The Lifestyle Magazine of Kent, Surrey & Sussex

Choosing solar panels

Choosing solar panels

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Figures produced earlier this year revealed that the solar panel industry increased solar capacity significantly in the UK during 2014 – in fact there is now in the region of 650,000 solar panel installations in the UK

Recent figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that at the end of 2014 solar capacity had just about reached 5GW in the UK, a significant increase from the end of 2013 when solar capacity stood at 2.8GW.

There are now in the region of 650,000 solar panel installations in the UK – and that includes the likes of solar panels on the roofs of homes, ground-mounted solar panels in peoples’ back gardens, solar panels on commercial buildings and solar farms.

Experts in the solar industry believe that by everybody within the industry pulling together in the same direction, here in the UK we will have the greatest opportunity of achieving our renewable energy and carbon emission targets by 2020.

4 tips for choosing solar panels for your home

1. Solar panels are relatively inexpensive and straightforward to install compared to many other types of renewable-energy technology. Panels are usually fitted to a pitched roof, but they can be mounted on a wall, a frame on the ground or a flat roof. Although they work on cloudy days, the panels need a sunny position to be most effective, so a south-facing spot, which gets sun most of the day, is ideal.

2. There are two types of panels that generate electricity, called solar photovoltaics or PV, and ones that heat water, called solar thermal. With both, you’ll cut your energy bills and CO2 emissions – and there are other benefits too!

3. Solar PV panels (the most popular type) can also earn you money through the Government’s feed-in tariffs scheme. Providing your PV system qualifies, the scheme pays you for the electricity you generate and use and also for any surplus electricity you supply to the National Grid. According to the Energy Saving Trust (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk), an average 4kWp domestic PV system costs between £5,000 and £8,000, and in the south of England should generate approximately enough electricity for a typical household.

4. If your home is leasehold, you may need permission from the freeholder to install solar panels. Restrictions may also apply if you live on ‘designated land’, such as conservation areas, and if the building is listed. Ask your local council what you can and can’t do. Where planning restrictions apply and solar panels aren’t allowed, solar roof tiles or slates may be acceptable to the council.

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