Solar PV FAQs
Want to understand more about Solar PV? Below is a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions relating to domestic, commercial and storage of solar PV. If you don’t see your question below just get in touch and we will be happy to help.
Solar PV is a renewable energy system which uses PV modules to convert light into electricity. The electricity generated can be used directly, stored in batteries or fed back into the National grid. Solar PV system is very reliable and clean source of electricity that can suit a wide range of applications such as residence, industry, agriculture etc. Solar panels works not only when the sun is shining but also when it is cloudy however the more light there is the more electricity will be produced.
The electricity produced by a solar panel is called DC (Direct Current), it is an instantaneous power but also can be stored in batteries and used when required. The DC electricity flows from the panels into an solar inverter. The inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity (Alternating current), this is then fed into the property’s electrical supply and will help power any appliances connected to the supply. Any excess electricity produced will then be sent back onto the National grid. See our products page for more information.
It all depends on where you are putting your panels. A site survey is the best way to determine the best design for you. As a general rule most domestic properties on a single phase supply can have up to 3.68kW of solar power per connection to the National grid.
Solar Panels work well on any roof facing between East and West. Although they will perform better and produce more electricity if they are South facing, they will still perform well either facing due East or West, producing about 85% of optimal power.
The South West is the best place in the UK to have solar. A 4kW system in the south west should produce around 4000 units (kWhs) a year when facing South. If the panels are facing East or West a 4kW system should still produce around 3400 units. As the average UK household uses approx. 3200 units of electricity a year, the benefits of solar can really stack up. If you can make the most of the electricity when the sun is shining you should start seeing the electricity bills coming down.
Kilo watt peak (kWp) refer to the size of the solar panel, it is based on how much a panel can produce under standard test conditions (STC). Kilo watt hours (kWh) is what you really need to know about as this equates to units of electricity. The more kWhs your system produces the bigger the benefit to your bills.
The installation of solar panels has been deemed ‘permitted development’ and therefore planning permission IS NOT required, unless the building is listed, or in a conservation area since a change in legislation in April 2008. Being in a conservation area does not in itself stop you from having an installation.
Panels installed on a roof should not be installed above the ridge line and shouldn’t be any higher than 200mm from the roof. If a ground mount is being installed then the array should be no higher than 4m, should be 5m from any boundary and the area of the array be no bigger than 9m2. If it is planning permission will need to be sought.
A three phase electricity supply generally means you can have a bigger solar system, normally based on at least 3.68kW per phase. This can go up or down depending on the strength of the local national grid network. The best way to find out is putting an application in to the local DNO, for the south west this is Western Power Distribution. This is something we can complete on your behalf.
Solar storage is becoming more and more popular with the advances in battery technology. A storage system provides more flexibility. Any power that is produced by the solar and not used instantaneously can be fed into a battery bank which can store the power for when it is needed later in the day. Storage is suitable for both domestic and commercial situations and can be retrofitted to existing solar systems.
A DNO or Distribution Network Operator is responsible for the distribution of electricity through the power lines, keeping the lights on for your homes and businesses. The DNO for the South West of the UK is Western Power Distribution.