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Solar Panels

Anyone got them?

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wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 24-Jan-2019 11:27 Message #4733964
Mum and I are thinking about having solar PV panels installed, we have a south facing roof and feel that with interst rates so low we might actually get more savings through investing in panels, as well as increasing our own energy security.

We still at the thinking about it stage, has anyone got them, do you have any advice, tips, do's and don't's, who installed them for you and were you happy and do you remain happy with them? Please don't give me really technical answers, because I won't understand them and I've only just started looking into it and I don't know the jargon yet. I'm using my £1 Which magazine membership to research it over the next 3 weeks, but as ever would love to hear what you lot have to say.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 24-Jan-2019 12:22 Message #4733972
Have you got an idea using the energy savings trust calculator on how much if any you save over the lifetime of the panels?
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 24-Jan-2019 12:22 Message #4733973
warmundeft  Male  Wrexham 24-Jan-2019 12:33 Message #4733975
Eight years ago, for the price of a modest saloon car, I bought a solar PV system and left it pointed it at a nearby star.
This year, I calculate that purchase and installation cost will be recovered. Depreciation on the value of a car often make our eyes water.

Additionally, since commissioning this system, the income from power fed into the National Grid has covered the cost of my imported electricity, gas, telephone rental and broadband. Every year there has been a very modest cash surplus to put towards my beer money (or peanuts). S'pose I should put that towards my water and sewerage cost, but then, when drinking, I've long thought of myself as merely a middleman between the brewery and the water company.

Given the predicted life of one major unit, I anticipate that will require replacement within the next 3 to 5 years, but since initial outlay will have been recouped, my research shows likely replacement cost to be within forecast income. The system has a twenty-five year guarantee, so the actuarial odds are that it will last longer than I will.

One consideration regarding 'energy security' - if there is a power cut in the area, then my lights will go out too. Technically, that could be avoided by installing a storage system (battery), but for my situation I consider the cost to outweigh the benefits. Happy to discuss details.

Moral issues do come with the chosen investment. This system essentially makes a profit because the income from electricity generated is substantially greater than cost of electricity bought from the grid. TANSTAAFL. Thank you to all consumers who do not have similar systems. With income from savings at usurious rates, that is how I chose to invest my earnings.

My system came from an outfit called 'Raine or Shine' (a play on the principal's surname) who were located on the Wrexham Industrial Estate, but later shifted to somewhere in Mid-Wales - I'm foggy regarding precise location, but since commissioning there's been no need to contact them.

Undoubtedly, the decision is not trivial, but if asked for an opinion, my reply would be: 'What are you waiting for?'
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 24-Jan-2019 14:10 Message #4733991
Since the outset the Feed In Tariff has been drastically reduced and I would imagine that unless you are in all day and using electricity the return is minimal compared to those who had them installed a number of years ago. Soon the FIT scheme is being closed altogether. Personally I think that the current FIT is so minimal that I wouldn't even consider entering it into the equation particularly if you are at home all day. Currently the FIT Standard large solar photovoltaic (middle EPC) is about 3.5p right down to 0.15p in 2012 it was 16p. In April the FIT will be scrapped altogether.
You've got to remember it's a long term investment before you are making any real world savings. That's the way I've been calculating it whilst I've been looking at it objectively.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 24-Jan-2019 19:06 Message #4734015
I'm thinking the same as you two, Manthing had a look and dosn't like the idea, one of the reasons being that it can lower the value of your house because people think they're ugly, personally I think as many people will be attracted to it because of the panels as will be put off. I think we will go for it, but I need lots more research yet. As for batteries I was wondering about old marine batteries, if they could be charged up then switched on when needed, I've heard of it being done before and I suspect we could quite easily get hold of them round here. I would have to talk to Manthings son about it as thats the sort of thing he could design and build.
JustLyn  Female  Cheshire 24-Jan-2019 19:49 Message #4734017

I posted a similar post a year or so ago but from the perspective would the house be devalued. It wouldn't put me off buying a house because of the appearance of solar panels, but :-

1, I wouldn't fancy if the property owner had rented out the roof as opposed to owning the system.

