It's a bit of a sun trap: installing a 10kW domestic solar PV system
Posted by Andy Barrowcliffe on 25 July 2012 at 9:54 am
Last summer, I was having a BBQ in my back garden when one of the guests commented that the garden was a 'bit of a sun trap'. I knew this already from time spent outside, but it triggered a thought about installing solar PV.
I had recently picked up an electric car as part of a 12 month trial and thought that solar power could provide the ideal fuel with minimal impact on the environment. Doing my bit for the environment, and having a good long-term investment, against a backdrop of rising energy prices, helped me decide to install a PV system.
Planning the system was more difficult than I had imagined. I have quite a large roof and began to research the 'best fit' to utilise the available space. After a few hours of internet searching I came across the Sunpower 327W panel that was awaiting accreditation under the MCS scheme. This promised to be a very efficient option. So far so good I thought.
First hitch: finding a suitable installer. Having done my bit of research and knowing what I wanted, I thought it would be a straightforward task to arrange an installation. Unfortunately this was not the case, and I was told in no uncertain terms by a number of installers that the biggest system I could have was 4kW, and to forget about anything bigger! Also, I apparently 'didn’t want the Sunpower panels and was much better suited to a cheaper alternative'.
Solution: JoJu Solar. I was advised to give JoJu a call by a contact I had through the electric car scheme. I explained that I wanted a 10kW system to which I was told okay. I then said that I wanted the Sunpower panels to which I was told okay. JoJu explained that they would have no problems acquiring the panels following accreditation and that all that would need to happen was an application for a G59 [connection to the grid] instead of a G83 to be completed due to the 10KW system.
Assuming the local electricity supplier was happy, I would also be able to supply the grid on a single phase thereby avoiding the need for a 3-phase supply installation. I was reassured that they would take care of all of that and I could relax.
I therefore asked JoJu to measure up and they came round to take a look. Thy undertook a thorough site inspection and submitted a quote. I agreed to the quote and the system was installed without a hitch and to the exact time-scale advised.
The local electricity supplier was also happy for me to feed a single phase, thus avoiding a 3-phase installation. JoJu provided a cracking, extremely professional, friendly service and I could not recommend them highly enough.
Since the panels have been installed (30 x 327w Sunpower with x2 Eltek Valere 4.4 inverters), they have performed above and beyond what was expected. So far, they have produced an extra 750 units of electricity (in addition to the predicted output) and even though the midlands received 50% of the normal sunlight hours for June, the system was only down by around 8%.
This concerned the electricity company that supply my feed-in tariff, as they wrote to me stating that I was producing too much power in regards to the system size (that felt nice). I invited them round to take a look but they declined. Currently I am enjoying using no electricity whilst the sun shines and a nice tax-free payment every 3 months.
E.ON energy also calculate that I have saved around 12,000 miles worth of C02 in a standard car and considering that I have probably exported around 75% of electricity produced, that would equate to around 48,000 miles of saved C02 production.
In summary: Even though FIT payments have reduced, I feel solar PV still offers a good return and a huge saving regarding rising energy costs.
From experience, ensure that you have done your research regarding what suits you and take your time to pick the right accredited installer. JoJu provided an excellent service and although I did eventually find another company that could provide a system for a slightly cheaper price, I stuck with JoJu as I felt they provided the whole package regarding a 25 year+ investment.
Installers who want to demonstrate that they listen to their customers, and give good service, click here to find out how you can benefit from YouGen membership.
Home and business owners: click here to find a local recommended installer
About the author: Andy Barrowcliffe is a self employed physiotherapist from Coventry
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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