Officially known as solar photovoltaic (or solar PV), solar panels catch the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that we can use in our homes.
Solar panels generate most electricity during daylight hours. Any electric appliances you use during the day, such as your TV or washing machine, will use this electricity to run. However, if the solar panels produce more electricity than your appliances use, then this extra electricity goes to the electricity grid.
With a battery energy storage system, you can keep that extra electricity. If more electricity is generated than is used, then the spare power charges the battery. You can then use this battery to power your appliances when your renewables aren’t producing electricity.
Solar panels in Scotland?
The first home solar panels in the UK were installed in 1994, and solar power has been growing ever since. As of 2022, solar panels in Scotland produce enough energy to power around 90,000 homes.
Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to generate electricity. They require daylight, rather than sunlight. This means they still work on cloudy days. It’s true that on sunny days, more electricity is produced, but even our infamous Scottish weather won’t stop a solar panel from working.
FAQs – Solar panels and battery storage
If you’ve been offered the opportunity to have solar panels and/or battery storage installed at your home, these FAQs should answer any questions you may have.
Solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) panel electricity systems capture the sun’s energy then convert it into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
- Reduce your electricity bills: sunlight is free, so once the system is installed, your electricity costs should be reduced as you will not be buying all your electricity from the national grid. You will need to be careful you are not using more electricity than normal as the system will not cover all of this.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: Solar electricity is green renewable energy and does not release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar system could save around 0.9 tonnes of carbon per year
A battery stores electricity generated by your solar panels which can be used when you need it, such as when the sun is not shining. The battery does not give you more electricity, but it allows you to use more of the electricity generated from your panels. Without a battery this unused electricity is exported to the grid.
- Reduce your electricity bill (if you do not start using more)
- Future proof yourself against electricity price rises
- With the battery being charged by electricity from the Solar PV panels, it benefits the environment by using a cleaner source of electricity and thus reduces carbon emissions
The installation of the solar panels and battery will take 2-3 days dependant on scaffold requirements and roof type. In addition to installation days, there will also be a home survey and at least one more additional visit before the process is complete. These additional visits may be for quality assurance, electrical testing, monitoring and so on. But we will aim to tell you about these visits in advance. Please also note that the scaffold may stay up for around a week. The actual process will not be intrusive, although there may be the possibility that the contractor must drill a small (10mm) bore hole into your house. You can discuss this with the surveyor before the install begins.
Solar panels do not need direct sunlight to work, and they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.
Solar PV systems typically have long-life spans, you should expect the panels to last for around 25 years. The inverter which comes with the system may need to be replaced after 10 years.
The inverter is a piece of electrical equipment that converts the DC electricity generated by the solar panels, to AC electricity and can be fed back into the grid and for use within your property. The inverter will also divert DC electricity to the battery when there is no load on site and there is spare storage capacity in the battery. This will be installed at the same time as the other equipment.
The installer will need access to your roof to install the solar panels so scaffolding may be erected while the installation is under way. Disruption will be kept to a minimum as much as possible. The installer will also need to complete a survey of your property to agree where to put the battery. It will likely be in a cupboard under the stairs or in the loft space. The battery storage system runs on a ‘fit and forget’ approach. Once installed, you do not have to adjust or manage the system, it works automatically.
Solar panels and battery storage systems are low maintenance and generally self-cleaning. But, we recommend that you keep them clean, and service your system approximately every two years.
You can check if it’s working by looking at the generation meter. This easily shows how much energy you are generating compared to your usage. The meter is small enough that it will be kept out of the way.
Yes. The way you receive your electricity bill will not change.
No, you can remain with your own electricity supplier. You can contact your supplier to ask about time of use tariffs that might make your bills even cheaper.
In the unlikely case of something going wrong during the 12 month defects period, please contact your installer who will advise on the next steps.
All of the equipment will disconnect and switch off until it sees a healthy grid again, it will then switch back on automatically.
No, the solar panel and battery system will not have this capability. To comply with grid safety codes, they must disconnect from the mains in a power cut to avoid back feeding to the grid.
You will receive a 2KWp system consisting of approximately 5 solar panels depending on the specific roof dimensions.
This will not affect the installation and you will still benefit from the free electricity produced by the solar. There may be some restrictions on tariffs available to you that could provide even further benefits, this would be best discussed with your electricity supplier.
This will be discussed at survey.
You will receive a copy of the handover pack with details of the installation and safe switching on and off procedures.
Yes, the installer will issue an Energy Performance Certificate before and after the installation.
Specific roof hooks are used to attach the panels to the roof. Rails are then mounted to these hooks and the panels clamped onto the rails. Any damage caused by the installer will be repaired. The installer will ensure the roof is left watertight.
The battery can store up to 4.8kWh of electricity at any one time. The amount of electricity stored in the battery will vary depending on how much solar energy is being produced and how much electricity is being consumed on site and the time of day.
The battery is powered by electricity generated by the solar panels.
I own my home: You should inform your buildings insurance provider that you are getting solar and battery installed, so it can be added to the building insurance policy. You should also inform your contents insurer that there will be a temporary scaffold in place.
I rent my home:If you rent your home, you should also inform your contents insurance provider that there will be a temporary scaffold in place.
Installer insurance covers scaffold, damage caused by the installer etc during the works.
Have a chat with an energy advisor at Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282for advice on ways to save energy and money in your home.
Our energy needs don’t stop when the sun goes down. This is why many people choose to have a battery installed with their solar PV system. The energy the panels produce during the day is stored in battery. This can then be used during the evening and night-time.
A battery could be worthwhile if your panels produce significantly more energy than you use during the day. However, it might make more financial sense to sell this energy back to the national grid.
Batteries come in different sizes. The size you choose will depend on your energy usage and the amount of power your array is able to produce. If you want the power in the battery to get you through the night, you’ll need to have a look at your electricity usage during those hours.
For more advice on batteries, see our battery storage guide.
Sell your solar energy to the grid
If your solar panels are producing more electricity than you are using, this extra energy is sent to the grid. If you join a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme you will be paid for energy that you put into the grid.
To get SEG payments, you’ll need to sign up to a specific SEG tariff with your energy company. All energy companies that have over 150,000 customers must offer at least one SEG tariff.
The payments for SEG will vary depending on the tariff. Energy companies can set the payment per kilowatt hour at any price they choose, as long as it is above zero. To find out what SEG tariffs your energy supplier offers, you can check their website or contact them directly.