what are solar pv panels?

Solar panels, also known as solar photovoltaics or solar PV, have been a popular renewable energy choice for over two decades. There has been various funding and schemes over the years to encourage and support property owners who install solar panels. But even without these incentives, solar PV panels still remain an excellent choice for reducing your carbon footprint and saving money on your electricity bills.

The first question we are normally asked is ‘do they work in the UK as we don’t get much sun?’ The answer is yes, solar panels do work on cloudy days. The stronger the sunshine the more electricity is produced, but even on overcast days the cloud is still penetrated by a sufficient amount of solar radiation, enough to generate electricity.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are made up using photovoltaic cells that capture solar radiation (energy) from the sun and covert it into electricity. The cells are set between semi-conducting materials, usually silicon. When light shines on the material it becomes energised and creates a flow of electricity. The solar cells don’t need direct sunlight to generate electricity as they react to visible light therefore allowing them to work even on cloudy days.

The electricity must then pass through an inverter to make it suitable for use in the home. The solar cells initially generate a DC current (direct current) which must be converted to an AC current (alternating current) before being useable. The inverter is normally positioned inside your home and as close to the solar panels as possible, such as the loft or garage. Micro inverters are also available and tuck beneath each solar panel.

If you’re interested in solar PV panels, but unsure if it’s the right thing for you, here are a few reasons to choose solar panels.

  • Solar power is a renewable energy source.
  • Your energy bills will be reduced as you’re generating your own electricity.
  • It’s possible to receive payments for the electricity that you generate and don’t use.
  • Solar panels protect you against future energy price rises.
  • Reduced energy bills appeal to buyers and will increase the value of your property.
  • Most solar panel installations don’t require any planning permission and can be installed in 1-2 days (depending on the project).
  • Once installed, solar panels require very little maintenance.
  • When used with solar battery storage, you can store and use the generated power at night.
  • Solar panels generate electricity silently – no noise for you or your neighbours.

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