2. If such a system was getting on a bit, I'd be worried I'd have to foot the bill for replacement or be stuck with something no longer efficient or due an expensive update.

3. Would other companies have skills or even interest in updating or repairing a system they had not fitted, should the original supplier have stopped trading?
Minnie-the-Minx  Female  Hertfordshire 24-Jan-2019 21:29 Message #4734022
I came to the conclusion that I would need to live for another 25 yrs and stay in this house to get my money back. I'm not sure that I will last the next 5 yrs. I decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.
Maybe they should legislate such that all new builds have them right from the beginning?
warmundeft  Male  Wrexham 24-Jan-2019 23:06 Message #4734030
Right on Minnie! However, as you can probably imagine, any steps towards Zero Energy houses inevitably increase building costs - not desirable when it seems we (as a nation) are unable to decently house the existing population. But that's heading towards a different topic.

In line with justfem's input, any cost/benefit analysis regarding any domestic renewable energy scheme has worsened by nearly 90% through Treasury reviews in recent years. As you say, it will take longer to recoup your outlay.

Inevitably, given the impending deadline for the cessation of the Feed-in-Tariff of 31 March 2019, for those solar PV firms that still remain in business, workload will almost certainly skyrocket. Once a decision to install has been made, you will need to get your bid in pronto.

As you probably know recharging of batteries of whatever type gives rise to inflammable gas and thus it is advisable for them to be housed in an adequately ventilated shelter that is separate from domestic spaces. Local planning/building regulations will show what is required.
Large capacity batteries would probably suit this application. Those no longer deemed suitable for marine use would serve, as would those that have seen service in electric vehicles. Disposal of batteries after they're no good to you might present a problem at some later date.

A visit to the The Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth might be worthwhile - I found that talking through my 'niggles' with people who are well in front of what is generally known was well worth the trip across country and the folk there can provide information at a level to suit all levels of understanding. Lyn's concerns are among those that can be covered at CAT - as seen on this thread, you're more likely to speak to an up-to-date and informed bunch of people down at Mach.
OnlineMSE  Male  Essex 25-Jan-2019 08:12 Message #4734034
I was 1 panel off the minimum number needed to have them installed for free, back when there was a big rush to get them installed before the feed in tariff was slashed.
Over the 30 years the installer got the benefit of the FIT, and would have installed, maintained, replaced any faulty panels and updated as required, the householder got the free leccy.
But I don't think I would consider buying them myself given the large initial outlay and the lengthy break-even period.
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 25-Jan-2019 11:27 Message #4734044
As I intend to stay in this house for at least 10 years the outlay dosen't bother me, nor does the kerb appeal, I know I'm wierd but I look at so many empty south facing roofs and think 'power stations'. I definately wouldn't have one of those rented thingies, where a company owns the panels on my roof. I do wonder if its a generational thing and if younger people look more favourably on solar panels than older people?

I suppose for me its not just about money, its about the environment, about thumbing my nose at "big energy", we are in all day and living in a wet part of the world we use the tumble dryer a lot and the shower and the bread machine, the oven, plus the usual washing machine and fridge freezer. To me it seems a no brainer to have solar panels, although because we have dormer windows and wiggly tiles insteead of slate it might not be possible. I Think I will get a couple of companies out to have a look and give an estimate.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 25-Jan-2019 12:08 Message #4734048
I know someone in the electronics industry and they said from a manufacturing perspective they are not green at all because of the way they are made.
OnlineMSE  Male  Essex 25-Jan-2019 13:11 Message #4734049
I guess as you're aware of the weather conditions in your neck of the woods ("a wet part of the world") that may significantly impact on your ability to generate enough power from the panels alone, just when you need it most.
If it's tipping it down from leaden skies and you've done a full wash load, mr tunble dryer is going to gobble up a lot of what if any you're generating If you can cope with doing without other equipment during that time, all well and good. But if it means you have to revert to the national grid, one might wonder if it's at all worth it.

