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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2014 at 9:07 am

Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Q: My question is whether solar thermal or solar panels would be the best investment. We have a large unshaded roof, facing less than 5 degrees from due south. Its a 3 bed semi with solid walls and a new gas boiler with insulated pipes and a dual coil cylinder in the loft. We have cold fill appli…

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Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 December 2014 at 2:40 pm

Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

We have had a number of questions from readers recently asking why there aren't more solar panels on industrial roofs, and suggesting that they would be more suitable places for solar farms than green fields. It's a good question, especially as I've lost count of how many times I'…

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How is solar generation spread across the year?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 December 2014 at 11:35 am

How is solar generation spread across the year?

Q: Approximately what is the increase in available light for generation of electricity in April to September compared to the winter months of October to March? A: While I haven't been able to lay my hands on details of the available light I can illustrate the variations in generation that…

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FITS to degress in January for all solar PV of 50kW or less

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 November 2014 at 2:42 pm

The feed-in tariff for solar PV panels will reduce by 3.5% from 1 January 2015 for all new installations of up to, but not exceeding, 50kW.  This is as part of the government's planned degression for the feed-in tariff.  Changes to FIT rates from 1 January 2015 …

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Can I power infrared heating from my solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 November 2014 at 10:11 am

Can I power infrared heating from my solar panels?

Q: Having had solar panels installed a few years ago, the same company is trying to sell me infrared heating for inside the house which will use electricity generated by the panels. Do you have any advice about infra red heating? I currently have gas central heating using a combi boiler. …

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How do I distinguish between two solar PV quotes?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 November 2014 at 10:01 am

How do I distinguish between two solar PV quotes?

Q: I am considering two quotes both similar in price. I live in merseyside and have a south east facing and south west facing roof. There is a chimney on the southwest facing roof and so there are some shading issues. The first quote is for LG monocrystalline panels, 250watts, with 15.6% effi…

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MCS strengthens procedures - but will it kill the cowboys?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 November 2014 at 12:10 pm

MCS strengthens procedures - but will it kill the cowboys?

Knowing that your installer (and the product they are installing) is going to do a good job is always important. In a new industry, with unfamiliar products and taxpayers money available to support it, it's even more important.  This is exactly what the Microgeneration Certification …

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Are there solar PV tiles to match clay roofs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 November 2014 at 11:13 am

Are there solar PV tiles to match clay roofs?

Q: We are going to build a house. We want to use solar/photovoltaic tiles but may have to use clay tiles for the roof. There seem only to be slate photovoltaic tiles. Are there any that look like clay? Any advice very welcome. A: At the moment the vast majority of solar tiles are blue. Howeve…

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Readers' tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2014 at 5:34 pm

Readers' tips of the month

With the clocks going back, I'm kicking off this month's tips with one from House-Saver. "We hang a thick curtain over our draughty french doors during winter months," he writes. "We keep the curtain opened during the day to allow sun light to heat the living room and then …

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TV researchers help couple to design eco renovation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2014 at 9:12 am

TV researchers help couple to design eco renovation

Does bringing in the TV cameras benefit a new build or renovation project? As a fan of Grand Designs, it's something I've often wondered. While I see that the architects and builders involved gain publicity, for your average home owner it seems more likely to add to the stress. So, it…

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Scan the Sun: new app predicts solar returns

Posted by Aldous Everard on 20 October 2014 at 12:12 pm

Scan the Sun: new app predicts solar returns

Anyone considering installing a PV or solar thermal system will want to know their likely returns. In the UK getting any kind of accurate idea of your returns is difficult to say the least. Predictions of generation are influenced by our famously changeable weather along with the physical constra…

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How will feed-in tariffs be affected by the smart meter revolution?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 September 2014 at 7:05 am

How will feed-in tariffs be affected by the smart meter revolution?

Q. Can users who have smart meters use their export values from the meter for FIT payments, rather than the standard deemed 50 per cent? A. Your question refers to the way in which the export payments element of the feed-in tariff is calculated. You are right that for most domestic solar …

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How to make a 1920s terrace property warm and energy efficient

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 26 August 2014 at 10:17 am

How to make a 1920s terrace property warm and energy efficient

Making a leaky 1920s house energy efficient is a daunting prospect. But it was experience renovating their previous home – a barge – that gave Jurgen Huber and Zoe Allen the confidence to take on the task.  "The practical experience I gained of altering, fitting out, and…

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Reader tips of the month: solar PV

