How Solar Panels work
The inverter (figure 2) is a device that converts the DC electricity produced by your solar array into AC that can be used in your home or business. The inverter also performs safety checks. It monitors the grid and will switch itself off if it senses a fault or bigger than normal fluctuation in the mains supply.
The electricity that is converted by the inverter goes straight into the building’s consumer unit - from here it is used in your home, decreasing the amount of electricity you will consume and shrinking your bills.
Solar PV uses energy from the sun to produce clean, green electricity. Solar PV panels contain photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Most solar PV systems are tied to the grid, this means that the electricity the panels generate flows directly into (and syncs with) a building’s mains supply. The power generated by solar panels reduces the amount of electricity consumed from your supplier. On sunny, blue sky days or at times when your property is drawing low loads, the solar panels may produce more power than the building needs, and the surplus power will be exported into the grid.
Solar gives you energy security - You will save money on your electricity bills, and you will protect yourself from the inevitable future price rises from energy suppliers.
Solar cuts carbon emissions - Each unit of electricity generated by a solar PV system reduces the amount of CO2 that is churned out by the conventional power stations. Over 25 years, a 1kWp PV array will generate over 18,000 units of electricity and save over 10 tonnes of CO2.
Solar PV is a good investment - The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) is a payment for all the electricity you generate for 20 years and it rises inline with inflation. You get paid an extra export tariff for the electricity you don’t use, that is exported to the national grid.
Despite recent cuts by the government to the Feed-in Tariff, plummeting solar costs mean that solar panels are still cost effective. On a typical 4kw system you could save around £500 a year in FIT payments, export tariffs and savings on your electricity bills.
Falling solar costs mean that in 2016 a typical internal rate of return on a 4kW investment in solar panels is a healthy 7% over 20 years.