Anyone who installs a qualifying renewable heat system is eligible to claim the RHI. These are the qualification criteria…


First of all you have to be either in England, Scotland or Wales, sorry Northern Ireland!

They must use an eligible type of renewable heat production


Sadly not all renewable heat technologies are eligible. Here’s a list of all the ELIGIBLE renewable heat technologies:


Photo Credit: JMacPherson


Biomass and biogas heat generation must also use eligible sources of fuel.

The tariff paid depends on what type of energy is used and the size of the system.

There are limits to the system’s size

For example solar and biogas heating are only eligible for installations below 200kW. 

This differs to the Feed-In Tariffs where a 5MW ceiling has been applied for all renewable technologies.


Even then they might not be able to receive tariffs immediately. 

Only new equipment is eligible for RHI; converted installations aren’t. However new systems replacing existing renewable technologies will do just fine.


Each eligible installation has to be registered by the energy regulator Ofgem.

There are some specific requirements you must meet. Such as, systems below 45kW capacity must comply with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.


The heat cannot be wasted and must be used for a prescribed purpose; space, water or process heating (not for electricity production, for example).

There are criteria about how this output should be measured.

The installations will have to be maintained and may be inspected periodically.


The owner of the renewable heat installation is the beneficiary of the tariffs.


Want to learn more about RHI? Read our previous blog to find out more here


I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!


Solar Windows Power Your Home?

A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work. Scientists have demonstrated that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight. Clever clogs.

Quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination.
A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers in collaboration with scientists from University of Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB), Italy. Their project demonstrates that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.

“The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots,” said lead researcher Victor Klimov of the 
Centre for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos.
Quantum dots are ultra-small bits of semiconductor matter that can be synthesized with nearly atomic precision via modern methods of colloidal chemistry. Their emission color can be tuned by simply varying their dimensions. Color tunability is combined with high emission efficiencies approaching 100 percent. These properties have recently become the basis of a new technology — quantum dot displays — employed, for example, in the newest generation of the Kindle Fire ™ e-reader.

Light-harvesting antennas

A luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) is a photon management device, representing a slab of transparent material that contains highly efficient emitters such as dye molecules or quantum dots. Sunlight absorbed in the slab is re-radiated at longer wavelengths and guided towards the slab edge equipped with a solar cell.
Klimov explained, “The LSC serves as a light-harvesting antenna which concentrates solar radiation collected from a large area onto a much smaller solar cell, and this increases its power output.”
“LSCs are especially attractive because in addition to gains in efficiency, they can enable new interesting concepts such as photovoltaic windows that can transform house facades into large-area energy generation units,” said Sergio Brovelli, who worked at Los Alamos until 2012 and is now a faculty member at UNIMIB.
Because of highly efficient, color-tunable emission and solution processability, quantum dots are attractive materials for use in inexpensive, large-area LSCs. One challenge, however, is an overlap between emission and absorption bands in the dots, which leads to significant light losses due to the dots re-absorbing some of the light they produce.

“Giant” but still tiny, engineered dots

To overcome this problem the Los Alamos and UNIMIB researchers have developed LSCs based on quantum dots with artificially induced large separation between emission and absorption bands (called a large Stokes shift).
These “Stokes-shift” engineered quantum dots represent cadmium selenide/cadmium sulfide (CdSe/CdS) structures in which light absorption is dominated by an ultra-thick outer shell of CdS, while emission occurs from the inner core of a narrower-gap CdSe. The separation of light-absorption and light-emission functions between the two different parts of the nanostructure results in a large spectral shift of emission with respect to absorption, which greatly reduces losses to re-absorption.
Concept of a Solar Window
To implement this concept, Los Alamos researchers created a series of thick-shell (so-called “giant”) CdSe/CdS quantum dots, which were incorporated by their Italian partners into large slabs (sized in tens of centimeters) of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). While being large by quantum dot standards, the active particles are still tiny — only about hundred angstroms across. For comparison, a human hair is about 500,000 angstroms wide.
“A key to the success of this project was the use of a modified industrial method of cell-casting, we developed at UNIMIB Materials Science Department” said Francesco Meinardi, professor of Physics at UNIMIB.
Spectroscopic measurements indicated virtually no losses to re-absorption on distances of tens of centimeters. Further, tests using simulated solar radiation demonstrated high photon harvesting efficiencies of approximately 10% per absorbed photon achievable in nearly transparent samples, perfectly suited for utilization as photovoltaic windows.
Despite their high transparency, the fabricated structures showed significant enhancement of solar flux with the concentration factor of more than four. These exciting results indicate that “Stokes-shift-engineered” quantum dots represent a promising materials platform. It may enable the creation of solution processable large-area LSCs with independently tunable emission and absorption spectra.
Sadly this all still just an idea and won’t be in the mainstream market for a few more years. The idea though is  revolutionary. You could plug in your appliances into your WINDOW. Ideal for Kitchen windows, plug in your kettle and make a lovely cuppa powered by the sun, bliss. For more information on the Solar Window click here. Also there are many different companies trying to get their own spin on the Solar Window e.g. New Energy claim they are making a Solar Window that can out perform any commercial Solar Panel by 10 fold. Clearly in the foreseeable future not only will we see Solar Windows hitting the market but a whole range of them specially designed in their own unique ways!
I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

Air Source Heat Pumps can save you £1,000 a year?!

