Solar photovoltaic panels (PV panels) create electricity by converting the energy from the sun's rays into electricity, which is then used to power devices in your home. They are an attractive option for those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint, especially since there are now government legislations, which give a certain amount of money for an amount of produced electricity.
There 2 major types of solar panel; a solar water heating panel, used to heat water in your home, and the previously mentioned PV panel, which makes electricity to power anything in your home. The former costs usually between £3,000 and £5,000, and the latter between £8,000 and £14,000.
Quotes from different companies usually include installation, and once the cells are installed, maintenance costs are for the most part very small. If you are good at DIY, then keep in mind you can install the panels yourself. Maintenance is usually a case of keeping the panels clean, and making sure obstructions do not create unwanted shade over the panels.
If cost is your main worry, then there are now free solar PV schemes offered by organisations which make their money by the new governmental feed-in-tariff, and these can help reduce your electricity bill. The company will pay for the installation, connection charges and panel maintenance.
As technology improves, PV technologies will no doubt become cheaper, and a more attractive option for home-owners wishing to improve their impact on the environment.