How solar panels work

Solar panels, or photovoltaic cells (PV), are normally attached to the roof or walls of any building that requires electricity.

The PV cells are constructed with either one of two layers of semiconducting material using silicon. When the sunlight shines on the device it creates an electrical field. The stronger the sun’s rays, the more energy will be produced.

Solar panels come in a variety of shapes and sizes including the standard ‘grey’ cells that are seen on house rooftops. It’s also possible to have transparent cells installed onto greenhouses.

The strength of the solar panel is measured in kilowatt peak (KWp). This would be the amount of electricity generated in full sunshine.

Solar panel diagram

Types of solar energy

Solar electricity

Solar Electricity

Solar water heating

Solar Water Heating

Solar Underfloor Heating

Solar Underfloor Heating

Solar Conservatory Heating

Solar Conservatory Heating

Solar Garden Features

Solar Garden Features

Solar battery

Solar Battery

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Solar panels costs, savings and maintenance

  • A typical solar panel system costs around £12,000.
  • However, PV cells can cost £4,000 to £5,000 per KWp. But, the installation costs will decrease as the size increases. The average size is 2.7 KWp.
  • The larger the KWp capacity, the more electricity it will generate. In turn, larger solar panel systems will save you extra money on bills.
  • Solar panels that are built into an existing roof are more expensive than just sitting them on top of the old tiling.
  • If you need major roofing repairs, PV tiles can offset the cost of tiles.
  • The average solar panelling unit will cut your carbon footprint by up to 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
  • If you are eligible to receive the government’s feed-in tariff, PV could generate savings and income of around £1,170 every year.
  • The maintenance needed for solar panelling is very small. All that’s required is that the PV cells remain clean and you ensure that nothing overshadows the panels.