Posted by Gilly Jones on 22 August 2014 at 4:01 pm

Reader tips of the month: solar PV

Here's our favourite tips from the past month. It's not just the price you need to think about when considering installing solar PV. Bassmantrev is a building supervisor for social landlord based in the west midlands, and has installed a 3kw with 12 x 250 watt array. He says: “I…

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Review of the SOLiC 200 Immersion Controller

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 August 2014 at 9:06 am

Review of the SOLiC 200 Immersion Controller

In the quest to test as many of the current immersion heater controllers that let you use all your excess solar PV generated power, I got hold of a SOLiC 200 immersion controller to try out. My first impression was that unlike most of the other immersion controllers that are on the market, th…

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Is there a limit to how much feed-in tariffs I can get for my solar panels?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 July 2014 at 10:50 am

Is there a limit to how much feed-in tariffs I can get for my solar panels?

Q: My question is in relation to feed-in tariffs for solar pv panels. We have a massive, south-facing roof which could accommodate an 8kw system. We are away from the UK for several months of the year and therefore our entire electricity production could go back to the grid. As we have a smart me…

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Love your solar panels? Your chance to contribute to vital solar research

Posted by Lisa Clark on 18 June 2014 at 9:18 am

Love your solar panels? Your chance to contribute to vital solar research

Sat on the roof of the Physics department in Sheffield on a sunny day, surrounded by solar panels (and an astronomy tower adding to the view), I think I might have the best job in the world.  The breeze is gently cooling the panels, so I think they are happy too.  I manage the  …

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Can I get preliminary accreditation for the feed-in tariff for our solar system?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2014 at 12:53 pm

Can I get preliminary accreditation for the feed-in tariff for our solar system?

Q: My enquiry is about the preliminary accreditation of a 150kW solar pv system. We have been granted planning permission and have accepted and paid the DNO's firm quotation. I am aware that if we can get preliminary accreditation this will buy us 6 months of time to get the in…

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Solar panels and subsidies mean payday on Northern Ireland farm

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 29 May 2014 at 9:08 am

Solar panels and subsidies mean payday on Northern Ireland farm

It’s five am and 75 cows are jostling their way into the milking shed at Stewart Watson’s dairy farm in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The mooing and stomping of the cattle as they funnel into their stalls is a familiar sound in this part of Ireland where multiple dairy farms ch…

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Will my solar panels power an air source heat pump?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 May 2014 at 8:54 am

Will my solar panels power an air source heat pump?

Q: I have a 4kW solar PV system on my roof and am thinking of installing an air source heat pump. How much electricity would the solar panels contribute to the cost of running the heat pump? A: At first glance this seems like the ideal combination. You are probably generating more solar elecr…

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Why are my feed-in tariff payments taking so long?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 May 2014 at 10:45 am

Why are my feed-in tariff payments taking so long?

Q: I'm with SSE and my feed-in tariff (FIT) payments were always supposed to be within 28 days of the meter reading. This has never happened, but after complaining each time I get my payment about a week later. Last time I gave my meter reading the SSE FITs office told me that the 28 day…

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All you need to know about the economics of solar PV in Northern Ireland

Posted by Andy Baird on 15 May 2014 at 2:24 pm

All you need to know about the economics of solar PV in Northern Ireland

For many customers, going solar has to make financial sense. A well-designed system using good quality components should provide a payback of 6-8 years depending on site conditions. This post is intended to help you fully understand how the economics of solar in Northern Ireland works. Firstl…

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Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 April 2014 at 9:09 am

Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

This month's tip comes from Lehigh51 who has installed solar PV, solar thermal, a ground source heat pump and rainwater harvesting. "Truly everything has worked as well as I could hope and I am very pleased. My expenditure is within acceptable parameters. My electricity bill is …

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What are the rules about extending my solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 April 2014 at 11:28 am

What are the rules about extending my solar panels?

Q: I have a 3kw solar PV system installed for 3 years now. Originally the roof suffered from shading but I have now removed a tree so could fit another one or two panels. I purchased an extra two panels originally as spares. Could I fit these (using an accredited fitter) and claim the feed-i…

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Small solar must be maintained to meet Solar Strategy goals

Posted by James Page on 24 April 2014 at 11:32 am

Small solar must be maintained to meet Solar Strategy goals

20GW of solar generated electricity was always going to be an ambitious target, but at least the new Solar Strategy (published earlier this month) keeps it alive. Like any long term investment solar will continue to need government support (the writing of the document was outsourced to a…

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Solar panels and feed-in tariffs: making solar pay while the sun shines

