Solar cells work by photons present in sunlight hitting a solar panel. Within the material, the photons are absorbed by a semiconducting material such as silicon. The photons displace electrons from their outer orbital shells, causing them to flow freely through the material. This free flow of electrons through the material is electricity, and this process is now used across the country to help power our homes.
Although solar panels - in the forms of solar heating panels and photovoltaic cells - can cost a fair amount of money, they reduce your electricity bill by generating free electricity, which over time can balance the money you initially spent on them. This, alongside new governmental legislation which actually pays you money for the electricity you produce renewably makes it an all the more attractive option.
Depending on the type of cell, and the amount of cells, prices vary from a few thousand up to £14,000. Installation is carried out by the company your purchase from, after a surveyor comes to your home.
Not all houses are suitable for panel installation; panels usually need to be place on south facing rooftops, where sunlight is most prominent. However, south-west or south-east facing roofs are usually fine.
Depending on the size of your home, and the roof space available, you can generate up to 40% of your home's electricity requirements. Make sure the surveyor who comes to your home knows your electricity usage so that the correct system size is installed.