So is it worth it then?

Currently it is worth it in relation to supporting the grid to smooth out national peak renewable energy generation to better meet peak demand, and, with some careful attention, is likely to pay itself back over time.   Before investing, it is worth considering whether you are likely to be charging an electric vehicle in the near future. If so, technology is evolving to allow “bi-directional charging” which means that you can store electricity in your vehicle battery in the same way as a stand-alone battery and then use it in your house. That does however depend on when your vehicle [...]

So what financial return can I expect from a battery?

This is not straightforward and depends significantly on how much you pay to charge your battery overnight in winter: your present supplier may well not have an appropriate low night-time rate.  If you have a battery of about 10kWh and store enough electricity from your panels to keep your house running overnight (and all day during dull winter days) you may not have to buy much electricity at daytime rates. In this case the payback time could be around ten years, similar to the reasonable expectation for battery life – see below for the calculation 

So, is the major benefit financial?

The addition of a battery to your system can greatly increase the amount of solar power you can use and hence reduce the amount you need to buy from the grid. Some electricity suppliers also allow you to charge your battery overnight at an off-peak rate and this can produce reductions in your electricity bill in winter.   However, you should consider how big a battery to buy and financial return. Obtain a separate quote from installers for a battery rather than let it be rolled into a quote for panels plus battery. If you do get a quote, it could [...]

What are the environmental issues?

As with solar panels, there are social and environmental issues around the mining of the materials used in electrical batteries, and the issues are more serious because of the type of materials (mainly lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese). Again, there is significant work to be done to set up systems and facilities for recycling these batteries. 

By |2022-05-23T13:53:15+01:00May 23rd, 2022||

Should I get an electrical battery as well to store electricity for overnight use?

Installers often encourage you to buy a battery to store electricity, but you should know that the environmental and financial aspects are rather different to those for solar panels. Treat the purchase of a storage battery as a separate decision with different considerations.   Whilst a battery does not save additional carbon in itself, it does mean that the carbon savings from the solar PV are maximised. At times of national peak electricity demand, the UK grid relies more heavily on electricity generated by fossil fuels. The more renewable electricity that can be stored during times of peak renewable energy generation, [...]

Can you recommend any installers?

Through our Solar Made Easy project we are seeking partner installers who we can confidently introduce to clusters of homeowners in different communities. Since starting work on the project we have found that the energy price escalation has had a huge impact on the solar market. Demand has soared and the good installers are inundated with enquiries. We hope that our cluster approach will make it easier for installers to respond to demand.  If you wish to proceed independently, we would recommend that you look out for the following  when you seek quotes :  Are they MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) [...]

By |2022-05-23T13:51:16+01:00May 23rd, 2022||

Will my solar panels work in a power cut?

Generally speaking, no. As your solar system is connected to the grid it needs to be shut off in a power cut, so it doesn’t feed live electricity into the power lines while workers make repairs. However, if you have a solar battery with a backup function you will be able to use your solar energy during a power cut. These have a relay (a switch) which will automatically disconnect your electricity supply from the grid when it detects a power cut. You can read more about this in these articles: Solar Back-up Batteries & Power Cuts and Do Solar [...]

By |2022-05-24T09:31:05+01:00May 23rd, 2022||

Will I need any other permissions?

If your system is larger than 3.68kWp, you need to apply to connect to the national grid (via Electricity North West). This is to ensure that if you are exporting 100% of your electricity at any particular time, the network in your local area can cope with the additional electricity. Your installer should be able to apply on your behalf. Unfortunately, there is often a wait of several weeks before permissions are granted. There is a possibility that you may be charged for any upgrade works to the grid that are required to enable your electricity to be exported.  There [...]

By |2022-05-23T13:48:58+01:00May 23rd, 2022||
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