In this blog, we will look at everything you need to know about solar panels, from what a solar panel is to solar panel installation and potential cost savings.
When looking at heating, hot water, and electricity for our homes, it is not news that people are exploring ways to reduce their carbon footprint. The Government has set ambitious plans for the country as a whole to do this, and this has led to the existence of grants to help us all go green.
While reducing carbon emissions is a must, so is saving on bills. This has always been the case but, perhaps, never more so than now. With the energy crisis seemingly worsening every day, could the use of a solar panel be the answer? At WarmZilla, we’re here to share all that you need to know.
What is a solar panel?
When most people think of a solar panel, they have the same image of what this is, and just how it looks. However, there are actually two types to look at. While they both work by capturing the energy from the sun, they provide different outcomes:
Solar PV panels
Solar photovoltaic panels are perhaps what most people associate solar panels with. These capture the sun’s rays and use them to produce electricity. This can be used to power any electrical appliance as well as for heating with the likes of an electric radiator or storage heaters.
Solar thermal panels
Again, these will capture energy from the sun but, this time, the energy is used to heat water. These solar panels look a little different to the image that most of us have. Being able to use thermal panels to heat water is dependent upon the type of boiler that you have.
Solar panel installation
If you decide to go ahead with solar panels, you will need to find an installer that is accredited with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. This scheme offers quality assurance in terms of those who work with and install low-carbon energy technology. It is designed to give you the confidence that they are correctly installed and operating as efficiently as possible.
It is possible to have your them integrated into your roof by removing some of your tiles, or having them mounted on anchors. Whichever method you opt for, you will need to consider the type of roof that you have:
- Flat roof – While you can have panels on a flat roof, they need to tilt sufficiently to capture as much of the sin as possible
- Clay tile roof – Known for being fragile, not all installers will be happy fitting panels to this type of roof
- Metal roof – This is a common roof type that sees panels fitted. These can help to keep your home cool when the warmer weather kicks in
- Concrete tile roof – If your roof is an older one, you may see some of the tiles breaking and they will need to be replaced
What if I don’t want solar panels on my roof?
If the thought of a solar panel on your roof isn’t over appealing, the alternative is to have an installation on the ground in your garden or on a wall. Having them in your garden makes sense if your roof isn’t suitable or if you are looking to increase the surface area to capture more of the sun’s energy.
What about solar panel planning permission?
If your home is a listed building, or in a conservation area, then you’ll need to get in touch with your local planning department with regards to planning permission. This aside, there isn’t usually any need to apply: solar panels are classed as a permitted development and so planning permission is not usually needed.
Can I save money with solar panels?
When you’re looking at electricity and heating, the biggest question is usually around the savings that solar panels may be able to offer. The Energy Saving Trust reports that when it comes to electricity, it is possible to save up to £330 every year. This may well change as the energy price cap increases in the near future.
When it comes to heating, the potential savings depend upon the system that you are currently using:
- Replacing a gas system can see you saving £60 per year
- Changing from oil can see savings of £65 per year
- Moving away from electric immersion or coal can bring savings of £70 each year
- Going from LPG can bring year savings of £100
While there is money to be saved on electricity and heating, it is worth looking at the upfront costs too. These can be between £4,000 and £5,000.
Is there any funding available?
You’ll need to apply before the end of March 2022, but the Renewable Heat Incentive can see you claiming quarterly payments over 7 years. You can find out more here.
Pros and cons of solar panels
There is a lot to take in when looking at what a solar panel can offer so, at WarmZilla, we thought that we’d provide a quick overview of the associated pros and cons:
Solar Panels pros
- Potential savings on energy bills
- Low, or even zero, maintenance
- A green course of energy
- Gain independence from energy companies
- Can add value to your property
Solar Panels cons
- High upfront costs, especially when compared to traditional boilers for heating
- A south-facing roof is needed to rep the most rewards
- The weather can have a severe impact
- The production process is resource-intensive and does away with some of the green credentials
What boilers work with solar panels?
If you are looking at using solar panels to heat water then you will need to know which boilers are compatible. Generally, most boilers will be adequate in terms of heating water via solar power, with the exception of combi boilers. As these don’t include a separate water tank, there is nowhere to store the heated water as it is produced.
At WarmZilla, we specialise in boilers of all kinds. If you are looking at lowering your carbon footprint, you will find that a new, more efficient boiler can be of benefit. Why not get in touch to find out how?