Do solar panels produce enough energy to power my home or business?
As energy prices increase, more UK businesses and homeowners are installing solar panels to help boost their profits, lower their carbon footprint or lower their energy bills. However, many businesses and homeowners wonder how much energy solar panels produce and whether they generate enough electricity to power their homes or businesses. In this article, we are going to take a look at how much energy solar panels produce, and if they can indeed provide energy energy to power your home or business.
How does the sun generate energy?
The sun generates its energy from nuclear fusion, a process that releases energy at mass. To give you an idea of the scale of energy it can generate, a total of 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use, according to MIT physics professor Washington Taylor. Having solar panels installed on your home or business allows you to take advantage of this solar energy each day.
How do solar panels absorb sunlight?
When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sun is absorbed by the PV cells within the panel. Absorbed energy then creates electrical charges that move within the panel causing electricity to flow. Solar panels are made up of solar cells created from silicon. The silicon acts as a semiconductor, when the sun’s rays beam on it, electrons fuse with the silicon to release their energy as both current and voltage.
The difference between solar PV and solar thermal panels
Both solar PV and solar thermal panels turn direct sunlight into a power source, but the way they work is slightly different.
Solar panels are comprised of small units called solar photovoltaic (or solar PV) cells.
Each panel contains a semiconductor material to capture the sun’s energy and convert solar radiation into electricity.
Solar thermal panels use heat from the sun to produce hot water or steam. Heat from the sun is used to warm liquid inside the thermal tubes, generating enough power to heat a water tank.
How much energy do solar panels produce?
The efficiency of solar panels is advancing all the time. As technology develops we are seeing solar panels that have higher efficiency rates and bigger wattages. This is allowing solar panels to produce more energy than ever before. But how much energy do solar panels actually produce?
We’re going to take a look at the Jinko Tiger Neo 425w panel. This panel has an output of 425W per hour. In order to work out how much power a solar panel produces we need to use the following equation:
Solar panel output x hours of sunlight per day = watt hours of electricity produced per day.
As solar panels produce electricity as DC, this needs to be converted in to AC within the inverter. This conversion process typically has a loss of 3% of the electricity you produce. The above equation will give you watt hours but the typical measurement is kWh. To convert to this we simply divide the watt hours by 1000 in order to get our kWh per day.
The UK typically sees around 4-5 hours of daylight per day, for this equation we will use 4.5 hours of sunlight.
Using our Jinko Tiger Neo panel we will work out how much power a solar panel can produce.
425w x 4.5 hours = 1,912 watt hours per day
1,912 watt hours – 3% loss during conversion from DC to AC = 1,855 watt hours per day
1,855 watt hours / 1000 = 1.8kWh per day
With the average UK home using 2,700kWh of electricity per year. You can use the above equation to work out how many solar panels you would need to cover your own energy consumption per year.
What effects how much energy solar panels produce?
There are a few factors that can affect how much energy a solar panel is capable of producing and their efficiency:
Amount of energy currently consumed:
This is dependent on the size of your home or business, the number of occupants or employees and any operational costs or other costs associated with running a household.
Position of panels:
When installed East-West or south-facing, solar panels are the most effective at generating energy. This is not to say solar panels should only be installed at these positions to effectively generate energy. It can depend on your daily routine and energy usage pattern, but we at R-EV Power will always conduct a full survey of your current situation to advise you on the best setup.
Angle of panels:
Solar panels should be installed at a 30 degree angle for maximum efficiency. However, depending on your roof type this isn’t always possible.
Wattage of panels:
Ratings of solar panels can range from 250 to 500 watts and the higher the wattage, the greater energy efficiency.
The number of peak daylight hours: The more daylight in the day, the more energy a solar panel can generate. However, as some people are not aware solar panels do still produce energy on cloudy days, which we in the UK get our fair share of!
The average UK electricity bill
The average UK household electricity consumption is 2,700 kWh of energy per year. This figure is for the average 2-3 bedroom house, if you own a bigger or smaller property this will affect the figures. As we have experienced over the past year energy prices have reached exponential figures with the government having to step in to help. The government has also tried to do the same with business energy prices, attempting to cap wholesale prices.
Despite these measures, households and businesses are still seeing energy prices skyrocket! So much so that investing in solar panels could now be the smartest thing you do. Not only can you reduce your energy costs, but you can sell any excess energy your solar panels produce to generate additional income.
So if you’re ready to take the next step on your solar panel journey get in touch with the R-EV Power team today to discuss your needs and get a free bespoke quote for your solar installation.