PV Solar Panels FAQ
What is Solar PV?
PV means ‘photovoltaic’ – which basically means ‘electricity from light’. Note how we say light, not sunlight. This means that PV solar panels produce electricity even on cloudy days, although not as much as they would on a brighter day.
How do PV solar panels work?
Light consists of photons, and when these photos strike the semi-conductor material in a PV solar panel, electrons are released. The electrons form a DC supply, which can then be converted into AC using an inverter for use in your commercial premises or home. You are already using PV technology if you have a solar-powered calculator, for example, so using PV solar panels to power your home or business would just be doing so on a larger scale.
What else is involved in a photovoltaic system?
A typical photovoltaic system consists of three main elements:
- Solar PV panels, consisting of multiple photovoltaic cells
- Inverter/Micro Inverters
- Bracketing Systems
The inverter is a device that converts the DC supply from the solar panels into an AC supply (either single phase or three phase) for use in your premises. It also performs safety functions such as monitoring performance and switching off in the event of a fault in the mains supply. Inverters also generally include a display to inform you how much power your PV solar panels are producing.
Some cabling/wiring is also necessary in every PV system. We install this as expertly and discreetly as you would expect from a company with such long standing in the field of electrical engineering.
Does solar PV technology work well in Ireland?
Yes! Contrary to popular belief, you do not need regular and direct brilliant sunshine to produce sufficient electricity to significantly reduce your regular bills. In fact, Ireland is better placed than many European countries to take advantage of solar PV technology, as our relatively mild climate all year round means there are less fluctuations in output, and it easier to estimate how much electricity will be produced each month.
Why should I use PV solar panels?
There are several good reasons:
- They provide a clean and reliable source of energy
- They save you money, all year round
- They protect you against increases in the price of electricity from the national grid
- They cut carbon emissions
- They are virtually maintenance free
- They carry long-term manufacturer’s guarantees (10 to 25 years) and performance guarantees (25 years)
What happens if my PV solar panels are not producing enough electricity for my premises, for example on a dull winter day?
The electricity from the solar panels is used first, and any extra power demands are met by the national grid in the usual way.
What happens if my PV solar panels are producing more electricity than I need, for example on a sunny summer day?
Unfortunately, in Ireland, it is no longer possible to sell your excess electricity back to the national grid. There are other options available, though, such as diverting that excess power to your water heater, or storing it in a battery-like device, to be released at a future stage.
My premises won’t allow PV solar panels to face directly south. Is this a problem?
No. While directly south is the best option, PV solar panels still operate at approximately 95% efficiency if facing south-east or south-west instead. Even facing directly east or west can bring 85% efficiency. We just don’t recommend having them face northwards!
Do I need planning permission for a PV solar panels system?
Generally speaking – no. To encourage the installation of PV solar panels as a clean and renewable source of energy, current Irish planning regulations means they are exempt from planning permission, subject to certain conditions. If it appears that your installation cannot meet these conditions, we will inform you at the site survey stage.
How long does a PV solar panel system last?
A high-quality PV system such as those supplied and installed by Kavanagh Engineering will operate satisfactorily for 50 years or more. There is some reduction in efficiency each year due to natural causes, but even after 25 years, typical performance is still approximately 85% to 90% of what it was on day one. All our PV solar panels carry a 25-year linear performance guarantee, to give you extra assurance of this.
What’s the typical size of a PV solar panel, so I can make a rough estimate of how many I can fit to my premises?
A typical size is 1600mm x 1000mm. If your premises has only limited space, remember that a smaller number of super-efficient solar panels can still produce as much power as a larger number of ones operating at ordinary efficiencies. Again, a cost/benefit analysis is recommended, and we will give you a number of options and recommendations
If using PV solar panels, will I still have electricity in the event of a power cut?
Unfortunately not, as for the safety of linesmen who may be repairing the fault, your inverter will need to shut down. However there are battery systems that will allow you to have backup power for the event of a power cut.