill reductions. Installation can be costlier too, given the newer technology and more complex interlocking tile layout.
4. Tempered or plate glass solar panels
The type of glass or covering used in solar panels is an extremely important consideration when placing an order. Due to the exposed position of solar panels, they must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures. Tempered or plate glass adds valuable protection against the elements and adds an extra layer over the delicate photovoltaic cell technology that makes the solar panels work in the first place.
Advantages include longevity for the whole solar power system, as well as improved aesthetics and fewer repairs. Disadvantages exist around the increased price point and heavier weight involved. As with all types of solar panels, those with added tempered or plate glass on top must be fitted by a professional installer. This will ensure maximum efficiency and prevent the risk of the panels getting damaged, slipping off the roof or breaking.
What Does it Mean to Decarbonise?
Simply put, decarbonisation is the reduction of carbon – zero-carbon. We live in a time where the world is in dire need of economic change, and one of the ways to do that is through minimising our reliance on fossil fuels and making a radical switch to clean energy sources. The long-term goal is to become a climate-resilient, zero-carbon global economy. Among the many methods to support this, large scale solar power is one of them.
Why Do We Need to Decarbonise?
A major cause of cumulative CO₂ emissions is burning fossil fuels for energy. We know by now that this has led to an increased output of greenhouse gases and, over time, resulted in global warming. The rise in CO₂ output from human activity has negatively impacted our global economy and, in efforts to save our future, nations around the world have pledged to make greener choices to meet global temperature standards set by the Paris Agreement.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that a move to a complete carbon-zero network of the energy sector by 2050 is non-negotiable to meet the target of capping global temperature rise at 1.5°C.
How Do We Achieve Low-Carbon?
Since the announcement of the climate emergency, there has been the worldwide implementation of renewable energy like wind, solar and nuclear power and bioenergy. Decarbonised electricity can be used for the same uses as fossil fuels, for example, boilers for building heating.
The UK has the ambition to be powered by affordable, clean energy by 2035. Plans include deploying a new generation of home-grown green technologies, including solar – which remains the third-largest renewable energy technology.
What is Solar Power?
Solar power is the energy ‘captured’ from the sun that is used to generate electricity. As more and more people strive to become energy-efficient and reduce their energy costs, solar has become a widespread option. Its increase in affordability and ease of use has made it a popular choice amongst UK households. What’s more, depending on your energy supplier, you can even receive payments for extra energy you generate.
How do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy through photovoltaic (PV) panels. When light shines on the semi-conductive material, a direct current of electricity is created and passes through the system to eventually get usable energy to electrify your home. The PV panels react to visible light – so as long as it’s light enough to see, the panel can generate electricity.
Rooftop solar can create thermal energy that can be used to provide heat in your home from water heating and air heating and essentially supply households with decentralized heating. With the use of storage batteries, unused energy can be stored and used at a later time.
How is Solar Energy Used Globally?
Solar thermal energy for heating water and air in households and buildings is only one of the uses of this alternative energy source. There is growing ambition that utility-scale solar will be used for end-use electrification (e.g. vehicles, transport, water heating, etc) and production of clean fuels, like hydrogen.
The US and China are top traders in the solar market and the US has plans to transition to a zero-carbon electric grid by 2050. This type of green technology has been adopted worldwide and is deployed for small and large-scale uses.
Advantages of Large Scale Solar Power
As mentioned earlier, solar panels generate electricity from visible light. Since there is daytime light in all four corners of the earth, solar power can work. However, the more sunshine there is, the more electricity will be generated – making this a great renewable option for sunnier climates. There is also the added fact that sunlight is an inexhaustible source of energy, and can be used without much consequence for future generations.
The carbon footprint is relatively small as no pollutants are released into the air. Higher demand for solar power worldwide means a reduction in the dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. Also, the materials usually used – silicon sheets – are recyclable, making solar power a clean alternative energy source.
The more power your solar panels would generate, the less electricity you would have to buy from the grid, therefore making this cheaper in the long run. Additionally, solar power in the UK is being financially incentivised, as households can receive payments for extra electricity generated.
