Solar Panels – The Definitive Guide to How Solar Panels Work

Mis-sold your Solar Panels?

Below is a Guide to how solar panels work. We aim to offer you some facts that will help you understand the benefits of Solar Panels and answer some of the questions we are asked frequently by customers who have asked us to investigate their solar panel claims for mis-sold solar panels.

General information about Solar Panels

Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity. They are called “solar” panels because most of the time, the most powerful source of light available is the Sun, called Sol by astronomers. Some scientists call them photovoltaics which means, basically, “light-electricity.”

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight with photovoltaic cells, generating direct current (DC) energy and then converting it to usable alternating current (AC) energy with the help of inverter technology. AC energy then flows through the home’s electrical panel and is distributed accordingly

Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. (Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity)

Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. (Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity)

If you live in an area with high energy rates and a suitable solar rating and can afford the initial investment, it could be worth installing solar panels in your home

Some pros and cons:

Pros of solar energy Cons of solar energy
Lower your electric bill Doesn’t work for every roof type
Improve the value of your home Not ideal if you’re about to move
Reduce your carbon footprint Buying panels can be expensive
Combat rising electricity costs Low electricity costs = lower savings
Earn money back on your investment Finding local solar installers can be difficult

A typical 4 kWp solar system (13-16 panels) now costs around £5,500 incl VAT. There will be some maintenance costs over the life, and a probable inverter replacement required, total cost around £2,500 in today’s money. So the true all-in cost of the system is around £8,000

Crystalline panels are usually guaranteed for 20-25 years, while film panels are generally guaranteed for only 2-5 years. The regular warranty for photovoltaic solar panels lasts 25 years. Here is how the manufacturers come up with this number: They calculate a loss of efficiency of . 8% for every year

Thus, the typical homeowner will need 28 – 34 solar panels to cover 100% of energy usage (dependent on location and roof size)

You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household’s hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel’s wattage. Use a low-wattage (150W) and high-wattage (370W) example to establish a range (ex: 17-42 panels to generate 11,000 kWh/year).

Solar cells are made out of silicon wafers. These are made out of the element silicon, a hard and brittle crystalline solid that is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen

The actual solar cells are made of silicon semiconductors that absorb sunlight and then convert it into electricity. Currently, solar panels that are used for domestic purposes are only able to take around 20% of the sunlight that they receive and turn it into electricity. This is what is known as solar efficiency

Monocrystalline solar panels have the highest efficiency rates since they are made out of the highest-grade silicon. The efficiency rates of monocrystalline solar panels are typically 15-20%

Solar Panels Installation

As an average the cost of solar panels for a 3 bedroom house will be around £5520 – £6040 as they’ll need to install a 3-4kW system to meet the higher electricity demands.

Solar panel systems come in different sizes that determine just how much electricity it’s able to generate. Simply put, the larger the system, the more electricity your home will benefit from. Find out just how much solar panels cost in the UK with the table below:

Solar System Size Average Cost of Solar Panels
1kW £1840
2kW £3680
3kW £5520
4kW £6040

Installing solar panels isn’t exactly as simple as mounting a light fixture or swapping out your water filtration system

Here is some helpful advice:

  • Make sure your chosen installer is a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer
    Code (RECC) assurance scheme.
  • You can only benefit from the Feed-in Tariff if your solar PV system was installed by a company
    certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), so make sure the installer you
    choose is accredited under this scheme.
  • Do your research. And that means sourcing at least three quotes before you choose
    an installer.
  • Ask family and friends for recommendations. Before you go ahead and instruct an installer
    check them out to see if they have any testimonials.
  • Make sure you obtain a comprehensive quote before signing any contract or hand over
    any money as a deposit. RECC advises to never pay more than 25% of the contract price
    upfront. And don’t forget to check that it will be protected with insurance

The installation of solar panels and equipment on residential buildings and land may be ‘permitted development’ with no need to apply to the Local Planning Authority for planning permission

If your home qualifies, you could get free solar panels through schemes referred to as “rent-a-roof.” Solar companies install the solar energy panels free of charge, and pay for any maintenance and connection charges.

Most solar companies can install a rooftop residential solar panel installation in one to three days, depending on how many panels you’re installing and how complicated the installation is

Solar Panels Maintenance & Safety

While solar panels are considered a form of clean, renewable energy, the manufacturing process does produce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, to produce solar panels, manufacturers need to handle toxic chemicals. However, solar panels are not emitting toxins into the atmosphere as they’re generating electricity.

A properly designed and installed solar panel system with correctly operating equipment presents no fire hazard to your home. But when solar panel equipment is poorly installed, in some cases this can result in electrical faults that cause arcing

There are no grants for solar panels in the traditional sense of the word from the Government that will pay in full or in part for your solar panel installation. What they offer instead is a scheme called the Feed-In Tariff which pays you money for 20 years after your solar panels have been installed

Solar panels are generally self cleaning, but in particularly dry areas or where panel tilt is minimal, dust and other substances such as bird droppings can build up over time and impact on the amount electricity generated by a module. Grime and bird poop doesn’t need to cover an entire panel to have an effect.

If you have a relatively new system, with several years lifespan left on the panels, and you have full ownership of both the panels and the Feed in Tariff, then the panels shouldn’t decrease the value of your home. This is because the negatives will be balanced out by the positives

Solar cells have a cover made of protective glass that can be damaged by hail storms. An area that is prone to hail storms determines the kind of solar panels installed. … Hail damage to larger solar cells results in the more expensive replacement or repair costs and reduces energy output dramatically.

Generally speaking, solar panels themselves won’t make noise

Solar panels and the floats between rows of panels provide just such a place. Birds can rest and nest without disturbance. The result is heavy soiling from bird droppings, virtually from day one. It seems that more so than anywhere else, floating solar panels attract birds and their droppings

Solar panels do not produce energy at night. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels must have sunlight to create electricity. … Solar panels work hard all day producing electricity from the sun. They also sup

Solar panels do produce electricity in cloudy weather. They don’t produce as much electricity as they do on sunny days, but they have been shown to produce 25% of what they produce on a sunny day, or 10% when it’s very cloudy

Solar Panels & the environment

Solar is One of the Cleanest Energy Sources Available Today

As the influence and impact of solar power grow, scientists and manufacturers around the world actively aspire to create even better, more sustainable solar energy technology. Solar power is one of the most environmentallyfriendly energy sources

Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels on your home helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces our collective dependence on fossil fuel. Traditional electricity is sourced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas

Were you mis-sold solar panels and want a refund?

There are many examples of mis-selling, below are just a few reasons why many of our complainants pursue a full refund and compensation
from solar panel companies who mis-sold their solar panels to customers.

Were you told the panels would “pay for themselves”?
That they would be “self-funding”?

Misleading customers about how much income and savings they would make.
This may have included an exaggeration of the amount of electricity generated or how much their
electricity bills would reduce by

Entered into finance or credit to purchase the systems and have been left with expensive monthly payments on top of still having to pay for their electricity