James Elston

James Elston

Published June 8, 2024

Solar energy has already proved pretty reliable, especially over fossil fuels. And thanks to technological advances, it will become increasingly dependable. Solar energy systems are intricate setups compromising several crucial components. When properly installed, they run surprisingly smoothly and generate super savings.

If you’re one of the thousands of property owners considering installing solar panels, read on as we discuss how dependable solar systems are in the UK weather. We also look at the system’s key components and how to ensure your solar installation runs reliably and efficiently.

Is Solar Energy Reliable In The UK Weather?

The UK is not known for being the most sunny place; however, solar is still a viable energy option. Average daily UK sun hours show that the country enjoys over four hours of daily sunlight for seven or eight months every year. These months are great for solar production. Solar panels can also produce electricity in cloudy conditions.

Solar panels work on cloudy days because they rely on light, not heat. The photovoltaic cells in a solar panel capture this light and convert it into energy. Panels can harvest diffuse light (indirect sunlight that filters through clouds) as well as direct sunlight. While diffuse light is weaker than direct radiance, modern solar panels are capable of utilising it productively.

That said, gloomy light, heavy rain, and snowfalls in mid-winter present challenges. Solar systems throughout the country experience a sharp drop in energy generation from around mid-November to February.

How does solar energy generation in winter compare with summer?

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that energy produced in winter falls by around 75% compared to summer. In some northern regions, it might fall between 80% and 90%. Reliance on the national grid shoots up during the cold season as a result.

The true rewards of solar power production are felt during the seven or eight months between March and October. During this period, property owners with an efficient solar system could generate all the electricity they need from solar.

How Dependable Are The Components Of A Solar System?

Let’s break down the components of solar energy systems and assess their reliability.

Solar panels

Modern solar panels are strong and durable, with an expected lifespan of over 20 years. They are made to withstand extreme weather conditions and temperature fluctuations. Quality panels are designed to function in temperature extremes from over 60°C to below -30°C.

Still, solar panels fail for various reasons, including internal malfunction. Damaged connections and cracking caused by falling objects like branches are other causes of distress. Birds can also damage connections; pigeons nesting under a panel can compromise its performance.

While serious solar panel failure is rare, one faulty panel can drag down the efficiency of the entire setup. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your system so that you can act immediately to keep production on track.

Inverter

A solar panel system includes one or more inverters. An inverter converts the DC electricity produced by solar panels into AC electricity to power domestic and business appliances. Good quality inverters should last 10 to 15 years and be covered by a performance warranty for at least half that time.

If the main inverter (also called the string inverter) fails, your system can’t provide usable electricity. The good news is that inverters are repairable or replaceable (in a worst-case scenario). A qualified technician can quickly diagnose the problem and arrange a repair or replacement.

Depending on the size, a new inverter costs between £600 and £1,700 (considerably more for major commercial systems).

Microinverters

Microinverters are small inverters attached to each solar panel in the system. Designed to improve efficiency and reliability, they convert DC to AC and also monitor the performance of individual solar panels. In a microinverter system, each panel operates independently, so one failing panel doesn’t drag down the others.

If an individual microinverter fails, it can be swapped out relatively easily and cheaply.

Battery

The modern lithium-ion batteries used in solar storage systems have lifespans of 10-15 years with proper maintenance. Failure rates within this time frame are relatively low. Quality batteries also come with decent warranties and replacement options.

A battery may degrade if it gets too cold, so it’s best to locate it in an insulated spot out of extreme weather.

A faulty battery won’t be able to store solar energy, but it won’t disrupt the larger system. The panels and solar inverter will continue to function normally.

How Do I Maintain A Reliable Solar Energy Supply?

