solar solutions

How to care for your garden and keep your pool warm using Sustainable Energy

Now that the Spring sunshine has returned – at least some of the time – we can all start to think about spending more time outdoors. For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, this is the perfect time to plan how to power various elements of it sustainably. The more renewable energy we can use in our garden and outdoor areas, the less reliance we need to have on the National Grid and finite fossil fuels. Other benefits include a reduced carbon footprint, greater energy efficiency and cost savings.

From outdoor heated swimming pols to water features, irrigation systems and greenhouse lighting and heating, gardens can take up a lot of energy to keep them looking at their best and cultivating healthy plants. The bigger the garden, the higher the electricity bills. This is especially true during the colder months. We might be in Spring now, but there are still days when the skies are greyer and the temperature lower than many of us would like. Yet, the plants still need to be watered and protected from the worst of the cold spells – and the swimming pool is so much nicer to use when the water is lovely and warm.

Here are some outdoor areas that could benefit from sustainable energy sources, such as solar power and photovoltaic cells installed on the roof of the nearest building. From eco-friendly pool heating to renewable ways to power water fountains, there are so many ways to harness the electricity-generating power of the sun’s rays over the coming season.

Outdoor swimming pool

Solar energy is a highly effective sustainable pool heating solution that can provide heat all year round. It can provide an extended swimming season too, especially if you install solar water heaters to take the chill off the water in the Spring and Autumn. Using solar energy for pools is a quick and easy way to save on electricity bills without having to cover the pool up for long periods of time. Other pool area considerations can also include using solar powered equipment such as jet washers to keep the surrounding walkways clean and free from garden debris. Just a few green pool solutions to think about when considering installing solar panels this year.

Lighting the way

Solar powered lights are becoming very popular among garden designers and enthusiasts. They can highlight chosen plants, statues and other garden elements beautifully and line paths and driveways to help people find their way and stay safe in the garden and grounds after dark. There are so many ways to use solar lights in the garden, including lighting up garden ponds and switching to low-energy LED lights for porch lights, wall lights and hanging atmospheric lanterns in trees. Don’t forget to keep a few solar powered torches charged up for emergency use outside at night. These can also be helpful when cleaning solar panels in duller weather or after dusk.

Fountains and other ornamental water features

Gardens featuring flowing water offer an all-round sensory experience with sounds playing as important a role as sights and scents. If you have a fountain or other water feature in your garden, consider running it using renewable energy such as solar power. The cabling to set it up is not complex and energy can be drawn from solar panels on the roof of the house or shed to reduce installation expenses. If you have fish in the pond that rely on water being pumped through it, have a plan to continue providing electricity to the pump after dark, when solar panels will not be able to provide sufficient power alone. An energy storage battery would work well, or a hybrid system that enables you to switch to National Grid power when required.

Plant watering and care

Irrigation systems can save gardeners a great deal of time and effort, especially if they have a lot of plants to water. This type of system can be powered by solar energy for a more sustainable approach to plant care. Other watering solutions can also use solar power, including sprinklers, self-timed devices and drip irrigation kits for hanging baskets and pots. Plants being grown in the greenhouse also need careful attention when it comes to light and heat – again, these systems can be powered using solar energy to reduce electricity bills and increase crop yield. Perfect for growing salad plants, ready for lots of post-swimming pool lunches outdoors in the Summer.

Solar Panel Maintenance

Solar Panel Maintenance made easy: A Guide for homeowners

Once you have installed solar panels, it makes sense that you will want to keep them in optimum condition to get the most out of your investment. The good news is that solar panels are designed to be low maintenance and only require basic cleaning to clear dust and debris. Cleaning solar panels can be very straightforward if you follow a few simple tips. Alternatively, there are some excellent solar panel cleaning services out there if you prefer to outsource the task. They can also usually carry out routine maintenance and servicing inspections, including inverter checks and battery performance, at the same time.

Either way, it is important to keep on top of routine cleaning and maintenance. It helps enormously with improving energy production, keeping the panels looking nice and protecting the whole system from damage and dirt. Before you set about hiring solar experts, take a look at the following routine care tips and cleaning techniques.

