Green energy technologies are becoming more and more popular, not only in a commercial setting but now also at home. With global warming such a ‘hot topic’ in recent years, the need for renewable energy is greater than ever, and more and more households are answering the call with solar panels.
There are obvious benefits to having solar technology installed in the home, however there is much to reflect on before any decision is made.
It is important to consider the type of solar energy you install. Solar Thermal works in conjunction with the system, and as such proves a useful supplement to heating and hot water provision. Solar PV panels on the other hand are more efficient for converting sunlight directly into electricity, and so are very useful if you’re looking to reduce electricity costs.
As well as giving you the obvious ‘saving the world’ kind of feeling, solar panels can significantly reduce energy costs. The energy harvested by the solar panels on your house will decrease your dependence on the grid, therefore reducing costs from your provider. Additionally, thanks to ‘feed-in tariff’ type schemes, in some states you can get paid for any surplus energy you produce that is then fed back into the system.
Of course the initial outlay of buying and installing solar panels needs to be considered before making any decisions, and likewise the payback period in terms of reducing energy costs. However the cost of installing solar panels has decreased of late in part due to the value of silicone on the world market. Your decision will also depend on the length of time you plan to stay at your current property, it could be a number of years before you start to earn back the initial costs of purchasing and installing the panels.
You may need permission to install solar panels, depending on the nature of the panels themselves, the type of property you own and its location. At the very least you will have to adhere to local authority requirements, which will include various conditions set out to ensure the panels you install are safe and do not become too much of an eyesore in the area.
Additionally the size and condition of your roof must be such that will ensure the panels are safe and do not pose a threat to the structure of your property or others around it, with size dictating how many panels you can fit on to maximise the potential savings.
Location is another significant aspect and should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to have solar panels installed. The closer you are to the equator, or the tropics region surrounding it, the hotter it is and the more sunlight you will receive. So the further south you are the more sunlight your solar panels will be able to absorb, the better effect they will have on your energy bill. Installing panels in a southerly direction, making sure there is nothing obscuring the panels or casting a shadow across them (such as trees) will optimise the level of sunlight reaching them.
All these factors need to be considered before deciding on whether to install solar panels at home. Taking these things into account will help you determine whether it would be a worthwhile investment and then ensure you get the most out of your solar panels if it is.
This post was written by Dave Houston, owner and founder of GenFit ltd in the UK, who provide renewable energy systems.