Thinking about converting your roof into a solar energy factory?

Great! There’s just a few things you might want to check off first. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to walk through all the major points to consider when installing the ability to capture Solar Energy.

Solar energy has actually been around for the best part of 100 years, but did not become a viable source for electricity until the efficiency of solar panels in converting sunlight to energy became more, well efficient.

What Exactly Is Solar Energy And Where Does It Come From?

Solar energy (or power, or radiation) is, generally speaking, the energy from our sun; the light that gives life to almost everything on Earth; the energy that powers are weather and climate, and which can be converted to energy for use in our homes.

For a more detailed guide about the technology behind how a solar panel actually works, check out this guide: How Does a Solar Panel Work & How They Can Save You Money

Solar Energy

And why is solar energy a good idea?

  • Solar energy is the most abundant form of renewable energy available on the planet
  • Every hour the sun shines more solar energy on the surface of the planet than the whole of humanity uses across an entire year
  • The Countries with the highest solar capacity installed are China, Germany, Japan and the USA with the full list published here
  • Most homeowners have space readily available on their roofs to install solar
  • You will never run out of power, for as long as the sun burns
  • Solar energy controls and catalyses all of the major processes on Earth that are essential for life. This includes generating the weather, by heating the sea, creating vapour that brings clouds and then rain back to Earth which in turn supports the growth of plant-life, which supports all living things on the planet
  • Solar energy and renewable energy its set to beat fossil fuels by 2020

When you think about it solar energy is freely available, all you have to do is install the infrastructure required to harness if from the sun and make use of it. Furthermore once it is installed the collection and transportation costs are minimal.

Historically solar energy was unreliable because the energy collected during the daytime was difficult to store — facilities did not exists that enable individuals or companies to store this energy, however this has changed hugely over the last decade within the development of large scale storage batteries that enable the solar energy collected during the day to be stored and released back into usage during the evening.

Tesla’s Solar City has been at the forefront of developing battery technology as well as developing solar energy roof tiles that seamlessly integrate within existing roofs, so that they are discernible from an aesthetic point of view and so that they can work better to collect solar energy.

How To Get Started with Solar Energy

Once you’ve made the decision to go solar, you may find surprisingly easy to install solar panels on your roof. However, there are some factors that you need need to consider:

  1. Do you have a south facing roof and a roof with little to no shade? South facing for solar energy is ideal, but southeast or southwest can also work, though these orientations will generate less power.
  2. What size system would you like to install? The right size for you really depends on your needs and how large your roof is. Consult with a surveyor to ensure that your system is not oversized, but makes enough of a contribution to your energy needs to effectively lower your bills.
  3. Is planning permission required to get started? Generally you do not need planning permission (in the UK) to install solar energy panels for domestic use, however if you are unsure, consult with your local council to double check.
  4. Do I need to clean my solar energy panels on a regular basis? If they are installed at the right pitch/angl then you should not need to clean them too often as gravity and rainwater will allow for this to happen. However be sure to check them on a regular basis and clean them, with a gentle detergent, as and when required.     

Solar energy panels are generally maintenance free and are designed to last for up to 25 years, so once they are installed they should be pretty much hassle free.

For the UK you can search for solar panel installers here whilst in the US you can check out a list of solar installers here. These are just two links across a huge industry of solar panels installers, available across the globe.

Remember when choosing your installer, don’t always go for the cheapest or free option. A large number of the companies installing free solar panels, will have a contractual agreement which means the excess energy generated by your panels and sold back to the grid will generate profits that go back to the company and not you.

So get at least 3 quotations and make sure you read the fine print. Look for examples of previous work, or choose your installer based on recommendations from trusted sources.

And What Are the Benefits of Installing Solar Energy?

Solar Energy

Well, we’ve already covered a few! But some real, tangible benefits of installing solar energy, include:

  • Your home increasing in value — one study in America demonstrated that adding solar energy to your home could increase the value buyers would be prepared to pay by as much asd $12,000 to $15,000.  
  • Local government grants or incentives may be available for those who instal solar — tax credits, incentives and grants are available, depending on which country and region you live in, for those who wish to instal solar energy power. Check with your local government office to see if there are any incentives available.
  • You could get paid for the energy you don’t use — by taking advantage of Feed in Tariffs (FITs) you could not only save money by cutting back your electricity bills, you could also make money by selling your excess energy back to the grid. The UK has a fully developed FIT Scheme which provides all the details on eligbility, how much money you could get for the power obtained and details on how to apply. Check out the details from the Energy Saving Trust for more information.

Remember any excess energy that you sell back to the grid is helping to reduce the amount of reliance on carbon based energy and making your solar energy panels go further in the contribution towards tackling climate change.

Have you successfully installed solar energy panels? Please leave your comments below about your experience and any tips and suggestions you might have to help others on their journey to solar powered energy independence!