Timing is everything

You should aim to clean and maintain your solar panels at least twice per year. This will help with ensuring peak performance. The job should be done at the end of autumn to clear away any leaves or dirt left on the panels by the rain. Then, it should be repeated at the end of spring to get them as clean as possible before the strong rays of summer sunshine start to hit. If you live in a dusty area, or in the countryside, where there may be more pollen, you should look at cleaning and maintaining solar panels every three months. Choose an overcast day to clean and carry out maintenance. Good times of day include early morning or late evening when there is less (or no) sun hitting the panels. Do not work on them during excessive heat, rain, snow or high winds.

Pre-checks and visual inspection

Before starting work, do a thorough check of the solar panels to see if there is any damage or other issues needing urgent attention. Look for cracks, breaks or loose connections. You may need to call in an expert if there is serious damage or dirt needing to be shifted. Do not put yourself in danger trying to fix difficult issues yourself or climbing on rooftops to access tricky areas. If the panels are tilted, this will make it easier to inspect and clean them. Rain will also wash away dust and debris (to a certain extent) from tilted panels. If any sections have come away from the roof, you will generally need to have them reattached by a professional solar panel maintenance company. Do not attempt to repair the panels yourself in the name of making cost savings. This can not only be dangerous, but it can also invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

Gently does it

Never use an abrasive soap or sponge to clean your solar panels. Instead, use plain, lukewarm water, or a mild detergent that has been specially formulated for the job. Use a soft brush or cloth to rub away any stubborn dirt, taking care not to scrub too hard. This could cause corrosion or scratches to the panels and lead to problems for the inverter and connections. If you clean your solar panels regularly, you should be

able to get away with a gentle clean like this, or even just run a hose across the surface to get rid of any surface dust and debris. Allow the solar panels to air dry. If there is a lot of residue water, wipe them gently with a dry, microfibre cloth. Use a brush or cleaning pole with a long, extendable handle and clean from the ground for maximum safety.

Post-cleaning and maintenance checks

Once you have finished inspecting, cleaning and arranging solar panel maintenance, you should make a note of the date the task was completed, as well as any additional repair or upgrading work that was carried out. This will help you work out when the next clean and maintenance is due. Keep an eye on the inverters to make sure they are flashing green. This helps you with ensuring peak performance after the solar panels have been checked and cleaned. Take a quick look every day to check for anything obvious. Monitor your energy usage and battery storage statistics to make sure that you are generating the amount of electricity that you are expecting to. If anything looks unusual, then book a professional maintenance and/or repair.

energy-saving appliances

 Solar Smarts: Keeping your fridge cold and your wallet happy

We all rely on our fridge to keep perishable foods cold and fresh for longer. However, it can use a fair bit of electricity as it is never turned off at the mains. If you are looking at ways of lowering electricity bills, the fridge may not, therefore be your first thought. However, there can be several cost savings to be found via refrigerator efficiency measures that could become part of more sustainable living. These include switching to solar battery storage instead of relying on mains electricity to power your fridge and freezer.

Here are some more fridge and freezer energy efficiency tips for you to think about, ahead of the late spring and summer seasons.

Keep it clean

We all like to see a clean, hygienic and mess-free fridge. However, how many of us regularly clean the outside of the fridge as well as the inside? Dust and dirt that builds up on the condenser coils at the back of the fridge can stop the fridge from cooling properly, putting pressure on its mechanisms and reducing its efficiency by as much as one-quarter of its normal capabilities. Pull the fridge out so that you can access to the condenser coils and gently vacuum them to get rid of surface dust. Use a brush to shift any stubborn dust or dirt for greater energy efficiency. Vacuum underneath the fridge too, to stop any dust or dirt getting clogged up in the mechanisms and reducing energy efficiency.

Check the seals

If your fridge or freezer doors won’t close properly, the cold air will escape, leading to inefficient cooling and a lower return on investment (ROI). Your appliance will need to work harder and use more electricity to replace the cool air and keep your food chilled or frozen. Check the door seals regularly for signs of damage, warping or hardening. You can usually replace them yourself for very little money, helping keep the costs of energy management down. Keep a regular eye on temperatures inside the fridge or freezer to make sure that the seals are working properly.

