Solar panels are constructed using silicon – the main, natural component in beach sand – a hard and brittle crystalline. Those little black specks on the beach? That’s silicon – and it’s the second-most abundant element on Earth. However, turning this sand into a high-grade silicon that can be used in solar panels is expensive and takes a lot of energy.
Solar panel cells are made from silicon wafers, which are treated and then completed by adding metal conductors – resulting in the grid-like appearance that solar panels are known for. These conductors are then what convert solar energy into electricity by absorbing the sunlight. Learn more about how solar panels work below.
Solar panels absorb sunlight with PV (photovoltaic) cells – each of which is made up of two pieces of silicon. The panels will absorb the sunlight, causing electrons to flow and generate an electrical current, converting the sunlight into direct current energy which travels into a building and into an inverter. This will then convert the energy into alternating current energy, which then makes it way through the electrical panel and powers the electrical appliances within the building.
Any extra electricity that you don’t use will be sent to the electric grid, which you will use if you require more energy than your panels generate.
The number of solar panels you need for your business energy will depend on:
1. How much energy your business consumes
This is the most important factor to consider when purchasing your solar energy panels. To determine how many solar panels you need, you should calculate the total Kilowatt hours (kWh) you use, or intend to use.
2. How much sun you get
If you don’t get many sun hours throughout the day, then you will need more solar panels to generate more energy. The amount of sun you get each day will depend on your location, so you will need to factor this into your decision.
3. How big your roof is
This one is key – as the size of your roof will restrict how many solar panels you can have, and therefore how much energy you can generate as well as the cost. But you also need to ensure that your roof can take the weight of your solar panels and how they will sit.
4. How big the panels are
Again, the size of the panels will determine how many you can have and how much energy you can generate. If you consume a lot of energy but have limited roof space, then ideally you would opt for large output/wattage solar panels for business premises.
Typically, in the UK, 12 solar panels are needed for a 3kW solar installation, and 24 for a 6kW installation. As a general rule: the bigger the panel, the more energy that is generated per square metre.
As they are quite a large investment, many people will question whether solar panels are worth it. So how long do solar panels last? The industry standard lifespan for solar panels is around 25-30 years. However, some of the latest models are designed to last for around 40-50 years, with warranties that cover them for at least half of their expected lifespan. That way, your business’ panels should be covered against poor performance and damage.
Due to the high installation costs, it can take anywhere between 3-10 years for your solar panel to pay for itself. So, are solar panels worth it?
Solar panels are worth it if you’re looking to do better by the environment – as they help to protect it by reducing your carbon footprint and cutting down the use of fossil fuels. But, environmental benefits aside, solar panels can also reduce your electricity bills significantly by using the sun’s energy to generate energy for free. Find out how much solar panels can save you on your bills.
Now you know how solar panels work, it’s time to explore your options. If you’re interested in saving on your business electricity bills, or you’re taking a step towards running a more eco-friendly business, contact Utility Bidder today. As expert utility brokers, we can help you weigh up your options. We’ll provide the most competitive quote and compare the top UK suppliers to find the best fit.