How do Solar Panels Generate Electricity?
When light shines onto a solar panel, the cells convert solar radiation into electricity. an electric field is created across layers of silicon in the cell, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity is. It is worth noting that solar panels operate using daylight, rather than just bright sunlight as assumed by many people. Power can be used straight away on-site in the property or linked back into the national grid.
What is Solar Photovoltaic?
The term ‘photovoltaic’ comes from the fusion of two words: ‘photo’ from Greek roots meaning ‘light’ and ‘voltaic’ from ‘volt’ which is the unit used to measure electric potential. Technically it refers to the production of electric current at the junction of two substances exposed to light. Basically, the generation of electricity from light!
Solar panels produce a type of electricity known as DC or ‘direct current’. However we can’t use this type of electricity directly in our homes and instead use AC or ‘alternating current’. To convert the electricity into the required form an additional device called an inverter is used. The inverter constantly monitors the electricity imported from the national grid, if there is one, and then modifies the DC produced by the solar panels to match that of the usable electricity. A single AC wire will run directly to your consumer unit (fuse box) onto a single MCB (miniature circuit breaker). The location of the inverter and wire runs are determined during site surveys.
Once converted into AC electricity by the inverter, the electricity generated by the Solar PV system is automatically used to power the lights and electrical appliances in your home.
Benefits of Photovoltaics
Cut your carbon footprint: solar electricity is green renewable energy and does not release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants. Partaking in microgeneration means that you are helping our environment by cutting your carbon emissions, thus contributing to tackling the world’s climate change issues.
Reduce Your Energy Bills
Producing your own energy is free whereas buying energy from your supplier costs money. Therefore, the less electricity you buy from your supplier the more you’ll save. You will end up with significantly reduced energy bills and even more so as the price of energy soars.Generating electricity with your own solar PV system means that you are protecting yourself against future price increases.
They have been deemed a “sound financial investment” (www.guardian.co.uk): with the state of the current financial climate many banks are offering just an average of 2% return on investments. With the installation of a solar PV system, on average it will take around 10 years to have regained your investment and therefore be producing free electricity for the next 15 years.
Add value to your Property
As a rough guide, if you invest in Solar PV now and stay in your house for 10 years then decide to move, you should by then have recouped your initial investment and then be able to offer the new occupants the remaining income for the next 15 years (housingenergyadvisor.com 2011). Needless to say this is seen as a very attractive proposition to any potential buyer.
Solar panels nowadays have a product warranty of 10 years with an expected efficiency performance of 90% during this time. They are heavy duty products and are designed to last between 25 and 40 years. Once installed they are typically low maintenance with the majority of solar panels being self-cleaning provided they are installed at an angle of at least 15 degrees.