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Solar panels

What are your experiences of installing solar panels? We have just formed a neighbourhood solar group and are looking at group purchase. I've held off installing for years as I wasn't planning to stay long term in this house, but am considering it again. I'm in a covenanted area but planning laws are loosening and I may be able to put them up in a protected area.
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  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,661
    We had ours installed some six or seven years ago and think we've now recouped the cost. We were unable to have the maximum panels installed because of the shape and orientation of our roof. We had a one-band, very knowledgeable chap who spent hours with us going through all the pros and cons and who produced very useful reports and charts. He also installed individual wiring/sensors? which recorded each panel's contribution via a specialist computer programme, although regrettably, because we didn't log on regularly has now failed to work. When the computer programme did work, it could tell you if any panel was failing to work and which panel was producing the most electricity.

    One thing you do need to factor in is that in our case because there are a lot of tall council maintained trees nearby, we get a lot of debris/moss/dirt on the panels and had them cleaned earlier this year. It made quite a bit of difference.

    Hope this helps.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • LilyWLilyW Posts: 41
    We have had them since February and can’t recommend them enough...the app you get with them mean you can see exactly how much energy you are producing and how much you consume or sell. It makes us think about when to put the washing machine on! The weather has been good this year and with an increase in the price we sell a unit for, means we will get payback far earlier than we thought.

    ....and it reduces CO2 of course!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,353
    edited October 2022
    I haven't done the full, up to date research - but does it seem that, maybe, orientation that is not so important? I hear that having half and half set east and west can work too...  My south orientation is under covenant but may be possible nowadays.

    I use pretty little electricity and it comes from renewable resources with Octopus. About £15 a month.  Gas for heating remains the bigger problem (?).

    Has it all become easier over the last 10 or 15 years? Is it cheaper and panels more reliable these days?
  • LilyWLilyW Posts: 41
    Panels are a lot cheaper now. For a typical 4bed detached house we have £7,500 of panels, but this includes an extra, in the form of an Eddi, which is a gadget that uses the electricity to heat water, so you use less gas. In fact we used no gas all summer. As for orientation, you will have to ask the fitters. There are all sorts of gadgets available these days.
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,926
    As with all energy saving plans you should think fabric first. If you have money to spend then it always makes sense to use it to improve the efficiency of the fabric of the house before spending money just to make up for the energy losses.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • FireFire Posts: 17,353
    edited October 2022
    As with all energy saving plans you should think fabric first. If you have money to spend then it always makes sense to use it to improve the efficiency of the fabric of the house before spending money just to make up for the energy losses.

    Yes, that has been my plan so far, over the ten years in my house - yearly, incremental improvements. The small terraced house isn't really well set up - or insulated well enough - for a heat pump. The house, in that time - has gone from frigging freezing to livable, rather than from livable to highly efficient.

    I guess for a large family or if you have an electric car, it makes sense to have panels. I understand there are electric-only boilers.
  • It depends why you want to do it. It's supposed to be eco-friendly, but no-one gives a toss about that, all they want is to save money so:

    It's changed a bit over the years from:

    Get a grant to help it work. Do it.
    No grant. Don't bother.
    Currently sky high energy prices have been a game changer and increased demand. Do the maths and take a gamble on future energy prices.
    It makes the most power when you need it the least. We're on LPG and will use 95% of it in Winter. In Summer the remaining 5% or less is used by washing and cooking.

    It's an absolutely vast topic.
    The government are pushing it because it makes them look good in the World arena and brings work in. They aren't the vaguest bit interested in whether you go bankrupt or die of hypothermia.
  • StephenSouthwestStephenSouthwest Posts: 570
    edited October 2022
    Some thoughts:
    -It's worth looking at Octopus agile export tariff
    -West facing panels will generate less electricity, but will generate it at a time of day when electricity is generally more expensive and more carbon intensive, so are worth considering
    -Inverters are generally more efficient when running at full capacity, so having a panel array with greater capacity than inverter capacity is a good idea (5.2kW of panels with a 3.6kW inverter works well, for example)
    -Solar PV is currently highly demanded, and supplies are scarce - expect to wait a while for installation
    -Some installations have had problems with pigeons nesting - it's a problem fairly easy to prevent at installation, but expensive to solve later (because of scaffolding cost)
    You might find this forum useful: https://www.speakev.com/forums/power/


  • FireFire Posts: 17,353
    edited October 2022
     It's supposed to be eco-friendly, but no-one gives a toss about that, all they want is to save money.

    I give a toss. We don't buy a fridge or a comfortable bed to save or generate money. There are other reasons to invest in home infrastructure other than saving money.

  • I guess for a large family or if you have an electric car, it makes sense to have panels. I understand there are electric-only boilers.
    There are just 2 of us in a small house, not on the grid, so we rely on our solar panels and a small wood-burning stove (in winter). Not connected to the gas mains either. In our case, the calculations were simpler as we would have had to pay the power company 2k for a connection plus the cost of trenching across our neighbour's field.

    If your main cost is gas, is there any way to change some of your usage to electricity if you were to install panels? Eg an induction hob if you're not already using one? We do a lot of our cooking in a small countertop oven & pressure cooker. We've been in this house 3 years and in the first 2 years, used a 1200v floor-standing halogen heater in the living room for part of spring/autumn. Early this year, we installed a split air-conditioning unit which is also a heater. Again, it's useful for spring/autumn heating and my husband was grateful for an air-condition in summer. Like @lilian wlson, we also try to do our laundry on a sunny day (or less gloomy day, in winter).

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