How Do Solar Panels Work?

When working on installs we often get asked, “How do solar panels work?”. It’s prompted our latest blog post. Here we explain…


It all starts with the sun. The sun provides enough energy in one day to satisfy the earth’s energy demand for a whole year. Solar panels allow us to

harness that power.


What Equipment is Needed for Solar Panels to Work?


Contrary to popular belief, photovoltaics (Capturing solar power) isn’t a new technology.


The breakthrough for photovoltaic technology came in 1954, when Gerald Pearson discovered the first iteration of a practical photovoltaic cell. Just four years later and the technology began its rise to prominence thanks to its use on NASA’s Vanguard I Satellite.


A photovoltaic cell

t all starts with a photovoltaic cell. This is the main component that turns irradiance energy from the sun, into DC energy (direct current). These cells are then connected in multiple rows, and laminated behind a tempered glass to create a photovoltaic panel.



A photovoltaic panel

The photovoltaic panels are then connected together – most commonly in strings – to create a photovoltaic array. A photovoltaic array can vary in size and generating capacity, depending on the quantity of, and the specification of panel installed.


Here in the UK, the typical capacity of a domestic photovoltaic array is 4.0kWp. This means the system has the ability to generate up to a peak of 4kWh of usable electricity per hour.


However, GB Solar works with inverter manufacturers that allow us to install a larger than standard capacity of up to 6.5kWh.


Do Solar Panels Work Consistently Across All Properties?


In short, no. The amount of energy your solar array will generate over the course of a year will vary according to the pitch and azimuth of the roof, your home’s geographical location and the generating capacity installed.


If you have a south-facing roof with a 35-degree pitch, you could expect a 4kWh system to generate in the region of 3,500kWh’s per annum.


This means that over the course of a year and allowing for degradation of the solar panel within their warrantied allowance, a system will generate over 70,000kWh’s in its warrantied lifetime.


How Do You Benefit?


So, your system is on the roof, and generating electricity… how is it saving you money?


Your property always needs electricity, day and night, whether you’re home or not. Fridges, freezers, routers, alarms, heating systems, cooking and entertainment systems; amongst other common items all use electricity all day.

When you have a Solar PV system installed, this automatically becomes the first point of call for that electricity.


The Inverter is the brains behind the system. This is the part that converts the DC energy generated by the solar panels and turns it into usable AC electricity - the kind of electricity we use in our homes and businesses every day.


Amongst many other features, the inverter tracks the voltage coming into your property and ensures that the voltage coming out of your photovoltaic array is slightly higher, meaning it will always be the primary source when you need electricity.


A domestic Solar PV system will generate over 9kWh per day on average in the UK. This means that during daytime hours, your photovoltaic array will be working very hard to generate energy for you. It is at these times of day that you should ensure you’re using electricity-hungry appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers. This ensures you’ll be maximising the self-consumption of your generated energy.


What If I’m Not Home During the Day?


The constant improvement of Battery systems now enables homeowners to maximise their self-consumption and not worry if they’re out of the home during the day, as they can now store that electricity to use during the evening and night, powering the family home. You can view one of our latest blogs all about battery storage.


Can I Still Get Paid for My Solar Power?


Yes. Under the current payment framework employed in the UK, from January 1st, 2020 all homeowners will be able to get paid for electricity sent back to the grid. The new S.E.G (Smart Export Guarantee), guarantees compensation for homeowners to ensure they’re not sending electricity back to the National Grid for free.


Get In Touch


GB Solar can put you in touch with suppliers who already offer this payment scheme to ensure you’re not out of pocket and sending electricity back for nothing.


If you’d like to know more about how Solar PV can benefit your home or business, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01909-269853, or email us.



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GB Solar Limited

Worksop, Nottinghamshire - United Kingdom

Registered in UK and Wales. No: 11590686