What are Solar Cells and How Much Do They Cost?
Solar cells are essentially the components that make up what we know as solar panels. They are the basic elements that allow the panels to function correctly. Usually, people refer to solar energy solutions in general as solar panel system because that is the complete product.
Solar cells are also grouped into the photovoltaics category, which comes from the name of the technology that they utilise. Unfortunately, the efficiency of solar cells is still quite low, averaging around 13-15% and jumping up to a good 20% in the best cases.
A lot of this is to do with the geographical location of the United Kingdom, which is not the best when it comes to harnessing energy that is produced by the sun. While this does negatively affect the efficiency of the cells, it’s still a very worthwhile thing to install and can definitely be beneficial to your home.
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Cost of Solar Cells
Obviously, actual sunlight is completely free, but the cost of installing and maintaining solar panel systems is quite high still, despite price drops over the past few decades. It is possible that this is due to the cost of crystalline silicone (which is high), a key component in the creation of the majority of solar cells. This in-part drives up the costs of manufacture.
It is difficult to set a price on solar cells, so much of it is down to personal needs and preferences, not to mention the fact that people tend to buy a whole solar panel system as opposed to a single cell.
Solar panel systems will usually range between £800 and £15,000, and the average system is more likely to be around the £6,000 mark for supply and installation. However, this can provide more than half the energy needs of the average family, cutting your energy bills in half too.
The low efficiency and the high up-front costs are likely to scare quite a few people away, and it could make them feel as though solar panels aren’t actually a good investment after all. However, it is, and this is why the government has previously implemented several very attractive schemes and incentives to really make people consider it, these have now unfortunately ended but in doing so the price for acquiring solar has fallen to the most affordable prices ever.
In addition to this, scientists across the globe are continually working hard on further developing solar technologies that are not only likely to see the prices continue to fall, but the efficiency continues to rise, SunPower has recently released a solar panel that can yield over 400w which means you need less of them to produce more power, this reduces the efficiency and therefore cost of the overall system.
Investing in Solar Cells
While the cost of installation can be considered significant the maintenance for solar cells is minimal, the technology shows vast signs of continual improvement and benefits for our planet. As a result, it is gaining more popularity and recognition, which then leads to more funding and research that leads to a drop in manufacturing costs.
Something that made solar cells a little more attractive for people previously was the concept of the FIT (feed-in-tariff). This was a government incentive that works to make solar energy solutions more attractive to people in terms of the cost by offering a payment for the amount of electricity the system generated.
FIT was fundamentally a scheme that pays you for generating your own energy. The solar supplier that installed the panels must have been MCS certified if you wanted to qualify for FIT payments. It’s a good idea to check this site regularly for any other incentives that may be offered in place of the FIT as governments often bring in new incentives as laws and government objectives change frequently.
The FIT scheme was available for 20 years, which tended to result in the majority of people making reasonable profits on their solar investment. This is because the rates per kWh (kilowatts per hour) generated are more than reasonable.
The government also allow you to sell your excess energy back to the National Grid, which gives you an even better return on your investment rates. This also helps make the technology that much more attractive to potential investors and recent changes will allow energy firms to bid for the price they will pay you for this electricity, the details of this have yet to be released.
Any schemes that offered ‘free’ solar’ have now ended with the government support offered through the FIT ending. Existing ‘Government Solar Schemes’ are simply a way of tricking consumers into taking out loans to pay for the solar panels with very little chance of seeing a return on the investment due to the interest charges on the loans consuming the return on the savings offered.
We’ve already deduced that solar cells cost a reasonable amount of money, but that they will also generate savings for you in the long run, these savings will increase year on year with the rising cost of grid supplied electricity. With plummeting supply and install costs coupled with the ability to have energy companies bid for your surplus energy you send back to the grid, it is possible for most solar energy systems to pay you back in 10 or so years.
This means that after this period, you still have between 11 and 13 years of free electricity produced by your system that will offset any rises in grid supplied energy costs.
Finding The Right Supplier
Once you’ve made your choice to invest in solar cells and go green, you need to find the right supplier for you. Going around and comparing the market will definitely help you to find the right one, and since the solar cells can be quite costly, price comparison will give you a good overview of the various suppliers.
However, the process can not only be boring but also very time-consuming. To save you some time and hassle, you can fill out the form on this page for an easy, no-obligation, quote from our professional installers who are able to offer you expert advice and fantastic prices. All of them are MCS certified, and the service is completely free. So if you are feeling ready for a greener home, fill out the form and chat with an installer today.
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