I thought they would've been worth a punt on the basis that they were free. But I do wonder their worth here, yes there are plenty of fields you see around now that have been converted to Solar Farms, but that is fro commercial reasons!
I've been to the south of spain, on the Costa del Sol, a lot over the years and yes there are quite a few places you see that have panels but not as many as you'd expect, and that's with their guaranteed annual sunshine record for all but a few days of the year. And with leccy ibeing a very expensive utility in Espana, you'd think everyone that could have them would do.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 25-Jan-2019 15:19 Message #4734050
When I was looking into them I came to the conclusion that unless it saved me money on something else such as say for arguments sake my tax burden it wasn't cost effective enough quickly enough. I think that scrapping the FITS speaks volumes. I would imagine the governments of the day were banking on a larger feedback into the national grid to claw back the incentives which evidently hasn't happened.

wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 25-Jan-2019 16:23 Message #4734051
Actually I think its more like pressure from big energy thats the reason why the government is cutting back the feed in tariff.
Beach  Male  Dorset 26-Jan-2019 00:34 Message #4734078
Do you remember when the punk rock phenomenon arrived back in the mid-70s? Ripped jeans and T-shirts, rusty razor blades for jewellery and groups that couldn’t sing?

I was in my late teens at the time, a retired skinhead, though still a follower of fashion and someone who was culturally shaken if not entirely stirred by the new wave of music hitting our streets.

And all was anarchic and well for the first 6 months or so until the corporate world such renegade lyrics were raging against, got on the bandwagon, perversely, pumping out punk merchandise, making big profits from a culture claiming to be abhorred by such monetary cynicism.

And, by then, you could buy blunt, chrome dipped ,razor blade necklaces, (I.D tags), from the likes of Woolworths or purchase punk inspired T-shirts with manufactured holes (with neatly stitched cotton hems running around said holes) much like the police had been hemming in and running around striking miners in a similar manner just a few years prior.

The juxtaposition of those parallel endeavors, (DIY punk fashion versus mass-produced merchandise), captured, just for a moment, the imaginative, naive innocence of youth making do … before being swamped by such mass-produced trinkets.

I mention the above anecdotes as a pre-amble to try to paint a mental description of just how I feel regarding the sophisticated solar-powered systems many folk are investing in these days.

Of course there is little fundamentally wrong with any endeavors to harness the power of solar energy (and you know me and just how passionate I am regarding most new technology) BUT, Warmandeft’s delightful prose in broadcasting the genuine benefits of his solar PV system cannot hide the horror I feel in acknowledging that his system, back in 2010, cost him the equivalent price of a modest saloon car … with a further prospect that, like the expensive thatch on some 17th century cottages, further significant expenditure may be required again.

And when I read Warmundeft’s, “One consideration regarding 'energy security' - if there is a power cut in the area, then my lights will go out too. Technically, that could be avoided by installing a storage system (battery), but for my situation I consider the cost to outweigh the benefits.”

Well. I was further gobsmacked!

I’m fearful that these words might be misinterpreted though all I’m really saying is that, (inside my own particular head), the convenience of folk being able to benefit and enthuse about utilising solar power by some act of writing a huge cheque somehow steals all the joy of achieving a similar aim by rolling up one’s sleeves and building such a system for a FRACTION of the several thousand pounds companies and contractors charge for providing such a service themselves.

Like the 70’s punk DIY initiatives (versus corporate ones), I view the off grid philosophy of building a similar system to Warmundeft’s, (with my own self built panels and lithium power packs built into the project), to represent, (and give me), a warm and fuzzy feeling of ACHIEVEMENT, (similar to baking one’s own bread or building one’s own house), without relying on some extremely expensive corporate solution that, to me, goes right against the “homesteader’ philosophy of most other green, save the planet, style personal projects.

