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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

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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