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( Tea Shop) Solar panels instal

our recent experience 

We first enquired in September ‘21 and our install was in early February ‘22.  Companies didn’t seem to be queueing-up to take us on. We went with Eon because they’re a known name and were responsive.  Everything they organised happened as planned. 

Assessing our property for suitability was all done remotely with Satellite views of the roof and a few inside photographs they asked me to take. 

Because we had over 10 panels, there had to be an application to the electricity distributor who gets and, in our case took, a couple of months to respond - Eon handled all that.  They also dealt with registering the panels for building control and the insurance scheme. 

We needed first to have a SMART meter installed by our electricity and gas supplier. That took a bit of time to get organised.  It took half a day; the man installed new gas and electric meters. You may want to take a reading from the old ones, just as a precaution.  

Our smart meter took about a week to actually start working.  It tells you what you’ve spent so far today has and electric it both, and for electricity what you’re drawing/selling back now.  Whatever it’s showing at bed-time as today’s energy spend presumably one will have to add half as much again to: eg £5 will be £7.50 in winter 2022.

Our house is a pretty simple case - detached, rectangular with a plain, two-sided roof. The panels are on one side and a wiring duct comes down from the roof into the garage through the wall to the existing modern fuse board sitting on an outside wall. 

There are some wall-mounted boxes that that take up about 80 cm of wall space.  The two biggest are the inverter (converts DC to AC) and we went for a 5 KWH battery. The installers added another fuse to our existing fuse board - that there were a couple of vacant slots, which they asked about in advance seemed to simplify things.  They needed to access the loft to make sure they stayed clear of things in there. 

The installation involved the erection of scaffolding on the side of the house the panels were going, which was removed a few days afterwards.  If you’re reliant on any outward opening doors e.g. for garden access, you may want to take an interest in where the poles go.  The actual installation of the panels and associated boxes took most of a day to do. 

The equipment relies on having a broadband connection - proximity to your router seemed like it mattered. 

We weren’t clear about any changes we needed to make to our electricity tariff. There are some smallish returns to be made selling back to the grid under the Solar Energy Guarantee.  The supply companies vary as to what they pay.  Not an urgent concern in February.

The whole thing is monitored and controlled by an app. I wished I’d listened more to my father and to my physics teacher when it comes to measuring quantities of electricity, the Kilowatt hour for example. 

At top whack, we are promised 5 kwh from our panels, so it doesn’t seem too bad for February to be peaking for an hour or so at 2.8 kWh on a sunny day.

It’s early days, but on a typical at home weekday, once we’ve had breakfast (kettle, toaster) the house is largely self-sufficient for electricity until the sun starts to weaken late afternoon. How high the sun is and cloud cover seem to determine how much the panels generate.  

I hope in the summer months there will be times we can turn off the gas-fired hot water and run the immersion heater - I’ve installed a timer switch to help with that.  

If you have timers on washing machines and dishwashers you can set them so they run one after the other while sun is up.  The battery seems to have a maximum discharge rate of about 2.8 kWh and you start drawing from the grid above that, unless the solar panels can provide it.

The app controls the flow of power in terms of what appliances you have switched on, what the panels are providing, what you need to draw in from the grid (as we micro-generators call it) and, if you have one, what power can either be provided from the battery, or whether you can charge it up.  A fully charged battery when the sun sets should last the evening and the night (fridge, items on stand-by that we need to do something about), but we’ve yet to achieve that. 

It’s a big outlay. You’re helping to save the planet and it gives you something to fight back with against rising energy costs.  Maybe the installation would be of interest to buyers if we were to move in the next few years - but there's a pretty set list of home improvements that reliably add to the sale value.

Assuming no further costs arising from the installation, we’re looking at 10-12 years to recover the cost.

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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