Solar roof panels

Discussion in 'Off Topic / Chit-Chat' started by George Farmer, 13 Jul 2011.

  1. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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    Has anyone had these fitted? What's the downside?
     
  2. Garuf

    Garuf Member

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    Depends on the type, photovoltaic or solar water heating?
     
  3. andyh

    andyh Member

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    I work for one of the leading manufacturers in this field, and currently responsible for introducing this tech to commercial and residential sector.

    Garuf is bang on with his question. Are you looking to heat water or generate electricity?

    I personally feel with the "feed in tariff" FIT as it stands right now, PV and generating is the way to go as the Rate of return is quite desirable and the pay back period is reduced.

    fire any questions you may have to me and will get the them answered.

    No real downside IMHO, apart from the initial outlay. Roof orientation is your only limitation, unless you have acres of land :)

    Cheers

    Andy
     
  4. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    We've got a PV system on our SE facing roof. We had "13 Schucco polycrystalline PV panels & Sunny Boy inverter 2.8 kW peak" fitted in March (by a local company "Freesource"), and so far, so good. Our best day was 3rd June when we generated 19 kWh, worth about £8.25.

    Because I was interested in the data I paid an extra £200 for a "Solar-log", this means our panels have an IP address , and you can see them performing via the WWW and down-load all the data.

    Freesource <http://www.freesource.co.uk/>
    Solar Log system details <http://www.home.solarlog-web.co.uk/34.html>
    Real time performance graph <http://www.home.solarlog-web.co.uk/35.html>.

    cheers Darrel
     
  5. andyh

    andyh Member

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    Go Darrel!

    Its great trend logging the Panels coz its gives a real feeling of worth and being able to say today i have generated £8.25 is great feeling.



    Key thing to mention is that the FIT requires your contractor and panel to be MCS-Accredited (microgeneration certification scheme). Like the company Darrel chose.

    Also the good news as that so far this year the cost of the panels has dropped significantly.

    here is good place for info:

    http://pv.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/home
     
  6. Radik

    Radik Member

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    That's really nice Darrel, so how much were your 2.8kW panels with installation? Too bad I am renting at the moment if there would be something easy detachable and movable I would go for it
     
  7. Radik

    Radik Member

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    I think I found it.. 5k for hardware only exl. VAT? Jees
     
  8. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    The actual fitting went really smoothly and they did a good job with the wiring etc., but getting the snagging done and the certificate signing off the job sent off etc was time consuming and my wife found it really frustrating. She works from home some of the time, but other days she is in the office or working away so she needed people to come when she was at home and they didn't turn up when it had been agreed they would. All in all it took about a month after the panels were fitted before we started to get the FiT, despite the fact that we had notified everyone etc up front.

    I'd been thinking about PV for a while (since we had seen all the panels in Germany), and I really wanted mono-crystalline panels (like some of the Mitsubishi ones) but in the end the "best" panels we could afford and get fitted relatively quickly were the Schuco ones. They came well reviewed for robustness etc. and we were a little bit worried about the change in tariff in April 2011 (it actually went up in the end).

    Total cost was just over £11,000, but they look like they should make a profit well before the end of the 25 years (they've performed slightly better than was predicted), although this may depend on the inverter, and we don't expect to move soon etc.

    cheers Darrel
     
  9. sanj

    sanj Member

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    They are absolutely massive in Germany. PV generates a significant about of power over there, enough to affect system balancing. I was quite surprised when I saw the figures.
     
  10. idris

    idris Member

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    Andyh, may be able to provide more (accurate) info on this, but when we looked into this relatively recently we decided against PV on 3 main grounds:

    1) because of the age of our roof, were were going to have to get it completely retiled, costing something like another £5k or £6k. (We'll have to do that at some point anyway, but it's not an immediate need.)
    2) the panels have a life expectancy of about 10yrs. We were told they would pay for themselves in about 15yrs (rather than the 25 Darrel is expecting). So we'd never even break even on them.
    3) as I understand it, the production of the raw materials for PV cells, and possibly the actual manufacturing process itself, are really un-environmentally friendly. So whilst we would have been reducing the amount of fossil fuels burnt on our behalf, we would have been "damaging the planet" in other ways. (Andyh, please feel free to correct me on this.)

    We also looked at water heating panels, and again the cost of installation out weighed the benefits for our utility bills.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have solar energy. I love the idea of micro-generation, and low environmental impact. But from what I've seen, with the technology and costs as they are at the moment, it just doesn't work for us.
     
  11. Voo

    Voo Member

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    I think one of the bigger down sides is that you have to make sure you're not planning to move anywhere in the next 20 or so years, so that they do pay off.
     
  12. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    I did look into this, and the current panels definitely should last the 25 years with only a small loss of efficiency.
    <http://info.cat.org.uk/questions/pv/life-expectancy-solar-PV-panels> the inverter is another issue, and probably 10 years is a more realistic life length for them. SMA (Sunnyboy inverters) have a 7 year warranty.