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 22 April 2014 at 9:22 am

Solar panels and feed-in tariffs: making solar pay while the sun shines

It’s one of those crisp blue early spring days that are made for being outside. But Mike Meyerstein is inside doing the hoovering. To misuse a well-known phrase, Mike is making solar pay while the sun shines (sorry). Such is the life of a solar electricity generator. As drawbacks to…

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How to get your ideal solar PV system

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 21 March 2014 at 10:50 am

How to get your ideal solar PV system

The decision to install solar PV panels can be motivated by a number of factors. Whether you’ve had enough of the Big Six et al constantly upping their prices and want a bit of stability or decided that the interest rates on offer from your banks aren't as good as those from solar, ever…

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Can I compare my solar panel output with that of other local installations?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 17 March 2014 at 8:48 am

Can I compare my solar panel output with that of other local installations?

Q. I had a 4kWp solar panel system installed on my roof last October and on the face of it, it seems to be working really well. I have the owl intuition system installed and can monitor my system’s output online. What I would like to do now is to compare this output with what I should be ge…

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Feed-in tariff rates from 1 April announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 February 2014 at 9:50 am

Feed-in tariff rates from 1 April announced

The new feed-in tariffs from 1 April 2014 are now available. For new applicants after that date the rate will degress (reduce) for the first time since July last year. New installations of 4kW or less will get 14.38p per kWh. Existing recipients of the feed-in tariff will get their annual cost of…

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Data collection demonstrates the value of solar PV

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 19 February 2014 at 9:02 am

Data collection demonstrates the value of solar PV

A recent solar PV blog on YouGen highlighted the importance of making sure that your solar PV system is well managed, well designed and well maintained. We thought we’d illustrate this message with a case study of a solar PV system we installed in a 3 bedroom semi in Hertfordshire at the he…

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Future for solar installers is bright, says government's solar advisor

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 February 2014 at 3:24 pm

Future for solar installers is bright, says government's solar advisor

Solar panel installers have a two-year window in which to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the government incentives for installations. At least that’s the message from one of the country’s leading solar experts and government advisor on solar energy. Speaking at the Sol…

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Community groups 'disappointed' with government's energy strategy

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 7 February 2014 at 9:19 am

Community groups 'disappointed' with government's energy strategy

The government’s new community energy strategy has been given a lukewarm welcome by groups who have already developed their own community energy schemes. Kevin Frea, part of the Halton Lune community hydro project and a director of LESS CIC, an energy saving community interest…

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Speakers and sponsor confirmed for Solar Energy UK installer roadshow

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 January 2014 at 9:01 am

Speakers and sponsor confirmed for Solar Energy UK installer roadshow

Natural Sparx powered by Rexel Energy Solutions have confirmed as headline sponsors for this year’s Solar Energy UK (SEUK) Roadshow (previously branded as Solar Power UK Roadshow) taking place in six locations across the UK in February. The roadshow, now in its third year, is a series o…

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35% of domestic solar systems may be underperforming

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2014 at 11:23 am

35% of domestic solar systems may be underperforming

Some homeowners are getting a significantly lower return on investment from their solar panels than expected according to PassivSystems. The company found that a third of residential solar panels monitored by its home energy management systems are not generating as much electricity as promised. I…

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Solar, wood, insulation: a case study of a home energy-saving retrofit

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 20 January 2014 at 9:28 am

Solar, wood, insulation: a case study of a home energy-saving retrofit

Heather Hullah and Jenny Barnes are not your average pensioners. Where other 60-somethings might be thinking about winding down, these two are more likely to be found wielding chainsaws and humping logs in their 2.5 hectare woodland. But then Heather and Jenny’s ex-council house is no l…

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Two tickets up for grabs to this years Solar Energy UK Roadshows (worth £105 each)

Posted by Gilly Jones on 14 January 2014 at 12:35 pm

Two tickets up for grabs to this years Solar Energy UK Roadshows (worth £105 each)

YouGen is pleased to support this year's Solar Energy UK Roadshow taking place at six locations across the UK in February. With domestic installations seeing better returns this quarter and the UK continuing as one of the strongest markets in Europe, how will you cope with the deman…

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Solar allowances to change in Northern Ireland

Posted by Andy Baird on 18 December 2013 at 12:01 pm

Solar allowances to change in Northern Ireland

The size of solar installations allowed without applying for permission will reduce from 1 March next year. Under the G83 rules Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) currently allows people to insall arrays of up to 6.5 kWp and 20 kWp on single- and three-phase supplies respectively. This generous a…

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Ground source heat pump warms guests at country house hotel

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 16 December 2013 at 10:10 am

Ground source heat pump warms guests at country house hotel

A newly-installed ground source heat pump is set to save an Elizabethan country house hotel £10,000 a year.  Historic Soulton Hall in Wem, Shropshire, has replaced traditional fossil fuels with two Stiebel Eltron ground source heat pumps, generating green hot water and heating for …

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DIY solar PV installation - is it a good idea?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 4 December 2013 at 9:13 am

DIY solar PV installation - is it a good idea?

