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A Complete Guide To Solar Panels

The UK is in an energy crisis right now, and it is becoming more and more expensive to keep the lights on. Thankfully, there are some renewable energy solutions to this problem that can save you and your business money.

Installing solar panels has never been easier or more affordable than it is now. Now is also the best time to switch to solar energy due to the increase in electricity bills. So, it is definitely a good time for businesses and residents to explore the solar industry.

In this blog, we will provide you with everything you need to know about solar panels. However, if you want to find out how else you can save money on your energy bills, you should check out our Business Energy Comparison homepage.

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What Are Solar Panels?

Solar panels, which are also known as PV panels, are devices that can harness energy from the sun and use it to generate electricity. This energy comes from light particles that are known as photons.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

A solar panel is comprised of a large number of photovoltaic cells that are made with layers of semi-conductive material, which is usually silicon. When this material is exposed to sunlight, it creates electricity.

These solar cells do not need direct sunlight to create electricity, as a solar panel can still produce energy on a cloudy day. However, the more sunlight there is, the more electricity will be created.

A solar PV system is usually made up of a number of solar panels, with each solar panel contributing to the solar electricity that is generated. Most solar panel systems contain at least ten solar panels that produce direct current electricity.

Direct current electricity cannot be stored, as the electrical current only flows in one direction, so this direct current electricity needs to be converted to alternating current electricity. This is done with a solar inverter, which will be installed at the same time as your solar panel system.

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The cost of a solar panel system will differ greatly, depending on many factors. These factors include:

  • How many solar panels your business will need.
  • The size of the solar battery your business will need.
  • The type of solar panels you want to be installed.
  • Where you want the solar PV system to be installed.

The number of solar panels your business will need to function will depend on the number of sunlight hours your business experiences, and the amount of electricity it uses. A standard domestic solar PV system is around 3.5kWp and will cost around £5,500.

However, a solar panel system for a large business could cost as much as £75,000 plus VAT.

Is It Time For UK Businesses To Embrace The Power Of Solar?

Yes, if your business can afford to install solar panels, then there is no better time to do so. Solar power can save you a lot of money on your business’s energy bills, as your business will either be less reliant or not reliant on the grid at all. Additionally, if you produce more than enough solar energy to run your business, you can sell extra electricity back to the grid.

The best part of all about solar power is the fact that it is renewable energy, so your business will be consuming less fossil fuels. This green energy will help your business reduce its carbon footprint, which will be good for both the environment and your brand image.

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What’s The Difference Between PV And Thermal Energy?

The difference between Photovoltaic (PV) energy and thermal energy can be quite complicated to explain if you want to go into all of the technical details. However, to put it simply, a solar PV system converts sunlight into electricity, and a solar thermal system absorbs sunlight and uses this energy to heat water and buildings.

Both of these solar power systems can be used in tandem to create enough solar energy to run your business entirely. However, there are some things to consider if you can only choose one type of solar power system.

If you are only worried about the heating bills at your business, then you should consider a solar thermal system, which is also known as a solar hot water system. They are generally cheaper to purchase, and the solar panel installation will be cheaper too. They also take up less roof space than PV systems, as solar thermal systems are much more efficient than PV systems.

However, solar hot water systems will take up some indoor space if you connect them to your central heating system.

Solar PV systems take up more roof space and are more expensive to purchase and install. However, these drawbacks don’t detract from solar PV systems all that much when you consider the benefits they offer.

Solar PV systems produce solar electricity that can be used to power anything in your home including your central heating. They are also able to store electricity in a solar battery, and any excess electricity generated by your solar panels can be sold back to the grid.

PV systems are built to last longer than solar thermal systems and require far less maintenance. Ultimately, a PV system will save you more money in the long run, as it can have a larger effect on your energy bills if most of your energy usage doesn’t go towards heating.

Is Solar Energy Reliable Enough For My Business?

Not relying on the national grid for gas and electricity can seem like a daunting prospect at first. However, you might be surprised to know that solar power is actually more reliable than the national grid.

The components used to make solar panels hardly ever fail, and are usually supported by long warranties. Your solar power system also won’t be affected by things that normally affect the grid. For example, if the power lines in your area get knocked down, you would normally be without electricity.

