Types of Solar PV Panel
There are two main types of solar panels available for home owners in the UK to install, solar PV and solar Thermal. Solar PV, or photovoltaic panels are used to generate electricity from the suns rays, whereas solar thermal are used to generate hot water. It is also possible to purchase hybrid systems, which are used to generate both hot water and electricity.
Cost of Solar PV Panels
Solar PV panels come in three main forms, monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. The first two are the traditional mounted panels commonly seen on roofs; the latter are fitted into the structure of the roofing material. Monocrystalline panels are made from a single semiconductor crystal, most commonly silicone, and polycrystalline from a number of crystals. This means that the monocrystalline panels are the most efficient of the three and generate the most electricity. The amorphous panels are the least efficient of the three types. The efficiency is reflected in the price, with the monocrystalline panels being the most expensive.
The cost of an installation will be influenced by the amount of power you wish to generate, the nature of your building and the type of panels you opt for. Typically installing a four KW monocrystalline system, which would sufficient for a three bedroom house, would cost somewhere in the region of twelve to sixteen thousand pounds for the full installation. This would include surveys to ensure your roof is strong enough and any checks regarding planning permission.
Cost of Solar Thermal Panels
Solar thermal panels, usually known as collectors, come in two forms: flat plate and evacuated tube. Flat plate collectors are similar in appearance to solar PV panels, whereas evacuated tube collectors are a collection of tubes. The flat plate collectors are generally less efficient than the evacuated tube models, but the latter are more suited to roofs with a steeper pitch.
If you are investing in a solar thermal system, depending on your current system, you may also need to invest in a water cylinder to store the water you have heated. Typically, to install a solar thermal system costs somewhere between three and seven thousand pounds, plus VAT, which is at the lower rate of five per cent on these products.
Investing in either solar PV or solar thermal panels will reduce your current fuel bill. How much by will depend on your current fuel source and your usage patterns. For PV panels, the saving is generally a few hundred pounds per year, whereas, for solar thermal panels, the average savings are somewhere between fifty to ninety pounds per year. Additionally, both systems are entitled to claim cash back from the government. Solar PV panels fall under the Feed-In Tariff scheme and solar thermal panels come under the Renewable Heat Incentive. The amount you will be entitled to will depend on how much energy your system generates and full details of the rates can be obtained from a number of websites including the independent OFGEM site.