What is solar electricity?
Solar electricity gives you the chance to obtain cheap and environmentally friendly electricity for your home directly from sunlight. By capturing energy from the sun and changing it into electricity through the use of photovoltaic cell (PV) panels it can provide enough electricity to help light your house and run the household appliances. Electricity can still be produced even when it is cloudy as PV panels do not need direct sunlight before they work.
What equipment will I need?
By installing solar power panels you can harness a good method of generating electricity to help power your home. These panels can be installed by professionals or alternatively, there is a choice of do it yourself kits. As long as a DIY kit is located properly and is of good quality it can be quite efficient for electricity production. Any instructions and safety information need to be followed closely with assistance from a professional if necessary. Most kits are relatively easy to install with all the equipment needed and this is encouraging more and more people to install these themselves.
How does it work?
The solar panels that you can attach to a wall or the roof of your property contain PV cells. These cells contain layers of a semiconductor, which is usually silicon. When the sunlight falls on the cell an electric field is created across this. Therefore the most electricity is produced when the sunlight is strong. There are a variety of PV cells available from those that look like roof tiles to large panels. There are also transparent ones that can be used on the roofs of conservatories.
What are the benefits?
There are several main benefits to producing solar electricity for your home. As a normal home system provides around 40% of the electricity needed in a year, after recouping the initial costs, your bills will be substantially reduced. Should your system produce more electricity than you use, any excess can be sold back to the national grid.
A solar electricity system also produces less carbon dioxide into the environment meaning that if you live in a typical house you would cut your carbon footprint by around one tonne a year.
How much will it cost?
In general the installation costs of a solar electricity system can vary greatly. An average size system of around 2.2 kilowatts can cost approximately £12,000 and increase between £4,500 and £8,000 for each additional kilowatt. If you decide to go for panels attached to the roof of the property, then it is cheaper to put them on top of the existing tiles rather than build them into the roof. It should also be remembered that solar tiles are more expensive than conventional panels. There is very little maintenance with the system although the panels should be kept as clean as possible and any trees that start to over shadow them should be cut back.