Monday, 14 December 2009

Solar Panels for Hot Water & Electricity - The Basics for Beginners

solar panels for beginners

It's very easy to launch into detailed solar panel terminology and ignore the basics. If you're new to Solar energy but you've been hearing about how it could save you money on your heating and electricity bills and you think you'd like to save money, whilst doing the environment some good at the same time, then here are the basics of any solar panel system.

Using Solar Panels to make electricity:
Electricity generating solar panels (or photovoltaic as they are often referred to) generate a 'direct current' (DC) form of electricity. When sunlight passes over the panel, the semi-conductor (silicon) inside the panel generates electricity. This needs to be fed through an inverter to alter the power to a usable voltage in your home's present electrical wiring and appliances.

Obviously they only generate power in the daytime so you'll also need a bank of storage batteries to store generated electricity for use during the night or on particularly cloudy day. There are several different types of batteries you can use - from ordinary car type batteries which require a little maintenance in keeping the distilled water levels topped up, to more expensive sealed types and for really cold climates, Gel batteries with their freeze-resistant qualities.

To combat continual dull days or long winter nights, you might consider fitting a back up like a generator that could run on bio fuels or of course, if you have the facility, switching back to the national grid.

Using Solar Panels to make hot water:
Probably more popular in the UK than the photovoltaic variety, Hot Water Solar Panels work by sunlight falling on the panels, which contain either coils of hose/piping attached to a flat plate which is heated by the sun (Flat Plate Collector) or sealed tubes (Evacuated Tube Collector) (more efficient apparently, but more expensive). The vacuum tubes look like fluorescent light fittings and can be replaced independently of each other. The water is heated by the sun and pumped through a separate coil within your immersion tank, heating the water inside.

Even on cloudy days, the heat generated can still raise your immersion tank temperature making your fuel bills cheaper because you're present gas, oil or electrical system has to heat from a less-cold temperature. Big savings can be made.

But it doesn't have to stop at your domestic hot water. What about using the heated water to fuel an underfloor heating system or perhaps heating a pool, hot tub or jacuzzi? With a little imagination and a good installation company, all these things are possible.

If we've wetted your appetite for making your home greener whilst making your fuel bills leaner, then pop over to Solar Panel Quoter and get your instant online quote for having either hot water or photovoltaic solar panel systems installed on your property. The online quotes take minutes, are completely free and no salesman will call.

photo credit: BLW Photography

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