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How do solar panels work?

Solar panels harness light particles from the sun to give us inexpensive, renewable energy.

Each panel is made up of photovoltaic cells that convert light into electrical energy that we can use in our homes. The photovoltaic cell is the sandwich of two semiconductor wafers (n-doped and p-doped). Photons from sunlight hit this cell, displacing and exciting the electrons within, which causes the electrons in the negative wafer to jump over to the positive wafer through tiny wires, filling the protons on the p-junction.

The resulting current is then taken to an inverter to be converted from DC to AC.

How does a solar energy system work?

A solar energy system comprises a few different elements. Here’s a summary of how they all work: 1. Solar Panels – These use sunlight to generate electricity. Most panels have 60 or 72 cells, but Wickes uses 108 Half Cell Tier One panels for their efficiency and reliability. 2. Inverter – Converts the DC energy from the solar panels into AC energy that your home can use. It’s essential for the system. Click here to learn more about inverters and what they do. 3. Electricity meter – Your existing electricity meter will stay in place to measure energy usage while connected to the grid. 4. Battery storage – Stores excess energy for later use. Advanced Lithium-Ion Batteries are popular for their reliability and long life.

How long do solar panels last?

At Wickes Solar powered by Solar Fast, our warranty covers your panels for 30 years, but they can last for over 40. The biggest risk to solar panels come from damage or degradation. In the UK, we expect solar panels to have a medium degradation rate of 0.5% per year, so you’ve got a while before any problems will arise. In fact, the panels will pay for themselves in just 5 years, meaning that you’re getting 20 years of free energy production before you need to shell out for any replacements.

If you’d like to learn more about how long solar panels last, click here.

Do solar panels work in winter and on cloudy days?

It’s a common misconception that solar panels are useless on dark and overcast days, but it isn’t true. Light is made up of waves that come in different lengths and colours, and some of these easily pass through clouds to reach your solar panels. A clear day makes it easier for sunlight to reach the panels, but a cloudy day only limits their performance by about 10%.

Clouds can even benefit your panels as rain is a fantastic natural cleaner. It washes away any dust or dirt that might block light from getting to where it needs to go, optimising your panels’ performance.

Do solar panels work at night?

Panels can’t generate electricity at night, which is why we recommend adding batteries to your solar panel system. With advances in technology, batteries are increasing in efficiency while reducing in price, so most will easily run the house overnight so long as you’re not turning on every appliance while the sun is down.

Plus, having a battery in your system can reduce your carbon footprint by an average of 0.42 tons per year!

You can also set up a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) with your energy supplier (more on that later).

How do solar panels work with the grid?

With most homes only using half of the energy their solar panel system generates during the day, you have plenty leftover to use at night if you’ve got battery storage.

To use up any remaining energy, you can make an agreement with your energy supplier called a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). This allows you to sell them your excess electricity. These funds can pay for any extra energy you might need or to go straight into the bank.

Different suppliers offer different rates, so we recommend doing your research to get the best deal. Wickes Solar powered by Solar Fast is an established MCS registered company, so we can help you sign up for an SEG with your energy supplier, providing all the necessary warranties and certifications for future resale.