Solar Panel Installation Costs
Guide to solar panels with advice and typical prices
Average costs for solar panel projects
Things to consider with solar power
The amount of power you use in your home determines the number of solar panels you will need in an array. Photovoltaic solar panel systems are measured according to their peak power rating, which is the maximum amount of power they can convert when running at optimal performance. To work out what size panel you need, you first need to know your annual electricity usage in kW, then add another 10-20% to this figure just in case. You can, of course, sell your surplus electricity to the electricity companies if you generate more than you are using.
Solar panel prices vary depending on the type. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient most expensive but also the most efficient, converting as much as 20% of the sunlight that hits them into electricity. Polycrystalline solar panels are a little cheaper but have a lower efficiency rating of around just 12%. Amorphous solar panels only convert 6% yet they are more expensive to buy as they are not yet manufactured in any great quantity.
The amount of light that falls on a solar panel will depend on your location, the angle the panels are installed at, and of course the climate and season. Plus solar panels are very sensitive to shading from tree branches, chimney or roof vents. They need to be kept clean too as bird droppings and other debris like leaves and moss will greatly reduce their electricity generation.
Doing it Yourself
Installing your own DIY solar panel photovoltaic system can seem like a great way to generate cheap renewable energy and reduce electricity bills. But this is not a simple DIY project and there are risks involved from safety concerns to the possible permanent roof damage! Installing solar panels is not a straightforward process, and without professional installer training, there is much that can go wrong. If you aren’t confident in working with specialised equipment, lifting heavy panels and wiring electrical equipment – then a DIY solar panel installation may not be the brightest idea!
The technical side of solar panel installation can be tricky even for those that have general electrical experience as many elements of solar installation differ greatly from traditional electrical jobs so would probably be better left to a professional. In addition, to benefit from the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, the solar panels need to be installed by someone who is MCS certified. So if you fit the solar panels yourself, you will not get paid for generating renewable energy or benefit from selling any excess energy to your utility company.
DIY solar panel kits can also be a real fire risk if the wrong materials are used or because the installation is not fitted properly. Plus you can damage your roof if the roof is not suitable for solar panel installation (professional installers will ensure your roof is structurally able to hold panels and if not will add strengthening). Solar panels installed by professionals should last for 20 years or more and many will come with a manufacturer’s warranty. DIY installations may have a shorter life span and will not be covered by the same warranty. So, whilst DIY solar can sound like a great idea, the risks generally outweigh the benefits. When you add in the fact that the cost of solar panel installation is now the cheapest it has ever been, it makes sense to have it professionally installed.
Solar Power Tips
- Solar PV panels harness clean energy from the sun, but the sun doesn’t have to be out for solar panels to work
- Solar thermal panels absorb heat from the air which in turn heats water
- The Government also financially support solar panels installations with the feed-in tariff
- Roof mounted solar panels are suitable for most properties in the UK, but the perfect roof would be large and south facing
Hiring a Tradesman Checklist
- Always get at least 2 quotes before hiring.
- Never pay the full amount upfront.
- Get the quote in writing.
- For any payment you make, always get a receipt.
- On more expensive jobs, ask for references.
- Check if the tradesman is a member of any trades associations.
- Make sure the tradesman has public liability insurance.
How much can you save with solar water heating?
Do solar PV panels require any maintenance?
How much electricity can I generate using solar panels?
What is the Feed In Tariff?
Do I need to inform my existing electricity supplier about a my planned solar power installation?
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