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The joy and benefits of solar panels in the UK
"Heat my Home is a by-product of my enthusiasm for solar panels after seeing the benefits for myself. We empower you through the process of installing your own solar technology."
Solar panels made easy.
Quick facts - Solar panels work even on cloudy days in the UK. Each sq/m of your roof receives between 900-1300 kWh a year.
PV solar panels - This photovoltaic technologies generate electricity and channels it into a current. Photons from the sun hit the panel to produce a DC current, which is then reversed to a more usable AC current supplying your home. Surplus is exported and rewards you for the power you generate - even if you use it.
Flat-plate solar panels - These long-standing solar heating panels trap the sun's radiation and produce heat for super-efficient hot water tanks. These highly absorbent and low reflective glass panels build-up and trap heat that is converted to a super-efficient tank.
Evacuated solar tubes - This solar tube technology uses a vacuum flask principle to gain high temperatures. A tube with a 360 degree collector surface allows a better absorption rate for longer periods of the day. This heat is transferred down to a solar-rated cylinder and stored long into the night.
Thermodynamic solar panels - This groundbreaking solar heating technology with its ability to heat your hot water tank and central heating system 365 days annually - day or night. This system is a hybrid solar panel and heat pump system that doesn't rely on direct sunlight in its operation.
PV (Photovoltaic) solar panels generate electricity using the sun's rays. 'Photo' refers to the Photons, which hit the panel, and 'voltaic' refers to the volts of electricity which are produced when a chemical reaction takes place within the panel cells.
These panels are divided into two types:
Monocrystalline - Photovoltaic panels which have an efficiency rating of 15%. Slightly more expensive, but offer a higher peak output per panel usually 180-240 Watts.
Polycrystalline - PV panels that have an efficiency rating of 13%. The most popular panel, which gives a maximum output of 150 Watts.
Thin-film - A thin layer of semi-conductor materials spread thin on a glass or metallic base. These systems have a lower efficiency rating of around 7%.
"A technology that last longer than your mortgage."
Sell electricity to the National Grid with grid connected PV systems. Generate electricity for yourself and export the excess power to the National Grid, which you will be paid with the feed-in tariff scheme. Amazingly, you will be paid even if you use the power yourself.
You can put the panels together to make a system ranging from a minimum of 1KW going up to a max of 5KW for domestic installations, producing from 750 kWh to 4500 kWh per year. Commercial sized installations range from 5KW to 100KW sized systems.
With no moving parts, this technology lasts for many years with no maintenance required.
"Photovoltaic solar panels installed in the 1960s are still going strong today."
A guide to solar heating panels in the UK
Solar heating panels heat up hot water in your hot water tank supplying you with a constant supply of hot water, and in some cases space heating during the daylight hours. You won't need to use your existing boiler in the summer, while using it less in the winter months too.
These panels are divided into three types:
Thermodynamic panels - This third-generation way of heating, hot water and central heating using ambient atmospheric temperatures. This new hybrid technology works all year round, day and night, rain or shine. No government incentive is available.
Flat-plate panels - The most traditional form is flat-plate technology, this panel heats up an anti-freeze compound called Glycol which circulates through heat exchangers in your tank to provide solar heated water.
Evacuated solar tubes - An efficient way of heating your hot water tank using the sun's ray, giving the best performance of all solar heating technologies.
"A technology that can be in your service for thirty years."
Evacuated solar tubes are the best performing system, but flat-plate panels are popular because they can be deemed to be more aesthetically pleasing to some people with the option to be integrated in the roof like a "Velux" window.
All panel types only need a check-up or maintenance service every 3-4 years, but this can be integrated into your installation deal with your installation company.
A larger tank can be fitted on installation day to update your existing tank with a more modern and efficient type.
Once installed, your system will be at your service for 25-30 years in the UK climate.
"The UK's first grid-connected system has been tested on its 20th anniversary, and still has a 95% generation rate."
Beginners questions about solar panels
Do I need planning permission?
No. From the 6th of April 2008 planning permission will not be required for most solar panel installations, unless you live in a listed building. Even then, most councils will allow solar panels in most cases.
Is my roof compatible?
Most homes in the UK are suitable for solar panels. If you have a South, South East, Southwest or East and West facing roof space un-obscured by shading, then yes. Your internal plumbing/electrics will need to be checked through an on-site survey before the installation process begins.
Grants are no longer available, but replaced by the feed-in tariff scheme which pays a set amount for every kWh of electricity or heat generated. This applies to any domestic and commercial installation.
Even the UK receives 60% of the sun's radiation compared to the equatorial regions. Each square metre of the United Kingdom receives between 900 to 1,300 kWh of energy annually, so this technology does work in northern climates too.
In most cases, no, however, if you have 'Part P' electrical and plumbing skills, then it may be possible to install in a daily capacity. DIY flat-plate, PV and evacuated tube kits are available.
DIY installing can work out much cheaper, however, you will not be eligible for the generous feed-in tariff schemes currently available. All eligible installations must be carried out and certified, by an accredited MCS solar panel installer to qualify.
Solar technology is not a one size fits all. Installations for both heating and electric can be complicated, due to many isues such as roof access, layout and internal factors. Solar panel technologies varies in size, so potential installers will need to do an on-site survey of your property to truly establish your options and costs.
Request a survey and keep a copy of the data.
Why compare technologies, why compare quotes?
Because of the various different technologies available on the market, it is always wise to know what you are being quoted for. Quotes can vary widely across the industry, so it's worth knowing your monocrystalline from your polycrystalline photovoltaic panels or the heat advantage of evacuated tubes over their flat-plate cousins.
Compare installation quotes for different types of technology the easy way. If you're not sure yet, then we can help you make a wiser decision through our trusted and time-served installers.
Get a quote.
All our MCS solar panel installers are RECC scheme (Renewable Energy Consumer Code) members and work throughout England, Scotland and Wales.