Here are seven tips for maintaining a dependable solar supply:

  1. Invest in quality: Investing in a quality solar system is the first step to securing reliable solar energy. It’s worth researching reputable brands and paying a bit more for one. High-performing panels capture and convert significantly more sunlight, even on cloudy days. Cheap, low-quality solar panels can deliver 50% less solar power than premium products.
  2. Professional installation: It’s crucial that your solar installation is handled by a professional certified installer. The Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS) is an accreditation that quality-assures solar products and installers. Hiring an MCS-certified installer is not mandatory but is recommended.
  3. Cleaning and maintenance: A buildup of debris and bird droppings will reduce solar panel efficiency, especially in winter. Keep the panel surfaces clean and free of debris and branches. Also, trim trees that cast shade on your panels. Rain may partially rinse off dirt but it’s no substitute for a proper clean with specialised materials.
    A snow buildup prevents any light from reaching the panels so you want to remove heavy snow if possible.
  4. Anti-bird protection: Invest in an anti-bird barrier to avoid any related problems. Installers usually offer a protective solution against birds.
  5. Monitor your system: Tools and apps allow you to monitor your energy production, consumption, and system efficiency. Monitoring will alert you to potential problems like dirt buildup, faulty connections, a damaged panel, battery problems, or inverter issues. Contact your installer or a solar professional promptly when you detect an issue that affects functioning.
  6. Understand your system: Familiarise yourself with your inverter’s fault codes and other tell-tale signs of trouble. When you understand your setup, you’ll know when to troubleshoot the problem and when to call in experts, like Eco Happy.
  7. Solar battery: Using a battery to store energy helps ensure a reliable and cost-effective electricity supply. If there isn’t enough sun to fully charge your battery, charge it overnight using cheaper off-peak grid rates. Until March 31 2027, there is 0% VAT on batteries installed as part of a solar system. According to the research, around 90% of homeowners opt to include a battery when installing solar panels.

Are Solar Panels Financially Viable In The UK?

Is solar worth it in the UK? Solar panels have proved a terrific investment for many households and businesses nationwide. Consider the following:

  • Estimates suggest that a solar system would pay for itself in 10 years. Often, the payback period is much sooner, with some property owners achieving an ROI in under seven years.
  • Energy Saving Trust figures estimate homeowners can save over £500 a year using solar, with some homes saving over £600.
  • There are several government-backed initiatives to make solar installation more affordable and rewarding. These include:

Get A Solar Panel Installation Quote Today

A solar panel system is a proven and reliable way to save on energy and reduce carbon emissions. To receive a quick, non-binding quote for a solar installation, contact Eco Happy today.

Our team will provide professional recommendations and competitive prices, tailored to your personal needs.

FAQs

What is the biggest drawback to solar power?

The upfront cost of solar panels together with the cost of storage batteries is the most common drawback associated with solar. The difficulty of generating solar power in winter is another perceived negative.

Does solar have a good future?

The solar industry in the UK is a vital part of the country’s future energy supply. Solar is strongly backed by the government and substantial investments are being made in solar projects. This funding and support are expected to lower the costs of solar technology, making solar ever more affordable to households and businesses.

Are there studies about the failure rate of solar panels?

A well-known study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found a solar panel failure rate of 0.05%. In this study of nearly 55,000 installations globally between 2000 and 2015, only 0.05% of panels failed and had to be replaced.

Our Verdict

Solar power is the UK’s most popular and reliable form of renewable energy. Solar’s reliability is often discussed in two parts. From mid-March to October, solar-generated electricity is abundant and reliable. In winter, solar output falls significantly and most users must rely more heavily on the grid.

Solar panels, inverters, and batteries are generally reliable with proper maintenance. Additionally, investing in quality equipment, professional installation, and regular cleaning and monitoring ensures a dependable solar energy supply. Financially, solar panels offer substantial savings with payback possible within 10 years.

James Elston

James Elston

Boiler Expert


James Elston is the top boiler replacement and heating expert at Eco Happy. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry, focusing on Gas Safe boiler installations and offering home-heating and energy-saving solutions to homeowners across the UK. From sourcing the most energy-efficient combi boiler to providing specialist heating advice, James ensures that Eco Happy maintains the highest standards and best customer service.

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