Savvy storage

Never put hot food straight into the fridge, such as leftovers or freshly-baked goods. Allow them to cool down first on the side, or on a cooling rack. This will stop the heat from the newly introduced food from raising the temperature inside the fridge. Don’t leave leftovers sitting on the side for more than two hours for food safety reasons, however. If you have time, defrost frozen food slowly inside the fridge rather than leaving it out, or using your microwave’s ‘defrost’ function. The much lower temperatures of the defrosting food will help cool the rest of the refrigerator and reduce the work it has to do to keep everything cold inside.

Think before you open – or restock the fridge

Don’t overload the fridge, or it will be harder to keep things cool and prevent spillages inside. Keep it reasonably full, though, so you are not paying to chill empty space. Try not to open the door too often, or keep it open for too long. This will let

more warm air inside, reducing the effects of your energy-saving appliances on the electricity usage and household bills.

Choose energy-saving appliances

If it is time to upgrade your fridge or freezer, or you are looking for a second or even third model for extra food storage, choose an energy-efficient model, or one that can run using renewable energy. Check the energy rating of your energy-saving appliances to find the best one for sustainable living. Usually, the ratings go from A (most energy-efficient) down to G. You should balance the energy efficiency rating with size, price, capacity and other considerations when choosing your new fridge or freezer.

Solar panel installation

Last, but by no means least, solar panel installation really can make a huge difference to electricity costs. This is not just for fridges and freezer, but throughout the house. Households can enjoy maximising solar savings by switching wholly or partially to off-grid power for running kitchen and other appliances. Collecting solar power during the day means that any excess can be transferred to solar battery storage. This ensures that your fridge and freezer can continue to be powered throughout the night to keep food chilled or frozen and ready to enjoy.

solar panel in winter

Combining solar with storage battery and other ways to make solar power work in the winter

2024 has started off with several periods of strong winds, heavy rain – and snow in some parts of the UK. Coupled with the traditionally overcast skies of January and February and you could be forgiven for thinking that solar power is not an option for powering a home or business in the winter months. This is very much not the case, however. While there may be less sunshine, the solar energy that can be produced is still adequate for most power requirements. In addition, generating electricity using solar with storage battery options means that any excess from unseasonably sunnier days can be stored for use during duller conditions, or at night.

Solar with storage battery

Being able to store solar power makes a photovoltaic solar panel system more efficient all year round. Using solar with storage battery in the winter months means that you can keep the lights on, even during the longer evenings using electricity generated from the winter sun. While it is true that solar energy can be more powerful in the summer when the sun shines for longer, it still generates energy when the weather conditions are less than ideal. Solar panels use sunlight to generate energy rather than temperatures. So, as long as there is still sunlight hitting their surface, solar energy can be generated by the system. Even during sub-zero temperatures or days when clouds are sitting lower in the sky.

How snow can help

When it snows, this can have varying effects on solar panels. If too thick a layer of snow falls on the roof or other surface where the panels are installed, this could, clearly, obscure them from receiving direct sunlight. In this case, it is best to try and clear away the snow if safe to do so to allow sunlight through. Thinner layers of snow – up to around eight centimetres – can still allow light through. However, snow can also have a positive effect in some circumstances. In what is known as the albedo effect, snow that has settled on the ground or elsewhere can reflect sunlight back up to the panels if the angles are right. This increases the amount of sunshine hitting the panels – from above and below.

Winter care for solar with storage battery systems

Another reason why you don’t have to pack away your solar with storage battery systems in the winter is how easily they can be maintained. In fact, winter may be a great time of year to book an annual service. The majority of solar panels are designed to withstand reasonable amounts of heavy rain, hailstones, snow and winds.

It could, however, be wise to cover them if a particularly strong storm or adverse weather conditions are forecast. That said, this is true all year round. If you are especially worried about winter weather damaging your solar panels, there are wire mesh protective covers available that still allow sunlight to get through. If you need to clear away heavy frost or obscuring coverings of snow, use a brush rather than a sharper implement (such as a rake) to avoid scratching the surface.

