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Myth busters: 7 things you may not know about commercial solar panels

Whilst solar technology has been around for quite a while now, there are still some myths that need busting. As experts in solar energy and potential, we’re here sharing our knowledge and the facts behind some of the most common solar energy myths.

Myth 1: Solar panels do not work when it’s cloudy

This has to be one of the most common misconceptions about solar energy. We get it.

Let's be honest, here in the UK, it can often feel like sunny days are few and far between. And, that in itself leads many people to question whether solar panels, which work on energy emitted by the sun, are really worth it.

But, contrary to common misbelief, solar panels do in fact work on cloudy days.

That’s because solar panels can use both direct and indirect daylight to generate electricity.

How solar panels work on cloudy days

Solar panels work by absorbing energy emitted from the sun to generate an electric charge.

On cloudy days, the sun still emits this energy, which makes sense if you think about it, the sun doesn't stop working just because it’s cloudy.

When it’s cloudy, solar panels continue to absorb solar energy, which includes both the light on the spectrum that the human eye can see, in addition to the different wavelengths that pass through the clouds.

Whilst typically, more electricity is generated on clear days compared to cloudy days, there is also a known phenomena, referred to in the solar industry as the ‘Edge-of-Cloud’ effect. This is when solar panels record higher electricity outputs on partially cloudy days, compared to a clear, cloudless day, because sunlight is magnified, rather than being blocked.

To conclude: Solar panels do work on cloudy days. Yes, the electricity generated is probably going to be less than that generated on clear days but solar panels do continue to work, saving you money and saving CO2 emissions.

Myth 2: Solar panels require a lot of maintenance

We’re often asked ‘do solar panels require lots of maintenance?’. And, the short answer to that is:

No, solar panels do not require regular maintenance.

Most panels are specifically designed to require very little maintenance.

Maintenance requirements of solar panels

The only regular maintenance that you'll need to carry out is cleaning. Over time, fallen leaves and other debris can build up on the panels, which can obstruct the photons and reduce the amount of energy generated.

If your panels are tilted, rain water will generally naturally wash away any debris, eliminating the need for regular cleaning maintenance.

It’s recommended that you clean panels between 2 and 4 times a year - focusing these cleaning times around particularly dry seasons when leaves and dust are likely to become dried onto the panels.

Cleaning is really easy - it doesn't take much more than some water and something to clear away the leaves.

It’s recommended that you have a professional examine every four to 6 years, just to ensure that everything is working as it should and your panels are producing the optimum amount of energy.

To conclude: solar panels require very little maintenance asides from occasional cleaning. Professional servicing is recommended every 4-6 years.

Myth 3: Solar panels will damage your roof

It’s not uncommon for property owners to be concerned that installing solar panels on their commercial or residential building could cause damage to a roof.

However, rest assured that solar panel installation should not cause any form of damage to a roof’s infrastructure.

A roof that is in good condition, will not become damaged if panels are installed correctly. In fact, solar panels add an extra layer of protection to your roof, helping to preserve it for longer.

Professional solar panel installation

Whilst there will be holes drilled into the roof to secure the mount, a professional will ensure that these holes are drilled and filled in a way that will not cause structural damage or leaks.

That’s why it’s so important that you opt for a licenced, solar panel installation specialist, who has all of the right skills and equipment to install your solar panels safely and correctly.

Roof suitability is essential

The key thing to note is that panels should not be fitted on damaged roofs.

A Solar Survey will determine whether a commercial or domestic property's roof is structurally suitable for panel installation, long before a panel goes near the roof.

Here at Absolar, we’ll look at the type of roof, the roof’s age and other factors, including load-carrying capacity as part of the initial survey.

Panels can only be installed on roofs rated to an appropriate and safe standard. If and where pre-existing damage is found, it must be professionally repaired before solar panels can be installed.

To conclude: when installed by a qualified professional, solar panels do not cause damage to roofs. Roofs must be thoroughly surveyed to find out if they are fit for solar panels prior to installation.

Myth 4: Solar panels can only be installed on the roof

When we think of solar panels, most people think of panels fitted on roofs. This has created a common misconception that solar panels must be installed on top of our homes and commercial buildings.

