Home and business owners’ concerns over ever-increasing energy prices continue to grow. Couple this with fears of our damage to the environment leads to more of us looking for sustainable energy sources to provide our electricity.

Solar photovoltaics (PV) capture the sun’s natural energy and convert it into electricity. As a result, solar panels are an excellent way to lower your carbon footprint.

Reduce your carbon footprint

One of the biggest benefits of Domestic solar PV systems is that it helps to reduce your carbon footprint. According to the renewable energy hub, a typical solar panel will save over 900kg of Co2 per year, resulting in a carbon payback period of 1.6 years.

When fossil fuels are burned, particulate matter and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. In addition, nuclear power creates high volumes of toxic waste, which takes a significant amount of time to degrade to acceptable levels. Solar panels help us to reduce our reliance on traditional power generation.

“Each kilowatt hour of electricity generated over the lifetime of a nuclear plant has an emission footprint of 4 grammes of Co2 equivalent (gCo2e/kWh). The footprint of solar comes in at 6gCo2e/kWh, and wind is also 4gCo2e/kWh.”

carbonbrief.org

Producing energy for your home

A 4kW solar panel installation can be enough to provide all the energy needed for a home containing a family of four. A 4kW system typically generates around 3,400 kWh of electricity each year. 

To put that figure into perspective, the Energy Saving Trust estimate a typical three-bedroom home in the UK will use just over 3,000kw per year. 

However, it is important to note that each solar installation can produce varying amounts of energy depending on several factors.

Solar provides energy to people without access to the National Grid at a cheaper rate whilst maintaining independence from the grid. In addition, solar greatly reduces carbon footprint.

What factors impact solar panel efficiency?

Three main factors will determine how much electricity your solar panels will produce.

Positioning

Solar PV should be installed on a south-facing roof to ensure maximum exposure to the sun. However, there are some instances when this might not be suitable. For example, if your home is impacted by shading: trees or structures blocking the sun’s light.

Solar panels should be installed at a 30-40 degree angle. Do you have a flat roof? Not a problem. Solar panels can be installed using brackets to help optimise the angle for maximum exposure to the light.

Weather and Climate

The UK shares the same amount of solar energy production as many areas in France and Spain. In contrast, extreme weather conditions will adversely impact solar efficiency. Exceedingly high temperatures can damage and reduce the performance of solar panels.

The common question is, do solar panels work on cloudy days? Yes, although less electricity is generated, solar cells do still produce energy.

The south of England is the sunniest part of the country and benefits from high pressure that helps to clear clouds from the sky. 

Solar Panel Type

The most efficient solar panels are made of Monocrystalline (Mono-SI), requiring less space while providing excellent output, providing an efficiency rating of over 20%. 

In contrast, Polycrystalline (Poly-SI) panels provide between 15% and 17% efficiency and Thin-Film solar panels are low-cost but result in a 7% to 10% efficiency rating.

Solar Panel Efficiency Graphic

Solar panel efficiency across the UK

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Installing Solar PV

Solar PV installation is quick, typically taking just one day from start to finish. Most of the work is done outside of your home, so it’s not very disruptive. The only internal installations include the generation meter, solar inverter and battery storage should you opt for it.

Solar installs rarely require planning permission. There are some exceptions. For example, your home is a listed building or situated within a conservation area. 

Always use a respected solar PV installation company.

Store energy for later

If you have solar PV panels or are planning to install them, then using home batteries to store the electricity you’ve generated will help you to maximise the amount of renewable energy you use. In fact, 60% of people who have, or would consider, a home battery told us the reason was so they could use more of the electricity generated by their solar panels.*

Home-energy storage will also reduce the electricity you use from the grid, and cut your bill. If your home is off-grid, it can help to reduce your use of fossil fuel backup generators.

In the near future, time-of-use tariffs will let you store up electricity while it’s cheap (overnight, for example) so you can use it during peak times. A few energy companies have launched these already.


 

Sunlite Group provide permanent off-grid lighting solutions to clients in infrastructure and construction projects worldwide. We are proud to serve commercial and domestic customers by providing high-quality and cost-effective services.

 

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