Frequently Asked Solar Panel Questions
Here are some question frequently asked about Solar PV and Solar Panel Systems. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for please contact us direct on 0800 988 31 88 or fill out our Ask a Question form.
How does a solar panel work?
Solar panels create electricity using a photovoltaic (PV) process which converts sunlight into electricity. A Photovoltaic cell consists of two or more thin layers of semiconducting material, most commonly silicon. When the cell is exposed to light, electrical charges are generated and this can be conducted away by metal contacts as direct current (DC). The electrical output from a single cell is small, therefore multiple cells are connected together to provide a more useful output. Cells connected in this way are encapsulated (usually behind glass) to form a weatherproof module or panel. Individual panels are then interconnected to form strings.
How long has Solar PV technology been around?
In 1838 the photoelectric effect was discovered by physicist Edmund Becquerel although it wasn't until the 1950's that the technology was developed enough to produce efficient working cells. During the 50's and 60's Solar PV was put on satellites and sent into orbit but it was still too expensive for general use. The next few decades brought better technology with lower prices and Solar PV was installed in some remote locations to provide electricity where there was no supply. Grid-connected Solar PV has had a massive growth since 1990's in the more developed countries of the world.
Are Photovoltaic panels expensive?
Over the last 20 years the price of PV modules has fallen dramatically, from around £15 per Wpk in 1980 to current prices which start around £1.50 per Wpk. Solar PV is still a more expensive technology than some other forms of renewable energy, but it has the advantage of using highly reliable (largely maintenance free) components.
How long until it repays the upfront costs?
The answer to this question will be different for every installation dependant on how close to ideal conditions for the solar panels. For a better idea, fill out our formal quotation.
However, an average system will repay the upfront costs between 6 and 8 years allowing for a minimum of 12 years worth of profitable income and savings. However, we expect our solar panel systems to generate efficiently for at least 30 plus years. This estimate of return on investment is based in part on current energy prices.
Are solar panels worth it?
Having Photovoltaic Solar Panels you can cut your electricity bills and earn money through a Feed in Tariff.
When investing in something, you need to know that you will get a good return. Many of the traditional savings options haven't be keeping up with inflation. When comparing the return on investment for PV solar panels it shows that it's a must better investment. Also by having solar panels, you're helping reduce air pollution like carbon dioxide and methane emissions from fossil fuels, which are the main cause of global warming.
Will I have to get planning permission?
Not in the vast majority of cases. However if you want your system ground mounted, if your property is part of a world heritage site, or is listed, then planning permission would likely have to be sought in advance. We would advise when this was the case, and while you would have to seek such permission we will of course provide full assistance in completing applications and supplying any information requested to ensure the process is as quick and easy as possible.
Why install a Solar PV system?
There are many reasons to install a Solar PV system now:
- As a low risk investment, the returns of around 14% plus net are hard to beat especially during this financial downturn where bank interest rates are below inflation (i.e. money in a savings account even with interest added is actually reducing in value).
- It's good for the environment. Installing a small commercial system of around 30 kW would provide around 28,000 kWh of electricity every year, which would save around 12.5 tonnes of CO2 annually.
- Electricity can be supplied at the point of use. Reducing strain on our national grid network.
- The system will run silently and so will cause minimal disruption.
- There is very little maintenance required for a PV system.
- After the initial installation costs, there are no further fuel costs.
- PV systems are modular and can be added to at any time.
- Energy security - at a time where power cuts are becoming more frequent. By installing solar PV system your property has the ability to run off-grid, if necessary.
How long will a Solar PV system last?
The MCS accreditation scheme means that all panels installed under the scheme by approved agents will continue to generate efficiently for at least 25 years. Over this time their output will diminish slightly but they should still perform at 85% at the 25 year mark according to the scheme rules. Manufacturers have invested heavily to ensure their products meet and in most cases exceed these targets.
How much will I need to Power my Property?
The electrical output of a PV cell is dependent upon the intensity of the light to which it is exposed. So PV cells will tend to generate more electricity on bright days than when skies are overcast. However, photovoltaics do not need to be in direct sunlight to work, so even on overcast days a PV cell will generate electricity. Actually the best conditions for Solar PV are bright cold days as lower temperatures actually tend to slightly increase the efficiency of PV panels. The UK also benefits from comparatively mild winters, where periods of extended snow cover are highly unusual. This is part of the reason why, despite our latitude being relatively high, most of the UK still has good solar PV generation capabilities.
How much Power can I expect to get from my Solar PV's?
Typically an installed 4kWpk array will produce 3,500kWh/year and therefore a 50kWpk system will produce approximately a 44,000kWh per year and so on.
Why are PVs rated in kWpk rather than kilowatts?
kWpk means the power expected to be generated under the comparatively ideal conditions known as STC. In other words, a 100Wp panel will produce a maximum of 100W in peak (STC) conditions - this is equivalent to a bright sunny midsummer day in the UK.
How can I connect my Solar PV system to the grid?
You will need to use a grid-tie inverter. If you wish to get paid for the electricity you produce, you will need to ensure a G83/G59 certified inverter and that it is ideally installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme member whose membership number will need to be provided to your electricity supplier.
How much will I get paid for the electricity I feed into the grid?
If you install a qualifying solar photvoltaic system, you will be paid between 1-5p (depending on solar capacity) for every kWh you generate regardless of whether you use it yourself or export it to other users. This is a generation tariff, or feed in tariff. It will go up each year in line with inflation. If you also use the electricity you have generated, this means you do not have to buy it from the electricity company and so you will save around 11-15p per kWh, at today's prices (prices subject to change). Energy you generate but don't use yourself, i.e. you export it to the electricity company, will attract another payment to you of approximately 5p per kWh. This payment is also index linked to the RPI, so it will increase in line with inflation.
Is it true that I can get my electricity meter to spin backwards?
Not usually, nor is it legal to do this. The very old meters may cause this to happen however the company installing your PV will advise you if you need to ask for a meter replacement from the company supplying your electricity. This is usually free of charge.
Here at Geo Green Power we are passionate about Solar Panels and renewable energy technology and believe that there has never been a better time to invest in generating your own free electricity. We are based in the Midlands, but cover all of the UK and even locations that are further afield too.
We found your service efficient and enquiries polite and considerate. I would definitely recommend your services to anyone who is looking for solar, in fact we have another farm building which will be sorted after Christmas, and would think we will be contacting you again. Thank you once again.
I have been very pleased with the speedy and efficient service we have received. Everyone in the Geo Green Power team has been pleasant to deal with and all aspects of the installation were carried out in a timely and effective manner. Many thanks for making our lives easier!
Thank you for all your hard work. Everything was completed efficiently and professionally and I’m now saving and making cash thanks to my solar PV system. I like checking my meter just to see how much money I've made! Solar panels are a great investment and I’m recommending Geo Green Power to everyone I meet.