The price for fuel to heat our homes and run our appliances keeps rising as fossil fuel resources decrease. One option for a clean, free and renewable source of energy is a solar panel system. How much this relatively new technology costs and the possible savings depends on factors such as your climate and your energy needs. Either way, solar panelling is good for the environment and a sure way to reduce utility bills.
People have been tinkering with devices that harness the energy of the Sun for thousands of years, usually just a magnifying glass to light torches. Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure created the first device to concentrate the Sun's energy for an appliance, a solar energy cooker for an African safari, according to the Department of Energy's The History of Solar. In 1954, Bell Laboratory scientists Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson created the first modern solar cell/panel. Early photovoltaic cells were extremely expensive, costing around £65 per watt of energy.
Two main types of solar panels exist: flat-plate collectors and evacuated heat tubes. Flat-plate panels are the most common solar panel systems, most often seen on the roofs of households. However, flat plates often lose heat due to the gap between the absorber and the cover, according to solar energy system seller SolarPanelsPlus. Evacuated pipes are designed to reduce the convection heat loss in flat plates. Evacuated pipes can cost a significant amount more than flat-plating. AteLiving states the average price for a typical solar panel, such as the Apricus 30 tube collector for example, is £1,299, while a comparable Rheem flat panel kit costs £955.
The planned uses and scope of your solar panelling needs greatly effect the price of a solar panel installation. To heat an entire house with solar power runs from £16,250 to £65,000 just for the installation, according to CostHelper. However, heating a single room with a window heat collector can run as little as a few hundred dollars. Overall, expect to pay between £6,500 to £9,750 per kilowatt capacity of a solar panel system.
Even if you decide to completely overhaul your household power needs, you will likely still need a backup electricity system. The Department of Energy claims that solar energy can only viably support 40 per cent to 80 per cent of household energy needs. This can be due to cloud cover reducing sunlight, or building codes that requiring a reliable energy system backup.
A solar panelling system benefits a home economically and helps produce a better environment for the general public health. Solar power produces no greenhouse gas emissions, the type of pollution that contributes to global warming, according to the Department of Energy. Since sunlight is a free, renewable source, it also reduces heating and electricity costs. How much depends of the size of your system.