By | September 19, 2022
Everything you need to know about putting solar panels on your roof

Analysis: you can expect a simple system of six to eight solar panels to generate about a third of your home’s electricity needs

the proverb”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for life” has an unlikely resonance i the current fossil fuel crisisespecially when it comes to measures than are needed to help homeowners cope sky-high electricity costs. While giving someone a rebate or discount on their energy bill will help them once, giving them the power to generate their own electricity will last a lifetime. This is where an unlikely source of electricity for Ireland, in the form of sunshine, could be a lifeline for many families struggling to pay energy bills.

Ireland is better known for wind and waves rather than sunshine, but advances in solar technology and cost reductions are now making it an attractive option for residential electricity generation in Ireland. Solar panels that produce electricity are called solar cell (PV) modules.. These panels generate electricity when exposed to light and it has been one of the fastest growing power generation technologies in the world.

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From RTÉ News, a new study has shown that solar panels could provide 25% of Ireland’s electricity needs

The systems produce electricity that can be used to power your household appliances and heat water via your immersion. The homeowner will not notice any difference in how appliances work and there is no need to notify or change electricity supplier.

Of course solar systems need sunlight to work, but most still work on overcast days in Ireland, even if not at full capacity. You can expect a simple system of six to eight panels on your roof to generate about a third of your annual electricity needs, with most between May and September. This means you will still rely on your electricity supplier, especially during the winter and darker months, but you will buy less electricity from them overall.

Solar systems are sized in technical units called kilowatts (kW) and a simple 2.4 kW system would have about six to eight panels. Most small systems of this size do not require planning permission, but you should check with your local authority as regulations differ from place to place.

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From RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, Dr Paul Deane on how over a million Irish homes have roofs suitable for solar panels

Although the fuel in the form of sunlight is free, the installation of the panels is not and will cost around €4,000 for a simple system of six to eight panels [2.4kW]. There is a State grant available to reduce costs, bringing the total price down to around 3,000 euros. These are ballpark costs and will vary from provider to provider. If you are interested in getting solar panels, it is very important to look for multiple quotes and use a reputable certified installer.

A typical home with six to eight solar panels on the roof can save around €400 per year in electricity bills, with the system paying for itself in seven to ten years. The rollout of residential solar in Ireland addresses important energy and climate issues such as affordability but also helps Ireland at a national level to increase security of supply and reduction of pollution from greenhouse gas emissions.

In UCC, we conducted one studyfunded by Irish Solar Energy Association, to understand how many homes can use sunlight to generate electricity. We were surprised to find that around half of the houses in Ireland have the potential for this technology and if all of this was achieved we could produce enough electricity to meet a quarter of all residential electricity demand.

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From RTÉ Radio 1’s Today With Claire Byrne, Would solar panels work for your home?

But there are very real challenges in rolling out this technology on a large scale at a national level. To begin with, there is a lack of skilled workers to do the work. Furthermore, while the economic and environmental arguments for the technology are very compelling, it still requires a significant upfront investment by the homeowner.

In this regard, SEAI has a series of contributions available to homeowners reduce costs, but many families will still find the investment prohibitive. This is where government policy needs to step in and provide 100% grants to fund solar panels for fuel subsidy homes as low income families need the highest level of financial protection during this crisis.

To get the best out of your panels, you also need to change some behaviors about when you use appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. If you have a solar system, it is best to run these appliances when the sun is shining

While some homeowners will look to install a battery system to store excess electricity, this adds to costs. However, if you have a hot water or immersion tank, you can set up your solar system to divert excess electricity to heat your water. This essentially acts as a battery and stores the electricity as hot water, which can be used to offset the use of the immersion for hot showers etc.

Any remaining electricity can be exported to the grid and homeowners can now be paid a small fee for this. But with current high electricity pricesis best to use as much of your solar generated electricity in your own home as possible.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ



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