Solar panels are definitely the way forward for households. We’ll each become self-sufficient in terms of energy supply, freeing us from ‘the big 6’ and giving us some autonomy and control. However, you need to know a few things before you part with any cash.
1. There are different types of PV cells. Unless you understand solar panels, you’ll probably assume that the term ‘PV cell’ refers to a single product that is manufactured the same way across the board. However, different types of PV cell use different materials. This material affects a variety of different things, including:
- The efficiency of the panels: hybrid panels tend to be the most efficient, while amorphous silicone are the least efficient. Clearly, the hybrid models tend to be more expensive. Make sure you do your research when buying hybrid panels because there are different types, some are better than others.
- The quality of the panels: some panels have a better build quality than other panels. Make sure that you establish the quality of any panels that you might consider buying.
- The cost of the panels: the cost of panels varies greatly and while it should be that the more expensive panels are the higher quality, more efficient, panels, this is not always the case. Some solar panel installers will take advantage of people’s lack of knowledge on the subject of solar panels to sell them cheap panels are premium prices.
- Our best advice in choosing PV panels is to do your research. Find out about the different composites and how these affect performance. Establish which brands are of better quality. Don’t rely on a single source, but ask around and read a variety of books.
2. Remember that solar panels will go wrong from time to time. As with any technology, PV panels aren’t indestructible they go wrong. Just like your car, your boiler, your computer, etc. solar panels require maintenance. When buying solar panels remember the following:
- You will need to keep the panels clean. They work best when clean because they absorb more sunlight. Keeping them clean is much like cleaning the windows. You will need to buy special cleaner, and probably an extendable squeegee too!
- Who offers the warrantee? Check with your solar panel installers who the warrantee is with: is it with the installer, or with the manufacturer? You need to know that you can get your money back if they break before the warrantee.
Who will you be able to call on if things go wrong? It could be that the panels require simple maintenance, rather than being replaced completely. If this is the case, you’ll need to contact a solar panel maintenance person (just think of it the same way you would your boiler. You have a warrantee for if it goes wrong, but for general maintenance once, the warrantee runs out you have plumber).