solar panels on a detached house

5 solar energy systems and their benefits

The renewable and cost-saving benefits of installing solar energy options in your home

By Gemma Parkes | 21 May 2018

Looking to save energy at home? Generating energy and reducing your fuel bills are just some of the many reasons to consider solar energy systems. As a low-carbon, eco-friendly and renewable resource, one of the most powerful sources of energy is the sun.

The most effective way to utilise the sun’s energy is to install solar panels into your home, but with so many different options available it can be difficult to know which solar energy system is right for your property, and how cost-effective it really is. Grand Designs magazine rounds up five different types of solar power panels and their benefits…

house greenskies ST lifestyle flat plate system Worcester Bosch

Photo: Greenskies Solar Lifestyle flat plate system, from £3,000, Worcester Bosch

1. Solar PV panels to generate electricity

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity to run appliances and lighting. They are made up of cells and their power is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp).

An inverter converts the power collected from a direct current to the alternating current that’s needed to run appliances. A solar battery can store excess electricity generated during the day, so it can be used when the amount produced is low. Costs vary, but the Energy Saving Trust estimates that a 4kWp domestic solar PV panel system will cost from £5000 to £8000.

Provided your system qualifies, you can earn money via the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT). The FIT is split into two payments – a fixed generation tariff, 3.93p per kWh, which earns you money from every kWh of electricity produced, and an export tariff, 5.03p per kWh, for excess units exported back to the National Grid. To qualify for the best FIT rate, your home must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D or above and the system and installer must be approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

house with roof top six panel solar panel system ikea

Photo: Rooftop six-panel PV 3kWp system, £4,550 including installation, Solarcentury at Ikea, ikea.solarcentury.com