Busting some of the myths around Solar PV systems

As more people are looking at options to save money and use sustainable sources of energy to power their home, solar panels have emerged as one of the leading solutions that provide a source of clean and renewable power.

Image of solar panels on a roof
There are lots of companies offering solar photovoltaic (PV)systems, but there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions which can cause confusion around this renewable technology.

Below are some of the common myths and the reality about solar panels.

Myth: Solar panels don’t work well in cloudy or rainy weather and require constant sunlight to be effective

Reality: Solar panels can generate electricity even on cloudy days. While their efficiency may be slightly reduced, they still produce power when the sun isn’t shining bright. They can generate electricity from diffused sunlight, which is light that has been scattered by particles in the atmosphere such as rain clouds before reaching the earth. This makes solar panels a viable option in regions with varying weather patterns, such as the UK. Rain can even help by cleaning the panels and improving their performance. Read Solar Together’s blog on this for more information.

Myth: Solar panels are expensive

Reality: The cost of solar panels has significantly decreased over the years. In a recent article on the Which? Website, the average solar panel system of 3.5kWp (kilowatt peak) will cost around £5,500 to install, according to estimates from the Energy Saving Trust.

The exact cost will vary, depending on the size of your home and how much energy you want to produce. Last year, the Council partnered with Solar Together, a group buying scheme, to offer residents in west Cheshire the opportunity to receive a competitive quote from a pre-vetted installer. The scheme is currently closed for new applicants, but you can register your interest and you’ll be informed if it opens for applicants in the future.

Myth: Solar panel production is harmful to the environment

Reality: While there is an environmental impact associated with manufacturing solar panels, the overall life cycle emissions are much lower compared to traditional energy sources, such as those generated by fossil fuels. The ongoing improvements in manufacturing processes are reducing their environmental footprint further and most solar waste is already recyclable, with a growing recycling industry developing around the recovery of materials for reuse. Read more about this topic in this Forbes article.

Myth: Solar panels require excessive maintenance

Reality: Solar panels are relatively low-maintenance. It is not necessary to clean your solar PV system, unless in areas of heavy leaf fall or bird activity, as there is regular rainfall all year round that does the cleaning for you. Monitoring the output of your solar panels will tell you if performance is dropping and a clean may be required. If you do wish to clean your solar panels use only lukewarm water and do not use any household cleaning products as they can damage your panels. If in doubt, ask a professional cleaner for their services. Most modern systems come with warranties and are designed to withstand various weather conditions.

Myth: Solar panels are unattractive and bulky
Reality: Solar panel designs have evolved, and there are sleek and more visually appealing options available. Some can even be integrated into building materials, such as in the tiles of your roof, making them a seamless part of the architecture.

Myth: Solar panels are not powerful enough to meet a property’s energy needs

Reality: Advances in solar technology have significantly increased the efficiency of solar panels. When properly sized and installed, solar systems can generate enough power to meet the energy needs of many homes and businesses. Using a local Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) installer will ensure they can advise on the correct type of system that will work for your households needs. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has a useful checklist of things to ask your installer in this article.

If you’d like to do more research on the subject the below articles are a good starting point:

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