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Spark’s Quick Guide to Solar Panels

Why should we start using solar panels?

Becoming more popular in the UK, solar panels have become more efficient, more affordable, and more appealing to consumers than ever before, with longer-lasting systems that are proven to be cost-effective.

Renewable energy sources like solar panels are becoming a mainstay in houses across the UK as the technology behind them has improved. People across the country are looking for more ways to be energy efficient within the home, and solar panels are one of the leading contenders. Given the increase in energy prices over the past few years, ways to save on energy costs have become one of the most sought-after means for home owners across the UK.

How do they work?

Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun’s energy and, through a converter, convert it into usable electricity for the home (or office!).

This self-generated electricity quite simply powers your home. You then lower your energy bills as you become more self-sufficient, using your own electricity rather than electricity bought from your energy supplier. This electricity can also be stored using batteries if you have one installed as part of your system.

A solar panel consists of numerous cells made from layers of semiconducting material. When sunlight hits these cells, electricity flows through. These cells don’t need direct sunlight to work, however, but the stronger and longer the sunshine, the more electricity is generated.

Solar systems are typically made up of around 10 panels for an average-sized home in the UK, but there can be any amount that fits. These panels generate direct current (DC) electricity from the sun; while UK households typically use alternating current (AC) electricity, an inverter is also installed alongside your solar panels to convert the DC electricity to usable, house-friendly AC electricity. This electricity can be used by yourself in your home on your appliances or sold back to the national grid.

Advantages of solar energy.

1. Renewable Energy Source

Solar energy is renewable. The sun isn’t going away anytime soon, and the heat that it produces can be nurtured through solar panels to generate electricity in your home. As time goes on, technology has become better and more efficient while also being cheaper, meaning solar power is one of the most effective sources of renewable energy currently.

2. It Saves Money

Installing solar panels saves you money on your electricity bills as you are generating your own electricity rather than buying from a supplier.

  1. Low Maintenance

Solar panels require very little maintenance. They are deemed to be self-cleaning, with rainfall being sufficient to clean them, but we’d recommend once every 3–5 years to rid of any grime or dirt that may accumulate over the years.

  1. Self Sufficient

One of the biggest selling points of installing solar panels is that you become self-sufficient by generating your own power and not relying on the national grid to supply your power. This also means you don’t become a victim of price hikes. If you install a solar battery alongside your solar panels, you can use your power whenever you need it.

  1. Property Desirability

    A home with solar panels that generate its own power is more likely to attract buyers at a higher price than a home without according to a study by Admiral.
  1. They don’t need sunshine to work

Solar panels work year-round. Yes, they are more efficient in the summer when the sun is beaming, but they produce a significant amount during the winter when it is cloudy. Think of solar panels as needing daylight rather than sunlight!


Space is a key consideration that needs to be considered when looking to install solar panels. The average system size is around 3–4 kWp, and this typically takes up around 20m2-22m2 on a roof area. If you don’t have the right space for solar panels or structure to support the weight, then solar panels can’t be installed; however, the majority can be safely and securely installed on UK roofing.

The direction in which your roof faces can also be a limitation. A south-facing roof will give you the most effective generation of electrical output from the sun. East or west-facing roofs are still viable and could still be considered, but typically won’t be as effective as they tend to produce around 15% less energy than south-facing systems. North-facing roofs are not recommended purely as they will capture significantly less sun than south, east, or west systems.

Any nearby buildings, trees, or chimneys could shade your roof and have a negative impact on the performance of your system that is sometimes unavoidable; however, some systems can use ‘optimisers’ that allow your system to perform independently as opposed to in a ‘string’. For example, if a panel is shaded and only generates 50% output, the other panels in the string, though unshaded, will mirror the output of the affected panel – averaging 50% output. An optimiser allows the panels to perform at 100% rather than mirroring the 50% from the shaded panel.

Pitch is also something that can alter the effectiveness of your solar panels. The optimal angle is 35-40 degrees, but the drop-off from anything less than this is minimal. Flat roofing panels are installed at a 10-degree angle to compensate and maximise the use of space.

Why Spark?

At Spark, we know solar systems and try to keep them effortlessly simple. We don’t offer off-the-shelf solar systems. Instead, we have curated a range of panels, batteries, and inverters for their blend of optimal performance and assured quality. We have chosen products that allow us to ensure that every system Spark installs is excellent as standard, seamlessly blending high-quality solar into a bespoke system that is tailored exclusively to you and your needs.