3. Low maintenance
Solar panels don’t contain any loose or moving parts, so require minimal maintenance. Since the panels are usually placed at an angle on houses and buildings, rainfall slides right down them. Dirt and debris may block the panels and require you to remove them but other than that, it’s a self-sufficient system. Solar panels also have a life span of about 20-25 years, with little loss in efficiency.
When transmitting energy from power stations to homes and public buildings, there is unavoidable energy loss through heating the power lines. Less energy is wasted when using the sun to produce heat or electricity, as the power comes directly from the panel connected to your building.
Large scale solar parks can co-exist amongst farm animals grazing on land – this is called agrivoltaic. The simultaneous use of land benefits landowners, the environment, and animals. The photovoltaic panels can also be removed without harm to the ground.
Large scale solar can also appear as floating solar (solar panels on water) doesn’t require any land space and so can be a viable option for smaller countries.
6. Rise in ‘green’ careers
With the continuing demand for solar, there will be a proportionate rise in demand for solar power transportation and installation jobs. An example of this large scale solar power is in India, where a 250 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project has become a source of local jobs.
Challenges in Decarbonising the Energy Sector
Sustainable development has its challenges – socially, economically and ecologically. Energy transition needs to be compatible with social aspects (household costs) as well as environmental sustainability (protecting land and climate) and economic needs (security of energy supply and prices).
- Levelised cost of energy (LCOE)
Capital costs of large scale solar deployment run high in comparison to competing fuel sources.
Moreover, ongoing maintenance costs of solar power plants may be steep, along with refinancing the loans used to build them.
One of the main obstacles to solar power becoming a reliable green energy source is the varying intensities of solar radiation in different areas of the world. Nations on the equator receive the highest amount of solar energy, as do those with drier climates.
Most residential panels have around a 20% efficiency rate, and anything more than that will be substantially more expensive. The more efficient the panels, the more expensive it is to make.
- Land space
Large areas of land are required for macro-scale solar farms. The biggest solar grids are built in large open spaces such as deserts, so countries with less landmass, or have to compromise agricultural land, will be disadvantaged.
- Environmental impacts
The manufacturing of solar panels can result in harmful compounds, such as nitrogen trifluoride. This by-product is a highly toxic greenhouse gas, much more insidious than carbon dioxide. But as solar technology gains more accessibility and demand, manufacturers may be able to steer clear of dangerous substances.
On a global scale, large scale solar power seems to be a very valuable option – according to the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, ecological). On reviewing the arguments, the advantages seem to outweigh the challenges in the long term. The trend of falling prices for solar power will make the transition to a solar-powered, carbon-free global economy highly achievable.
As the technology behind solar energy grows more sophisticated, the possibilities about what it can achieve are increasing. Insulated Solar Roof Panels are a popular choice for solar power as they are straightforward to install on most roof shapes and sizes. They work by harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it into electricity. This electricity is then used to heat and power the home or commercial premises. On the other hand, Solar thermal panels capture solar energy that goes directly to generating hot water for the property. However, some types of solar thermal systems can offer additional benefits too. Thermal insulated solar roof panels can add a crucial heat retention layer to the property.
Four Key Questions About Solar Thermal Panels
Solar thermal and insulated solar roof panels can help reduce heating costs when rising fuel bills are top of the UK news agenda. It is worth working out how the initial in-roof solar panels UK cost can be offset against the savings you can achieve on mains electricity. For an idea of the average solar thermal system and roof-integrated solar panels UK cost, speak to an expert at UPS Solar. In the meantime, here are four questions about insulated solar thermal panels.
1. How Do Solar Panels Insulate Your Roof?
The primary way that solar technology can add insulation is by installing in-roof panels. These are not the same as standard photovoltaic solar panels that sit on top of the existing roof. Insulated solar in-roof panels do precisely what their name suggests. They are fitted into the roof, replacing some tiles and lying flat against the adjoining ones. This removes gaps between tiles where draughts can get inside the property. The evacuated tube collectors of solar thermal panels are also designed with vacuum insulation capabilities to reduce heat loss further. Householders living in listed buildings may need planning permission to fit solar thermal panels and insulated in-roof solar panel systems.
