When Are Solar Panels Used
With the popularity of solar panels increasing in the UK, they are becoming a common sight in towns and cities up and down the country. The benefits of solar and other renewable energy sources are leading the way in the government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions which are constantly increasing the atmosphere’s ability to trap heat, thus accelerating global warming. Of course, there has not been a full transition to renewable energy and the use of fossil fuels and natural gases in providing power is still needed in many areas; this leads to the question of “when are solar panels used?”
When can we use solar panels?
The sun is the most powerful and natural source of energy in the world. In just one hour the sun can supply the earth with more energy than the entire population can use in one year. Solar panels are designed in a way so that some of this precious energy can be harnessed and used to supply power to homes and other buildings. The answer to “when are solar panels used?” is all year round! Solar panels are generally installed on the roof of a building or on specially rigged frames in areas that attract sunlight such as gardens and car parks of factories, they do not need any power source to work and have no need to be switched off during the night or when there is no sunlight.
Solar panels will continue to provide energy all year round and need very little maintenance other that an occasional clean or the removal of any obstacles blocking sunlight.
Types of solar panel
“When are solar panels used?” so not be answered without detailing the types of panel available. Panel systems come in two types, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. Solar photovoltaic (also known as solar PV) are panels designed to generate electricity that can be used to power lighting and appliances in homes and businesses and machinery in production processes. Most solar PV systems will continue to generate power all year round and are designed to work purely from daylight as opposed to direct contact with the sun. This means that even on overcast and dull days, electricity can be produced.
Solar thermal systems are the most popular in the UK and are the cheaper of the two systems to install (£3000-£5000 against £8000-£14000). Solar thermal is designed to heat water for general use, this could be to shower and wash-up in the home or as part of a production process in a factory. Solar thermal systems do require contact with sunlight to work effectively but are able to continue to supply hot water needs throughout the year.
How much power is supplied with solar panels?
It is important to understand when answering “when are solar panels used?” that it is unlikely that a solar panel system is able to provide the full requirement of electricity and hot water needed. A solar PV system will generally provide around 40% of electricity needs and a solar thermal system will provide a third of hot water. This means that connection to the National Grid will still be needed as will a separate boiler to produce any extra hot water needed.