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How do Solar Panels Work?

There are two main types of solar panels – solar thermal panels, and solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar thermal panels use energy from the sun to provide hot water for your home, whereas solar PV panels use the sun’s energy to generate electricity. The following pages are designed to give you a general understanding of how solar panels work.

Because the solar panels rely upon the sun for energy, a number of different factors can affect the efficiency of the systems. For more information on how roof type, location and aspect, as well as climatic and technology-related issues can affect the performance of your solar panel system, visit our dedicated performance section.

However, different systems operate in different ways, and to discuss your options in more depth, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How does solar panel technology work?

There is a wide range of different types of solar panels and there are a large number of factors that can affect the performance of solar panel systems. However, to broadly understand how solar panels work, they can be split into two broad categories:

Solar Heating Systems

Solar heating systems come in various types. The most common kind of solar heating system (a flat plate system) uses energy from the sun to heat liquid contained in tubes in the panels on your roof or other suitable location.  This system is relatively simple which means it is usually less expensive to install and maintain.
 This type of solar heating system can be used to provide around 40-60% of your hot water requirements throughout the year – even in winter, although solar heating systems cannot provide all your hot water in the winter months, so a secondary system is usually still required.

Solar PV Systems

Solar panels which generate electricity using energy from the sun are solar photovoltaic panels (or, more often known as solar PV panels). Solar PV panels use photosensitive solar cells to generate renewable electricity for your home. These photovoltaic cells convert light from the sun into electricity. The electricity they produce is Direct Current (DC) and so is then passed through an inverter which changes it to Alternating Current (AC) to be used in the home.
For more detailed information on how solar PV panels work, visit our page on How PV Panels Work.

More Solar Panels Information

Solar panel performance can be affected by a large number of factors. However, the best way to get information specific to your requirements is to contact a qualified installer directly.

Please feel free to contact us on 0116 2987467 for more information or to arrange a free quote and survey of your property. 

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