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    Solar panels

    Anyone else have them? Just got a 14-panel array installed last week.

    Here in NI, the subsidised payments for producing units (kilowatt hours) are still just about in existence, although the scheme is gradually being wound down over the next couple of years. If we'd been able to get the array installed by this time last year, we'd have been locked in at an income of 16p for every unit produced. This was cut from October 2015, so now the payment is 12.24p per unit (we're locked in at that rate for 20 years). After 1st October 2016, the rebate will be just over 8p per unit for new installations. On the other hand, the cost of the panels did drop a reasonable amount in the interim, so it's not working out all that differently overall.

    Of course, we'll end up using some of the power generated during the day and then drawing it from the grid during the evening/night, when you're still charged the higher rate of 14p a unit. Overall we can expect about £400 a year of income from the array we have, so between that small payment and the more-or-less elimination of electricity bills, the estimate for us to reach payback on the installation cost is about eight years, maybe a bit less if we're lucky.

    Our array is ground-mounted, so it faces exactly the right direction for maximising productivity. The meter hasn't been upgraded to a digital meter yet - it'll be another week or two before that happens, so in the meantime we still have the "rotating disc" type. I'm at home this afternoon and today was dull in the morning and then intermittently bright with increasingly longer periods of direct sunshine in the past hour or two, so I've been taking my first opportunity to have a closer look at how it's affected by different types of usage. Been in and out to the meter like a mad yoke!

    The main things drawing on the power throughout the afternoon are the PC and router as well as the fridge-freezer, plus I switched on the immersion for about 40 minutes instead of relying on the oil-fired boiler to heat the water for a shower (being able to do that should save us a bit on our oil consumption too). It's fascinating seeing the difference when each thing is switched on or off, or with a cloud going over the sun etc. Even with the immersion on, the damn thing was still going backwards. That's mad Ted! Started to go forwards fairly quickly again once I switched the washing machine on (it pre-heats the water it uses), but after I switched off the immersion it either went forwards more slowly when the sun was behind a cloud, or went slowly backwards when the sun was unobscured. Once the washing machine wasn't heating its water any more and with the immersion off, the meter started going backwards again, even during the final spin - quite quickly when the sun was bright and a little more slowly when it was dull. The fridge is due for replacement fairly soon, so once we have a more energy-efficient version it'll be interesting to see how much difference it makes.

    The array was installed last Monday and started generating for the last couple of hours of daylight, so it's had about seven and a half days by now. In that time it has generated 73 units thus far - might be on course to get past 78 or so by the end of today. Our average daily use is 10 units, so that has us pretty much covered at this time of year. Obviously the autumn equinox is just over a couple of weeks away, so the amount we generate will be decreasing steadily until the new year - I'm not sure if we'll even manage 3 or 4 units a day then. But we got 18 units on Tuesday of last week, so the surplus in summertime should outweigh the deficit in winter.
    Tis but a scratch.

    #2
    More power to ya Chipster!

    They're the future, everyone should be looking into them
    I am the million man.

    Comment


      #3
      Cheers!

      I'd love to have a small wind turbine as well, so that we could keep generating our own power even at night (probably be more effective in winter, too) but the cost of installation is far too high at the minute. But in 8-10 years or so, when there's a chance we might have an electric vehicle, it could make a lot more sense.

      Here's the tech data for the panels we've got.

      Total number of PV modules: 14
      PV peak power: 3.92 kWp
      Number of inverters: 1
      Nominal AC power: 3.68 kW
      AC active power: 3.68 kW
      Active power ratio: 93.9 %
      Annual energy yield (approx.)*: 3,276.50 kWh
      Energy usability factor: 99.9 %
      Performance ratio (approx.)*: 85 %
      Spec. energy yield (approx.)*: 836 kWh/kWp
      Line losses (in % of PV energy): 0.19 %
      Unbalanced load: 3.68 kVA
      Tis but a scratch.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Cowboy View Post
        More power to ya Chipster!

        They're the future, everyone should be looking into them
        I'd love to if you could sell the excess here in the Republic - not possible afaik...
        "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
        Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

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          #5
          Originally posted by blackwarrior View Post
          I'd love to if you could sell the excess here in the Republic - not possible afaik...
          The land that awaits the government around 2020 targets is going to be seismic. I'd be hopeful that sooner rather than later they look at ways to open up the market without the mess that occurred in Germany
          I am the million man.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mr chips View Post
            Anyone else have them? Just got a 14-panel array installed last week.
            That's fantastic. I wanted to do that 14 years ago but we ran out of road with the money and now it's impossible to justify without a feed-in tariff in the Republic. Anyway it's impossible to justify spending anything with kids at college.

            I'd still love to do it though. Keep us updated in the wintertime, please. As it's be really interesting to know how you fare with these panels.
            Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2019.