    I think there are concerns about the greeness of PV manufacture, but their potential energy saving definitely out-weighs this for me, as an example Germany is light years ahead of us in terms of nature conservation, land and water management, recycling etc. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycrystalline_silicon> and these panels are very popular in Germany so they think that they make sense.

    cheers Darrel
     
  13. andyh

    andyh Member

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    Old roof does equal some problems, however some of the contractors use it as excuse. Slate roof fixings cost the same. Its just that roof is more delicate, so may lead to a few broken tiles.

    THIS IS WRONG! Most panels will last at least 25yrs. Most manufacturers will off a 80% Power-Max Performance Guarantee at 25yrs.


    Your talking about "Embedded Energy", i could talk for hours on this one. I think the key message is that solar power systems are a source of clean energy for the future. Solar power systems generate electricity with zero emission of CO2 or other gases associated with global warming and acid rain. they can convert nature's sunlight into an unlimited supply of energy.The amount of sunlight striking earth in any given hour contains light energy equivalent to the total world energy consumption for one year.

    Embedded energy is freqently debated my personal view is that the UK grid is very "dirty" and tech like PV and WInd has to be used. Hence the motivation with the FIT.

    The debate is out there with lots of the different techs, think Biomass Boilers, energy efficent cars or wind turbines. I beleive that the embedded energy cost on all these is high but they are still a success. I dont know how PV compares. o_O

    Check out air source heat pumps.

    It aint cheap, its defo a long term investment.
    Typical payback is currently running at 8-10yrs.
     
  14. Dave Spencer

    Dave Spencer Member

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    George, the downside for me is the FIT. This is a cost that is passed on to consumers that can`t afford solar PV, thus plunging ever more hard pressed people in to fuel poverty.

    Alison wants us to have panels fitted, but I personally find the whole system of subsidies grossly unfair. However, I am a bit of a capitalist at heart, and may end up saying yes to having 4KW fitted.

    Regards, Dave.
     
  15. Brenmuk

    Brenmuk Member

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    You can actually get free solar panels. I've been considering this as I don't have a spare £10k to hand atm. I think there are pro's and cons with free vs paid solar panels there's some info at:

    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/free-solar-panels#vs

    The main downside from my point of view is the up front cost but the way I see it is that energy costs are going to keep rising making things like PV more attractive financially.

    Also if you are planning to move house before you get your money back on your investment, you can try to factor the cost of solar panels into the asking price of the house - make it a selling point rather than a lost investment.
     
  16. Dave Spencer

    Dave Spencer Member

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    This doesn`t get rid of the feed in tariff. In this instance, the company supplying the panels get it, but the consumer subsidises the tariff.

    Energy costs are due to carry on their meteoric rise, so now is the time for those considering solar PV.
     
  17. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

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    And/or reducing your usage.

    Like getting rid of any multi halogen lighting in kitchens and bathrooms etc.

    Turning the PC off when not using it instead of leaving it running all day (she doesn't listen)

    Turning lights off when you leave a room (I think she's deaf)

    Might be able to afford some clothes with the savings. (miraculous hearing recovery there followed by amnesia - no clothes I'm afraid)

    :twisted:

    Andy
     
  18. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

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    Anybody looked into micro generation? I see British Gas are doing the first commercially available system? Seems like a good way to go, but guess it’s not as tried and tested as solar, etc so may be a bit too soon still. Would certainly consider it if my current boiler packed up, though.

    Does anyone know the timescale for solar, say, for it to payback the CO2 used in its production? Which would always be a concern of mine. At work, my boss worked on a planning app for a new wind farm that was calculated to repay the co2 need for construction in 11mths, which I was quite amazed at.

    Sam
     
  19. dory

    dory Newly Registered

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    We've been wondering whether to get solar panels or a thermopump (seeing they are becoming increasingly popular in Germany these days) for our house in Berlin and are torn between the pros and cons of both and the opinions of users. I mean solar panels' dependence on the weather can be compared to the heat pump's dependence on electricity, and the difference in the upfront expenses is probably levelled over time anyway. Then again there's the green house gases argument and we're all for cleaner environment. Is it true, though, that a solar panel installation will only save around 15%, while a heat pump would save 67% on heating water and since this is presumably the biggest expense, around 25-30% on general electricity? (or has that been written by a heat pump vendor)
     
  20. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    The ideal arrangement would be both PV panels and a geothermal heat pump <http://wapedia.mobi/en/Geosolar_combisystem>.

    I'm not sure how realistic geothermal energy would be more a lot of us who live in urban or suburban surroundings, once you are looking at radial drilling etc it probably isn't really a runner. There is certainly a strong argument that new developments should have thermal heat pump, probably a "horizontal closed loop field" installed when they are built. The Europeans have been big on district heating etc for a long time but it's never really caught on in the UK.

    Probably the first stop is to insulate their house properly, turn things off and change halogen and filament bulbs for LED's or CFL's etc.

    If you have a suitable roof with a SE, S or SW aspect, without shading power lines etc, I think that PV will give you a better system, if you have the room and money to build a geothermal system, I'd go for that too.

    cheers Darrel
     

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