2. Does Solar Thermal Power Work in the Winter?
Solar thermal technologies are a highly effective way to produce hot water. The technology has been around for a while – longer than more modern solar PV panels – yet it can be far more efficient, capturing more energy and converting it into heat for water more quickly. The process can still be used to ensure hot water during the winter, although the solar energy output will be lower on dull days than during sunnier periods.
You may need to supplement it with more conventional methods of heating water on especially overcast winter days. However, the solar thermal power produced will still help keep energy bills lower in the long run. It is advisable to check on your solar thermal power in-roof panels during heavy snow. This is because the system’s insulating properties will prevent any heat from escaping to melt away the settled snow. So, you may need to remove it manually to ensure the system is running as efficiently as possible.
3. Can Solar Panels Make a House Cooler?
Conversely, installing solar thermal panels can also help keep a house cool in the summer. The multiple layers of an in-roof solar thermal system promote airflow between each one. While this offers insulation during colder periods, the air can also cool the panel down when temperatures are higher and, subsequently, the roof beneath it. This can make a difference to temperatures inside the house during hotter weather. Not having to have a gas boiler or mains electric heating system switched on so high to ensure hot water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc., can also help reduce the overall heat level in the house on a summer’s day.
4. Which is more efficient: solar thermal or PV?
PV technology converts solar power into usable electricity, whereas solar thermal systems provide hot water. Solar thermal panels installed on a roof comprise thermal flat plates or evacuated tubes collectors that use the sun’s energy to produce hot water. This is then passed through pipes and stored in the property’s hot water cylinder for use when required. Solar temperatures hitting the collectors can reach up to 90 degrees C, making the system highly effective and quick. Solar thermal panels’ price differences will depend on the size and type of solar thermal system.
Photovoltaic panels are also effective in converting solar energy into electricity. However, this is used or stored for general use, including heating and power. You can also use electricity from PV panels to charge an electric vehicle. Installation is also easier than solar thermal panels. However, the initial price of the system can be higher. Both systems could make the householder eligible for renewable heat incentive (RHI) payment schemes. In terms of which is more efficient, both offer advantages. The final choice of system will depend entirely on what you plan to use solar energy for – general heating, powering and charging, or simply hot water.
One advantage to switching to renewable energy solutions such as solar panels has been the possibility of receiving financial support from Government Solar Panel Schemes. Incentives have regularly offered grants, vouchers and discounts off the costs of turning away from fossil fuels and towards renewable heat and electricity. Although the scheme names and details change occasionally, there is usually something to help with initial installation costs for things like solar panels, heat pumps and solar battery systems.
Keeping up with the latest solar panel grants
Take the time to look out for updates to energy saving and energy efficiency support schemes that are out there. Some offer discounts for solar panel installation, while others pay you for excess electricity exported back to the National Grid. One Government deal sees a five per cent VAT reduction on the cost of either solar panels or their installation for people over sixty years old or in receipt of income or disability benefits.
Whatever type of green deal or ‘rent your roof’ arrangement you can find, you will likely find ways to reduce energy bills and enjoy better energy efficiency at the same time. Other deals and incentive schemes are also out there to help people meet the costs of switching to renewable energy. Here are some more details about three key green deals currently available for homes in the UK.
1. Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
Many people who have already installed solar panel systems will be familiar with the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme that began in 2010. The project encouraged people to switch to solar power by incentivising them to return any excess electricity that they generated back to the National Grid in return for a payment. The FIT scheme closed to new applicants in April 2019. It has since been replaced by a reasonably similar Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme in January 2020.
This new process also allows people to sell surplus electricity back to the National Grid. However, it places the onus on electricity suppliers to offer their customers suitable tariffs to ensure that the scheme compensates them adequately. Energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are obliged to take part.
There are two types of SEG tariffs available to people who have installed solar panels under the arrangements. A fixed rate keeps the price the same throughout the duration of the contract. On the other hand, a variable rate enables the energy supplier to change the amount they pay you for the electricity you generate after an initial period of notice. Exact amounts will depend on where you live and how much electricity you use yourself.
To qualify for the scheme, you must have an approved renewable energy technology installed (including solar PV panels) with the required capacity and industry approvals. You cannot be a part of any other FIT schemes and must have an SEG-compatible smart meter installed to record the energy you export accurately.