Top tips for winter performance

As with any system, solar panels will work better when maintained, monitored and handled properly. Keeping systems up to scratch during the winter can be made easier by following a few simple steps. For example, connecting solar with storage battery solutions will enable the system to store more energy for use during dull periods or at night. This is particularly important during the winter months, so ensure that a really good battery is installed and working correctly. Locate batteries somewhere insulated, sheltered and dry for optimum performance.

Keep an eye on the panels themselves too for signs of damage, wear and tear and dirt. The train will dislodge some debris, but regular cleaning and maintenance will keep the system in top working order. It is good practice to arrange regular servicing – your solar with battery storage provider should be able to arrange this. Routine visits for cleaning and inspection will help identify any problems sooner rather than later. It can also help you stay informed about upgrades, add-ons and general advances in solar power technology and design.

solar panel view from top

Why your manufacturing or logistics business needs to invest in warehouse solar panels this year

Manufacturing and logistics businesses typically use a lot of electricity and energy to power machinery, provide lighting and heating for their factories and warehouses. Also to ensure that deliveries can be picked and transported. Such high amounts of electricity can result in sky-high fuel bills and rapidly rising overheads. This is where warehouse solar panels can make a huge difference, not just to a company’s sustainability goals, but to its financial bottom line.

Installing warehouse solar panels

One thing that everyone knows about warehouses is that they are very big indeed, with large, flat surfaces in multiple places. This makes the physical buildings ideal locations for installing photovoltaic panels. They can be positioned to capture as much sun as possible. Multiple sets of panels can also be installed on larger rooftops. Warehouses are normally built in industrial areas alongside other commercial premises. So, the aesthetics of warehouse solar panels are not as important as if they were to be installed in a residential our countryside area. Rather, sleek, elegant warehouse solar panels can actively improve the look of a large, flat roof and inspire other organisations in the vicinity to have them installed.

A long-term investment

Commercial projects involving renewable energy work best when there is room in the business plan for long-term investment. Warehouse solar panels will require an initial financial outlay for their purchase and installation. There may also be financial commitments around annual servicing and regular maintenance contracts. The longer that warehouse solar panels can remain in place, generating electricity for immediate use or storage, the more money they can save the company on energy bills, heating and lighting. Surplus electricity can also be sold back to the National Grid, which can help a commercial premises build up even more income over the longer term.

Climate change, sustainability and the journey to net zero

The green agenda is increasingly prominent in business plans and corporate goal setting. Manufacturing and logistics companies can produce far more carbon and use far more energy than other types of enterprise. Therefore, investments in warehouse solar panels will go a long way towards offsetting the carbon produced by fossil fuels and paving the way towards greater renewable energy use. Electricity generated from warehouse solar panels can help these types of companies improve their sustainability figures and move closer to their stated goals around reducing carbon emissions and achieving net zero.

Employee engagement and productive PR

Many companies are using climate change initiatives as a basis for attracting quality employees and raising awareness of their ecological work in press and PR activities. More and more people are choosing obviously green companies to work for. This is because they align with their personal values around sustainability and protecting the planet’s finite resources. Good manufacturing and logistics staff can be hard to find – and even harder to retain due to the competition and high demand out there. Being able to show prospective employees your warehouse solar panels helping to reduce fossil fuel reliance can be a big selling point when it comes to recruitment. Clearly visible warehouse solar panels can also become an excellent selling point in your company’s PR and marketing collateral. They make excellent subjects for promotional photography and the details of how much energy is produced, stored and sold back to the National Grid can strongly support any green agenda publicity.

Future proofing for your warehouse business

Warehouse solar panels need only be the start of a company-wide shift to renewable energy and green electricity generation. Having an effective, efficient solar panel system can inspire other initiatives that will future-proof the company. Lessening reliance on oil, gas and other fossil fuels to run a manufacturing or logistics business can provide stability in times of unstable geopolitics and conflict. The idea can spread out to other aspects of running the business. For example, electric or hybrid vehicles can be used to transport goods and move pallets around the warehouse. Employees can be incentivised to switch to electric vehicles to get them to and from work each day. Electric charging points and bicycle racks can be installed in the car park. These can even be powered by warehouse solar panels to increase synergy between existing green energy commitments and employees’ access to sustainable resources.

care home solar panels

Five reasons why installing care home solar panels should be a priority for 2024

Care home managers must balance many different financial, commercial and healthcare-led areas of work. On top of that, they must put the needs of their residents and their families first, as well as work in harmony with the local communities. A major concern of many stakeholders in the past few years has been working sustainably to help combat climate change and reduce reliance on finite fuel sources. This is where care home solar panels can be a highly desirable addition to a residential care business.