Q. I am thinking of building a solar PV system as a project and doing the install myself. I have been told that I would not be able to claim the FIT (feed-in tariff) unless the system was installed by an approved installer, but that as long as the inverter had G83/1 approval I would be able to bu…

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Readers' tips of the month - solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 November 2013 at 9:33 am

Readers' tips of the month - solar PV

We always advocate a bit of rigour in choosing a renewable energy installer and we're not surprised to find that also being recommended by a a retired environmental scientist and chartered town planner.  Steven Shuttleworth installed 16 x 250KWh solar panels last month. They are in t…

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Watch a solar PV installation in double quick time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 November 2013 at 10:47 am

If you've ever wondered what's involved in a solar PV installation, these timelapse videos made by GenFit will give you a good idea of the process and some of the situations that they can be installed in: Solar PV on a timber shelter at Upton Heath Primary School   4…

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How closely should the input of an inverter match the output of a solar array?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 18 November 2013 at 10:31 am

How closely should the input of an inverter match the output of a solar array?

Q: How important is it to match the Max DC input of the inverter, to the maximum possible output of the solar array? Some companies have given me quotes where the output/input are miles different. A: It is standard procedure to install an inverter that is up to 20% lower in power rating than …

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How to check that you are getting the most out of your solar panels

Posted by EvoEnergy . on 11 November 2013 at 9:48 am

How to check that you are getting the most out of your solar panels

Q: I am not sure if we are getting the benefit of the solar panels we had fitted in 2011. In short, we appear to be using the same amount of units as we did before the panels were installed. I understand it may be different appliances in the house which are responsible for the increase in ex…

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Building integrated solar panels help power new office block

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 8 November 2013 at 8:53 am

Building integrated solar panels help power new office block

A new office block built to exacting environmental standards aims to improve the productivity of its tenants by up to 18 per cent.  The Future Business Centre in Cambridge is a 35,000sq.ft. facility intended to provide a mix of office and workshop units and hot desk facilities for up to …

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Can I get the feed-in tariff for more than one renewable technology

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 November 2013 at 11:41 am

Can I get the feed-in tariff for more than one renewable technology

Q: I have already have installed a solar PV system for which I get a feed-in tariff payment. If I install a micro CHP (combined heat and power) unit, I can get the feed-in tariff for that too? A: Yes, you are eligible to apply for the feed-in tariff for as many renewable energy technologies a…

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Will I get the same feed-in tariff rate if my solar panels are storm damaged?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2013 at 10:01 am

Will I get the same feed-in tariff rate if my solar panels are storm damaged?

Q: Following on from the 'storm', I was wondering what would happen if any existing registered solar panels were damaged and needed to be replaced. Would they slot into the existing feed-in tariff (we got on to the higher rate before it was changed), or would they be under the new lower r…

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SMA goes zero carbon - how green are your suppliers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 October 2013 at 9:21 am

SMA goes zero carbon - how green are your suppliers?

While the empasis on selling solar panels over the past few years has been on the financial benefits, I also find it very satisfactory to think about the environmental benefits. It's great that I'm generating free electricity, but I also like knowing that I've reduced the carbon emiss…

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Tansor village hall: a case study of a solar-powered heat pump in a community building

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 24 October 2013 at 9:27 am

Tansor village hall: a case study of a solar-powered heat pump in a community building

A village hall which is using a lottery grant to install an air source heat pump partially powered by solar panels has come up with a way of still qualifying for the government's feed-in tarrif (FiTs). Under FiT rules, installations that are funded by public money, includin…

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Is all my solar electricity being exported?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 October 2013 at 9:22 am

Is all my solar electricity being exported?

Q: I suspect that all the generation from my 3.12 kW Solar photovoltaic panels is being exported as since installation almost 2 years ago my electricity bills have increased rather than reduced despite over 5,000 kWh being generated. How can I check this is the case? A: Any power be…

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Will solar panels affect the warranty on my new build home?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 8 October 2013 at 9:10 am

Will solar panels affect the warranty on my new build home?

