Solar panels are able to yield free green energy from the sun, even in less sunny, cooler climates here in the UK. In a single hour, the sun transmits more energy to the earth’s surface than the world uses in a year.
You can use solar panels to make use of this free energy source to generate electricity and hot water for your home. There are solar panels systems for electricity and for hot water.
Types of Solar Panels
There are two main types of solar panel systems, solar water heating and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. While they are very similar visually on your roof, solar water heating and solar PV are quite different.
Solar PV or solar electricity generates electricity for use in your home which you can feed in excess back to the grid to earn you money. Solar PV is more expensive system than solar water heating, averaging around £7,000, but financial support is currently available under the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, which provides cash payments to households that produce their own electricity at home using renewable technology.
Solar water heating, also referred to as solar thermal or solar heating, uses energy from the sun to heat up water. It is mostly used to heat up your domestic hot water system. Solar water heating costs between £3,000 and £5,000, and is eligible for a financial incentive called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which financially rewards those who use renewable energy to heat their homes.
To learn more, see our guide to solar water heating.