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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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