The homify guide to domestic solar panels

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The 21st century is marked by accelerated changes, with novel and ground-breaking technological advances being at the epicentre. Of course, these constant changes affect the societal background that has redeveloped its sensibilities towards a healthier planet.

Sustainability has been the talk of the town for some time, shifting our focus from ill-considered energy waste to efficiency. Therefore, in today’s article, we will turn our attention towards photovoltaic systems at home, more commonly known as solar panels.

Photovoltaic systems are an answer to the serious energy crisis our generation is facing, as they reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources, such as fossil fuels. In essence photovoltaic systems harness a small portion of the unlimited supply of energy emitted from the sun, converting it into green electricity.

Take notes and, as always, be inspired!

Maintenance and sustainability

Given the fact that photovoltaic systems are exposed to weather conditions, they need constant care and maintenance. Solar panels should be regularly inspected in order to confirm that everything is working properly. Even if you feel a slight reduction in efficiency, it’s advisable to call a technician immediately.  

Solar panels are not exposed to weather conditions without good reason. They are installed in open areas to maximise their ability to harness the sun's rays and the subsequent conversion to electricity. The amassed green energy can be used to illuminate the whole house, depending on how many solar panels are being used. 

You can, of course, use solar panels as a supplement to your existing energy consumption of non-renewable energy resources, giving power to smaller areas, such as the garage or garden.

How do they work?

Sunlight is comprised of photons and when these photons hit the solar panel electrons are released, forming a direct current. An inverting system in the panels converts the amassed DC electricity into AC, which feeds the house fuse box.  

The end result of using solar panels is that you’ll not need to buy so much electricity from energy suppliers. Of course, this has a domino effect. We reduce the use of conventional energy sources, which leads to a more sustainable environment for our planet.  

In so far, fossil fuels have been our main energy source, aiding us in achieving marvels. However, our achievements came with a price. Even though at this moment solar panels cannot fully take charge of our energy demands, they present a great alternative resource for our homes. They can be easily installed on rooftops and slowly help rectify our misuse of conventional energy sources.

The costs

One of the reasons that photovoltaic systems cannot take full charge of our energy demands at present is their cost. They are an expensive purchase but also a great investment. Despite their initial high costs, your electricity bills can be reduced by more than 50%.  

Therefore, in the long run you will be able to recover the initial cost of purchase and, given that energy is a recurrent expense, solar panels turn into an economic investment. Nonetheless, current technological advancements are making solar panels cheaper, with small versions making their appearance on the market. It stands to reason that in a matter of a few years solar panels will become the optimum choice for home energy efficiency.

When should I buy?

You shouldn't wait for technology to catch up with costs in order to invest in solar panels. From a sustainability stand point, you should go for photovoltaic systems as soon as possible because, as we mentioned earlier, what matters for photovoltaic cells is sunlight.  

The UK, for example, has the same annual irradiation levels as most of Central Europe and a mild climate during the year is ideal for solar panels. Understandably, financial constraints and their design might hinder their purchase, however, investing in solar panels goes beyond monetary value and expands into our never ending attempt to create a better world for tomorrow.

Where can I install?

Solar panels can be installed anywhere that receives sunlight. So, you can place them on your rooftop, the roof of the garage or the top of the terrace. It’s important to ensure that the installation point of the solar panels can be connected with the main grid of electricity. 

Also, you should try to integrate the solar panels with your home design. Try using colours that blend harmoniously with your home décor and hide the cables. We simply love the design above from Giancarlo Zema Design Group. The rooftop consists of solar panels that blend harmoniously with the wooden design of the floating house.

How long do they last?

Photovoltaic systems are a lifetime investment. However, as with any technological device, they require continuous maintenance and care. As we've discussed, solar panels have photovoltaic cells that convert energy from the sun into a direct current and if any of the cells fail, the panel’s efficiency will be reduced even though it will still be operational.

Given that the defect will not be apparent to the naked eye, regular visits from technicians are recommended. In any case, photovoltaic systems will outlast any technological device in your home, with a lifetime expectancy of 40 years and above.

Can be installed in any home or building!

As the only prerequisite for solar panels is sunlight, they can be used on any kind of building, whether it is a house or an apartment block. For an apartment building, solar panels can be installed on the rooftop, or terrace and each apartment can reap their benefits. They can supplement electricity and hot water, reducing monthly expenses and the cost of installation can be divided amongst the tenants. 

Even if you have a house that has no access to the electricity grid, you can still have a photovoltaic system. They will be used in a stand-alone system, where there is no connection to a regional electricity supply and the system takes care all the electricity demands of the building. 

Photovoltaic systems, or solar panels, are a representation of our revitalised sensitivities towards energy efficiency. While they might be a costly purchase, they will quickly pay off their investment, both in monetary and environmental value.

For more cost-saving tips, check out how to: Save Money With Better Home Energy Efficiency.

Do you use solar panels in your home? What benefits do you get from them? Let us know in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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