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Solar Electricity

Solar Panel

Solar PV cells are panels which can be attached to the roof of your house or building, and are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon.

The cells convert light into cheap, green electricity, which can in turn be used to supply your household appliances and lighting, and reduce the amount you require from your electricity supplier.

PV cells do not need direct sunlight to work; electricity can still be generated on a cloudy day, however the stronger the sunlight the more electricity produced.

Solar PV can also help generate an income by allowing you to sell excess energy back to the grid, through the Governments Feed in Tariff Scheme.

How does Solar PV work?

Diagram

Solar photovoltaic panels convert light into electricity, for use in the home. The panels do not depend on heat to generate electricity, and work all year round even on a cloudy day.  The summer months may generate more electricity, simply because it is lighter for longer.

The electricity produced by the panels is a ‘direct current’; however this needs to be converted to an ‘alternating current’ in order for it to be used in the home.

The current is converted by installing an inverter, the inverter allows the electricity to pass through and change from a DC current to an AC current.  Installation is inside the home and at the same time as the panels, therefore it will be commissioned at the same time as the rest of the system.

Benefits of Solar PV

• Cut your carbon footprint:  solar electricity is green, renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO₂) or other pollutants. A typical home PV system could save around 1tonne of CO₂ per year, that’s around 25 tonnes over a lifetime.
• Electricity bills are reduced: sunlight is free; your biggest outlay will be for the installation of the system. Electricity costs will be greatly reduced.
• Sell electricity back to the grid: if the system produces more electricity than you need the excess can be sold. Find out more about feed-in tariffs and selling electricity.
• Store electricity for a cloudy day: if your home isn’t connected to the national grid you can store excess electricity in batteries to use when you need it.

Is my home suitable for solar electricity?

• You will need a roof preferably south facing, which isn’t overshadowed by trees or buildings.
• The solar panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles.

Maintenance is relatively small, the panels need to be kept as clean as possible and you need to make sure trees do not overshadow them.

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