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Readers' tips of the month - January 2015

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 January 2015 at 9:57 am

Mistakes are always one of the best learning opportunities, so we're always grateful when readers share theirs making it possible for the rest of you to get the learning without the pain of getting it wrong first.

And pain is what this retired widow from Staffordshire experienced at the hands of some dodgy sales people. So much so, she chose it as her username. She has had solar panels for the last three years and has had no problems with them. But when the infrared heating person came to call she was gulled into a bad buy:

"In October 2014 I had clear heater rads (the infrared principle) installed removing my reliable gas central heating. Gullible to say the least, as I believed in the expected and guaranteed energy saving to my cost!. I was  foolish to have fallen for the hard sell although at the time it did not seem that way. I wish there had been more information and publicity in general on this type of heating."

This isn't the first time I've heard of infrared heating salespeople targeting those with solar panels, so do watch out, or read my blog Can I power infrared heating from my solar panels (and the comments underneath).

Another warning comes from Gordon, owner of, a nature park on the outskirts of London.

“We have a heat pump, solar tubes and solar panels. They all work very well but my mistake was I installed them all separately and found linking them together so they worked in harmony very difficult."

His wise advice is to "find yourself someone who understands it all so that the programmer/programmers work with each other, otherwise you are likely not to get the best out of it".

It's advice I would heartily endorse. While it has got better than it was when we started out in 2008, there's still a bit of a dearth of joined up thinking. If you can't get a contractor who can do all the work, at very least make it very clear where the responsibility lies for joined up thinking!

Photo: Infrared Panel Heating

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4 comments - read them below or add one

Sussex Solar Ltd

Sussex Solar LtdComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 9:55 pm

I have had two PV customers on mains gas sold these infrared heating panel systems for over £11,000, on the basis that they will save money compared to their existing gas bills.

So far this looks unlikely, as they are consuming over 100kWh per day or about £350 per month!

it seems that the companies specialising in this, are those who were into high pressure PV sales only a couple of years ago. They are using the same cold calling and high pressure sales techniques as before. Its a real shame and reflects badly on our industry.

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HarrytheWASPComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 7:21 pm

If done correctly linking renewable energy together can smash your fuel bills completely.

My airsource heat pump and log burner work well together as I had Intelligent Energy Solutions do the install. Double fronted "Sumo" with a water jacket gives plenty of internal heat drift and hotwater

I have solar panels and an Immersun unit that takes care of the electricty and extra hot water.

I found reduced bills by going onto economy 7 and using the timers correctly on all the eco technology.

Lastly installed a voltage optimiser which also drops demand. All bases covered now and if you combine direct debits going out and FIT and RHI coming in, I have no fuel bills apart from locating the wood for the Sumo log burner.





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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for pointing that out. I'll remove the link!

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cannonballdazeComment left on: 29 January 2015 at 11:39 am

As far as Infrared is concerned, there are many weasel words in description.


There's nothing for nothing in electrical heating.

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