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Solar panels and storage heaters


Colonel Graham

Likes # 1

I'm hopefully having solar panels fitted shortly. It occurs to me if I put a small storage heater in the conservatory, it would charge during the day and release the heat on a winters evening.

Is this practical?

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Aitchbee

Likes # 0

alan14 - The wind machine on maplin is the kind of thing I am looking for. Unfortunately, most of the reviews give it the thumbs down.I will look about for something similar. Thanks.

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Forum Editor

Likes # 0

It's worth bearing in mind the fact that there's a lot of misleading information out there on the subject of solar panels.

They can certainly provide you with a free source of energy, but of course the energy is far from free, once you've factored in the cost of the panels. Over a 25 year period you'll get an annual rate of return of around 3.7% with solar panels, compared to 3.3% from a cash ISA over the same period.

Solar panels are not cheap to buy and install, and if you borrow the money to pay for them you'll find that the interest payments on the loan will probably exceed any money you make from the panels via the Feed In Tariff (FIT) for the DC power you feed back to the National Grid. A good solution is to reinvest the FIT money into a cash ISA.

Another thing to bear in mind is that solar panels lose efficiency over time, and the inverter will probably need changing during the life of the panels.

As with all major purchases it's a good idea to do your research first, so you make an informed decision, rather than relying on the sales material produced by solar panel companies.

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Aitchbee

Likes # 0

FE - your advice on solar panels is very good. The 60w solar panel kit outlined by alan14 looks like something I might buy (£200)...as a hobbyist. Our 'great' British weather does not favour solar panels.And as Donovan sang in his song...'I might as well Try And Catch the Wind.'

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DM.

Likes # 0

Forum Editor

We are quite fortunate that the total cost of installation and life time maintenance is met by government grants.We have been told that 12 solar panels will be installed and this could save 40% of daytime electricity bills, if we use the converted electricity to it's maximum effect.

We shall be pleased to see our bills fall.

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Housten

Likes # 0

We have a South-West facing non-covered roof. We have been told that to get solar panels fitted will cost in the region of £12 - £15,000 and the pay-back period should be 15 - 17 years, with the balance being 'free'. As my wife and I are pensioners and as neither of us will live that long we have declined to have the panels fitted. I know it sounds like I am being a defeatist but I think we all have more than enough calls on our money without having to take such a chance.

With regard to the FE's comment about getting only 3.3% from an ISA I would say he is being - bearing in mind the period of 25 years - unduly pessimistic. Maybe someone has different ideas, I would be interested to hear them.

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Wilham

Likes # 0

Housten. FE's advice is paramount that you do your research before making any firm decision. The adverts suggest life is as easy with PV solar panels as without them. I think this could be misleading. As a suggestion I put to you this scenario with questions to seek answers from a would-be seller, in writing. It is for a full system integrated with the mains.

It is early afternoon on a hot sunny day and you are watching TV on your one-year-old 37" 100W digital TV. The only other electricity used is by clocks in electic cooker and microwave, 3W each. The max rated power of your combined four panels is 1.6kW.

Q1 Can I expect all the 106W we are using to be supplied free by my panels?

My wife then goes to the kitchen to switch on a kettle and make a pot of tea. That takes 3kW for just over one minute.

Q2 Does this extra 3kW come entirely from the mains, or is there a share-out and I only pay the 1.4kW (approx) excess.

Q3 If every time that kettle is used I find my TV picture jumps, and if the TV company says the set is fine, will the panel warranty cover/rectify the the fault?

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kev100

Likes # 0

Wilham

Your houshold will first use the electricity from the PV solar system, than any additional electricity that may be needed will then be taken from the grid.

If you use the PV system efficiently i.e. using the washing machine, heating water boilers etc in the daytime when the PV is generating electricity at its highest point you will save approx 40% of your electricity costs.

In addition, what ever energy you generate (after all you have a micro generator on your roof), you will be paid approx 43p per kWh garanteed for 25 years, an average 3 kWp system in say Birmingham will generate 2530 kWh of energy a year under optimal conditions and this will generate £1,087 tax free and index linked every year for 25 years garanteed, not only that the govenment garantees that any electricty not used will be sold back to the grid at 3p per kWh.

So if you have 7 - 10,000 quid sitting in the bank earning no interest (or thinking to put some in an ISA, then look again at a PV system, payoff time is between 7 - 10 years, then every year after that for the next 25 years you will be making todays equivelent of £1087 FiT + 120 approx saving on electricity bill + £30 Approx electricity that you sell back to the grid = £1237 per year for the next 15 years garanteed or 18,555 tax free and index linked :)..

Bargain !!!!!!!

Q1 yes, as long as the panels are producing electricity (of course at night they wont be ;) Q2 The PV system will use any available energy it is generating and the rest will be made up from the grid Q3 Will not happen because you are permanently connected to the grid.

Hope that helps :)

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Diemmess

Likes # 0

Thanks kev100 for some informed basic truths.

I have a system which broadly follows your outline (3.18KwH). Installed beginning of July, but due to my own fumbling was not registered with Npower until a month later and so lost 300 units.

I am far too old to see the end of the 25yr contract, but the capital was doing little and could be afforded.

In return I expect quarterly payments which are indexed, tax free, and way above any interest I might have had leaving the capital where it was.

Since commissioned (July) the system has generated 790 units, and although the daily total has made a slight decline since the start, so have the daylight hours reduced. The installer said that roughly 70% is generated during the summer months and 30% in the winter months. A clear blue sky in Winter will do better than an overcast summer one.

The system is sophisticated and wired in the approved registered manner, so that fiddling with the circuits to earmark some particular bit of hardware is not a possibility.

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Wilham

Likes # 0

kev100 Good to read your comment and I appreciate your reply. You may well be right and it is a bargain, but I am left with some problems about how it is done. Any web technical pointers in this direction most welcome.

Diemmess You are doing well. Can you put me out of mental torment:... Can surplus energy fed back to grid at about 3p/unit be commecially used?

I know it is too early to assess risks but if by mischance an electric storm damaged a panel, would the cost fall on you, or would government or house insurance contribute? Thanks, W

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Diemmess

Likes # 0

Wilham

(Q)"Can surplus energy fed back to grid at about 3p/unit be commercially used?"

(A- ) I don't know how it works but every KWh generated is credited @ 43.3p and a further 3.1p addition for a notional 50% of the generated juice, it seems every microgenerated unit is credited as money off the electricity bill as well and is fed into the grid.

I can scarcely believe the brochure which is available on npower website with a pdf titled - npower Microgeneration Scheme - Feed In Tariffs

Q) "I know it is too early to assess risks but if by mischance an electric storm damaged a panel, would the cost fall on you, or would government or house insurance contribute?"

(A) That is a nasty shock, forgive the pun. I honestly don't know but hate to think of the potential cost of lightning strike! I must enquire from house insurance people. Installation needs scaffolding and so would repairs to the panels. I could just coast along believing a strike is unlikely, and all panels are aluminium framed.

Government subsidy only goes to make the tariff attractive, all other costs are born by the customer. My own installer includes a 3 year warranty but lightning damage, probably not.

In case anyone doesn't know, this apparent bonanza only applies to small domestic installations, in existing buildings, with a maximum generating power of just under 4KWh and registered by (I think) next July. Even that is subject to review and if the scheme is doing too well, HMG may cut down the time left to install an outfit.

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