Care home solar panels and the bottom line

Many care homes are feeling the financial squeeze right now. Winter is an expensive time, as heating bills will inevitably increase, as well as medical care for vulnerable residents finding the colder conditions more harmful to their overall health. Installing care home solar panels can help reduce overheads around energy bills. Being able to store any electricity not used straight away in a battery can also help keep costs of electricity used during duller days and at night more manageable. What’s more, any surplus electricity that your care home will not need can be sold to the National Grid to help even more with finances and longer-term budgeting.

Communications, marketing and care home solar panels

More and more businesses are waking up to the marketing and communications advantages of visibly pursuing a more sustainable way of operating. In the same way, care home solar panels can really help managers show potential and existing residents and their families that they are not simply paying sustainability lip service. Installing visible care home solar panels on the roof of the building sends a powerful message to visitors. Talking about how a care home is generating greener energy makes for a compelling marketing campaign. Care home solar panels could even provide that sought-after ‘edge’ over competitors who have not yet taken the decision to invest.

Care home solar panels and the wider community

Sometimes, when one business in a community makes a move towards more sustainable operations, other will follow their lead. Solar panels can be easily spotted on a roof or flat surface and can generate a lot of interest locally. Likewise, they can be a source of education for local schools, other care homes and community groups, who could be interested in talking to you and your team about the benefits that you are experiencing. Another way to help the wider community is to sell any surplus electricity to the National Grid. This helps reduce pressure on the fossil fuels needed to produce energy for conventional energy suppliers.

Future proofing care homes with greener energy

Another reason why care home solar panels are a good idea is to prepare for future advances in energy generation. We are seeing ever increasing involvement of renewable energy sources in the way we power our lives. From electric cars to heat pumps and solar panels, technology and systems once considered quirky or off-beat are becoming conventional and accepted as the norm. If you have care home solar panels already installed when the time comes for you to sell the business, this can be a big advantage. Care homes traditionally use a high amount of electricity, especially when it comes to heating and lights. As legislation moves with the times too, to incentivise renewable energy initiatives, you will already be in position to benefit from grants and avoid having to make changes rapidly at a greater cost in order to comply with new green laws.

Using care home solar panels to inspire other green initiatives

Finally, the benefits that solar panels bring can often lead to other green living alterations to care homes’ operations. For example, saving water by installing eco showers and tap aerators and collecting rainwater. Switching to smart radiator valves, ventilation and heating controls and exterior lighting to save energy. Other areas include encouraging staff to use electric cars, or changing to electric or hybrid minibuses or coaches for daytrips. Other energy saving ideas inspired by care home solar panels could also include renewing or adding to insulation and plugging gaps under doors and around windows. You could also encourage staff and residents to recycle more by providing plenty of marked bins to help people work out where to put their rubbish.

Engineers working on a solar panel during a servicing appointment

How To Maintain Your Solar Panels And Get The Most Out Of Your Servicing Appointment

Solar panels are relatively simple to look after. There are no moving parts, for example, which makes them less likely to succumb to an engineering fault. If they are looked after properly, they should remain problem-free for many years. However, like all systems of this kind, it is a good idea to arrange regular servicing appointments to make sure that any issues are spotted and fixed sooner, rather than later. It is advised to book a servicing appointment at least once every five years, or more often if you prefer.

Get installation advice from your servicing appointment

Much can be done to protect your solar power system when it is first installed. Make sure the panels are fitted correctly and securely so they don’t slip or break. While they obviously need to be positioned in a location that catches plenty of sunshine, take care not to put them anywhere that could be overly exposed to storms, winds and bad weather. Set the right angle to help any snow slide off, rather than collect on the surface and cause damage over time.

