What are solar photovoltaic panels?
Solar photovoltaic panels are a highly efficient way of generating electricity using solar power. Using photovoltaic technology, the solar PV system transforms renewable energy from the sun’s rays into electricity that can be used straight away. Any excess can be kept in battery storage for later use when the sun is less powerful or absent, such as during the night. It offers an energy-efficient method to power your home while reducing your energy bills and carbon footprint.
The system comprises a series of PV cells within flat panels. These are fixed to the roof to capture solar energy directly from the sun. An electric field flowing across the solar PV panels converts the energy into direct current electricity. An inverter then converts the DC electricity to a usable alternating current (AC), passing along the system to power, light and heat the property. Excess electricity is stored in a solar power battery or sold back to the National Grid. Smart meters can be installed to show you how much electricity you are generating, using and storing at any one time.
How do photovoltaic panels use solar trackers?
A valuable addition to solar PV systems that can be fixed to any solar panel is a solar tracker. This changes its orientation throughout the day to track the sun’s path and work out the best angles for the panels to maximise the capturing of solar energy. Solar trackers work by helping to minimise the angle of incidence between a sun ray and the panels, increasing the amount of energy that can be harnessed. The panels must be correctly angled to achieve the most effective results, so a solar tracker is essential for this process to work correctly.
There are several different types of solar trackers, including single-axis trackers that move backwards and forwards in a single direction. Dual-axis trackers can move in two directions and always face the sun. These offer the best results as they can move vertically and horizontally to track the sun’s rays. Some solar trackers can increase the amount of electricity produced by up to 40%. Disadvantages include an increased likelihood of the tracker requiring ongoing maintenance over just having a fixed solar PV panel system on its own.
How are solar photovoltaic panels fitted?
Installing solar panels comprising PV cells is a relatively straightforward task. However, it is always advisable to engage an expert installer to do this for you. They can advise on the type of solar panels that would suit your property best, as well as the optimum size, location and likely electricity generation rates that can be achieved. A professional fitter can also handle issues such as roof inclines, tricky access, and south-facing surfaces more easily. You may need planning permission before installing a solar PV panel system. Again, this aspect of the work can be supported or even entirely handled by a professional UK solar energy panel installer on your behalf.
What are the differences between solar photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels?
Solar thermal panels provide an energy-efficient method of hot water generation, offering energy bill savings of up to 70% for hot water provision. Like PV panels, solar thermal panels also harness energy from the sun. However, the system then diverts the energy into heating water via a series of collectors, hot water transfer, and cylinder storage. The main difference between this system and photovoltaic solar power is that the former only supplies a property with the means to heat water.
Electricity produced by PV panels can power, heat and light a property and heat water via an immersion heater system. A solar thermal panel system is more limited in renewable energy to a domestic home or commercial premises. Its capabilities are capped at providing hot water. This can, however, make it a cheaper option to install than PV systems and easier to add to an existing solar or renewable energy system.
Solar PV panels also provide the means to store excess electricity by installing a solar battery allowing renewable energy to supply electricity, even during overcast days or nights. Solar thermal panels may need to be backed up by a boiler or mains powered heating method when the sun’s power is reduced or absent. Both systems offer a way to live more sustainably, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and reduce energy bills over the longer term. Once installed, they are relatively low maintenance and can last for around 20 years with regular servicing and careful use. They are quiet to run and will not produce pollution or nuisance to surrounding properties.