About Solar Panels
Solar photovoltaic panels (or PV) are a zero climate impact solution to energy.
They work by transforming energy from sunlight into usable electrical current. For most homes and business they are the only feasible and reliable direct source of renewable energy.
Benefits of Solar Panels
With solar panels we can set almost any house-hold, business or community on the path towards sustainable energy independence.
Why Choose Solar PV
LiveEco is your installer of choice when it comes to solar.
A typical installation includes the following components:
Roof Top Solar
On-roof mounting systems involve cast aluminium frames with a footing that replaces the existing tiles and secures the panels directly to the roof joists. If the roof is a corrugated metal roof there are systems that clamp onto the roof service.
Typical Brands include Renusol and Schletter.
- Quick and easy to install.
- This system is typical for solar retrofit projects as it is lowers the cost of installation.
- Works with any type and brand of panels to maximize possible output and value.
- Natural cooling from airflow (solar panels like to be cool) may slightly increase solar panel efficiency.
- Additional bird protection may be needed to prevent nesting under the panels.
When installing solar on a newly built home or where a retrofit coincides with a roof replacement we typically install an in-roof system. This places the panels flush with the roof line. Typical brands include GSE, Viridian and EasyRoof. This is also very useful approach for including in-roof windows such as Velux, which can be added as an additional “panel” to provide light into a roof space or room-in-roof.
- Visually Attractive
- Bird Protection not required
- Can include Velux Windows in the array (photo)
- In-roof Systems limit what panels can be installed as panels need to be the correct size and need to be fire-rating compliant with the in-roof mounting system. This may limit the overall rated system size (Kilowatts) relative to a similarly sized on-roof system.
- In-roof systems are expensive when done as a stand-alone retrofit to an existing building so this approach is usually reserved for new build projects or retrofits in conjunction with a full roof replacement.
Many commercial and government properties have flat roofs and there are several approaches to installing on flat roof services. One is a ballasted set of aluminium rails that function similarly to on-roof systems. A less expensive version, but no less effective, would be simple ballasted tubs.
- Take advantage of otherwise unsused roof spaces.
- Don’t compete for roof space with windows and dormers.
- Systems require extra ballast to ensure proper wind protection and therefore require robust engineering checks to ensure roofs are safe to take the weight.
- Systems mounted directly into the roof require extra water proofing measures.
Ground Mounted Solar
Where a property has enough open space we can install ground mounted solar panels.
The benefits of ground mounted systems is that they can be precisely oriented and angled to maximize production of energy from the sun befitting the latitude they are placed at. Higher latitude countries such as Scotland create challenge for solar in that the height of the sun varies greatly throughout the year as does the length of the day.
Not all roofs are ideal for generating solar energy in light of these changes. Ground mounted units can be faced directly south, maximising their exposure to the sun and set at an angle that allows the panels to benefit from the best average exposure throughout the year. This maximizes solar panel energy production for a more efficient system and faster payback.
- Maximize solar panel efficiency through precise positioning.
- Very good payback on financial investment.
- Require extra open, unshaded space to work effectively.
- May require extra ground works to connect the array to the grid.
All solar panel systems have an inverter of one kind or another. Inverters take the energy from the solar panels, which is generated in direct current (DC), and transform it into alternating current (AC) which is used in buildings and appliances. Inverters come to two general types.
These types of inverters are less expensive but quick and easy to install. They are called “string” inverters because they organize the solar panels into “strings” of panels that operate as one unit. Usually, a home installation will have an inverter with two strings of panels (4-6 each) that can operate independently. This helps mitigate shading issues with the panels. However, shading on one panel in a string will effect the rest of the panels in that string, lowering the voltage output across the string. For smaller systems – 10-12 panels, this is usually not more than 2-3% so the lower cost makes this system a good investment.
These inverters are more expensive but allow each panel to operate independently instead of in strings. This means that they are more efficient when it comes to dealing with shading from clouds, trees or buildings. The micro inverters are installed on the underside of each panel and tend to have very good warranties for their physical integrity (25 years). This also makes them a good investment where maintenance cost control is a major concern. Solar panels are meant to be a “fit and forget” technology with no moving parts. However, when the solar panel array is mounted in a difficult to reach place (with a potentially expansive scaffold required to reach them) then ensuring that operations will be failsafe makes micro-inverters worth the investment. Panels in highly shaded spaces will also benefit from having micro-inverter systems.