Always choose a professional installation company that will take time to ensure the perfect fit and talk you through how to care for the panels correctly. If a servicing package is offered as part of the installation price, or an option is given to include this on ongoing aftercare, take it, as this can represent better value for money than going elsewhere.

Check for issues on your solar panels yourself

Don’t wait until your servicing appointment to take a look at your panels yourself to make sure nothing is going wrong. While you are not likely to want to scale the house to inspect the panels close up, you can still look at them from the ground to see if there is anything glaringly wrong. Use a pair of binoculars to check for an excess build-up of dirt or debris, cracks, slipped panels or loose fittings or bolts.

Pay attention to how the system is performing too. Is the amount of electricity being generated reducing, or is it taking longer to fill up the storage battery than before? Keep an eye on your metre readings to see if there are any issues arising with the electricity supply. This could signal that there is a problem with the panels themselves, or the wiring and internal connection systems. Always check performance at the same time of day to give a better idea of how well your system is working over the longer term.

Specialist technician and professional engineer looking at solar panels during a servicing appointment

Remove the risks to your solar panels

Where possible, remove anything that could cause damage to your solar panels, such as overhanging branches. These could not only break off and fall onto the system in high winds, but they are also a great place for birds to perch and release acidic poo down onto the panels. Leafy trees could also be causing more shade to fall onto the surfaces where the panels are installed than you would like – this can compromise their ability to capture energy from the sun’s rays.

Any climbing plants, such as ivy, vines or creepers, which look like they are going to encroach onto the panels should also be pruned back or removed altogether before they cause damage further up. This can also help keep gutters free from foliage to improve your drainage system and protect roof tiles not covered by photovoltaic panels or their mountings.

Things to tell your servicing engineer

When your servicing appointment is drawing near, take another close look at your system. Make some notes about what to tell your engineer when they arrive to carry out the work. For example, take down some details about how the electricity performance has been recently. If there is an instance of bad weather and it is safe to do so, go outside to see how the panels are coping with the adverse conditions. Let the engineer know of any concerns you may have around your system’s ongoing durability or state of wear and tear.

Check that the inverters are still flashing green, which tells you that all is working correctly. If they are not, note this and tell your engineer on their arrival. Point out any areas which are particularly dirty and may need more attention. Finally, set aside some funds to pay for any repairs that might be necessary. The longer you leave repairs to a solar panel system, the costlier the issue will be to put right when you eventually sign up for the work.

Solar panels in remote and rural households - solar panels on the roof of a rural house near a forest

Installing Solar Panels In Remote And Rural Households

Many of the big electricity companies opt to invest more heavily in more densely populated areas. Therefore, some of the more remote villages and rural communities do not always receive such comprehensive coverage or services from them. One solution for homeowners living in remote areas is to install solar panels in remote and rural households. This enables them to capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity for their own use. It lessens their reliance on the National Grid for power and supports those wishing to live more sustainably.

Sustainability also makes solar panels highly attractive for people seeking to live as ‘off-grid’ as possible. Often, such households will be drawn to remote areas and rural living. Being able to have solar panels installed on the roof or a flat surface can help ensure a steady flow of electricity to provide lighting, heating and power on a day-to-day basis. Adding a storage battery to the solar power set-up can also allow any electricity not used straight away to be stored and used when the sun is not providing enough energy for the photovoltaic cells to work, such as at night.

Here are some more reasons why remote communities and rural households interested in living off-grid should consider investing in solar panels…

Solar panels in remote and rural households provide power anytime, anywhere

Formerly the preserve of larger homes, solar panel technology has become increasingly diverse, meaning that smaller dwellings can now take advantage of the versatile technology too. The ability to sell back surplus electricity that a smaller rural household doesn’t use can also help boost the coffers and provide an additional income stream. Solar panel systems needn’t spoil the look of a countryside home either – the panels themselves come in discreet, attractive designs and can be fitted to a roof or flat surface in the best way to reduce the visual impact. 

Solar panels still work on rural households on a cloudy day

There doesn’t have to always be bright sunshine for solar panels to power a home in a remote location effectively – they can work on cloudy days too. Storage battery solutions also enable solar power to be stored in readiness for powering the property at night. This provides homeowners with an excellent ROI – being able to generate their own electricity will, over time, reduce power bills and pay back money spent on the initial installation of the solar panels.