Q: I have a question relating to solar panels and the NHBC warranty on our new build property. We have recently moved in to a new, two bedroom bungalow in Scarborough and thought that we would get a few quotes for solar panels on the roof. On contacting NHBC regarding the 10-year warranty pr…

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How good a deal are solar panels from Ikea?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 October 2013 at 10:46 am

How good a deal are solar panels from Ikea?

Famous for flat-pack furniture and its clean, Scandinavian design, Ikea is a surprise entrant into the solar PV market. With 18 massive stores in the UK it's known for value for money household goods (some would say cheap) and jokes about Allen keys. So would you trust it to sell you solar pa…

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Will solar panels affect the sale of my house?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 October 2013 at 12:40 pm

Will  solar panels affect the sale of my house?

Q: I recently purchased a buy to let property with a mortgage and would like to know my options for solar panels. I would be buying the panels outright but I am unsure as to whether I can benefit from the feed in tariff as my property has a mortgage. Also would there be issues with re-selling the…

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Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 13 September 2013 at 10:18 am

Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Q: I have solar PV panels on my roof. There are now some devices becoming available that enable one to store the surplus electricity to use at another time, for example after dark. They are expensive to purchase though. How do they work; are they a good investment; and are there any models y…

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The UK's most energy-efficient period properties throw open their doors

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 September 2013 at 11:01 am

The UK's most energy-efficient period properties throw open their doors

If you’re considering refurbishing your energy-guzzling period property to make it run more efficiently then here’s a chance to see how others have done it first. SuperHomes Open Days is a countrywide open house scheme where owners of 54 older, retrofitted homes throw open their d…

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What is the greenest way of heating our new studio?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 September 2013 at 10:46 am

What is the greenest way of heating our new studio?

Q: We have planning permission to replace existing garage with a fully insulated garage and studio. What is the greenest / most efficient way of providing hot water and heating to the studio? We have mains electricity; access to plenty of wood; oil (which we use as sparingly as possible); and…

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Is the solar industry being held to ransom by DNOs?

Posted by Rupert Higgin on 30 August 2013 at 10:19 am

Is the solar industry being held to ransom by DNOs?

There appears to be little synergy or common ways of working between the seven main Distribution Network Operator companies (DNOs) in the UK, with each one having its own charges and processes.  To get the best results, solar installers need to understand their business and develop relations…

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Will my Immersun qualify for RHI payments?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 August 2013 at 10:58 am

Will my Immersun qualify for RHI payments?

Q: We have recently installed an Immersun to compliment our solar PV. This is using between 4 and 6 Kw hours per day to heat our water. It was simple to install and much cheaper than our solar thermal panel in our last house. Does the Immersun (or equivalent) qualify for a renewable heat incentiv…

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What's in a brand when choosing solar panels?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 6 August 2013 at 12:04 pm

What's in a brand when choosing solar panels?

In the latest of my series of blogs looking at what makes the ‘best’ solar panel, I thought I’d look at the importance of brand name in determining product choice. Perhaps you’ve bought a new TV lately?  How did you choose what one to get? Perhaps you’ve just pi…

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My experience of staying in a Passivhaus

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2013 at 10:31 am

My experience of staying in a Passivhaus

Having lived in a series of draughty old houses over the years, I've always wondered what it would be like living in a Passivhaus. So when i discovered there was a Passivhaus bed and breakfast in Dartington, Devon where I was due to attend a conference, I booked in. The B&B is one of …

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Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 July 2013 at 9:29 am

Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Mark Boulton is just completing his self-build eco-house: a timber frame / hemcrete construction on a passive slab near Chipping Campden.  The house has a 9.8kW solar PV system and solar thermal panels feeding into an 800 litre thermal store. It has a bespoke energy management system wit…

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Why buyers should take care when investing in renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 July 2013 at 9:41 am

Why buyers should take care when investing in renewable heat

Let me set my stall out: I'm a fan of renewable heat technologies if they are installed well in suitable buildings. I'm also delighted that details of the domestic renewable heat incentive scheme has finally been announced, and that the rates are higher than expected.  But, and g…

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Electric vehicles can save businesses money

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2013 at 9:09 am

Electric vehicles can save businesses money

The UK ranks 15th in Europe for uptake of electric vehicles, despite attractive financial benefits for companies, according to a recent report by the IPPR. France and Norway have bought the highest proportion of electric vehicles. The report reveals that businesses can save £3,755 over …

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Review of Elios4you energy management system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2013 at 9:25 am

