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Are Solar Panels Really a ‘Fit and Forget’ Type of System?

Are Solar Panels Really a ‘Fit and Forget’ Type of System?

Date: 13 July 2021 | By: Jessica Morley

The global renewable energy industry grew at its fastest rate last year since 1999, and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power projects grew by 50% more than its growth before the Coronavirus pandemic! This clean energy demand could not be more timelier with the threat of climate change expecting to worsen the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. With more people investing, over time, we will get to see just how powerful renewable energy can be.

With the number in renewable investments predicted to increase again, we must keep this momentum going. But despite the fact more of us are committing to limitless, green energy - there are a few obstacles that some consumers face when it comes to investing in solar.

The reason for this is, some are weary of switching, especially homeowners due to not understanding the cost, not knowing how solar energy systems work and what type of maintenance is required. We understand that these areas are not talked about enough, but we can break this down, simplify the process and uncover common confusion and misconceptions around solar PV.

How does solar work?

A big misconception is that in order to own solar panels you need to live in an area that is always sunny. This is simply not true – anyone can have solar! The panels will always receive direct day light even on cloudy and rainy days.

The photovoltaic cells on the panels turn the light into direct current electricity. This current flows into an inverter and converts it to alternative electricity, which is then fed through a meter and then into your homes consumer units. Your system will automatically use the free electricity you generate but any energy you do not use, will be exported to the National Grid.

To avoid this, people invest in a solar battery system to store more of the energy they use – ready for the colder, darker days.

How much can you save?

This is a big confusion most people have when shopping for solar panels. Let’s use an example:

If a house is using 6000kW (kilowatt’s) a year, and then you were to install a 4kW solar panel system – over half of the energy used would potentially come from the solar system, saving you 50% of the energy bill.

If you’re at home most of the day, then you will see quicker and more obvious savings as you will be directly using your solar power during peak times when solar power is most effective.

But if you’re not home most of the day and use energy in the evening, your savings will reduce as most of your energy will be going back to the National Grid. Again, this is why people look to invest in battery storage systems to harness more of the energy they make.

You can also earn money from your solar panels - by signing up to the Smart Export Guarantee system and do Grid trading. Note that the SEG only applies to people who installed their solar panels after 31st March 2019. Some energy providers are offering around 5.5p/kWh of exported electricity, with a 4kWp solar panel system could make around £340 per year!

This is just another great way to encourage people to use renewable energy to power their homes.

Are solar panels hard to maintain?

To confirm, solar panels are definitely ‘fit and forget’ technology – but this should not be taken so literally, solar panel maintenance is still required. Your panels will come with warranties and guarantees but to conduct your own check-ups, we made a simple solar panel maintenance checklist:

- Clean your panels once a year to ensure maximum efficiency (but if you cannot access the roof yourself, always get a professional cleaning company that offers a solar panel cleaning service). If you would rather do this yourself, be sure to use a soft brush, as a scourer will scratch the panels and cause a lot of damage which can be costly to repair. Also, make sure to use lots of water to wash away any excess soap.

- Make a conscious reminder to check your panels for any debris. Overtime there could be a build or an unfortunate storm may hit your area causing lots of debris and this can result in your panels underperforming due to the photovoltaic (PV) cells being blocked. To remove this you should hire a cleaning company to ensure the mess has been removed properly and that your panels are receiving direct sunlight.

- The life span of solar panels last around 20 – 25 years, and if your system is failing this will most likely be down to your inverter – which typically needs replacing after 10 years. Replacing this will only maximise your energy production and again, potentially provide more energy that can be sold to the Grid.

It’s no secret that solar power is having its moment in the sun and will only become more popular, with fossil fuels becoming increasingly less competitive. But confusion around their functionality and maintenance is still an ongoing issue for some people and one of the main reasons for this is because other companies use lots of industry jargon. This is not exactly helpful, if we want to be able to meet our climate targets and avoid irreparable damage to our home. Whilst toxic, fossil fuel prices in the UK will continue to rise, you could be providing clean air and cheaper energy. Don’t forget, for your green efforts you could even make money back!

Start your solar energy journey with us
Our team are more than happy to take your call and organise a video consultation to show you how we design a system that works for you. We can then send over to you a free, no obligation quote!

Call us today!

t        0330 0552155
e      designteam@solarcentric.co.uk

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