This won’t be the case if you use solar power, though, as a solar panel will be affected far less by external factors. Solar power is a renewable energy source, so it will reduce your carbon footprint, and will also never run out.

If you outfit your business with solar panels, you won’t have to worry about how much electricity your business is using. So, solar energy is definitely reliable enough for any business in the UK.

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What Are The Different Types Of Solar Panels?

There are four main types of solar panels, but there are some further variations of each type. We will discuss each main type of solar panel below:

Monocrystalline solar panels

Monocrystalline panels are also called single-crystal panels and are made from one silicon crystal that is cut into wafers. The use of a single silicon crystal in these panels makes them very space efficient and durable. This is why these panels last the longest.

Unfortunately, these are one of the most expensive types of solar panels around, as lots of silicon is wasted during the production process.

Polycrystalline solar panels

Polycrystalline panels are made from many small silicon crystals, which reduces wastage and makes them more affordable. Unfortunately, this causes them to be less efficient at producing electricity and also causes them to take up more space.

Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) Panels

PERC panels are similar to monocrystalline solar cells but offer some improvements. These panels reflect light back into the cell, which increases the amount of solar energy that is being absorbed. They also allow larger wavelengths of light to be reflected and don’t waste any energy by allowing the back sheet of the panel to heat up.

They are slightly more expensive than standard monocrystalline panels, but are way more efficient, and can therefore produce more electricity.

Thin-film solar panels

Thin-film solar panels are made up of fine layers that are flexible. You don’t need a backing for every one of these panels, which makes them very light and easy to install. These factors make these panels cheaper than silicon panels, and this also means they are cheaper to install.

While panels made from silicon come in standard sizes, you can get thin-film panels in any size you want to suit your needs. Unfortunately, while thin-film panels might be cheap, they are also less efficient than silicon panels.

How Many Solar Panels Would My Business Need?

To figure out how many solar panels your business will need, you will need to know:

  • The energy requirements of your business.
  • How much sunlight your business location receives.
  • How much energy your business uses.
  • The size of the panels you are interested in.
  • How efficient the panels are that you are interested in.

Once you have all of this information you can determine how many solar panels you will need to power your business. You can calculate this by multiplying your business’ hourly energy consumption by the peak sunlight hours in your area. Divide this figure by a panel’s wattage, and you should get a general figure.

However, in most cases, you can call a professional solar installer, and they will be able to help you determine how many panels you will need.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Panels?


  • Solar power is a renewable energy source that will never run out.
  • Solar panel systems can significantly reduce your utility bills or do away with them entirely, depending on the size and output of your system.
  • Solar panels do not require much in the way of maintenance. They only need to be cleaned a few times per year, and often have warranties that can last as long as 25 years.
  • Solar energy can earn you money if you produce more energy than your business needs.


  • The initial cost of purchasing a solar system, and solar installation can be quite expensive.
  • Solar power can be generated on cloudy days, but it won’t produce as much electricity. This means solar panels are less effective in winter.
  • Solar batteries can be very expensive and are vital if you want to operate on solar energy all of the time and be completely off the grid.
  • Solar panels can take up a lot of roof space, and many people think that they aren’t very appealing to look at.
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Are There Any Grants Available For Commercial Solar Panels?

Unfortunately, many of the grants relating to commercial solar panels have expired. The only grant for commercial panels is the Low Carbon Workspaces Grant. This grant will provide you with between £1,000 and £6,750 worth of funding to cover up to 45% of your total project.

To receive this grant, you will need to meet certain eligibility criteria, which you can find on the Low Carbon Workspaces website.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that solar panels can save your business money on energy bills, you might be interested to know how else you can save. If this is the case, then you should check out our Business Energy Comparison site, as our team of experts can provide you with the best energy deals for your business in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when your solar battery storage is full?

If your solar system is generating a lot of electricity, and your battery is fully charged, nothing bad will happen to your system. Your battery will merely stop absorbing power.

Your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, but it will not be used or stored until there is a demand for it, or some battery storage becomes available.

If your solar batteries are instead connected to the grid, then you can start selling this excess electricity back to the grid.

Can a business run on solar power alone?

Yes, if you have enough solar panels and large enough batteries your business may not need to rely on the grid at all.