Solar Panels For Home
Is It A Good Idea?
The short answer is yes. Especially if you are using solar to heat domestic water.
Solar panels for home usually comes with a 25 years guarantee – with a lifespan of up to 40 years – which means 20 years plus of free hot water. A short payback period – 4 to 5 years in warmer climates, 5 to 6 years in cool climates – makes solar hot water one of the most economical ways to benefit from solar energy.
So what’s the drawback? The drawback is the initial start-up costs, which can be high. Think of it as paying all your hot water bills upfront in one huge chunk. But remember it’s practically maintenance-free, apart from brushing away leaves and dust that may collect on the panels.
Important: Solar Photovoltaic Systems [PV] cells work in a different way to solar heating. PVs are used to generate electricity as opposed to hot water. Their payback time is also longer - around 10 years.
In the States, California is leading the way in introducing solar panels for home - be it solar heating or PV. The California Solar Initiative - C.S.I – enables business and homeowners to benefit from rebates for every watt of electricity. This may well account for 70 000 solar projects which have been initiated.
How about in the UK? Although Government grants have been taken away you the householder can take advantage of the Feed In Tariff - F.I.T – which is a way to help you benefit by using Solar Photovoltaic Systems. See
Solar energy information.
Your energy company operates F.I.T.There are three main benefits to using F.I.T.1.
Generation Tariff – You will be paid a tariff – set by your suppliers – for each unit of electricity generated, for a period of 25 years in the case of PVs.
Export Tariff – You will receive a further 3p/kwh from your energy supplier for each unit you export back to the electricity grid.3.
Energy bill savings – You’ll use less electricity taken from the grid – which is the whole idea.
An example of how it works using a typical 2kwp P.V. system, assuming 50% of the electricity is exported. You could:·
Earn £700 per year – Generation Tariff.·
Earn £30 per year – Export Tariff.·
Save £110 per year – On electricity bills.
So you save and earn £840 per year, offsetting the cost of a 25-year loan taken out. F.I.T. is supposed to mean a greater improvement on payback time. But if you want to take this further read the small print carefully before signing any contract.
So where in the world is this solar technology most economical to use? Well the nearer you go to the equator the better so not the Arctic or Antarctic. California with a 4 to 5 year pay back is better placed than the UK with its 5 to 6 years pay back. Which surprisingly is not hugely different.
If your roof faces south or within 90 degrees of south you can benefit from solar energy. The bigger your roof the better. See
roof area calculator
to approximate your roof area and find out what your investment will be worth.
Solar panels for home are encouraged by your local authority so if you belong to a residential association discuss it with them and don't ruffle their feathers. They are not allowed to discourage you from acquiring a solar energy system and using it in the best way.
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