Photovoltaic Panels – The Champions of the Energy Future
Solar panels are the clean green transformers of electricity into an alternative, sustainable energy source. In essence, it sources free energy from sunlight.
It is facilitated by installing photovoltaic panels via a thermal system on a roof structure.
The Numbers Speaks For Itself
This might come as a surprise to many but there are several different types of solar energy technology available on the market. Not only are there many different types of options, but also different categories.
This makes for a few considerations to be taken into account, before deciding on a purchase. It is imperative to gain a solid understanding of your requirements, and the products on offer. In this way you will be empowered and enabled to make an educated decision on the way forward.
Greenmatch advises that within the year 2014-2015, the United Kingdom saw a pronounced increase in the use of solar-powered photovoltaic energy. The percentage was recorded as 87%, in comparison to previous years.
The Working Elements
An operational solar cell, comprises 3 elements in order to fulfill its function:
- The immersion of sunlight, which produces electron holes, called exciton.
- The uncoupling of the change carrier particles.
- Lastly, these change carriers need to be transported to an external circuit
A Comparison Between the Different Types
There are 4 different solar panels available on the market. Each one comes with both its benefits and drawbacks, like any other product on the market:
Concentrated PV Cell (CPV). The most highly rated solar panel when it comes to efficiency. One pitfall of this solar panel is that it requires a cooling system and solar tracker to be prevalent before the benefits of the efficiency thereof can be achieved.
Monocrystalline (Mono-SI). Also comes highly recommended in terms of the efficiency factor. Ideally suited for commercial use in businesses and on farms. However, this is an expensive option, and might not be suitable to all business owners as an affordable option.
Polycrystalline (p-SI). Extremely affordable, but the lifespan thereof is shorter and it takes up a lot of space.
Thin-Film : Amorphous Silicon Solar Panel (A-SI). Reasonable pricing structure and dynamic to use both commercially as well as for residential purposes. It has drawbacks in that it affords a shorter warranty structure as well as lifespan.
Average Solar Cell Requirements
Depending on the size of the family in the house or the size of the building where business is operated from, will determine the cost of installing solar panels.
To provide an average figure, a family of three requires a 3kW solar cell system. It will set you back approximately between R95 000 to R125 000 to install. This will consist of 10 panels containing 300W each. This in turn means that a roof space of 20 square meters is required.
From a business perspective it’s rather suggested to contact a supplier based on your company’s individual needs as it is hard to gauge an accurate estimate for reference.
However it bears mentioning that in 2020, solar cells are 60% cheaper than what it cost in 2010. The average home in the United Kingdom can save as much as R8 500 annually on their electricity bill.
Another very important piece of information to share with first time buyers, is that even though you now find yourself in the frame of mind of purchasing a solar cell. There are the so-called hidden costs that need to be highlighted as well, the fine print if you will:
Solar Battery. It’s worthwhile to consider purchasing a solar battery as well. The reason being that without this device, your panel only uses about 25% of its full harnessing potential.
This means that a solar battery will store the excess energy being generated by the cells or panels. The energy-saving trifecta, of the sunlight, the solar cell and a battery will save the annual household as much as R11 800 in electricity costs annually.
Solar power inverter. This gadget is a key component when using solar energy. Even though the average solar cell is good for a maximum of 30 years, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the inverter. Generally this device would need replacing after 15 years and you will have to fork out between R17 000 to R21 000 for a replacement.
Maintenance. Yes, but what if panels break and the part that few other suppliers advise you of is that the solar cells will require cleaning as well to prolong its lifespan.
For those that already love the rainy conditions that the United Kingdom has on offer, will be greatly elevated if they use solar panels to generate electricity as well.
Bird droppings and dust particles accumulate on the panels over a period of time, and this means that a proper cleaning will be required. It is recommended that the solar cells be cleaned at least once a year.
The options available from a cleaning perspective are:
- Investing in self-cleaning (panels comprising of a hydrophobic coating)
- Cleaning the panels yourself
- Making use of a cleaning service. However there is an average cost attached of R2000
The repairs on a damaged panel should be the least of your concerns. However, even though they are made from sturdy material, wires can get damaged by the neighborhood animal community, extreme weather conditions, etc.
The cost of the repair will depend on the extent of the damage. A small crack can be fixed at a cost of R1670, however, a bigger crack or replacement panel might come in hard at an estimate of R30 000.
The top reasons for you to invest in solar-powered energy are:
- Reducing the cost of electricity.
- Pay off your solar cells in as little as 10 years and see a return on your investment thereafter.
- With rising energy costs daily, you will be in the front seat for mitigating this, when you make use of solar energy.
- Increased property value.
- Increased sustainability footprint. Consumers want to purchase from suppliers that have an environmentally friendly approach.
You are more than welcome to ask for a free quotation for your solar needs.