Harnessing and using the phenomenal power of solar thermal energy can be done in many ways, but the most common, and cost-effective way, is with the use of solar panels. Two common types of solar panel used in the domestic market are PHOTO VOLTAIC COLLECTORS (PV) and SOLAR THERMAL COLLECTORS.
Photo-voltaic collectors convert the sun's energy into electrity using mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline cells, set in collectors that are connected(via an AC/DC converter) to the home's power supply and the national grid.
It is a common misconception that during a power cut, people with PV types of solar panel will still produce electricity. As these systems are connected to the grid, in the event of a power failure, engineers will be working on the grid, and the last thing they want with the rest of the grid isolated, is a back-feed from your solar system!
For this reason, if you are thinking of installing PV, with a view to connecting to the grid, bear in mind you won't have power during a power cut just because you have solar panels (unless you have installed some kind of battery/storage back up to keep you going 'off grid') Having said this, battery back-up is relatively easy, and as Government feed in tariffs improve, we fully expect to see an increase in the number of PV installations.
Indeed housebulders building to the Government's 'code for sustainable homes' will need electricity generation to meet levels 5 and 6, and PV solar panels are by far the easiest way of achieving this requirement.
To learn more about using solar power to generate electricity, visit the pages on solar power for homes
A much cheaper type of solar panel, and the ones that are now seeing widespread growth in the UK, are solar thermal collectors, used in solar thermal systems for the production of your domestic hot water. These will provide the home with hot water, are eligible for the Government's RHI and premium payment scheme (worth £350) and the way they work is amazingly simple....