Solar energy has been catching on in recent decades thanks to its environmentally-friendly nature and falling costs. The UK currently generates around 4.4% of its electricity from solar sources, but many homeowners are also choosing to install solar arrays in their homes.
If you’re planning to purchase and install a solar set-up for your property, you might be wondering where to start looking. There are many considerations to keep in mind before setting out and making your purchase. In this guide, we will answer some vital questions related to solar panel systems.
What Is Solar Panel Battery Storage?
The photovoltaic cells in solar panels can convert sunlight into electricity, but they lack the ability to store this energy for later use. For this reason, a solar panel arrangement without an energy storage device such as a solar battery will be able to power homes only during periods where there is sunlight.
These batteries are usually made from lithium ions or lead acid. They differ in many ways so it is important to understand the pros and cons of each one.
Is Solar Battery Storage the Right Choice for My Home?
Solar battery storage comes with many advantages and disadvantages. It is important to note each one before making your decision to invest in a solar battery.
The main advantages associated with solar batteries are:
- Environmental friendliness: These battery set ups allow you to use solar power in your home and reduce your reliance on electricity from environmentally-damaging sources such as fossil fuels.
- Getting Power Whenever It Is Needed: You can use the power that solar batteries have stored whenever you need to, even at night. This makes it as useful as receiving power directly from the grid.
- Long Lifespans: Solar batteries typically last for many years. Some manufacturers produce solar batteries capable of functioning for over a decade. This means you won’t need to worry about replacing your solar batteries anytime soon.
- Reducing Your Electricity Bill: Having a solar battery setup allows you to switch away from the main electricity grid at peak usage times when electricity rates are high. This helps you reduce your electricity bill.
The disadvantages associated with solar batteries include:
- High Initial Purchase Costs: Solar panel and battery costs have been falling steadily over the years, but they are still relatively expensive. It typically takes eight to fifteen years for these systems to recuperate their costs and save money compared to traditional power sources.
- Regular Maintenance: Solar batteries must be maintained regularly to remain in good working order. This involves monitoring their charge levels and cleaning terminals regularly.
- Limited Capacity: Every type of solar battery has a limited capacity. This means you might not be able to run appliances with heavy power for long on them. Such issues don’t exist when you’re drawing electricity directly from the grid.
What Size Solar Storage Battery Do I Need?
You will need to choose an appropriately-sized solar storage battery based on your daily energy usage. Some rough energy consumption and corresponding battery sizes are shown in the table below.
Daily Energy Consumption
Recommended Solar Battery Size
5 to 10kWh
11 to 15kWh
16 to 20kWh
21 to 25kWh
26 to 30kWh
Can I Save Money With a Solar Battery?
Solar panels and batteries tend to be expensive. The solar setup for a three-bedroom home will cost you around £6,500. This is still cheaper than their cost several years ago.
The average solar panel installation had a cost per kilowatt of £1,400 in 2021. This figure was around £1,900 in 2014.
For this reason, you aren’t likely to save money by investing in these solar arrangements unless you use them for close to a decade. However, it may still be worth doing so if you want to reduce your reliance on electric grids.
Types of Solar Panels
There are many types of solar panels out there. The main ones are:
Monocrystalline solar panels are created using a single silicon crystal. Such crystals are manufactured via an energy-intensive process that drives up production costs. As a result, monocrystalline solar panels tend to be the most-expensive option.
As their name implies, polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple silicon crystals. Such panels are created using silicon fragments. As a result, they can be manufactured for a much lower cost than their monocrystalline counterparts.
Thin film solar cells are especially unique because they are created using multiple photovoltaic cell layers. Thin film panels can be subdivided based on the compounds they are made from. This includes copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and amorphous silicon.
The film’s “thin” nature makes it flexible and lightweight. Such panels are generally easier to carry around than monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
The number of solar panels you require will depend on your energy requirements as well as the type of solar panel you are going with. Here’s a rough estimate of the number of panels you will need against different monthly energy consumption figures:
Monthly Household Energy Consumption
Number of Panels Needed
The final question to ask yourself before going out and purchasing solar panels is what exactly you want from your solar panel system. This question is important because it will impact the way you use your solar panels and influence the type of arrangement you will require.
For example, if you want to free yourself from relying on the electricity grid, you should get a solar panel array and battery system that is large enough to sustain all your energy needs.
Alternatively, you might want a solar panel array and battery system that gives you an alternate power source at peak electricity usage times when electricity rates are high. In this situation, you can settle for a solar panel array with a smaller battery capacity.
As you can see, there are many considerations to keep in mind before going and purchasing a solar panel arrangement. So be sure to consult with them to ensure you end up with a solar panel arrangement that fits your needs.
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