Solar PV FAQ's

Northern Energy Solutions have compiled a very comprehensive list of questions that we often get asked. If you cannot find an answer to your question please don't hesitate to contact us by phone or email.

Q. Do Solar Panels create energy?
A: A basic tenet of thermodynamics is that energy is never actually created only converted; solar panels convert solar energy into electricity rather than just creating it.

Q. What is photovoltaics (solar electricity), or ‘PV’?
A: What do we mean by photovoltaics? The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric technologies work.  Photovoltaics  literally translated is  light-electricity. And that is just what photovoltaic materials and devices do; they convert light energy to electricity.

Q. What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?
A: A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for converting alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.

Q. How does the system work?
A: Daylight hits the photovoltaic cells and is converted to clean electricity.  The inverter converts the electricity from direct to alternating current, for use in the home.  When the solar energy system is producing more power than is needed it is exported to the grid.  At night, power is imported from the grid in the normal way.

Q. Will they work in the UK and during the winter?
A: Yes. Solar panel suppliers have enhanced the efficiency of solar power systems to the extent that it is now a very viable option even in cloudier climates.  The important thing to bear in mind is that solar power depends on intensity of light, not necessarily direct sunlight. So even when it’s overcast, your solar panels will be producing clean electricity to help power your home.

Q. What happens if there is a power cut?
A: Our photovoltaic systems for homes are entirely grid connected.  If there is a power cut your system is automatically switched off.  This is a safety measure designed to stop electricity leaking on to the national grid and to protect individuals who may be working to restore the power supply.

Q. Does the system need batteries?
A: No, the system is connected to the national grid.  In the night, when the cells are not generating energy, electricity is bought from the utility company in the normal way.  Any excess electricity generated during the day, for example when you are at work, is sold back to the utility company.
Batteries are only required if you want a truly off-grid solution and independence from any power cuts that might occur.  They are also required if you own a property which is not attached to the grid in order that power produced during the day can be stored for use in the evening. Batteries add significant costs to a solar system so are normally only offered on specific request.

Q. How much energy do I need?
A: According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average 3 bedroom house consumes 3,300 units of electricity (kWh) a year (cooking and heating using non electric supply). However, we always recommend that you look at your last few bills or call your electricity supplier to find out how many units you consume, you can then compare this to the output of the system we recommend.

Q. What if I produce more energy than I need?
A: Whenever your panels are producing more electricity than your home is using, it will flow back into the grid for other homes to use.  As long as you have an arrangement with your energy company, you’ll be paid for this power so you can be sure your energy bills will be even less and none of your clean, green electricity will be wasted.  This setup eliminates the need for batteries.  You can speak to your electricity provider for details and we can help make all the arrangements for you to sell the excess electricity you produce back to the grid.