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How does solar photovoltaic work?

The term photovoltaic means the direct conversion of light into electrical energy using solar cells. In simple terms, solar cells are very similar to silicon wafers used to produce silicon chips for electronics, and they work in a similar way. solar cells are made from semiconductor materials (such as silicon) which have many electron bonds. The bonds are broken when faced with light. The release of electrons from the bonds is what is captured in the form of DC electricity from a PV module (many solar cells). By using an inverter the DC electricity is then converted into AC electricity which can be utilised in the property or exported to the national grid.

SunWill my solar PV system work during a UK winter?

Yes. Solar panels work with daylight and direct sunshine is not a requirement. Obviously solar panels will produce more electricity in sunny countries, although Germany is not regarded as a sunny country and it has more solar PV panels installed than any other country.

Will my solar PV system produce hot water?

Understandably some people get confused between the similar looking ‘solar PV’ and ‘solar thermal’ panels. Solar thermal systems contain water which is heated then piped into to building’s existing hot water system. PV panels only produce electricity, however, the electricity generated can be used for a separate electric water heater.

What size of saving will my PV system provide?

This really depends upon the size of system that is installed. Generally, a typical system could save you around £1,000 per year financially, and nearly a ton of CO2 environmental savings.

Why choose solar PV over other forms of renewable energy?

First of all, we should say that we believe that there is a need, and place, for all renewable energy systems. However, since a vast proportion of energy is used in buildings, we strongly believe that solar PV is the most flexible:

  • can be installed on roofs or walls without reducing any useful building space
  • can be integrated into building construction as part of a roof (ie solar tiles), or through shading canopies or facades
  • even external areas such as gardens could contain a PV system
  • no other fuel source needs to be purchased or stored
  • no moving parts that require regular maintenance
  • relatively easy to install

Panel installationHow long does it take to install a solar PV system?

This really depends upon the size of the system and the location of where it will be installed. However, we generally find that a typical solar system can be installed and commissioned in 2-3 days.

How long does it take to recover my initial cost?

This depends on various factors but we generally believe that in around 8-12 years your system would be paid for. After the payback period you will continue to generate free electricity (and savings). Over 25 years you would have benefited over £20,000 for a typical system.

What happens to my solar PV system if there is a power cut with my incoming electrical supply?

In the event of a power cut to your incoming electrical supply, your inverter is designed to automatically shut down, for safety reasons, to prevent any electricity from your PV panels being exported on to the grid system. The system will automatically start up when the incoming power has been restored.

Is planning permission required?

Since the government and local authorities are keen to promote renewable energies, planning permission is not a requirement for solar PV panels in most areas.

How long will my solar PV system last?

Solar panel systems are extremely robust. Our solar PV panels have a 25-year warranty and the inverter has a 5-year warranty.

Are there any maintenance requirements?

Since there are no moving parts, PV systems generally require no regular maintenance.