A question we are often asked is “will my solar panels save me money on my heating bill?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite so straight forward. There are pro’s and con’s to everything and solar PV is no different. Let’s explain this more:
Solar PV panels all come in different sizes and with different size inverters. As such, there is a finite limit on how much electricity can be produced. Of equal importance is the way in which you use your heating as let’s face it, we are all different and have differing needs. Added to that is the fact that not all solar arrays are the same so it is difficult to determine how much electricity yours will generate. Domestic solar PV arrays are usually no larger than 5kW in size with feed in tariffs (FIT) usually being more favourable for arrays that are less than 4kW in size.
So, in an ideal world, and looking at it in a simplistic manner, your 4kW solar array will generate enough for 4 x 1kW heaters which may be enough to heat 3-4 rooms. However, the issue arises that when the solar array is working to peak performance (usually mid-summer) it is unlikely that you will have a high demand for heating. Then, in winter when you require your heating you are unlikely to be generating as much electricity due to the lack of sun (in the UK anyway!). At the moment there are few ways to store electricity for the average home owner so you are left with a couple of choices. Firstly, (and more suited to a domestic situation) you can save your FIT subsidy if you receive one and spend it in the winter months, therefore offsetting costs. For commercial applications it may be that that you need to heat your offices in the daytime only and as such you can take advantage of whatever the solar array produces.
Manufacturers such as Tesla are leading the way in domestic battery storage and products such as the Tesla Powerwall 2 are able to store solar energy so that you can use it to self power your home. Technology is constantly advancing and as solar storage options increase then so do the opportunities to benefit from solar powered electric heating systems.
In short, for the moment there is certainly no major disadvantage to having solar panels although until such time that we can suitably store the generated electricity, the overall benefit may be slightly limited.