Solar panels: a complete guide

Solar power panels are an eco-friendly method to heat water for your house, generate electricity, or perhaps do both in one module within the situation of hybrid designs. Fit them and you will be using alternative energy instead of precious non-renewable fuels, and saving cash.

See: Eco home enhancements: steps to make your home greener

‘The solar resource from the U . s . States is gigantic,’ states Money Saver, a workplace of america United states doe that gives energy-efficiency and alternative energy information. ‘In fact, only one hour of noontime summer time sun is equivalent to the annual US electricity demand. Most states within the U . s . States have good-to-excellent solar resource.’

But do you know the choices with regards to solar power panels? Our guide has all that you should know of the different choices, and just how they may be suited to your house. Continue reading to obtain the lowdown on solar water heating, photovoltaics, and also the hybrid photovoltaic thermal panels.

April 2021 is our Eco-friendly Homes month. Throughout this month and beyond, we are highlighting the alterations you may make to your house to ensure they are more sustainable – from big projects, for example cooling and heating, to small changes, like buying sustainable homewares.


Solar thermal panels permit you to make warm water for your house with the sun’s energy. It’s really a mature technology than solar photovoltaic (PV), see below, as well as an efficient one – around 80% efficiency. A solar hot water heater (or solar domestic warm water system) includes the solar thermal panels themselves (the solar collectors), along with a storage tank.

So how exactly does a solar thermal panel work? As sunlight goes through a panel and it is refracted through the glass its wave length changes, which produces heat. Heat is taken with a fluid and gone to live in the new water cylinder.

In america, solar water heating systems might be passive or active. Active systems have circulating pumps and controls plus they divide further into indirect and direct circulation systems.

Inside a direct circulatory household water is pumped with the solar power panels and in to the home. They are recommended that you live somewhere where it freezes rarely. Within an indirect circulatory there’s a shut loop of warmth-transfer fluid containing anti-freeze between your panels and also the storage cylinder. The fluid doesn’t achieve the faucets. A pump circulates the fluid to heat water to make use of in your house. This kind of product is favored in climates that have freezing temperatures, including within the United kingdom.

There’s also passive solar water heating systems. These can likely are less expensive to set up however they aren’t as efficient as active systems.

The solar power panels employed for solar thermal systems could be of various types. Flat plate panels or collectors feature a number of pipes having a metal absorber plate on the top that collects the sunrrrs heat, that is then transported through the fluid within the pipes towards the storage cylinder. Evacuated tube panels are created with glass tubes having a metal tube inside, and they’re of a header pipe to create a panel. These possess the edge over lcd collectors with regards to efficiency.

What happens on the cloudy day? ‘Solar panels will still operate in diffused sunlight, though clearly it isn’t competitive with sunlight,’ states Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch. ‘Nevertheless, they’ll lead some heat towards the warm water storage cylinder.’

Within the United kingdom solar power panels can, typically, provide around 55% of annual warm water needs of the home. ‘You will invariably take some other type of heating the new water cylinder either to enhance the temperature within the cylinder towards the needed 60ºC or heating the cylinder once the panels have been in either semi or full darkness,’ explains Martyn Bridges. ‘The most typical option is generally a boiler, which is required to heat the house anyway. Alternatively, an electrical immersion heater.’

SOLAR Solar Power Systems

Solar solar power systems permit you to generate electricity in the sun. The panels contain plastic cells that induce electricity when they’re hit by sunlight. An inverter can also be needed to transform the household power to alternating electric current to be used in the home.

You might want to purchase a battery to keep the power, too. It may be billed once the power’s available ready to be used if needed.

‘The decision to include battery power storage system depends upon just how much electricity you’re generating,’ explains Christian Engelke, Technical Director at Viessmann. ‘Typically, solar systems happen to be designed to the maximum permitted under certain government grant programmes, like the domestic renewable heat incentive within the situation from the United kingdom. This creates over-production, with energy delivered back towards the grid. It may spend the money for homeowner in order to save the power created to be used overnight, however, it must be calculated in line with the expected usage and export. The price of storage within the United kingdom frequently doesn’t cover the main difference.’

Photovoltaic panels could work regardless of the climate where you reside, however the roof of your house needs to be appropriate. Its size, orientation, slope and shape in addition to whether it’s shaded by trees or neighboring structures are crucial factors. Obviously, it must also be structurally seem and never looking for substitute soon.

If you wish to take a look at whether your homes roof is appropriate, use a mapping service via Money Saver. You may also check out just how much power you can generate using the tool PVWatts.


Hybrid solar power panels, otherwise known as PVT solar power panels, are a mix of solar photovoltaic panel and solar thermal panel in a single. Essentially, one of these simple is really a photovoltaic panel which has pipes included in the collector with fluid circulating between it along with a water cylinder. Because the sun shines, its light is absorbed through the Solar cells, as the heat is absorbed by solar thermal part.

As a result these may generate electricity as well as heat simultaneously but, even though they have the benefit of doing both jobs, these hybrid panels will have limitations when set from the separate panel types. The thermal element doesn’t achieve exactly the same hot temperature like a dedicated solar thermal panel. Additional heating will therefore be needed.