Review of Elios4you energy management system

I'm often surprised about how much electricity my solar panels generate, even on a cloudy day. Despite it being June, I'm writing this wearing a thick fleece to keep warm, and looking out at around 90% cloud cover, yet my Elios4you device shows me that our 2kWp solar PV array has been ste…

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What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 20 June 2013 at 9:25 am

What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Q: I want to find out how my solar panels deal with excess solar power when the batteries are fully charged. It is a 24 volt system: 4 x 165 watt panels  into 2 kW inverter   stand alone system. A: As an off grid, stand alone system, I assume your power usage is quite low if the bat…

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What happens to the feed-in tariff if I switch energy suppliers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 June 2013 at 2:56 pm

What happens to the feed-in tariff if I switch energy suppliers?

Q: I'd like to look for a different energy provider (my current one, nPower isn't paying its tax!). However, I don't want to lose my feed-in tariff (FIT) payments. Can I reapply for them with my new supplier and is it a complicated procedure? Or will my old supplier keep paying the FI…

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How important is the efficiency of solar panel?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 13 June 2013 at 10:05 am

How important is the efficiency of solar panel?

A more efficient solar panel is a better one, right?  Well arguably, but it doesn’t necessarily make it the most appropriate choice for use in any given situation. That's why I'm starting my series on what is the ‘best’ solar panel by looking at the sometimes c…

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What is the feed-in tariff rate with inflation rise?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 June 2013 at 10:09 am

What is the feed-in tariff rate with inflation rise?

Q: My PV installation is now 2.5 years old. The feed-in tariff (FIT) is supposed to rise with inflation each year but wherever I search on the web I can only seem to find the rates for new installations. I am registered with Scottish and Southern who no longer provide a breakdown of payments and …

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Have pigeons been playing on your solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 June 2013 at 9:57 am

Have pigeons been playing on your solar panels?

"We had our solar panels installed in January last year and are very pleased with their efficiency," writes a YouGen reader. "However, something that no-one mentioned to us is that we would be plagued by pigeons thereafter. "They have become a complete pest with both noise…

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Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2013 at 11:13 am

Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Retired, and living in a detached dorma bungalow built in the 1960s with almost no insulation, Tony Seaford and his wife were interested in reducing their domestic carbon footprint as much as they could without moving. "After double glazing and cavity wall insulation, we spent £800…

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Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 28 May 2013 at 9:01 am

Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Q: I have a property which is a farmhouse with attached barn conversion. I live in the barn and I rent out the attached house to tenants. The two properties are on one electric supply and we have PV array on the barn roof with meters in both properties so we can monitor who uses how much electric…

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What happens to the FIT if your solar panels are destroyed in a fire?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 May 2013 at 9:48 am

What happens to the FIT if your solar panels are destroyed in a fire?

Q: We fitted  a 3.2kw solar panel system in August 2011 were on the higher levy (feed-in tariff rate). We had a house fire in March 2012 and rebuilt the house putting a complete new system on it. We notified British Gas, who we signed up with about the fire and they said notify them when we …

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Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 20 May 2013 at 9:29 am

Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Q: We are having a 4kW solar pv system fitted. We are also considering electrical underfloor heating. After reading some very interesting pages on your site I am beginning to wonder if electrical underfloor heating is the best option as this will mainly run when it is dark? Is my thinking flawed …

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Who deals with claims on an inverter warranty?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 May 2013 at 10:52 am

Who deals with claims on an inverter warranty?

Q:I have a quote for the installation of solar panels. The quote says that the inverter is guaranteed for 10 years and that the guarantee is directly with the manufacturer; ie the installer does not wish to be involved in any guarantee claims. Is this normal? Is this contrary to the Sale of Goods…

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How voltage affects solar PV

Posted by James Page on 13 May 2013 at 9:40 am

How voltage affects solar PV

As most people will know mains voltage in the UK is  - nominally - 230V (it was 240V until we compromised with the European 220V supply).  But why does it change in both time and place even within mainland Britain? The answer to both stems from Ohm’s law. The voltage drop in t…

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Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV to fall by 3.5% from 1 July 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 May 2013 at 12:25 pm

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV to fall by 3.5% from 1 July 2013

Feed-in tariff rates for all solar PV installations under 50kWp will fall by 3.5% from 1 July, even though the  levels of installation to trigger a fall has not been reached. Under the government's rules the three monthly degression can be skipped for two quarters if uptake is low, after…

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Building Control regulations for solar installations in Northern Ireland

Posted by Andy Baird on 3 May 2013 at 9:15 am

Building Control regulations for solar installations in Northern Ireland

Building Regulations is one of the most common things we’re asked about during initial enquiry and survey stage. This isn’t the sexiest of subjects when discussing solar PV, but it is important to understand the rules from the outset. In most cases, and without exception if solar is t…

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Which solar panels are best?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 25 April 2013 at 12:10 pm

Which solar panels are best?

