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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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Forum Editor

Likes # 0

Diemmess

A direct lightning strike on a solar panel is very unlikely - the problem is more likely to come from a nearby strike. That could send a high-voltage surge into the house wiring, and in turn that could put paid to the solar panel current inverter, or the control box.

Most inverter damage is caused by surges on the AC side coming in through house or generator wiring.

You can't do anything to prevent a lightning strike, but you can do a lot to minimise the potential for damage. Make sure that your solar power installation is properly earthed, and that the earth wire runs to a copper earthing rod set into the ground alongside the house.

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kev100

Likes # 0

Colonel Graham

yes it would charge, but remeber there is only a maximum amount of energy that you are able to pull from the solar panels, if you are using other electrical equipment any shortfalls will of course kick in the grid electricity. and of course in the winter the panels will generate alot less electricity than on a sunny August day. The key is the FiT and the 1000 quid plus, tax free and indexed link free cash you will get every year :)

As for insurance, you should in any case check with your houshold insurance, it may be included, or need an additional small premium to cover it, most panels come with a minimum 20 year warrantee from manufacturers and installers are giving 3 years usually for the work. Solar panels generally have a published lifespan of 25 years, but in reality they can keep going for 30 - 40 years.

Generally 50% of the generated electricity is fed back into the grid as a minimum so you will get 3p for each kWh .. dont expect much more than about 30 quid for this, but it all goes to help

From next year the Feed in Tariffs (FiT) may start reducing incrementally every year, and probably will, this is to encourage early adopters and obviously these early adopters will get the greater CASH benefits in the long term.

You may be wondering why the government are doing this .. one simple reason, they have to reduce the carbon emmissions by 2020 (I think) otherwise they will have to pay millions if not billions in penalties, so it makes more sense to give the money away now then to pay fines in the future, also everybody who pays for electricity from the grid is also paying to support the FiT scheme, so a small percentage of your electricity bill is already being passed onto early adopters.

Diemmess

Sounds like your system is doing fine, you may think that the sunnier and hotter the weather the more electricity is generated, this isnt exactly true because alot of heat can reduce the efficiency of the panels, so for example a panel in south of spain on a very hot suny day can produce less electricity than the same panel on a overcast day in london, also generally more direct sunlight is prefered.

Solar panels are basically fit and forget by and large, you may have to clean them every few years to help maintain the efficiency, but usually the rain takes care of this.

Wilham

Sorry I cant recommend an installation company for you, I just know about this stuff out of interest (and possibly in the near future will set up my own solar company), but Diemmess seems to have some knowledge and already has a system installed so may be able to recommend somebody for you.

Not sure I can put a link here, but this site will help you see how much you will be making from a PV system http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Cashback-Calculator

Dont forget to click the map in the area that you are in. even if you take a bank loan to cover the initial cost of installation you can still make some decent money, especially if you re-invest the FiT into some high interest account,

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Diemmess

Likes # 0

The missing yellow envelope ?

Recommending a particular installer or any other business, is safest by word of mouth or seeing an example of existing work. A friend in the village who has had his system since April was an example of how useful first-hand experience can be.

During the time before we made our decision, we had a similar experience after phoning the number on a flyer. After blandishments that we were one of two specially chosen to have heavy discounts if we would allow them to publicise the installation - be da be da be da!!! My friend had gone further and had taken nearly two hours of sales pitch before he could send the salesman on his way,

I'd be happy to correspond with a forum member if the "Yellow Envelope system" had been included on the new fangled PCA. Is there any likelihood of its re-appearance FE - Please?

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kev100

Likes # 0

Interesting about your friends 2 hour sales pitch, and of course the high preassure "you will get a discount if you sign up now" pitch, any reputable solar company should have joined the REAL scheme http://www.realassurance.org.uk/

Companies’ representatives should deal with you in a courteous, constructive and prompt manner, and they should show you evidence of their identification before they enter your home, including their name and their job title. Do not sign a contract with a company whose representative:

stays in your home for more than two hours (except in exceptional circumstances)
offers you a high initial price followed by a discount
offers you a discount for signing the contract that day
offers you a discount for monitoring performance or providing testimonials
withholds price information until the end of the visit or ask you what other quotations you have already received
claims that there is limited availability of the product.

