Housing works

Solar panels in council homes

Solar PV panels on a house with a slate roof coveringSolar PV panels are devices that are mounted to your roof, and turn sunlight into free electricity for your home. They consist of cells that absorb sunlight and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. To use this electricity in your home, an inverter is needed to convert it into alternating current (AC).

Invertor manufacturers often provide apps for you to download that let you monitor the electricity generated. You may also have a simple device fitted in your home that shows you when the free electricity is there for you to use. Your solar panels would work best if your roofs faces south and you have no shading from tall trees or other buildings.

The amount of electricity produced depends on sunlight. You benefit most from free energy during sunny daylight hours, and more electricity will be produced in summer than in winter. 

Efficient use of lighting and appliances helps save electricity even with Solar PV:

  • Use high-energy appliances during the day
  • Charge devices during the daylight
  • Use one high-energy appliance at a time to avoid using more electricity than generated

Unlike your heating or hot water system there are no timer or on/off controls for the Solar PVs. They are on and working all the time but will only generate electricity for your home when the sun is strong.

Battery storage

Battery storage unit on the outside wall of a home. The cover is has been taken off.Domestic battery storage work with your solar panels and let you store electricity for later use, rather than it being exported back to the National Grid.

The amount of energy you can store will depend on:

  • The amount of energy being generated
  • Energy being used in the home
  • Temperature

You will store significantly more energy in the warmer, lighter months typically between April and September. So more of your savings will be in these months than over the winter.

The batteries are affected by the temperature and as it gets colder, they are unable to take the same amount of charge from the Solar PVs. Once the temperature is below 5 degrees celsius, the battery will not charge.

To help protect the battery they are put into winter protection mode which stops the battery from discharging below 50% from November to March. You will not be able to access all the energy generated by the Solar PVs if the battery is below 50%. The mode protects the battery from going offline and makes sure that once spring arrives the system is fully functioning. The image shows a battery storage unit with outer cover removed for inspection.

Solar energy hot water system diverter

Solar divertor ‘Eddi Switch’ in the meter cupboard of a house.If you home has Solar PV, quantum heating and a hot water tank fitted then you may have a solar energy diverter installed. These devices are roughly 30cm square with an integrated display panel and you will likely find this in your electric cupboard.

This will divert surplus energy created by the Solar PV to the top immersion heater. Energy will be diverted until the thermostat switches off, when the maximum temperature is reached in the hot water tank. This increases your use of solar energy, reducing reliance on the grid and helps you lower electricity bills. You will save more money in the sunnier months, rather than in winter, as this is when most of your Solar PV energy is generated.


  • The bottom immersion will heat your water overnight using off-peak rate electricity
  • You may want to reduce the amount of off-peak water heating you do during the sunnier months
  • Use the boost button on the diverter during the day so that the water in the tank is mainly heated using free energy from the Solar PV