            Comment


              #7
              Will do! Just checked again there and it's at 77.6 units, so we might even get close to the 80 by the time it gets dark today. The evening is bright but the sun is behind the array now, so it will only be the "dispersed" light from the sky powering it until it shuts down in maybe two hours' time or so. Was still running backwards though (apart from when the microwave went on), so you never know!

              I messed up earlier and forgot to switch off the damn immersion until it was beyond the hour (Des Bishop would have a field day!), so I'll have to wait and see if the tank is well enough insulated that it'll still be enough for tomorrow as well as today. I'm guessing that running it for half an hour should be plenty for one shower.
              Tis but a scratch.

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Chippie. we've had them for the last six years, find them brilliant we're never without hot water even on dull days, the only time we need to boost them is for a few mins on a rainy day dec -jan, not sure on the technological capabilities of them. We only have them for water heating but I reckon they've already paid for themselves. The first year they were installed we only bought one tank of oil and didn't even use all this (we also have a wood burning stove with a thermofan on top of it). Before this we'd use just under two tanks of oil but this year we still have over 3/4 tank after filling it in January
                Last edited by trixie; 5th-September-2016, 19:13.
                Ta an draoicht ar ais aris

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks Trixie, that's interesting. We would probably go through 1300-1400 litres a year - that runs the central heating and, up to now, the hot water as well, but we also have a wood-burning stove that contributes to the heat too (fuelled with my own timber for the past few years). Both showers in our house run from the hot water tank and 20 minutes a day from the boiler usually provides enough hot water for the pair of us - in wintertime it might occasionally be half an hour.

                  I remember reading about the thermofan, you reckon it's effective?
                  Tis but a scratch.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mr chips View Post
                    Thanks Trixie, that's interesting. We would probably go through 1300-1400 litres a year - that runs the central heating and, up to now, the hot water as well, but we also have a wood-burning stove that contributes to the heat too (fuelled with my own timber for the past few years). Both showers in our house run from the hot water tank and 20 minutes a day from the boiler usually provides enough hot water for the pair of us - in wintertime it might occasionally be half an hour.

                    I remember reading about the thermofan, you reckon it's effective?
                    Oh yes I've loaned our one to several people & they've all gone straight out & bought one. It stops hot spots spreads the heated air from the stove around the room and beyond if you want to open the door to the rest of he house (single storey). We couldn't use the mantle over the fire for anything but you could put an ice cube on it now! The room is much more comfortable since we got the fan, before my feet would be ice blocks and my head melting.
                    Last edited by trixie; 5th-September-2016, 20:16.
                    Ta an draoicht ar ais aris

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Cheers Trixie, that sounds good - I must look into it again.
                      Tis but a scratch.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Have a solar panel on my house. Came with the house though, so I know absolutely feck all about it, apart from the fact that it heats the water to a useable temp for showers etc on a decent day.
                        It's about 8 years old, and I believe the newer ones need less actual sunlight to produce power, so may look into upgrading at some point.

                        Roger Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
                        --------------------------------------------------------------------
                        RIP Anthony Foley - The greatest of great Munster men.
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                          #13
                          Been a very dull day here. Yesterday the generation finished up at 78.4 units after just over 7 days, but today it has only managed to reach 84.5 so far. Just goes to show what a difference poor light quality will make. That said, the meter is barely creeping round at the minute.
                          Tis but a scratch.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by blackwarrior View Post
                            I'd love to if you could sell the excess here in the Republic - not possible afaik...
                            There are companies offering farmers in certain areas 30 year deals to allow banks of solar panels on their land with all relative expenses to be borne by the company. The minimum area is usually 25 acres and the going rate is €1000 per annum per acre. So it must be possible to sell into the grid.
                            The early bird catches the worm but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Well the array seems to be generating either side of 10 units a day fairly consistently thus far - it's up to 105 units now after less than 11 days. Today's pretty wet & horrible, certainly the worst day weatherwise since it was all installed, so I'll see how much that affects the output later on.

                              Out of curiosity, I did a little bit of searching for smaller wind turbines the other day, and was surprised by the number of offerings available for a fraction of what they used to cost. In theory, you could buy a combination mini-turbine and solar panel like this one for a few hundred quid. Of course, even without being in any way knowledgeable about them I'm pretty certain that something like that (or like this one for the low low price of £259, or this £157 example whose ad is a piece of prose to move the hardest of hearts) would be almost as much value for money as a bet on Treviso doing the league and cup double. Also, without having delved too deeply into the product info, it does seem as though at least some of these are designed with marine installation in mind.

                              All the same, I'm going to make some enquiries of a couple of folk who know their onions about this sort of stuff, just to see if the notion of adding a small turbine for say under a grand would even have a chance of being viable as an alternative to a petrol-powered generator (but without the associated fuel costs). It would certainly be nice not to have to endure all the effects of a power cut in winter.
                              Tis but a scratch.

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