Solar PV: Pros & Cons of Solar Photovoltaic Systems


solar pv panels on house

The sun radiates enough energy in a single hour to power the whole planet for a year, but we are not yet able to capture enough of it to make this possible. A big reason for this is that many people are still sceptical about the pros and cons of solar PV systems. By installing solar PV or solar photovoltaic panels on your roof you can harness the sun's energy to power your home electricity and even an electric car. This can help to significantly reduce your energy bills and, because you will be using less fossil fuel-generated electricity and petrol/diesel, reduce your carbon footprint.

If you're undecided about whether or not you should be investing in solar energy for your home, here are the most important pros and cons to consider.

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Pros of Solar PV Systems

Renewable energy is better for the planet

While it's a big statement to begin with, the main pro of installing solar panels is that you will be joining the fight against climate change by using more renewable energy and reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are not only running out, but when we use natural gas or oil in our homes, cars or in the production of electricity we are adding carbon to the atmosphere which is one of the greenhouse gases causing our climate to change. Solar electricity produces no emissions and (according to scientists) will not run out for at least a few billion years..

Solar PV systems can significantly reduce your energy bills

Solar PV systems can generate a significant amount of the electricity you need in your home and, as this electricity is free, you will need to buy less from your supplier. The amount you'll save will depend on how many panels you install, how much sunlight your home benefits from and how much of the solar electricity you are able to use. If you are not at home during the day when the electricity is being generated anything not used will be fed into the national grid. However, if you also install a solar battery to store the electricity you don't use during the day so you can use it at night, you can maximise your savings.

Solar PV systems qualify for payments from the government

From January 2020, homeowners or businesses who install MCS certified (or equivalent) solar PV panels will be eligible to receive payments from the government under the Smart Export Guarantee. This means you will receive a payment for every kWh of electricity your panels generate from your energy supplier.

Solar PV systems can power electric vehicles

If you have or are planning to get an electric vehicle, you can get a home charging point installed and power it with solar electricity, i.e. you can run your car for free!

Solar PV systems are easy (and cheap) to maintain

The only maintenance you need to think about is cleaning the solar panels occasionally to ensure they get as much sunlight as possible. This can be done by you or professional companies for a small charge. Solar panels typically include a 25-30 year manufacturer's warranty while the inverter is usually guaranteed for 5-10 years. As solar panels have no moving parts, wear and tear is not an issue.

Solar PV technology is more efficient than ever

Solar panel efficiency has improved rapidly since they first hit the market and now the best models can reach efficiencies of up to 25%. The efficiency will decrease as the cells in the panels degrade over time, but the manufacturer will guarantee a minimum efficiency for the warranty period.

Solar PV systems will generate electricity even on cloudy days

There is a misconception that solar PV isn't effective in the UK because of how many overcast days we have. While it's true that homes in sunnier places will be able to generate more electricity, they work perfectly well as long as there is sunlight, even on cloudy days.

Solar PV panel costs are dropping rapidly

The cost of solar panels has dropped year on year and today are over 60% cheaper than they were in 2010. Find out more in How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Solar PV panels are silent

Solar panels make no noise at all and, as they are installed in the roof, won't impact your day-to-day life at all.

Solar PV panels can add value to a property

Many home buyers see solar panels as a pro when looking for a property to buy as they can look forward to cheaper energy bills.

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Cons of Solar PV Systems

Solar PV panels have a high upfront cost

While prices are lower than ever, installing solar panels, inverter and wiring still requires a significant investment of £6,000 on average which can be a barrier for some people.

Solar PV panels won't generate electricity at night

Solar panels will only generate electricity when exposed to sunlight so you will not have electricity to use after dark. When the panels generate more electricity than is being used, the surplus electricity will be fed into the national grid. As many people are out of the home during the day and at home during the evening, this can pose a problem.

However, if you install a solar battery alongside the solar panels you can store the surplus electricity from the daytime so you can use it at night and increase your savings. Find out more about solar batteries.

Solar PV panels are less effective on cloudy days

While solar panels will still generate electricity on cloudy days, the efficiency level will drop which will reduce your savings.

Solar PV panels require a lot of space on the roof

Solar panels should be installed on a south facing roof for maximum electricity generation and do take up a lot of space on the roof, especially if you want to install enough to cover most of your electricity demand. In addition, some people don't like the look of solar panels on a roof which is a matter of personal taste, but it is possible to install ground-based solar panels in some cases.

Is a solar PV system the right choice for you?

Despite these considerations, investing in solar PV is a great move for most homeowners looking to reduce their electricity bills and be less dependent on energy suppliers and their rising prices. Solar panels are cheaper than they have been since 2010 and have the potential to add value to your property. In addition, when the Smart Export Guarantee comes into effect, you will also be earning money for the energy the PV system generates.

If the pros of solar PV systems outweigh the cons for you, it might be time to get some solar PV installation quotes tailored to your home and electricity needs. If you complete our enquiry form we can help you find the best deal and save you a lot of time and research by providing up to 3 no-obligation quotes from MCS certified (or equivalent) solar installers near you.

You can compare their professional advice and prices before choosing which – if any – is right for you.

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