Its sad that the solar business is getting the same reputation that the double glazing or time-share businesses have (or had)basically it shouldnt be that way, it really sells itself if its presented in an understandable, coherent way

Never heard of the "yellow Envelope" before .. Diemmess maybe you can elaborate

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Colonel Graham

Likes # 0

Before yor time, Kev. You could send an email to another member.

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Wilham

Likes # 0

I'm old and slow but a glimmer is becomig a glow. I'm pleased to see the info from Diemmess that the Feed-in-Tariff (Export) hasn't an independent a/c with separate meter, and that payback is a notional 50% To me it raises the posibiliy no energy actually returns to the grid. If so, is not the promotion misleading?

My comment about panel damage by electric storm is not without some foundation. So here's some technical history from my exprinnce....

The present silicon PV cells are improving in performance. The change is coming about through higher quality purification of the crystals. Tables the last three years show nearly doubling of power/unit light input.

A similar time occured in the development of silicon field effect transistors. In the ordinary transistor there are three terminals, or ports. They are emitter, collector and base. I liken the function lay-out to a narrow one-way road, winding from the base to join half-way along the busy one-way main road joining emitter to collector. Of unusual design, the traffic from the base has right-of-way over the main through road. Also the cars can squeeze through tiny gaps but not collide. They all move very quickly.

This model may not please physisists but works fine for understanding flip-flop flow and logic circuits. I have put it here because you might be able to see out how the variation of a thin line of cars into the base can be imposed onto the flow of heavier traffic.

It's the FET that links this with present solar panels. That trickle of electric charge into the grid is a burden on any weak input signal. Also the trickle mixes with, and distorts, the main output. Purifying the silicon to a degree it would not attenuate an electrostatic field, and by arranging a resistive path for the main current flow, the trickle did not have to flow into the mainsteam. A concentration of charge had sufficient electic field charge to divert the mainflow off the easy channel.

The FET is prone to damage by stray electic fields. Wearing an earthed wristband is recommended for people handling unmounted silicon FETs. Once installed they are enclosed/screened by the mounting.

The ultra purifying of the modern silicon solar panels is making them more prone to electric field damage. A normal field gradient on a calm day would be about one volt per inch. Highest danger I would associate with sheet lightening. Before, rather that after, as the discharge is part removal of the field gradient. Of course a wire shield may give protection. But an amateur application of bird wire mesh may focus stress rather than reduce.

In short, the extra purification of silicon removes its self protection from field damage. The US have recently stopped the use of silican panels in space, replacing with GaA

Sorry so long, but it may help to draw attn of advisors. W

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spuds

Likes # 0

Not sure how correct this is, but I was discussing the government grant funded 25 year scheme that is being advertised by various companies, with a neighbour who is looking into having solar panels etc installed. Apparently the contracts might well require a solicitor's consultation before anything is signed or within the cancellation period.

It would seem that the installation company 'may own' the fixture the panels etc are fitted to (ie roof) for the duration of the 25 years. If you sell the property before the 25 years, then there might be a risk that the contract is not transferable to the new occupant, in which case you could be held liable for the full cost of the installation?.

So if the above is correct, then it might be essential to look into this before you go ahead with any installation?.

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kev100

Likes # 0

Spuds

This may be one of the "free" schemes you are talking about, in this instance the solar company installs the panels on your roof, effectively renting your roof and the space above it for 25 years, they then get the feed in tariff for 25 years to cover their investment (cost of panels and installation), the homeowner gets the free energy produced by the system over the 25 year period.

This is all done legally and the rental of the roof is actually registered in the lang registry, permission from mortgage companies must be obtained also (but many if not all will give this).

