Solar PV (Photo-Voltaics) are the most popular of all renewable power technologies and are now installed on over 883,000 properties in the UK. PV is easy to install and maintain and the system has no moving parts. Solar PV is a method of generating electricity from the power of the sun as opposed to Solar Thermal Systems which use the heat of the sun to heat water for washing and central heating using either an evacuated tube or flat plate set up.
HOW DOES SOLAR PV WORK?
Solar Photovoltaic cells convert daylight into useable electricity, which can be used throughout your property instead of taking electricity from your energy supplier. It does not rely on endless days of summer sunshine (although this clearly improves output) – instead it takes the solar energy from daylight, meaning the panels continue to generate power even on cloudy days.
HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY CAN I GENERATE?
A typical Solar PV panel can generate around 250 Watts of energy at full capacity, therefore a typical domestic installation of between 10-16 panels could generate between 2.5kW and 4kW of power. A commercial installation of a 40 panel system could generate around 10kW of power.
Solar panels tend to measure 1m x 1.6m for a 250W panel. Therefore 1kW is 4 panels and a 4kW system 16 panels. UK home PV systems then tend to have 2-4 kW systems, 8-16 panels.
WHAT ARE THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS AND INCENTIVES?
Solar PV benefits from the Feed-in-Tariff Scheme (FITs), which is a government incentive that pays you for every unit of electricity generated AND for any surplus energy exported.
The current UK Feed in Tariff rate is 4.18 pence up to 10 kW and 4.39 for 10-50 kW. The export rate is then 4.5 pence (all per KW hour).
The system then needs an inverter to turn the DC power from the panels into AC which is fed into your home and/or back to the National Grid.
Solar PV System Checks
We are increasingly asked to fix, maintain and check solar PV systems. If we are called to a fault the problem is often a faulty inverter. We have often managed to swap these out under warranty even for those we have not installed for.
As houses are now sold with solar installed, we also carry out system checks for new owners and produce reports. This includes a check on the safety of the panel installation as retro fit systems have often not been installed so as to ensure wind loading is taken into account. At Futurum, all of our systems are signed off by a RICS surveyor and come with a 10 year roof warranty.