Solar PV Frequently Asked Questions
Installing solar panels is one of the most beneficial means of generating electricity, both financially and environmentally whether it’s for a home or business.
Solar panels provide a means of producing your own clean energy from a renewable source rather than relying on carbon-intensive fuels. Photovoltaic (PV) modules not only eliminate tons of carbon every year, but they also save you money by reducing your electricity bills. What you don’t use you can send to your immersion heater or to a battery to use after the sun goes down.
With over a 25+ lifespan, the cost of generating electricity from home solar panels is significantly less than continually buying electricity. The best part is, solar energy will never run out!
Learn more about why you should install solar PVs …
2) How do solar power systems work?
Solar PV systems may seem complicated at first but are quite simple when broken down into their fundamental components. There are 4 basic steps involved in transforming solar energy into usable energy for your home – PV Input (i.e solar panels), Power Inversion (micro or string inverters), Electrical Distribution, and Grid Tie-in (off-grid options available) :
- Solar energy shines on the solar panels which generate a direct current (DC).
- DC current runs from the solar panels to the inverter(s) (either string inverter or micro-inverter) and is converted into consumer-friendly alternating current (AC).
- Solar energy is then transferred throughout the building, ready to be used.
- Energy consumption vs usage is monitored, and any excess power is fed back to the grid. Excess solar energy you feed back to the grid.
Learn more about how solar panels work…
3) Do I need planning permission?
No, you can install up to 12 square meters of Solar PV panels on your roof without planning permission (6 or 7 panels).
4) Will I qualify for the SEAI Grant?
The SEAI is offering homeowners a grant of up to €3,000 to support the installation of Solar PV panels and battery energy storage systems.
This will reduce the electricity you currently purchase from your electricity supplier and save you money. It is desirable to maximize the amount of solar electricity you use in your home by sizing the solar PV system to meet your demand, and by using energy storage solutions. Support is available to all owners of dwellings built and occupied before 2011.
This grant is available for all new Solar PV installations from January 2020.
The home energy performance following the installation of solar panels must be BER C or better.
5) Grid-tied and off-grid solar energy systems. Which one is right for me?
Grid-tied solar power systems are the most common way of distributing solar energy. When a system is “grid-tied” it simply means that we connect your solar power system to your local distribution system through your main electrical panel. When a system is grid-tied, excess energy with be sent to your electricity supplier (ESB). This will provide clean solar energy for other consumers. In the future, the government is talking about a feed-in tariff (one day you should be able to sell your electric to the grid). For now, it’s best to use as much as you can by diverting the excess electricity to a battery or your immersion heater.
Off-grid solar power systems are becoming more common. The lifestyle choice for those who don’t wish to have power supplied by carbon-intensive fuels or for those who are not easily accessible by the electrical grid like farms. The solar power installation/generation process is similar although the key difference is energy is stored in a battery bank rather than sent to the grid. Off-grid solar power systems are more applicable if you want to provide your own electricity or if you live in a remote area where electrical accessibility is an issue. Off-grid solar energy systems are more expensive because there are more components required (off-grid inverter, charge controller, large batteries, additional wiring etc.) and installation labour involved.
6) How much do solar panels cost? What is the payback period?
Solar power array’s cost varies depending on the size of the installation, your property’s design and your location (subject to survey). A quality Solar Edge home solar panel installation will range from around €5000-€15,000 depending on your energy needs. Call us today for your free quotation. We will assess your property’s available roof space, roof orientation, your location within Ireland and the ease of installation.
The best way to find out how much home solar panels cost is to contact us for a FREE quotation!
The payback period of solar power systems will also vary depending on the size of the installation and if you install a battery. Plus how ideal the location is, and your personal energy consumption. Systems will generally pay themselves off in 5-7 years but that is a misleading number. What’s important is the long-term economics of solar panels. The true payback of solar panels is best assessed by comparing the cost of electricity and of solar vs the cost of standard energy (i.e. coal, oil). The cost simply means the total money spent on fuel over 30 years divided by the total amount of energy generated by the fuel. Solar energy has a lower LCOE than standard energy so you save money over a long period. They are also ideal to help meet the electricity demand of a Heat Pump heating system.
