Solar panels

Solar panels

Solar electricity panels, also known as solar photovoltaics (solar PV), capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home.

How do solar panels work?

A solar panel consists of many cells made from layers of semi-conducting material, most commonly silicon. When light shines on this material, a flow of electricity is created.

The cells don’t need direct sunlight to work and can even work on cloudy days. However, the stronger the sunlight, the more electricity is generated.

Solar PV systems are made up of several solar panels, with each panel generating around 355W of energy in strong sunlight.

What are the benefits of solar electricity?

Save money on your electricity bills

Sunlight is free, so the solar electricity generated will reduce the amount of electricity you take from the national grid, and your electricity bills will be reduced.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Solar electricity is low carbon, renewable energy. A typical home solar PV system could save around one tonne of carbon per year, which is better for the planet.

How to get the most out of your solar PV system

Use more electricity during the day

As your solar PV system will be working at its peak during daylight hours, it's a good idea to run your electrical appliances, such as your washing machine and iron during the day. If you’re not at home during the day, you could try setting timers for your appliances.

Reduce your electricity use

During daylight hours you’ll be producing electricity, even on cloudy days. But if you use more power than your panels are generating, or during the evening when they aren’t generating energy, you’ll use electricity from the national grid.

Solar water heating 

Solar water heating systems, also known as solar thermal, use energy from the sun to warm water for storage in a hot water cylinder. This hot water is then used for bathing, showering and hot taps.

Because the amount of solar energy varies throughout the year, a solar water heating system won’t provide all the hot water you need during the year. In the summer, it should provide around 90% of your hot water requirements, dropping to around 25% in the winter. A conventional boiler or immersion heater is used to make up the difference.

How do solar water heating systems work?

Solar water heating systems use panels or tubes, called solar collectors, to gather solar energy. The solar collectors convert the infra-red portion of sunlight into heat. The fluid in the solar collectors is pumped around a circuit, which passes through the hot water cylinder, heating your water.

What are the benefits of solar water heating?

Save money on your heating bills

Sunlight is free, so your hot water costs will be reduced. The savings will vary throughout the year, with the greatest savings in summer.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Solar water heating is a low carbon, renewable heating system, which will help reduce the carbon emissions associated with your hot water use.

How to get the most out of your solar water heating

Reduce your hot water use

Your solar hot water system will provide most of your hot water in the summer months, but much less during the winter months. It’s a good idea to try and use less hot water all year round to lower your energy bills even further.

Read our tips on how to save energy and water