2. Green Homes Grant Scheme
While solar PV panels are currently not part of the Green Homes Grant Scheme, you can apply for a grant to put towards a solar thermal panel system in England. This uses the solar energy from the sun to generate hot water for a property. As of September 2020, qualifying applicants have been able to get up to two-thirds of thermal solar panel installation costs on their property. Some grants are worth up to £5,000, while others aimed at low-income families could yield as much as £10,000 to cover installation costs. These grants are available until 31 March 2022.
Both homeowners and landlords can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher. It can be granted alongside other funding from Energy Company Obligation (ECO) schemes so long as both funding sets are used for different energy efficiency measures. For example, solar thermal panels plus loft insulation or cavity wall insulation. A Green Homes Grant can also be applied alongside the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme.
3. Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
Again, this deal is currently only available for people installing solar thermal panels – not photovoltaic solar power systems. It offers qualifying people seven years of quarterly cash payments in return for their switching to renewable heating methods. The deal is due to end on 31 March 2022. So, anyone interested in registering who has not already done so now will need to act swiftly to take advantage. The RHI scheme was initially meant for commercial premises to heat their water using solar power. It was extended to domestic properties in 2014.
As well as solar thermal panels, RHI funding extends to other green heating methods for water, such as biomass boilers and pellet stoves. The seven-year support scheme offers payments tied to the type of technology used and the latest related tariffs. For more details of green deals and financial help with installing renewable energy systems such as solar panels, contact an expert at UPS Solar for tailored help, support and advice.
Rising energy costs have been a top news agenda item for several weeks now. Families and businesses across the UK are bracing themselves for increases in their fuel bills. People are tightening their belts around other expenditures in anticipation. For many, reduced spending power for holidays and foreign trips results in greater interest in taking trips away in leisure vehicles and marine craft instead. This is where flexible solar panels can become something of a game-changer. Not only do they allow travellers to generate their own power on the move, but they can also reduce a household’s reliance on the National Grid and help mitigate against the large fuel bills that are predicted to arrive in the Spring.
The technology behind solar photovoltaic panels has become increasingly sophisticated to the extent that several different types and configurations of solar panels exist, including flexible solar panels designed to generate electricity on the move. These versatile, portable panels are the ideal answer for people looking for ways to live more sustainably while using their boat, motorhome, caravan or campervan.
Why should you opt for flexible solar panels?
Flexible solar panels offer a lightweight, convenient way to generate electricity and move towards a more sustainable way to provide power away from home. Other benefits include the following:
· They are designed to be light with a wafer-thin backing to prevent excess weight compromising a leisure vehicle’s performance.
· The flexible solar panels bend to fit the shape of the roof or flat surface on which they are installed.
· The panels can be unrolled and tied to a yacht or boat’s boom to harness the sun’s energy while out on the water.
· Thanks to the technology used, the panels can work in low light conditions as well as direct, bright sunshine.
· Additionally, flexible solar panels are made from tough, durable materials that can withstand difficult weather conditions and many miles on the open road or water.
· Best of all, they offer excellent efficiency to produce optimum amounts of power.
Customisation options also include folding designs for more accessible transportation and accessorising extension cables, battery chargers, and storage for protection en route. They are straightforward to install. However, there is plenty of advice and support available to ensure that they work in the way that you need them to, wherever you are at the time. For example, they can be rolled for easy transportation by bicycle or kayak. This is made possible by the amorphous technologies used to construct the panels instead of the more rigid, crystalline method that most standard solar panels employ.
On average, a smaller flexible solar panel will provide electricity to keep your leisure vehicle, or marine craft lit and your phones and devices charged. Larger versions offer a greater energy output, enabling the powering of microwaves, kettles, hairdryers and fridges. All essential things make a trip away from home more luxurious and fun.
Meanwhile, the biggest flexible solar panel configurations offer the capacity to live off-grid for longer. This can make more extreme travelling, such as wild camping, more of a possibility for the modern adventure-seeker. As energy prices continue to rise, the option could become more and more attractive to people looking to control what they spend on heat, light and power.
