In the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section below, you will find answers to the most common questions about solar energy, solar panels, the SEAI solar electricity grant and the SEAI solar water heating grant. If you require additional information, please feel free to consult the official SEAI website or get in touch with a SEAI registered solar system installer. 

Solar Electricity Systems

What are solar photo-voltaic panels?

A solar photo-voltaic panel (also referred to as “solar photovoltaic module” or “solar PV panel”), is a type of solar panel which generates electricity. 

A solar PV panel is composed of different parts such as a metal casing, electrical wiring and perhaps most importantly: silicon cells. Silicon is a nonmetal chemical element with conductive properties which give it the ability to generate electricity when exposed to light.  

Different types of silicon cells are used to produce solar PV panels, including single cell silicone (mono-crystalline), poly-crystalline silicone or amorphous silicone, mainly used for “thin film” solar panels. 

Do solar PV panels work in Ireland?

Yes. Solar PV panels work in Ireland. 

Solar PV panels produce electricity from light, not heat. In Ireland, we get a minimum of approximately 8 hours of sunlight during the darkest winter months, to approximately 17 hours of sunlight during the brightest summer months. Moreover, solar PV panels function more efficiently at colder temperatures. Indeed, for a given amount of sunlight the output of solar panels decreases as they heat up.  

However, it must be noted that solar PV panels produce power at their maximum rated capacity (the figure in kilowatts (kW) stated by the manufacturer on the solar panels ), when exposed to direct sunlight in bright sunny conditions. Therefore, in overcast weather, solar PV panels will not be able to produce power at their maximum rated capacity but rather at a fraction of this figure. Therefore solar PV systems in Ireland will typically have a lower electricity output than the same systems installed in sunnier countries such as Italy, France, Greece or Spain. 

As an example, a well positioned standard home solar PV system of 20 sq. m (approximately 3 kW) should generate around 2,600 kWh of electricity a year. According to the SEAI this equates to over 40% of the typical annual electricity demand of an Irish home. You can then use this electricity to do things such as power your oven, boil your kettle, run your refrigerator or charge your phone! 

Will my solar PV panels produce electricity during the winter?

Yes. Solar PV panels will generate electricity even during the winter. 

However, as explained above, the fact that there are fewer hours of daylight during the winter months means that your solar panels will produce electricity for a shorter period of time each day. Therefore, the total electricity output of your solar panels will decrease during autumn and winter and increase during spring and summer. 

Which direction should my solar photo-voltaic panels (solar PV panels) be facing?

Ideally, solar panels should be mounted facing south. This is the orientation which will provide the maximum electricity output, providing that your roof is not shaded by nearby overhanging trees or adjacent buildings. 

However, it is also possible to install solar panels facing to the west or east, but their output will be reduced and you may need to install more panels vs. a south-facing installation in order to produce the same amount of electricity.  

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the angle at which your solar panels are installed also has a bearing on their output. In Ireland, it is recommended that solar panels be installed at a 35° angle. 

What are the different types of solar PV panels?

There are 3 main types of solar PV panel technologies:

Mono-crystalline silicon panels: generally the most efficient commercial solar panels at converting light into electricity.

Multi-crystalline silicon panels: typically slightly less efficient than mono-crystalline panels but often less expensive.

Thin film panels: these panels can be made from a range of materials including cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) and amorphous silicon (aSi).

Silicon-based solar panels are account for over 90% of the global market. An SEAI registered installer will be able to advise you as to the best technology for your specific situation. However, it’s worth noting that not all solar panel installers offer all three types of solar panel. Therefore, it might be worth requesting multiple opinions before making your decision.

What size is a solar PV panel?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

How much electricity can my solar electricity system generate?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

Do I need planning permission to install photo-voltaic panels (solar PV panels) on my home?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

Is a grant available to help with the installation of photo-voltaic panels (solar PV panels)?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

Am I eligible for the SEAI solar electricity grant?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

What is the Return on Investment (ROI) or payback period for a solar electricity system?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

How much do photo-voltaic panels (solar PV panels) cost?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

Who can install photo-voltaic panels (solar PV panels) on my home?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

Will my solar electricity system require maintenance?

Solar panel manufacturers produce solar panels in a range of different sizes. However, the typical residential solar panels used in Ireland are approximately 1.6 metres x 1 metre.

 

 

Solar Hot Water Systems

 

 

What are solar thermal panels?

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Do solar thermal panels work in Ireland?

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Will my solar thermal panels produce hot water during the winter?

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Which direction should my solar thermal panels be facing?

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What are the different types of solar thermal panels?

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Does a solar hot water consume electricity?

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What size is a solar thermal panel?

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How much hot water can my solar thermal panels generate?

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Do I need planning permission to install solar thermal panels on my home?

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Is a grant available to help with the installation of solar thermal panels?

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Am I eligible for the SEAI solar water heating grant?

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What is the Return on Investment (ROI) or payback period for a solar water heating system?

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How much do solar thermal panels cost?

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Who can install thermal panels on my home?

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Will my solar hot water system require maintenance?

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