Solar panels may sound futuristic but the underlying technology has been around for years. Way back in the 1950s a team at the legendary Bell Labs developed the first photovoltaic (PV) cell – the central component in solar panels that converts sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.
The modern residential solar panel is made up of anything between 32 to 96 of these sun-sucking cells. A solar inverter converts the DC electricity they produce into alternating current (AC) electricity usable by domestic electrical devices. Any surplus energy is sent back to the electrical grid, while electricity consumed over and above what your panels produce is sourced from the grid as usual.
All of this happens in the background and requires little to no operation. You don’t need to turn on your panels first thing in the morning or off at night, and the transition from solar to grid electricity and vice versa is automatic. While day-to-day you won’t notice any difference – but you’re likely to notice a significant drop in your monthly utility bills (link to savings article).
The basic technology hasn’t changed a great deal in the last fifty years, but the efficiency of solar panels has skyrocketed in modern times and is improving year on year. Today’s average commercial solar panel converts around 17-19% of light energy into electricity, which is up 12 percent from just 10 years ago. A range of cutting-edge breakthroughs might see the industry cross the 30 percent milestone before 2030.
Solar panels may sound futuristic but the underlying technology has been around for years.
A common misconception is that cloudy weather and solar panels don’t mix. The truth is cloudy weather only reduces the generating capacity of solar panels (by around 50 percent in the UK). This means breakthroughs in energy efficiency are continually making solar panels even more viable in the UK and other countries not blessed by year-round sun.
Contact our team today to hear how our suppliers are saving UK households (thousands) on their energy bills every year.