Choosing the best solar panel is a bit like choosing the best sandwich for your lunch. What’s better for you – a BLT or a cheese and pickle sandwich? Well, the cheese sandwich wins in terms of lower calories and lower fat, but the BLT contains more protein and more vitamins and nutrie…

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How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2013 at 9:32 am

How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Q: I have a holiday home in France and I'd love to install solar. my concern, however, is the risk of theft. The property is quite isolated and we won't be there a lot of the time. Is it easy to take down solar panels? Are there more portable panels that lend themselves to this bette…

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Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 25 March 2013 at 9:33 am

Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Q: I live in an old stone cottage (c 1830) with roof rafters that I'm sure wouldn't pass current building regs for strength, even though they're not the original ones. The walls seem sound enough though. Would it be possible to put up a solar pv array that was supported on the 2 end w…

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Five reasons why now is a really good time to install solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 March 2013 at 9:46 am

Five reasons why now is a really good time to install solar PV

If you want to generate your own electricity there's not likely to be a better time than now to install solar PV panels. Global oversupply of solar panels has led to tumbling prices - but experts predict that this may not last. The feed-in tariff - the government's incentive for the t…

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Find out how well solar PV works in bad weather

Posted by Chris Jardine on 19 March 2013 at 9:11 am

Find out how well solar PV works in bad weather

Snow in March? Last summer was dreadful, and seemed to rain constantly. Seems like we’ve had bad weather for ages now, and a period of prolonged sunshine seems eons ago.  So we might expect the performance of solar PV systems to be equally poor over the same period of time.  But j…

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The shock of the new: a poet's response to a solar field

Posted by Chloe Uden on 18 March 2013 at 9:27 am

The shock of the new: a poet's response to a solar field

Those of us who think renewables are a good idea are usually really keen that everybody else would share our views, and often disappointed when they don’t for whatever reason. It can be tempting to think that if only we were more logical, or more convincing, or more impervious to detractors…

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Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 11 March 2013 at 10:50 am

Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Different renewables technologies can complement each other when used in tandem, as Pebblebed Vineyard’s Clyst St. George Vineyard in Devon shows. A solar thermal system became the farm's newest renewable energy installation in November 2011, adding to solar PV and a…

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Readers tips of the month disagree about solar switching devices

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 28 February 2013 at 9:02 am

Readers tips of the month disagree about solar switching devices

This month, our readers have given some conflicting tips about solar heater switching devices. Ted from Cornwall installed an Immersun system to route surplus power from the solar panels into the immersion on the cylinder. He is happy and says ‘even in February the panels are…

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Don't limit your solar PV system to 4kWp

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 February 2013 at 9:37 am

Don't limit your solar PV system to 4kWp

During a typical week at SunGift Solar I can visit a huge range of people. From young professional couples eager to gain an additional income from the feed-in-tariff, through middle aged families looking for security against increasing electricity costs, to Eco-warrior pensioners who want to save…

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The business significance of the Government's solar step change

Posted by Phil Nelms on 14 February 2013 at 8:34 am

The business significance of the Government's solar step change

The addition of Solar PV to the government’s Renewables Roadmap is highly significant. After a year dominated by cuts, consultations and legal challenges in the solar industry, as well as rising fossil fuel prices for everyone else, that there has been an attitude shift within the corridors…

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Estimates of solar PV will improve with launch of new PV Guide

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 February 2013 at 9:46 am

Estimates of solar PV will improve with launch of new PV Guide

The estimated performance of solar PV systems will be significantly more accurate in future, following the publication of the long awaited new PV Guide, and the newly updated standard MIS3002 issue 3.0. The new standards for solar PV installations were finally launched last week by Climate Ch…

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NIROC: the financial incentive for solar PV in Northern Ireland explained

Posted by Andy Baird on 4 February 2013 at 9:07 am

NIROC: the financial incentive for solar PV in Northern Ireland explained

Since 2002, solar PV has been installed in Northern Ireland across schools, colleges, local council buildings and hundreds of social and private homes.  Although Northern Ireland doesn’t have FiTs (Feed In Tariffs), there are still three ways you will save money and make money by going…

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Is the extension of my solar PV system eligible for higher rate FITs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2013 at 9:08 am

Is the extension of my solar PV system eligible for higher rate FITs?