Now 2 things can happen with the solar panels, the first is that at the end of the term title to the panels remains with the company and they can remove them if they wish, sell them to the homeowner etc, or some companies will pass title onto the homeowner free of charge so that the homeowner can continue getting the benefit of the free energy.

Its something to look into if you dont have the fund or cant get a loan to cover the initial installation, of course benefits are low, but it could end up saving you upto 200 quid a year on your electricity bill, so thats 5000 on the life of the contract (in real terms this may be more because of the inevitable price rises of electricity).

There most imortant thing to know about free schemes is that the solar company effectively own your roof for 25 years, so if you want to make a loft extension etc you would have to obtain their permission, and of course there maybe financial penalties if it interferes with their solar system, also if you want to sell your house, the new owner would also then need to be aware that the roof is rented for 25 years and and all the legal stuff, and benefits would pass onto them for the remainder of the term.

Now some people say its a bad thing because if in the future you, or the new owner wants to fit their own solar system they will not be able to without first gaining permisiion from the original solar company (which of course they wouldnt give), but on the other hand, the benefit is you will be cutting your energy bill in half for 25 years without any financial investment. Also some studies have suggested that a house with solar panels does not nessasseraly sell for more money, but it has a 30% chance of selling quicker than one without solar panels.

And after all 10 years is a long time to wait for a return on your money, unless you have it sitting in the bank earning little or no interest.

If you go the other rout and buy the system up front, of course you own all the equipment and you still own your roof space, its just like buying double glazing for example ..you pay for it .. its yours.and any company that tries to tell you otherwise should be avoided at all costs.

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kev100

Likes # 0

One other thing to think about with the free scheme, I think that statistics say that british homeowners move house on average between 7-9 years, now would you invest 10,000 into something with a 10 year ROI only to move and let the new homeowner benefit, maybe a free system is a better option to get cheaper electricity rather than having to fork out a huge amount of money that would earn more money in interest in a bank high interest or compound interest account.

What happens if I move house? With the average family moving house every 7 years or so, and the life of the feed-in tariff at 20 years (10 for CHP, 25 for solar panels), this will happen to a lot of people. The government expects standard property ownership rights to apply to the generating equipment. This means that when a house is sold, the generating equipment and the FiT payment are sold too, and the system administrator must be told of the sale. They expect that the market will decide how much a microgeneration installation will increase the price of a house.

Can I take my solar panels or wind turbine with me, and still claim the Clean Energy Cashback? No. The scheme is only available on installation of new systems, by an an MCS accredited installer. If you took your equipment with you, reinstalling it would count as a second hand installation, and not be eligible for the Cashback. What happens if I move house? With the average family moving house every 7 years or so, and the life of the feed-in tariff at 20 years (10 for CHP, 25 for solar panels), this will happen to a lot of people. The government expects standard property ownership rights to apply to the generating equipment. This means that when a house is sold, the generating equipment and the FiT payment are sold too, and the system administrator must be told of the sale. They expect that the market will decide how much a microgeneration installation will increase the price of a house.

So unless you know or are thinking of staying in your house for well over the ROI period then maybe a free system is a better way to go.

I see a solar energy system as a selling point myself and would take a house with it over a similar house without it any day of the week if I dont have funding or have ideas of moving several times in my life, and I think inevitably, once the FiT starts to reduce, and benefits reduce then a solar system installed on a house is definately a good selling point and will add value in the future

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spuds

Likes # 0

kev100

Not sure about the 'rental of roof' needs registering with the Land Registry, because the neighbour as not mentioned this.

He did point out though, that the companies he looked at, the one he thought the best on the advertising offered, and who made a visit to do the 'free survey' and pricing, actually charged him £397.00 for a 'proper' survey and surveyor to attend later, because the person sent to do the 'free survey' was actually a salesperson and not qualified as to the roof or property suitability. Due to cancelling the contract before any further actions were taken,and within the cancellation period, he as requested the 'survey' fee back and is now waiting the refund.

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