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Solar PV: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Solar PV Panels and how do they work

Solar Photovoltaic's (PV) is a method of generating electrical power from the sun's energy. The panels are made up of cells which are constructed of one or two layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon. When the light shines onto the cells it creates an electrical field across the layers and converts the solar energy into electricity. The panels are usually attached to a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south to get the best possible light. Solar PV Panels do not necessarily work just from 'sunshine' it's the intensity of the light that counts, the greater the intensity of light the greater the flow of electricity, so you can still generate electricity on a cloudy day. Photovoltaic panels are designed to store all of the energy they collect, therefore if you do not use all of it in one go the rest is reserved for later.

What are the benefits of Solar Electricity?

The benefits of using Solar PV panels are plentiful and include,

Cutting your carbon footprint.

Solar electricity is green, renewable energy so does not release any harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants. A typical home PV system could save around 1tonne of CO2 per year - that's around 25 tonnes over its lifetime.

You could reduce your Electricity bills.

Sunlight is free! So once you have paid for the initial installation your electricity costs will reduce greatly and in time will pay for itself. The only time you will need to pay is if you use more than you can produce

Selling electricity back to the grid:

You can make money on excess electricity by selling it back to the Grid through a scheme called Feed in Tariffs (FITS) so instead of receiving that dreaded bill you could receive a cheque.

Is solar electricity suitable for my home or business?

Solar PV systems can be used on a building with a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, as long as no other buildings or large trees overshadow it. If the roof or wall surface is in shadow for parts of the day, the output from the system will decrease.

Planning Consideration. Do I need planning permission?

In England and Scotland, changes to permitted development rights for renewable technologies introduced on 6th April 2008 and 12th March 2009 respectively, have lifted the requirements for planning permission, meaning most solar PV installations do not require planning permission as long as they respect certain size criteria. Exceptions apply for installations on flat roofs, listed buildings and buildings in conservations areas and world heritage sites. Always check with your local planning officer before proceeding with an installation.

Cost and Maintenance.

Prices for Solar PV systems vary depending on the size of the system to be installed, type of PV cell used and the nature of the actual building on which the panels are mounted. The size of the system is determined by the amount of electricity required. The more electricity the system can generate, the more the installation will cost and the more it will save in the long run.

Maintenance is generally limited to ensuring that the panels are kept clean and any trees that may start to overshadow the panels are cut back. The wiring and components of the system should be checked periodically by a qualified technician.


Case Studies


    Project: Huffkins, Market Square, Stow on the Wold
    Details: Stylish tea room, coffee lounge and bakery in the Heart of the Cotswolds. Complete re-fit of electrical and fire alarm installation, combining modern lighting while still retaining to the charm of the original 1450 building.

    Leia Lingerie

    Project: St Davids, Cardiff
    Details: Beautiful Lingerie shop within the newly built St David's Centre in Cardiff. Working closely with the shop fitting team and client to install a unique and impressive lighting, electrical and fire alarm installation.


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