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Solar PV is suitable for commercial and domestic applications and typically only differs in terms of scale and the type of power inverter being used.
Solar cells absorb sunlight and convert it directly into electricity, which may be used to power an electrical systems. The electricity produced is direct current DC and this may be used as it is, stored in batteries for later use or converted using an inverter to alternating current AC. This is used to power the property or fed back into the electricity grid.
Much larger ground based installations, generally known as solar farms, can be created solely for the purpose of generating electricity and feeding it into the grid.
In addition to a traditional on roof installation we also offer a unique roof integrated solution that is fitted like a roof light or Dorma window. Available as a PV or thermal panel these innovative panels are well worth considering if roof weight and aesthetics are important to you.
A solar cell is a sandwich of semiconductor materials, usually silicon, assembled as thin rectangular wafers and housed in a panel. A number of panels make up an array. Typically each panel has a rated power output of approx. 175-250 Watts peak (Wp) - maximum output at optimum conditions.
An average 3 bedroomed house, moderately insulated and powering fridge, PC, TV, lights, etc. but not using electricity for heating or cooking will use around 3,500kWh per year. A typical 4kWp array (16x250W) produces 3434kWh per year.
Each module is typically 1m wide x 1.6m high although alternative sizes are available to suit different roof types. Commercial installations can be any size depending on the property needs. Domestic installations tend to be between 3-4kWp, comprising of 12-16 panels and covering a roof area of 19m² -30m².
The system is usually connected to the national grid via the household fuse board. For domestic systems (usually on single phase/230V grid connection), permission to connect up to 4kWp to the national grid is granted by your local distribution Network operator (DNO) without a formal request. Commercial properties with 2, or 3-phase power supplies may connect up to 4kWp per phase. Anything over this requires special application in advance of installation.
Orientation and Positioning
Even in the northern hemisphere on cloudy days electricity generated from the cells can significantly contribute to the electricity demands of buildings. The panels should ideally be positioned within 30-45 degrees of due south and at an incline of 30-45 degrees and shading should be avoided as it significantly impacts performance.
PV panels may be roof or ground mounted on a frame and as they will last 25 years or more need to be installed on a site in good condition.
In most instances PV modules may be installed without planning permission under the permitted development rules for microrenewables. There are some exceptions to be considered, especially conservation areas or listed buildings.
Systems connected to the grid require very little maintenance.
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