Solar panels in remote and rural households - rural house with solar panels on the roof

Solar power protects against power outages

Another way in which solar panels can benefit rural households is that they provide protection against power cuts and interruptions caused by problems with the National Grid.  When power cuts happen, rural areas often take the brunt of the resulting chaos, since towns and cities are normally prioritised when it comes to restoring power and fixing damage. Knowing that remote properties can still access the electricity being produced by a solar panel system can be extremely reassuring.

Solar panels free up funds

There is often a correlation between rural households and higher levels of domestic poverty. Managing to reduce energy bills and possibly even sell unused electricity back to the National Grid might be able to assist with balancing the books in the longer term.

Clearly, installing the system in the first place will represent a financial outlay, but there may be help available in the form of grants or loans to help pay for this – check out your local council in the first instance to see if there is anything suitable. Plus, as photovoltaic technology advances, the costs will fall and the efficacy of the system increase, helping free up rural households funds even more.

Easy to look after

Finally, solar panel maintenance overall is not complex, as solar panels tend to be robust and easy to care for. The photovoltaic cells that capture the solar energy are normally encased in tempered glass and strengthened by steel frames. Additionally, the converters and other technology required to generate electricity are also very well insulated and protected against damage, general wear and tear and adverse weather conditions.

This also helps keep repair and upgrading costs down for rural and remote households. However, that said, investing in annual or other maintenance contracts for solar panels and associated technology can offer peace of mind and help spot potential problems early before they cause more serious disruption.
If you are interested in investing in Solar panels for your rural household, contact us at UPS Solar to see what we can do to help you.

solar panels in winter that have snow on them

Solar Panels In Winter: Coping With A Cold Snap

Once again, the British weather is top of the UK news agenda. January 2023 is seeing plummeting temperatures, as well as plenty of frost, ice and snow across many parts of the country. So, talking about solar panels in winter of year may not seem like the most obvious course of action. However, when the cold weather descends, it is important to think about how it might affect solar panels exposed on rooftops in sub-zero temperatures. Also, solar panels don’t stop working in the winter. There are still many ways in which the electricity generated can power people’s homes and businesses, as well as reduce fuel bills and contribute to sustainable living goals.

Solar power in winter weather

It is a common misconception that solar panels need strong rays from the sun to operate. In fact, they can still generate electricity when the sun is weaker or partially obscured by clouds. They also carry on working even when temperatures drop below zero. The only thing that could affect their efficacy in a big way would be if heavy snowfalls on the roof completely cover the panels, blocking their contact with the sun. In that case, efforts to remove the snow – but only if it is safe to do so – could help them return to normal service. When installing solar panels in winter, bear in mind that snow can melt and slide off those placed at an angle far quicker than from totally flat layouts.

The good news, however, is that solar panels can work well in wintry conditions. They can even be more efficient in colder temperatures than at the height of summer. This is because overly hot conditions can prevent them from working and affect the electronics they contain. Also, the photovoltaic cells rely on direct contact from sunlight – the stronger the better. The heat that comes from the sun does not come into the equation. Dull, overcast days with less sunlight breaking through the clouds, therefore, are less helpful than those crisp, frozen winter days when the sun is shining brightly, with its rays reflecting back onto the panels from the frosty, white rooftops around them.

installing solar panels in winter

Caring for photovoltaic panel systems

As with any investment of this nature in your home or business, taking care of solar panels in winter correctly will help prolong their working life. It will also improve their efficacy in producing electricity at a time of year when additional light and heat is usually required. As well as adjusting the angle of your solar panels to allow snow to slide off more quickly, this action can also help capture more sunlight as it sits lower in the sky on shorter winter days. Placing the panels at a steeper incline could help compensate for this change in the sun’s position.

Other tips around caring for solar panels in winter include using the right tools to clear snow, ice or frost from their surfaces. Always take great care when attempting maintenance of this nature, as frosty surfaces can make outdoor work like this more treacherous. If you do decide to tackle it, use a soft-bristled snow brush, rather than a rake or hard-bristled broom. This helps avoid scratching and damaging the panels. If the snow is stubborn and will not come off easily, don’t scrub too hard – it will melt eventually and the panels can then resume their service.