Other uses for flexible solar panels
Of course, flexible solar panels can also be used in the main home or commercial premises. They can be a temporary energy generating solution while permanent panels are ordered and installed. Their flexibility enables them to be installed in places where larger, rigid alternatives are unable to fit, such as non-standard rooftops, sheds and outhouses. While they don’t always last as long as rigid panels, they still offer a reasonable length of useful life and generate good results in producing electricity.
The self-cleaning, easy maintenance makes flexible solar panels convenient for almost any location and situation. They also provide a great introduction to solar power for families interested in switching to renewable energy and a more sustainable lifestyle but want to test the waters with a smaller system first. Yet, despite their smaller size, the panels can still offer high performance with effective solar energy harnessing and converting into usable electricity. Often, the panels are installed simply by peeling off the backing sheet and sticking them in place using the adhesive already included on the reverse side.
One aspect of renewable energy that is standing the test of time and receiving more and more attention these days is the installation of solar panels. The system harnesses the sun’s heat to produce hot water for a home or commercial premises. This type of solar water heating system enables lower energy bills at a time when fossil fuel costs are rising rapidly. This can be a great advantage when households need to look for ways to save money. Solar thermal panels also offer the extra benefit of adding insulation to the home and a more sustainable way of living.
How do solar thermal panels work?
Solar thermal panels absorb energy from the sun through collectors that are either installed on the flat plate panels themselves or contained within evacuated collector tubes. The heat from the sun is transferred to tubes of water which can reach temperatures of 90 degrees C. The heated liquid is then passed down through pipes into the property’s hot water cylinder. Inside the cylinder, the hot water passes through a twin coil, which helps keep it heated as it is used or stored in the water tank later on.
The installation of hot water systems and solar thermal technologies like this is straightforward. In addition, thermal panels require little maintenance as a rule. However, regular thermal solar panel servicing is recommended to keep things ticking over.
What are the different types of solar thermal panels?
There are generally two different types of solar thermal hot water panels in the UK. Both use renewable energy to heat water for domestic or commercial use. The details around installing a solar thermal system will depend on which type of process is used. A flat plate system uses flat collectors around one metre by two metres. Insider is a series of pipes with a metal absorber plate on top. The plate collects energy from the sun. The pipes contain water that receives the heat and carries it to a storage cylinder inside the house to complete the solar thermal water heater process.
The other main solar thermal technology involves evacuated tubes. These are glass tubes with smaller copper tubing placed inside. Around 30 tubes are connected to form a single panel. A vacuum inside the glass helps prevent heat loss by insulating the system (and the roof below). This technology can be more effective than the flat panel solar collectors alternative due to the added insulation. The tubes remain visible on this type of solar thermal system so that the aesthetics will be slightly different from the flat plate version.
How efficient are solar thermal panels?
Solar thermal technology is older than the photovoltaic cells that are found on many solar panels right now. However, the technology remains highly efficient at converting energy into heat and has had a resurgence of interest. This is possible because solar thermal panels qualify for the UK’s Green Homes Grant as a primary measure, which could enable you to claim for vouchers to set against some of the installation costs.
Much of the system’s efficiency levels depend on where and how the solar thermal panels are installed and how easily they can access the solar energy source. For example, are they on south-facing roofs and how much sun does the location get? This will vary over the winter and summer months.
Installing solar thermal panels will also vary in costs depending on the location and complexity of the job. However, the financial and ecological benefits of harnessing renewable heat will be felt over the longer term and will also help to reduce energy bills and reliance on the National Grid.
What are the differences between solar thermal panels and photovoltaic (PV) panels?
While hybrid solar thermal PV panels are available, giving you the best of both worlds, most solar power customers will opt for either one form of solar energy technology or the other. Both offer advantages, including lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint. However, there are a few more distinct differences between solar thermal panels and solar PV panels.
The more comprehensive versatility of PV panels is one advantage if you seek to switch to renewable energy for powering, heating and lighting your home and providing hot water. The technology allows you to store excess electricity generated for use later on when the sun’s rays are less potent on a dull day or at night. You can even use it to heat water via an immersion heater. Installation is relatively straightforward, and there is little ongoing maintenance required.
