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Powering your home with solar panels

Solar panels absorb energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. Since sunlight is a renewable energy source, installing solar panels on your roof means you can generate your own energy to power your home without carbon emissions and cut costs at the same time.

How do solar panels work? 

Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells, usually made of silicon. These absorb energy from the sun - even on a cloudy day - which creates an electrical charge. This electricity is then captured, and either instantly powers your home, is stored for later use, or is sold to the grid. 

What to know before installing solar panels

It might not cover all your energy use

If you use more electricity at home than your solar panels can generate - or you use it at night when there’s no sun - you’ll need to take some from the National Grid (the UK’s system of energy supply). Reducing your electricity usage will therefore save you money, as you’ll be able to work within your solar panel’s limits. You can also make changes to your everyday routine so you’re using more energy when the sun is shining - for example by setting your washing machine and dishwasher on timers so they run during the day. 

It works best alongside other technologies 

You’ll get the most out of your solar panels if you use them in conjunction with other renewable technologies. For instance, they can be used to power your heat pump, keeping your house warm. You may also want to consider installing a thermal store, which can save any excess energy generated by your solar panels for later use, rather than taking electricity from the grid. 

You might also choose to install a PV diverter, so that your solar panels can heat up your hot water tank, further reducing your energy bills. 

Saving money with solar panels

There’s no price tag on sunlight, so once you’ve accounted for the cost of installing the solar panels, electricity will be available in your home free of charge. The amount of money you’ll save overall will depend on a few factors:

Cost of installation

On average, a solar panel installation will set you back around £7,000. The total cost will vary depending on factors such as the size of the system, whether you choose panels or tiles, and how hard it is for the installer to access your roof - if you already have scaffolding up for roof repairs, for instance, this can shave money off the price. Installers’ fees can also differ, so make sure you do your homework and shop around for the best deal. 

Your location

Where you live - and how sunny it is - will impact the savings you’ll see on your electricity bill. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the annual savings for a home with solar panels can range from £345-545 in London, £315-510 in Aberystwyth, £290-475 in Stirling, and £310-495 in Belfast. These savings increase by around £50 if you install a PV diverter.

When and how you use electricity

Since the sun shines during the day, you’ll get the most out of your solar panels if you’re spending time at home during those hours, for instance, if you work from home. Your savings will also be influenced by factors like whether you have a heat pump or an electric hob.

Whether you can sell excess electricity

If your solar panels are generating electricity above and beyond what you’re using or have the capacity to store, you can sell that electricity back to the grid. You can apply as part of the Smart Export Guarantee scheme to get paid for your production of this renewable energy. 

How to install solar panels at home

Check your roof

If you want to install solar panels at home, the first thing to consider is whether you have adequate roof space to put them on - you’ll need around 20m2. A south facing roof is ideal, as it will receive the most sunlight throughout the day, producing the greatest amount of energy. East and west facing can also work well, but if your roof is north facing, generation may be rather limited due to the lack of direct sunlight.  

You’ll also need to ensure your roof isn’t too shaded, whether from chimneys, trees, or other buildings. If shade is unavoidable, you can install an add-on called an optimiser to your solar panel, which will enable them to work at maximum output, even if they’re partially covered. 

Permission and registration

In most cases, you won’t need planning permission to install solar panels at home, but it’s worth checking with your local planning office as there are exceptions. If you live in a listed building, conservation area, or national park, it’s possible that the use of solar panels will be restricted.  

Another point to keep in mind is that you’ll need to register your solar panel with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO), the organisation that connects you to the electricity supply - usually your installer will do this for you. 

Maintaining your solar panels 

Solar panels will last for about 25-30 years and require little maintenance. The installer should set them on a tilt, so that rain will wash away any dirt or debris, but occasional cleaning might be necessary if you live in a particularly dusty area. Keep checking up on how much electricity is being generated by your solar panels, as this will start to drop if there are any problems.

The best solution for your needs

Your first step to gaining energy independence and lowering your energy bills is to join the waitlist for Heatio Flexx. 

Heatio can help you find the best solar solution to meet your needs. We’ll determine if your home is suitable, source the solar panels best suited to your property, carry out the installation, and cover every step in between. Join now and get ready to learn more about how we can help you experience all the benefits solar panels have to offer. 


Ready to be a part of this smart connected network?

Join the wait list for Heatio Flexx
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