Don’t forget to protect your batteries as well during winter. They can be affected by cold weather just as much as other parts of the solar power system. Insulate them against plunging temperatures by wrapping them well if they are outdoors or, if possible, repositioning them inside the property. Watch their discharge levels closely, as you will, most likely, need more electricity than usual on colder, gloomier days.

Finally, book your solar panel and battery servicing appointment now. It is easy to forget in the frenzy of a busy working or domestic life. There may be more appointments available during the winter, so you won’t have to wait quite so long for an engineer to arrive. Likewise, if you don’t have solar panels installed, or are interested in an upgrade or replacement system, take advantage of the quieter winter months to book an initial consultation.
Contact UPS to find out more or get support with getting the most out of your solar panels in winter.

solar panels on new build

Why you Should Add Solar Panels to Your New Build Property Plans

The benefits of solar power for domestic properties are well known. From reduced energy bills to a more sustainable way of living, switching wholly or partially to renewable energy can reap homeowners many rewards. So, what if you are planning a new build property project and are considering what type of power to install? All of these advantages still apply. Plus, there are several other benefits that can help your new build to meet regulations, increase resale value and ensure its sustainability credentials from day one.

Here are some key reasons why new builds and solar panels can make a great match.

  • Improve SAP calculations

Recent changes in Part L of the Building Regulations and Standard Assessment Procedures (SAP) have meant that renewable energy measures such as solar panels are increasingly sought-after for new-build homes. All new homes are now required by law to include enough energy saving measures to pass the SAP calculation score and become as energy self-sufficient as possible. SAP calculations go from 1 to 100 and indicate the annual cost of energy associated with the property, as well as its overall environmental performance. Factors include heating, lighting and overall structure. While the SAP calculation system has been in place since 1995, the changes to the regulation now means that properties must secure a ‘pass’ score, with a minimum of 10% of consumed electricity on site now required to be self-generated.

  • Enhance the property’s BREEAM score

Another assessment system for new builds is the BREEA score (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment). This scheme was established in 1990 and calculates the sustainability rating of a building. It helps construction companies rate the sustainability of their work and to reduce the negative effects that construction processes have on the environment. Having solar panel included on a new build can help increase the BREEAM score and thus add even more to the property’s proven green credentials and sustainability factor.

  • Lower installation costs, now and in the future 

It stands to reason that, having solar panels incorporated into the roof from the beginning means that the roof will require fewer tiles and, potentially, lower labour costs. The photovoltaic panels sit flush with the roof and are larger than single tiles. As a result, they will not be as time-consuming to place in the correct position and line up with the rest of the surface. Additionally, if the solar panels are already installed before the first resident moves in, they will no need to have a solar energy system added later on, and neither will their future buyers. The infrastructure needed to live more sustainably when it comes to generating electricity will already be up and working.

new build property with solar panels
  • Reduce overall carbon footprint

Increasingly, people seeking to buy a house, new build or otherwise, are becoming concerned with the carbon footprint that the property will generate. Stringent targets set by the UK to reach Net Zero by 2030 are driving increased interest in energy saving measures like solar panels. Many people are keen to do their bit to contribute to this worthy cause and help fight the effects of climate change. Having solar panels already in place will be an attractive addition and powerful marketing message for any new build company wishing to show their commitment to the green agenda. Adding storage batteries to allow homeowners to store excess electricity and use it at night or on duller days is another incentive well worth considering.

  • Encourage wider use of renewable energy

Finally, the more new-build properties that are constructed with solar panels firmly in place, the quicker the idea will spread to other homeowners and property professionals in the area. As with any desirable feature on a building, having solar panels not only up and running from the start can help to add value to the property and hence its surrounding neighbourhood. They will also look far more attractive if they can be installed flush against the roof, rather than added later and resting on tiles. If your new-build property can lead the way in starting a trend locally for switching to renewable energy and a greener lifestyle, this can only be a good thing for both your property and its neighbouring buildings and community.