Your Questions About Solar Panels

Carol asks…

When did solar panels start to become popular?

Like when did you start to see solar panels on houses and solar garden lights?

ssadmin answers:

It is not in any particular year that these things became popular. It first became popular in the developed world and that too gradually once these things became more effective and started showing some financial gains. And once the govt started rolling out grants for green energy more people started lapping it up. Lot of DIY stuff has further reduced the costs which is making them popular.


Charles asks…

What are the legalities of installing solar panels on a block of flats?

I live in a block of three purpose built, self contained flats. I own the top one where I live and the bottom one which I rent out. The ownership is leasehold. I'd like to have PV solar panels installed but I'm not too sure that this would be legal even if I get planning permission as theoretically I don't own the roof.

Does anyone know what legal hoops I need to jump through to go ahead with this project?

ssadmin answers:

Since you refer to “flats” let's assume you are resident in the UK. First of all you will need permission from the leaseholder. (S)he may need you to obtain the opinion of the Architect, or a Structural Engineer, the architect will refer to a Structural Engineer and mark up the fee, but may have the original drawings which will reduce the basic fee.
Unless you live in a conservation area or other protected environment you do not need planning permission, especially as the panels do not need to be seen from the ground.
As for the rest of the question there are so many “expert” companies trying to make a living from photo-voltaic panels that if you set a few of them to the task they will provide answers to all the questions and if you go ahead they will be able to obtain whatever grants are available, there are no grants for DIY installations.
Photo-voltaic cells only became viable with grants made available by the last government and the present government has severely cut these back. Thus the experience of the marketplace is going to be less than claimed and the pay backs less than often promised. Get several quotes, check any disparities by asking the others their opinions, do not let the tenderers see one anothers' prices, although you can talk about them in round terms, such as I really like your offering but the price seems much higher than the others. If you do proceed make certain every aspect of the work is insured by someone and that the insurers of the block and your apartments are aware of what has happened, they may well want a structural engineer's opinion, the insurance may well go up.

Daniel asks…

Do you need to pay for electricity if you have solar panels?

I am in the market for buying a home. There is one for salke that actually has solar panels on top. How are they used? Do you need to pay for gas and electric still. Does it really light up the house and keep it warm. WHat about the AC keeping hte house cool in the summer does it work for that too? Please explain in solar for dummy terms. I haveno clue about solar panels other thatn the fact that it needs sunlight to run.

ssadmin answers:

Solar Panels are generally placed on a south facing roof that is slightly angled to get the most light.

If you live in certain areas, the power company allows you to put power back onto the grid. This means that when the sun is shining and your solar panels are getting more than enough power to run everything electric in your household, you can actually reverse your meter reading. You become your own power company for your neighborhood so to speak. At night you will most likely need to pull from the grid again, but that should be offset by your daily solar panel production. Often times electric companies will average this out for the year and some people actually get a check in the mail at the end of it based upon their support the the system.

You generally will want to purchase enough solar panels to contirbute that average monthly Kilowatt Hours for your household needs. If you have gas appliances currently they will still need to have a supply of gas. You can replace those appliances, but that is often costly and unnessesary. There are options for people to purchase water heaters that run entirely on solar power as well but again that generally takes another purchase.

Other options if your area does not allow putting power back onto the grid there are storage systems that store up the excess power and give it back when you need it but those can also be very costly.

For example in Southern California I recently requested a quote for my home of approx. 2800 square feet and they quoted me $48,000 for the grid system which after State, Federal and other rebates would cost me around $25,000. Now understand that this varies based upon your appliances gas and electric, their energy efficiency and even your homes quality of insulation.

There are more and more solar companies out there and technology is always changing so keep an eye out. Also, contact your local power company to see what they offer and who can install or fix the system if it breaks. You should also, find out how old some of the current systems are that are attached to a property as maintenance can sometime be costly.

Hope this helps!

Linda asks…

What is the best source for building your own solar panels?

I'm interested in building solar panels myself. I don't have a lot of money to invest, but would like to at least learn about it. Can someone recommend a step by step instruction manual or site that goes into detail?

ssadmin answers:

Are you talking photovoltaic panels to make electricity from sunlight. Don't bother making them yourself. Without very specialized equipment you can't make any that will produce a usable amount of power. Leave the manufacturing of solar cells to the pros. If you want to make solar collectors to heat water or your house that's a different story. Http://
This book should get you started.

Richard asks…

What technology and chemical serves the same function as chloroplast, other than solar panels?

What technology and chemical serves the same function as chloroplast, other than solar panels? Solar panel converts solar energy in to electrical energy and the chloroplast of a plant cell converts solar energy in to chemical energy. Is there any other technology and chemical that converts solar energy in to any other type of energy ?

ssadmin answers:

Solar heaters to convert sunlight to heat

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