Buying solar panels is an effective way to reduce your energy bill and insure yourself against the rising electricity prices. You will also have less impact on the environment by decreasing your carbon emissions.
The price of solar systems has been falling down in recent years, due to technology advances and governmental subsidies. Nevertheless, there are other important factors you need to consider, as your decision to buy solar panels should not be based solely on price.
Here are 5 things you need need to know before you invest in solar panels.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels (solar PV) generate electricity from solar energy. The panels can produce electricity even on cloudy days, because they do not need direct sunlight. They use the light energy from the sun, not the heat energy.
An inverter, which is part of the solar system, converts the direct current to alternative current, so it can be used at home. The generated electricity is then used to meet your needs. If you produce more electricity than you use, it is exported back to the grid. During the night or in occasions when you use more energy than you generate, the electricity is provided by the grid.
Read more: What are PV Panels?
Solar panels work at its optimum when placed on a south facing roof. This is due to the fact that UK is in the northern hemisphere. Having that in mind, solar panels are also a viable option if you have east or west facing roof, because they will still generate electricity.
The angle of the roof is also important, as solar panels are most effective at 30-35 degrees. You should also check if any area of your roof is shaded by trees, buildings or any other objects. The solar panel installer should measure your roof and give you indications about how well the panels will perform on your roof.
Maintenance and Running Costs
Solar panels require very little maintenance. If dust or leaves settle on top of the panels they can easily be hosed down. Other than that there is also no other maintenance needed. The panels usually have warranty of 25 years and the inverter 5 to 10 years. The inverter is usually the part that needs to be changed because it is working all the time to convert the DC to AC. It typically needs to be replace after 10-15 years.
You should also have an installer examine your system every 4-7 years. It is also advisable to ask your installer about the particular maintenance requirements of your solar system.
Feed in Tariff
The Feed-in Tariff scheme was introduced by UK’s government to encourage the adoption of low carbon technologies. In order to qualify for the feed-in tariff your solar system needs to be MSC certified and your installer must be MSC accredited.
The Feed-in Tariff consist of two parts. Through the generation tariff you will receive a fixed amount per unit of electricity you generate and then consume. The export tariff is an additional payment that you will get for the electricity you have not used and export it back to the grid. As you will be generating part of the electricity you use, you will be making savings on your energy bill.
The payments from the Feed-in Tariff are guaranteed for 20 years. The rate that you receive is also indexed, which means that it will increase in accordance with the retail price index. On top of that, the money you received from the Feed-in Tariff is tax free.
Other Benefits of Solar Panels
Besides shrinking your energy bill and earning money from the Feed-in Tariff, you will also reduce your impact on the environment. Since you will be generating some of your electricity, you will not be dependent on the provider if electricity prices go up, as it is expected to happen.
As any other home improvement, solar panels can increase the overall value of your home. They make it more attractive for potential buyers, if you are interested in selling in the future. Some Home Selling Guides argue that solar powered homes sell twice faster than homes using conventional electricity.