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Last updated: 12 March 2018

Solar Panels: Answers to 10 FAQs

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels are made from small solar cells. The cells absorb the sunlight and turn it into DC (direct current) electricity. The DC electricity is then converted into AC (alternative current) electricity, by a device called inverter, and is fed to your internal power grid.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

Most manufacturers give 20-25 year warranty but If solar panels are installed and maintained properly, you can expect them to last and produce good amount of electricity for up to 35-40 years.

What Should Be the Size of My Solar System?

The size of the system you need depends on several factors: how much electricity you use, how much money are you willing to invest and what is the size of your roof. You should also consider if you want solar energy to meet all your energy needs or just a portion of them.

Do Solar Panels Need a Lot of Maintenance?

Typically solar panels require very little maintenance. If rain doesn’t do the job, you can spray them with a hose a few times per year. You should make sure that there is nothing piled up on top of the solar panels which could block them from the sun. Ideally you should check with your installer about maintenance requirements.

Roof-Mounted or Ground-Mounted?

Roof mounted solar panels are generally less expensive because they do not require support structures. You also make use of otherwise unutilized space on your roof. On the other hand ground mounted panels are a good option if your roof is not suitable for solar panels. Plus, solar panels installed on the ground can be tilted and adjusted to the sun which may increase efficiency.

What Is the Cost of Solar Panels?

The price will vary depending on the size, brand and type of solar panels. On average, a household needs a 3kW solar system. This will cost between £4000 and £6000. If you want to purchase a system of 4kW, it could cost you from £6000 to £8000.

How Much Can I Save with Solar Energy?

Given that you have a 4kW solar system, installed on a south facing roof, it can generate up to 3500 KWh. This means that you will receive around £590 from the generation and export tariff provided by the UK government. On top of that, you can save close to £250 from your electricity bill. Of course, the savings will vary in different households due to specific factors, but if we follow the example of a 4kW system, you could be saving around £840 per year.

Which Are the Most Efficient Solar Panels?

There are three types of solar panels and they differ in efficiency and price. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient. Some models can convert 25 per cent of the sunlight they receive into electricity. Polycrystalline solar panels are second in efficiency and some models can reach up to 20 per cent. Thin-film solar panels have the lowest efficiency (around 10 per cent) but are also the least expensive panels.

Read more: What Is Solar Panel Efficiency?

What is the Feed-In Tariff?

The Feed-in Tariff is a governmental program encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources. You will receive payments from your energy supplier for the electricity you generate, even if you do not use it in your household. Payments are usually made quarterly, they are tax free and indexed to the inflation rate.

Read more: Solar PV Can Save You Money: The Feed-in Tariff

What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels?

Not only will you reduce your electricity bill but you will also make money through the Feed-in tariff. Moreover, by installing solar panels, you will increase the overall value of your home and be less energy dependent since solar energy will be meeting big part of your energy needs. Besides the financial benefits, you will reduce your carbon footprint and have less impact on the environment.

Read more: 5 Advantages and 5 Disadvantages of Solar Energy