Solar PV – What is it and what do I need to consider?

Solar PV – What is it and what do I need to consider?

Solar PV systems, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture energy from the sun using photovoltaic cells. These cells do not need direct sunlight to work and therefore your Solar PV system can still generate electricity on a cloudy day, which can then be used to run household appliances and lighting.

What is Solar PV?

PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most Solar PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof (called an ‘on-roof’ system) but you can also have panels that are incorporated into the roof surface that look similar to a velux window and so are more discreet (called an ‘in-roof’ system).

 

What are the advantages of Solar PV?

• Lowering fuel bills – Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced
• Environmental Impact – Our expertly designed systems can offer significant reductions in your carbon dioxide emissions
• Reliability – Our Solar PV systems are fully guaranteed and offer a system life of approximately 20 years

These benefits make solar PV a great way to generate savings and reduce the environmental impact of your home.

Recent advances in Solar PV technology also now mean that the direction in which your property faces is no longer the constraining factor it once was. Whilst a south facing roof is still the optimal location for Solar PV placement, east or west facing buildings only generate about 15% less electricity. As a result, most existing domestic roofs are suitable for Solar Panel installation.

Solar PV for New Build Houses

So, what if you are building from scratch? When building a new home you have the perfect opportunity to design your property to take full advantage of the benefits of solar PV and to make your home as energy efficient as possible overall. Solar PV is a very affordable way to generate savings on your energy bills, as you are not replacing an existing system.

With that in mind, there are a few design considerations that can maximize your energy savings and the benefits from your solar PV installation:

• Direction your new build will face – the ‘ideal’ solar home is south facing
• Potential sources of shade around your new build – check for trees, chimneys, dormers etc which may cast a shadow on your home
• Aesthetics – incorporating the solar panels within the design of your new build
• Roof type and materials used – while most roof types are suitable for solar, there are some materials that are harder to work with

Once your system is installed it requires very little maintenance – you’ll just need to keep the panels relatively clean and make sure trees don’t begin to overshadow them. Systems have a lifetime in excess of 20 years, during which time you can generate sustainable energy and be protected from rising energy costs.

Retro-fitting PV on an existing building

PV panels can be fitted to an existing building with comparable ease however several things will need to be taken into account such as roof access as scaffold will usually be required, direction the roof is facing, roof construction – will it be able to take the weight of the panels? (this will involve a full roof survey to check in advance) and where the inverter will be positioned. The same savings apply to a new build property.

Government incentives

In April 2010, the Government launched the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme to encourage homes (and businesses) to generate their own renewable, low carbon electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The scheme pays registered generators (home owners) for every kilowatt of electricity produced and for any electricity exported to the grid.
The Feed-in Tariff is paid on all the electricity you generate from solar PV this electricity is available free to the householder and any surplus electricity can be exported and sold to the National Grid.

Find out more about Feed-in Tariffs.

Working with Total Renewable Solutions

Total Renewable Solutions are an MCS accredited supplier and installer of renewable energy solutions.

Working across Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall our team of surveyors have years of experience, helping customers make the right choice in renewable technologies. We can work alongside developers, contractors and architects to ensure your solar PV system is designed to optimise performance. Involving us in your project from the outset means that we can advise on the suitability of different technology options and ensure these are designed effectively into the project.

Get in touch today to find out more.

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