Solar thermal panels offer a more effective, efficient way of generating solar power, giving you potential energy bill savings of 70% on domestic hot water. Although you may need to have a boiler or immersion heater to top up the solar thermal heated water as the energy generated may not be sufficient for 24-hour provision. Solar thermal panels can be a more affordable option, depending on the size and complexity of the system being fitted. Finally, there is the possibility of earning payments through the UK Government’s renewable heat incentive scheme.
Solar power has proven to offer many benefits to homeowners and businesses across the UK in recent years. From lower energy bills to a reduced carbon footprint, it appears that switching to more renewable ways to power, heat and light property has a lot going for it. There are many benefits of solar roof tiles installation. Installing solar roof tiles is a straightforward and effective way to introduce renewable energy into a home or commercial enterprise.
Solar power needs a large, flat area with regular, direct exposure to the sun. Fitting solar tiles to a roof is an obvious solution. Plus, it can help with the aesthetics of the system if the tiles can be placed in an unobtrusive way, rather than standing out visually for miles.
Eco- Benefits of Solar Roof Tiles
Installing solar roof tiles is easy to do and, after initial installation costs, can be a cost-effective way to generate electricity for use in a business or home, 24/7. More people are waking up to the damage that relying solely on fossil fuels is doing to our planet. As a result, the sustainable, eco-friendly benefits of solar power are making more and more sense to people interested in finding a cleaner way to generate electricity. Here are five benefits of solar roof tiles when added to your property that can help both you and the wider world.
1. Cleaner, Renewable Electricity
Solar roof tiles use photovoltaic technology to harness the energy generated by the sun. As the sun’s rays hit the tiles, the photovoltaic cells inside them convert solar energy into usable DC electricity, via a solar inverter. The cells work all the time that they are being exposed to powerful enough sunshine for the process to kick into action.
They do not require any external power sources or fuel to work. The electricity they produce can either be used straight away to power the property connected to the solar roof tiles or stored for future use. This can reduce a business or household’s usage of finite fossil fuels, such as gas and oil in favour of clean, renewable electricity. It also lessens its reliance on the National Grid.
2. Effective Use of Existing Resources
Choosing to install solar tiles on the roof makes excellent use of a flat surface that has already been built. So long as the roof is in direct sight of the sun, it can be the perfect location for solar tiles that require direct exposure to solar rays to work. No additional resources need to be taken to build a special area for the tiles to go. The tiles themselves are easy to install and normally require no additional support structures or fossil fuel involvement to start generating solar power straight away. Choosing an existing roof also means that there is no need to remove any surrounding garden or green landscape areas to place the solar tiles.
3. Wildlife Friendly
Since the solar tiles are installed safely up on a roof, surrounding habitats and ecosystems will remain largely unaffected when they are fitted and set to work. The electricity produced is completely renewable, which lessens global pressure on coal, gas and oil. In turn, this helps to safeguard wildlife that is disrupted and threatened by the mining and extraction work required to access these finite fossil fuels. Electricity generated by solar energy does not produce pollution, unlike coal and oil, which produce harmful emissions when burned that have a detrimental effect on wildlife.
4. Sustainable Lifestyle
Installing solar roof tiles is a straightforward, easy and relatively inexpensive way to strengthen a household’s commitment to sustainable living. Not using as many finite fossil fuels to power a property also helps reduce a family or business’ carbon footprint. These targets are key elements of combatting climate change and can make a big difference over the longer term. Switching to solar roof tiles can also be combined with other eco-friendly lifestyle choices to make an even greater difference. For example, recycling and reusing products in the home, resolving to fly fewer miles by plane and avoiding single-use plastics as much as possible.
5. Solar Energy Design and the Next Generation
Last, but by no means least, one of the benefits of solar roof tiles installations is a great way to inspire future generations. Children living in the home, or passing by can see what a solar power system looks like and how it can fit into the daily running of a business or home. They can also see for themselves how much electricity is generated and used in the property and how any surplus can be stored, awaiting use when the sun is not shining quite so powerfully, or at all such as at night. Investment in solar roof tiles is going to yield good returns in future.