Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) Panels captures sunlight (photons) via layers of semi conducting silicon. The electrons in the silicon are energised by the photons. This process very effectively creates a direct electric current ( DC).
Solar panels even function on a cloudy day as direct sunlight is not required however the hotter the day the more electricity is generated. The DC current passes through an inverter which converts it into an Alternating Current (AC) which can be used to power the property. Unless you have an energy storage system i.e. lithium batteries -best practice is to use large electricity users such as washing machines and dishwashers during the day.
Domestic Solar Panels are connected to the National Grid so that any spare electricity which has not been used by the residents is exported so that the solar generated electricity can be used by other households. The electric company pay a fee for this service. A sophisticated monitoring device will also be installed so a track of how much electricity you are generating via your PV panel array.
They have dramatically come down in price and as the cost of electricity has dramatically increased they are now cost effective. As you are generating your own electricity via natural sunlight you are also reducing your carbon foot print.
The industry standard is 25 to 30 years at their optimal best, However as there are no moving parts they degrade at roughly 0.25 % per year, so the loose very little of their capacity still being 95% after 25 to 30 years.
Solar Panels require little maintenance apart from cleaning. However regular service checks are advised to make sure the solar panel’s are operating at their maximum performance.
The photovoltaic effect was discovered by Edmond Becquerel in France in 1839. In the 1950’s Bell Laboratories where behind the silicon solar cell which made the process more effective. However, It was not until the mid seventies they became cost effective for the domestic market.
It is unlikely you will require planning permission before installing Solar panels as they are classed as a permitted development.
If your house is in a conservation area or is a listed building – best to check with your local council.
You will need to inform your Distribution Network Operator ( the company providing your electricity).