Solar panels are fast becoming one of the most common forms of environmentally friendly forms of heating the home. Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity which is then used to heat a fluid within the panels. It is this fluid that then moves through the pipes to the heat exchanger which in turn is transferred to the water in the hot water cylinder. The panels work even on a cloudy day, but during the hours of darkness the property reverts to using the conventional hot water boiler system. An alternative to standard solar panel is the new flat plate solar panel that use a special low iron glass formula. These panels increase absorption due to a reduced reflective property and although called flat plate panels, they are in fact not flat as they are made up of thousands of tiny pyramids.
Solar Heating Panels
A solar heating system could provide up to 70% of a home's annual hot water or electricity. So it is important to do some research first so establish if the property is suitable to yield that type of saving, as the up front investment is considerable. Firstly the position of the property is key. The best is a roof or wall facing south (or east to west) and there are no trees or buildings blocking the building. Although overshadowing for parts of the day will not stop solar panels providing electricity for the home, the amount of energy produced will be reduced. The next consideration is regarding the strength of the roof and whether it is strong enough to take the weight of the panels. This consideration is critical if the panels are actually fitted on top of the existing roof rather than installed within the roof. If the property is in the UK, planing permission for most home solar electricity systems is not required. There are however size restrictions, so the best advice is to check with the planning department first, especially if the property is a listed building.
Can Home Solar Panels Work in Cooler Climates
Contrary to popular belief, home solar panels are just as effective in cooler climes and work all the year round. Special solar panels have been developed and manufactured for use in temperate climates such as the UK and other northern European countries. These panels can be mounted on a southerly facing roof or wall, on a flat roof using an A-frame or on the ground.
How Much Will Home Solar Panels Cost?
The installation costs will of course depend on the size of the home and the number of solar panels installed. For a small abode the average cost of installation would range between £3,500 and £6,000. For an average 4 person home, the installation price would range between £7,000 and £9,000. For larger properties, requiring more panels and larger water tanks, the installation costs would range between £10,000 and £12,000. For the largest domestic systems, installation costs can rise to around £20,000. Installation costs are not cheap, but it is important to remember that solar panels are a long term investment. It is estimated that installation costs will be recouped within 10 years. Any unused excess electricity produced can also be sold to the national grid which could generate an extra 3p for each unit sold. British Gas has also started a new scheme, which involves renting the roof of any their customers. In practice this means that British Gas pays for the installation rather than the home owner, but the owner benefits as electricity bills are also reduced.