What is solar PV?

In our guide we help explain what Solar PV means, how many panels you might need and if solar panels are worth it. 

As well as doing your bit for the environment, investing in solar PV panels can also help you cut the cost of energy. But how do solar panels work, how many do you need, and can you really run a whole house off solar energy alone? To find out, take a look at our comprehensive guide to solar PV panels that explains everything you need to know.

What does solar PV mean?
How do solar PV panels work?
What size do solar panels come in?
How many solar PV panels will I need for my home?
Are solar panels worth it?
How much do solar PV panels cost?


What does solar PV mean?

All Solar Panels are now Monocrystalline however Panels used to be silicon based and there are several different types that range in cost and efficiency. When it comes to homes, there used to be two main types of solar panel available:

· Polycrystalline solar panels – these panels used to be the most popular option for homeowners. They offer a good balance between cost, efficiency, and maintenance.

· Monocrystalline solar panels – are more efficient and now the cost has considerably lowered these are the top choice for all manufacturers making them cost effective

How do solar PV panels work?

Solar panels are made up of layers of photovoltaic cells. Each layer has a slightly different set of properties. When sunlight hits the panel, those properties react to create a current which in turn, produces something called DC (direct current) electricity.

For that energy to work in homes, it needs to be converted to an alternating current (AC electricity) using an inverter. The AC energy that’s generated can then be used, stored in batteries for later use or sold back to the National Grid.

Although solar panels feel like fairly modern technology, they’ve actually been around since the 1880s. In fact, in 1883, American inventor Charles Fritts designed the very first solar panels and positioned them on a New York City roof. His original design used selenium and gold which managed to convert around 2% of energy into useable power. In contrast, today’s PV panels offer between 15% and 20% efficiency.

Of course, the idea of using the sun’s energy dates back to ancient times. Greeks and Romans used mirrors and glass to amplify the sun’s rays to start fires (which is why a mirror on a window ledge can be so dangerous).


What size are solar PV panels?

Solar PV panels vary in size depending on the manufacturer. Generally, individual solar panels measure 2m x 1m while energy output ranges from 300W (watts) to 400W per panel.

Individual panels can then be grouped together to create a solar array (or solar PV system) big enough to generate the electricity you need.


How many solar PV panels will I need for my home?

The number of PV panels you need depends on a number of aspects:

· The amount of energy you use (measured in kilowatt hours, kWh).

· The size of your roof and the weight it can carry (or the amount of land you can mount panels on).

· How many hours of sunshine or daylight you have where you live.

As a guide, the average UK home with four family members, uses around 3,800kWh every year which means you’d need enough solar PV panels to generate at least this amount.

For example, if you chose panels with an output of 400W each, you’d need 10 of these to create a solar array large enough to meet your household needs. If you chose panels with a lower output, you’d need more of them to generate the same amount of energy.

Bear in mind that not all your energy has to come from your solar panels. If you’ve got limited useable roof space, a smaller solar PV system can be used to offset some of your energy use, which would still help lower bills.

We are experts in our field & take all the above factors into account to design you a Solar PV system perfect for your requirements.


Are solar panels worth it?

With the recent surge in energy prices, customers are saving up to £2000 per year on their electricity bills. Even more when coupled with battery storage.

Even prior to the energy costs surging in January 2022 research from the Energy Savings Trust, revealed you could save almost £300 on bills depending on where you live and how much energy you normally use. For instance, if you work from home, you’re likely to make greater savings compared to someone who isn’t home much during the day.

You can also earn money by exporting (selling) your unused energy back to the National Grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. You’ll get paid per kilowatt, but that amount will depend on which supplier you sell to. Currently, payment rates vary significantly from 1.5p up to 20p per kilowatt so it’s well worth comparing who’s offering what.

Don’t forget that savings aren’t just financial. The Energy Savings Trust also calculate that the average home using a solar PV array, could save one tonne of carbon every year, so you’ll be helping save the planet too.


How much do solar PV panels cost?

Cost really depends on a host of factors, including the size of system you need, the output of each panel and the amount of energy you want to generate. The type of PV panel you choose, along with how the system is mounted, will also have an effect on what you pay.

With that in mind, it’s best to chat through your available options. That way, you can get a better idea of what solar PV system would suit your home and energy needs. To find out more and how we can help

Contact us today on 01953 882 787, or use our quick contact form to find out how we can help you.