Solar Panels are panels of semi-conductive material (usually silicon) designed to create electricity when light shines on it. The stronger the light, the more efficient the connection, and the more electricity is created. Yes, this does mean that it can generate electricity even on a cloudy day! Typically each panel creates 265 watts a day - although in bright sunlight it can go above 350 watts. Most systems commonly have between 6 and 12 panels installed. You can either utilise this electricity in your home, or sell it back to the grid. The current generated is DC, so an inverter is also installed as part of the process, to turn it into AC for use in the home. This can then be stored in a solar battery, for your system to use.
The most common installation is of course on the roof, but it is possible to install them on the ground - as long as they have access to regular sunlight! Scaffolding is set up to allow the installation team to attach frames to the rafters. Once this is done, the solar panels (or modules) are put in place. This is followed by the installation of the inverter (for the AC current) and a the solar battery (to store the electricity) before wiring the system so it connects back to the grid. A new unit will be fitted next to your fuse box.
The installation process is relatively straightforward so it should take no more than a day. On smaller systems it will take slightly less, and larger systems, slightly more. The scaffolding will need to be erected a couple of days before the installation date, and will be taken down after the installation day, so worth noting you may have scaffolding up for a week.
The cost of solar panels has dropped considerably (over 50%) in the last decade as materials become more affordable and the panels become more commonplace. The average installation, which includes the brackets, panels, inverter and installation itself, will cost somewhere between £3,500 and £8,000. They do also pay their way, reducing your annual electricity bill by between 15% and 25%.
Although the process is fairly quick, as it involves scaffolding and electricity, it might be best to speak to your builders to identify a good time where additional obstacles or a potential interruption to the electric supply won’t delay anything. Of course, if you have existing scaffolding that the installers can use instead of setting up their own then it will be useful - they’ll just have to confirm it meets their safety standards.
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