Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home.
By installing solar panels you can generate your own renewable electricity.
How do solar PV cells work?
Solar PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon.
When light shines on the material, electrons are knocked loose, creating a flow of electricity. The cells don’t need direct sunlight to work, they can work on a cloudy day. However, the stronger the sunshine, the more electricity generated.
Solar PV cells are grouped into modules, and modules are usually grouped into solar arrays. Modules and arrays come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Most PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of your roof, but you can also install on the ground, or fit solar tiles.
The electricity generated is direct current (DC), whereas the electricity you use for household appliances is alternating current (AC). An inverter is installed along with the system to convert DC electricity to AC.
Do You Have Enough Space
Space is a key consideration. As a general guide, a roof area of 10-20 square metres would be enough to deliver between 20% and 45% of the typical household’s electricity needs.
This roof space will ideally face South, will be unshaded, and at a pitch angle of about 30 or 40 degrees.
East- or West-facing roofs could still be considered, but North-facing roofs are not recommended.
Any nearby buildings, trees or chimneys could shade your roof and have a negative impact on the performance of your system.
Do You Need Planning Permission
Solar PV installations are classed as permitted developments, but always check with your local authority before installing in case there are any limits or restrictions applicable.