But, this is in fact false.

Yes, roof installation is one of the simplest, most space-saving places to install solar panels, but they don’t have to be installed there.

All panels need is sunlight

Think of them like tomatoes. You don’t need to put them on the roof to make them grow - a sunny spot in the garden will do the trick. Panels work in the same way.

An alternative to roof solar panels

Many people opt for ground-mounted panels as opposed to roof-mounted panels. This is a superb alternative option if your roof isn’t suitable for panel installation, or you simply don’t want panels fitted to your roof.

To conclude: roofs are the most popular choices for installing solar panels, but they do not have to be installed on rooftops.

Myth 5: Installing solar panels on my commercial building will cause significant disruption to my business

For any business or commercial property owner installing solar panels, there’s often a concern that the installation could interfere with the day-to-day running of the business and cause disruption to employees working inside of the building.

But actually, installing solar panels isn’t as disruptive as most would think.

Plus, here at Absolar, we work alongside professional solar panel installation teams to keep disruption to a minimum.

What sort of activities may cause light disruption?

Most of the activities installers carry out will cause very minor, if any, disruption to business.

To install the panels on the roof, scaffolding will first be erected around the property.

Installers will also need an area to store solar equipment and machinery during the installation period.

It’s also likely that during the electrical configuration stage, there will be several short electrical shutdowns. These can be planned at a time that works around your business, residents and property occupants to avoid disruption.

The most likely disruption will be noise on the roof, from any power tools drilling and fixing panels to the roof. However, depending on the size of your roof, installation should only take 2-7 days.

To conclude: expect light disruption, including noise disruption, that will only last for a short period of time whilst panels are being installed.

Myth 6: Properties with solar panels are harder to sell

Commercial property owners often worry that the value of their property is likely to decrease if they install solar panels.

However, that misconception couldn't be any further from the truth; its the opposite way round.

A seller’s advantage

If you’re concerned about your ability to sell your facility to a new occupant in the future, it’s well worth keeping in mind that a property with its own sustainable energy station will likely have an advantage over similar buildings without solar panels.

A recent study by Solar Energy UK found that the average house price increased by £1,800 when solar panels were installed.

With energy costs on the rise and the current climate crisis, more and more businesses are turning their attention to what sustainable energy sources, such as solar, have to offer.

Commercial properties with ready-to-go installations are likely to become increasingly popular in the near future.

To conclude: commercial and domestic properties with ready-fitted solar panels are likely to be in high demand over coming years.

Myth 7: Commercial solar is too expensive

There’s no denying that many businesses and homeowners are put off by the high initial investment costs associated with solar panel installation. But the keyword here is: investment.

Solar panels are an investment that in the long term can significantly help to save money, and of course, large amounts of energy.

How installation cost is determined

There are several factors that can influence the cost of solar installation, including roof size, the type of building and number of panels installed.

But, the main bulk of the cost comes from panels, the inverters and the labor costs to install the panels. Once the panels have been installed, there are very little additional costs.

Uncover long term cost savings

Solar panels have a life expectancy of 20-25 years. Throughout this time, property owners can benefit from thousands of pounds of cost savings associated with reduced utility costs and tax reliefs.

It’s all well and good knowing this, but understandably, many people want a clearer picture of exactly what they’re expected to save following their own initial investment to install solar panels.

Here at Absolar, that’s exactly what we do. We uncover solar potential and let you know exactly what the impact will be. We work tirelessly to source solar panels direct from the manufacturer, cutting out agents and find the most cost-effective installation methods tailored to you.

Find out if solar energy is a viable option for your business

We understand that businesses, local authorities and homeowners want to know how much solar panel installation will cost and whether the initial investment will relinquish long-term savings before they put their hands in their pockets.

Our technology is designed to support decision makers to uncover whether solar panels are a viable solution for their property, giving up-to-date, highly accurate data about their solar potential.

The Solar Survey provides information on the cost of solar installation, the feasibility and the likely energy and cost savings over the panel’s expected lifetime.

With that information, commercial property owners can confidently decide whether solar is for them.

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