7) How much money will my solar power system save me? How will I know?
Your solar power system will typically save you anywhere from 20% to 100% of your monthly electrical energy. Everyone’s system and energy habits are unique and as such so are everyone’s savings. You can monitor your energy products v how much you buy and see the saving for yourself.
The average home in Ireland uses 4,200kWh/yr which is roughly what 5kW solar array will produce (depending on the weather ect). The average home will become electrically Net-Zero with the right quantity of solar panels and a battery!
You will be able to monitor your solar power statistics through an online monitoring service available on any internet-enabled device. Through this online service, you can see how much solar energy you’re generating and how much carbon your solar panels are offsetting.
Read enough? Contact us now for your free home, farm or business Solar quote!
8) How much carbon will my solar energy system offset?
Solar panels offset tons of carbon every year, even smaller residential systems. A 5kW or 20 module system could offset upwards of 4,000kg of carbon every year.
9) Solar panels use lots of metal and have other upstream effects, are they really that beneficial?
It is a common misconception that the environmental cost of solar panels is negative.
Although solar panels use metals that are extracted from the earth (for the modules, inverters and associated wiring), they still provide a positive net impact on the earth relative to generating electricity from carbon-intensive means such as coal or natural gas. The carbon payback period of a solar system is different for all sizes of installation.
We have now reached a point where both the environmental and financial economics of solar panels are now positive!
10) How long does it take to install home solar panels?
Many solar energy installations can be completed in as little as one day!
Midland Solar will respond to you the same day you contact us, and you can be generating clean renewable energy in just 1-2 months! Home solar installations typically take 1 to 3 days depending on the size of the array, with the majority of projects being completed in just a day or two.
Larger commercial solar panel installations may take weeks to complete since the arrays are significantly larger than a standard residential project.
We know life can be hectic sometimes, so we will always work with you when it comes to scheduling a time for your solar power installation. In select events, a brief power outage may be required although not always. If this is the case, we will always work with you to decide the most opportune time.
11) What happens if it snows or hails?
How do solar panels fare against snow or hail? Naturally, snow, rain, and hail are two of the main concerns for residents throughout Ireland. Rest assured, snow does not have as great of an impact as you might think. The slope of the panels, as well as the current running through the solar panels, will prevent much of the snow from settling. Additionally, the energy generation and payback period are calculated based on annual production values, the majority of which comes during the spring/summer/autumn months. If some snow does settle, the added energy generation plays a minor role in the systems overall life since solar radiance is diminished in the winter. It is not worth the risk/hassle of climbing onto your sloped roof to clear any snow.
Hail! Don’t worry, your solar power system is built to withstand severe Irish hailstorms! Solar arrays have been tested with golf ball sized hail at 100kph and the results show hail does little to impact PV modules.
12) What are the ideal conditions for solar panels?
An ideal roof for solar panels will be facing due south with a slope close to the latitude of the region. For Solar Edge panels mounted between 29 degrees to 36 degrees are ideal, however, slopes from 20-40 degrees still operate at very high efficiency. If the slope of the roof is shallow, it is not as inefficient as you might think.
East/West faces are effective for commercial or home solar panel installations but will experience a reduction in efficiency. In select cases, facing east and west may actually be an advantage if the property requires the maximum amount of energy from a given building footprint such as garages or farm sheds.
Most homes are suitable for solar energy and we will always be sure to let you know if it is an investment worth making. We don’t just supply and fit Solar PVs, we work with homeowners to assess viable investments in renewable energy.
13) Is my house an ideal location? I have trees and shade, is that a problem?
The best way for us to determine this is to contact us! But in general, if you have south, west or east facing roof, we can make solar panels work for you!
If you have trees, chimneys or other shade sources shading part of your roof, we can work around it by using micro-inverters or DC power optimizers so each solar pv panel operates independently of the others (i.e. shade on one panel won’t hurt the system as a whole). We will also position the array to optimize your system specifically to your needs.
Call Midland Solar today for your free quote. We are approved contractors for SEAI Grants.