Q: We originally installed 7.23 kW Solar PV for our home a few years back that qualified for the higher band of feed-in tariff (FIT). Just this month we have installed an extension of an additional 15 kW. We understood this to be an extension to the original system and that the extension would be…

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Is Solar PV a fire hazard?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 7 January 2013 at 9:50 am

Is Solar PV a fire hazard?

Q: Are you aware of Times article and web site pvsolardoctor.com which claims PV panels are a fire risk if water enters the wiring system? A: This question has resulted in a lot of research and investigation and the answer is, unfortunately, a bit involved. Generating your own electricity…

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Gas or electric heater with solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 December 2012 at 11:25 am

Gas or electric heater with solar panels?

Q: In discussions of draught proofing a room I realise that a lot of heat must be drawn up the flue behind my gas fire & therefore wasted due to its inevitable escape to the environment. Would it be worth it to replace my gas fire in the lounge by an electric fire with resultant minimal loss …

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Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 December 2012 at 9:27 am

Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

For the cost, this looks to be really good value. The Amelec Eco2 Solar Switch is housed in a standard electrical housing such as used for consumer units and the like. As can be seen from the photo, it also has a standard DIN rail for fitting your selection of MCB/ RCD depending on application …

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Should I cancel my contract for solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 December 2012 at 12:32 pm

Should I cancel my contract for solar panels?

Q: I had a visit Thursday evening from Ecohome Renewables. They quoted me £15,560 for a 16 panel 230w system, gave me a discount down to £10,560 but guaranteed me a tariff inflator to inflate my PV FIT system to 40p for 20 years. I had to agree then and there and signed a contract for…

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Review of IntellyGreen PV Kit: intelligent solar power monitoring

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 November 2012 at 11:16 am

Review of IntellyGreen PV Kit: intelligent solar power monitoring

The IntellyGreen PV kit setup is not just a power saving device to send excess power to an immersion heater or similar, but has a comprehensive large LCD display to provide information on your power usage too. The complete set I tested comprised of a radio transmitter unit to be installed n…

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Review of ImmerSUN: using solar electricity to heat water

Posted by Chris Rudge on 27 November 2012 at 9:28 am

Review of ImmerSUN: using solar electricity to heat water

This relevant newcomer to the market of power optimisation of solar PV systems seems to have taken off in a big way due to facilities, design and marketing. Certainly this little unit is well packaged and documented.  Unlike most of the other PV power optimisation units currently on the …

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The benefits of using solar PV energy to power your immersion

Posted by Nick Mills on 26 November 2012 at 10:27 am

The benefits of using solar PV energy to power your immersion

We all hate the though of giving something away for nothing, and, although we get paid to generated solar electricity, and get an additional nominal sum for exporting the surplus, do you ever dream of getting a little bit more from your solar PV system? There are now a few systems on the mark…

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Voltage spikes cause drops in solar PV performance

Posted by Rob Palgrave on 12 November 2012 at 10:36 am

Voltage spikes cause drops in solar PV performance

A members of my local Friends of the Earth group installed solar PV on her roof at the  start of the year. This is in Surrey. The generated energy is much lower than  expected, and the installer has not been able to resolve the issue so far.  Suspicion falls on the compatibility of…

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Feed-in tariff for solar PV falls, but ROI increases

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 November 2012 at 10:09 am

Feed-in tariff for solar PV falls, but ROI increases

The first automatic degression of the solar PV feed-in tariff rate occurred yesterday. To put that in plain English, the rate for new installations fell by 3.5 per cent for all installations of 150kW and below. For a 4kW installation that meant a reduction in tariff from 16p per kWh to 15.44p.&nb…

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How can we best use our solar generated electricity?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 November 2012 at 9:34 am

How can we best use our solar generated electricity?

Q: We have just installed PV solar panels, rated at max output of 2.25 kW. Very pleased so far (3 weeks). Careful use of daytime electricity and a woodburning stove for cooking means our energy is only costing an average of around 50p per day. (We collect waste wood to burn and we do most of our co…

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Industry asked to support national solar campaign

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2012 at 1:25 pm

Industry asked to support national solar campaign

Solar PV still offers attractive returns, yet domestic sales have slowed radically. I've heard many theories about why, and much hand wringing, but not much about solutions. Until now. I'm delighted to hear that the industry is launching a positive nationwide solar campaign to highlight the benefits…

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