And for those not willing to build their own systems, look on GUMTREE where you can find batches of efficient, brand new solar panels, (often over-ordered by house builders), for low 100’s of £’s rather than the thousands that contractors charge!
wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 26-Jan-2019 11:35 Message #4734082
Yes SOB, if I had the skills and general know how to build one myself I would do so but I don't, I wouldn't even know where to begin and could well end up causing more damage than good and having to have a new roof or something. But then I could be a brain surgeon if I had the tools and knew how! Well done you SOB for having the skills to do it, the tools and presumably the head for heights for getting up on the roof, I don't, so instead of having a pop at those who know the limits of thier own skills and abilities why don't you break the habit of a lifetime and make some possitive suggestions?
Beach  Male  Dorset 26-Jan-2019 14:15 Message #4734089
I thought I acknowledged my own, quirky, outlook on the subject so clearly as to, definitely, come across as never intending to have a pop against anyone, but, yet again, you choose to throw some kind of slight my way so, after giving you an hour or two to view this answer, I shall be blocking you ... because I really don't need such nasty negativity spoiling my time here on Midsummer.

As I've said before, perhaps your Asperger's style mental perception of what folk write is addling your thoughts ... which I'd be sorry to hear. Nevertheless, I don't think I should have to tolerate your bad mannered outlook every time I share a post you are on. :-(

And with BG going off on one at me the other day and one or two others showing their dark side, I'm thinking that, perhaps, it might be a good idea, after all, for this place to just close and be done with it.

Thanks Hen ... for pissing me off.
NotHermit  Male  Derbyshire 26-Jan-2019 14:39 Message #4734090
WH you should have said how clever he was...oh you did that.
Ok, from my perspective what happens if you need a roof repair?
I assume it would cost a lot more if you have solar panels on the roof?
I have seen some awful installations, cheap electricity, but expensive roof repairs.
SQL  Male  Devon 26-Jan-2019 18:32 Message #4734092
It would seem that many on here don't understand how this Solar PV system works.

All the energy (electricity) generated by the panels is delivered back to the national grid and the installation owner gets paid at the agreed FIT rate for each unit of electricity generated - that's it.

When you use electricity in your home you pay for each unit that you use at the current rate charged by your energy supplier. There is no trade-off or benefit to being home and using electricity while the PV panels are generating electricity.

It's that simple.

However there are many variations on the ownership of the installation, whether you rent out your roof to the company that owns the installation or you own all the kit and get all the income. There are many variations on this and some are downright perilous to enter into unless you are certain you will own the current property for the life of the contract.

I note S-O-B's outburst and would only offer this opinion: you would need a factory complex worth hundreds or thousands of millions of pounds if you wish to make your own solar PV panels that are reasonably efficient. Plus you then have to make an inverter (that's the device/electronics) to feed the electricity into the national grid. Such an inverter has to be approved for use in connecting to the national grid, and believe me that the approval alone will cost you thousands of pounds and you have to make three (or more) instances of the inverter for submission to the testing laboratory. Yes I was involved in this several years ago now so I can speak from experience (and you don't get the test examples back in a working condition - they are tested to destruction).

Installing the panels and connecting it all up is trivial after this.

wonderoushen  Female  Gwynedd 26-Jan-2019 18:45 Message #4734094
Oh good, no more having to read SOB's drasty speeches with their many tangents going into the furthest reaches of the cats backside.

I'll say this now he can't see me, he gets into a strop because in my own spheres I'm as clever as he his and he don't like it, he's still never got over me correcting him about the Roman invasion of Britain.

Thats the sort of thing I'm putting into the mix for consideration NH, if I were to go ahead with it it would be done by a Which magazine trusted trader, I know its not a guarantee, but it does help as the tradespeople I've used who are Which trusted traders are very keen to hang on to that.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 26-Jan-2019 20:12 Message #4734096
All the energy (electricity) generated by the panels is delivered back to the national grid and the installation owner gets paid at the agreed FIT rate for each unit of electricity generated - that's it.

When you use electricity in your home you pay for each unit that you use at the current rate charged by your energy supplier. There is no trade-off or benefit to being home and using electricity while the PV panels are generating electricity.

Err, no. Any energy you produce is sent through and inverter. Any excess energy produced by your Solar PV is fed back to the national grid. You are essentially part of the national grid network. The FIT rate you are 'paid' for is excess you don't use at a fraction of the actual price per kwh set by the government.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 26-Jan-2019 20:22 Message #4734098
In April FIT's are being scrapped altogether and that is why companies are pushing what are essentially battery backup devices.
warmundeft  Male  Wrexham 26-Jan-2019 20:39 Message #4734101
Well 'hen, you are surely getting a wide range of the ins & outs and ups & downs as well as some strongly felt asides.

Ahh. 'Twas ever thus - Why is there never a super-hero around when one is needed ?
There I was in 2011, working (nominally) part-time, pottering along, doing this and that, researching the subject of solar PV, procurement of major items (maybe buying locally since Sharps factory was only down the road, you know, less panel-miles sort of thing), building regulations, structural calculations and considerations (like access for replacing roof tiles as NH indicates), cost/benefit analysis, electrical installation and wiring in accordance with (yet another, latest) IEE regulations, system longevity ...
Had done most of the planning, some of it while hanging around in hospitals, but getting towards the end of that year, the lymphodema and after effects of surgical reconstruction appeared to be going as well as could be expected - and furthermore the cancer was in remission. A bit of a window anticipated. So, being confident of my competence in all aspects, I fully intended to execute the pre-planned work myself, on my own and at my own pace - even though that has, at times, been likened to the velocity of continental drift.

Bolt-from-the-blue ! FIT deadline introduced - systems commissioned after 1st December will not get the favourable rates applicable to those brought on-line prior to that date. Yeah, yeah, yeah - a prelude to the 'bonfire of the subsidies' that we've seen in later years. Didn't even need to consult my work progress forecast - abandon DiY intentions, get some quotes, throw money at the problem - yup! OnlineMSE, I was part of that stampede.

Squirrel's reference to inverter's is very relevant, 'cos that is the 'major unit' which in 2011 had a predicted life-span of 12 to 15 years and to which I referred in my first contribution to 'hen's OP; if present life-span has not improved by replacement time (who knows?) then those who reckon the odds might say that it'll still see me out. However, SQL's suggestion, that there is no FIT benefit to using the electricity you may be generating during the day, is at variance with my reading of my energy company's Ts&Cs and seems to be confirmed by their payments to me. (ahh! obviously I'm taking too long to put this together 'cos I see justfem's latest covers that same point)

Anyway 'hen, hope all this has stayed at a level that you have felt comfortable with - any revision / clarification you want, please ask, but bear in mind that I found the folks down in Mach at CAT much more experienced at dishing out the low-down. And, just a thought, their cafe is highly likely to be in tune with your dietary desires and needs.

The compliment regarding 'delightful prose' is noted with appreciation, but: 'Oh what a shame; there there; never mind' - it does't rate a virtual 'Literary Genius. It is also regrettable that anybody has been 'gobsmacked' and perhaps a more detailed explanation of my circumstances might have avoided that.
Bottom line is that I was the guy on the spot at the time.
justfem  Female  Cambridgeshire 26-Jan-2019 20:41 Message #4734102
You are producing energy all the time photons are hitting the panels. When you are using an electronic device whilst these photons hit the panels your energy usage is taken first from there rather from the National grid. If you are not using a device whilst the photons are hitting the device the energy is fed back to the National grid itself (or battery backup if you are using one).

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