Astonished baby finds out how much Air Source Heat Pumps  save

An air source heat pump (ASHP) is usually placed outside at the side or back of a property, and takes heat from the air and boosts it to a higher temperature using a heat pump. This heat is then used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems or even warm air convectors and hot water in your home. 

The pump needs electricity to run, but the idea is that it uses less electrical energy than the heat it produces. Which is fantastic for all you that are interested in lowering your energy bills

Air source heat pump costs and savings

ASHPs are cheaper than ground source heat pumps. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates that the cost of installing a typical ASHP system ranges between £7,000 and £14,000! It does sound like a lot I admit but, you are thinking small! There is still juicy payback to consider.
The payback period (the time it takes for the cost of the system to be recouped in energy savings) depends on how efficiently your system works, the type of system you’re replacing, whether you can get money with the RHI and how you’ll be using the heat generated from the pump. 
The EST says that an average performing air source heat pump in an average four-bedroom detached home could save:
  • between £545 to £880 a year if replacing oil
  • between £550 and £1,060 a year if replacing electric heating. 
It also estimated that the RHI would pay an extra £805 to £1,280 a year.
It will pay back for itself in a matter of years and considering the sky rocketing energy prices over the coming years it would be a smart investment to lower your electricity bill NOW! Just imagine what you could do with a spare grand every year…

If you are interested in or want an Air Source Heat Pump then visit our website here to get a FREE reliable quote. Its quick and easy and based on our database we can give you the top 3 companies in your area to give you their personal quote.

I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

A continuation on Air Source Heat Pumps

This is an extension from Friday’s blog which can be found here. Since the blog did well I thought I should continue my knowledge on Air Source Heat Pumps, simple supply and demand! Also if anyone has any more questions on Air source heat pumps then don’t be afraid to comment below and I will endeavour to get back to you with an answer, thank you my dear Sirs and Madams!

Installing an air source heat pump?

ASHPs look similar to air-conditioning units and are less disruptive to install than ground source heat pumps, as they do not require any digging in your garden so don’t fret, your Geraniums are safe!

An ASHP works a bit like a refrigerator in reverse. The process consists of an evaporator, a compressor and a condenser. It absorbs heat from the outside air and the heat pump compressor then increases the temperature of that heat further to create useful heat for your home

There are two main types of Air Source Heat Pumps

  1. Air-to-water systems take heat from the outside air and feed it into your wet central heating system. As the heat produced is cooler than that from a conventional boiler, you may need to install larger radiators or underfloor heating in your home to make the most of it.
  2. Air-to-air systems take heat from the outside air and feed it into your home through fans. This type of system cannot produce hot water.

In the summer, the ASHP can be operated in reverse, like an air-conditioning unit, to provide cool air for your home which is a helpful plus if I do say so myself.

The Pros and Cons:

Pros of air source heat pumps

  • Air source heat pumps produce less CO2 than conventional heating systems. Saving the environment and your peace of mind
  • They are cheaper than ground source heat pumps and easier to install, particularly for retrofit
  • ASHPs can provide heating AND hot water.
  • They require next to no maintenance.
  • They can be used for air conditioning in the summer.
  • You need to use electricity to power the pump which circulates the liquid in the outside loop but, for every unit of electricity used by the pump, you get between two and three units of heat – making this an efficient way to heat a building.
  • Cheaper Economy 7 electricity tariffs can be used to lower the cost of electricity to power the heat pump and special heat pump tariffs may be available from some electricity suppliers – alternatively consider solar photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine (if you are in a suitable area) for a greener source of electricity.

Cons of air source heat pumps

  • Their efficiency can be lower than ground source heat pumps.
  • You’ll need enough space in your garden for the external condenser unit (comparable in size to an air-conditioning unit). Condenser units can be noisy and also blow out colder air to the immediate environment.
  • You still need to use electricity to drive the pump, so an air source heat pump can’t be considered completely zero-carbon unless this is provided by a renewable source, such as solar power or a wind  turbine.

How green are air source heat pumps?

An air source heat pump system can help to lower your carbon footprint as it uses a renewable, natural source of heat – air. The amount of CO2 you’ll save depends on the fuel you are replacing. For example, it will be higher if you are replacing electric heating than natural gas.
A heat pump also requires a supplementary source of power, usually electricity, to power the heat pump, so there will still be some resulting CO2 emissions. Overall though its one carbon footprint step forward (or backward?) to making your home a greener friendlier place

I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

Beginners Guide: Ground Source Heat Pumps, an untapped domestic resource

Ground source heat pumps use pipes which are buried in the garden to extract natural heat from  underground by pumping water through it. The heat pump then increases in temperature, and heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.


“How do these fandangled contraptions work?!”

Don’t worry technophobes its quite simple! A ground source heat pump needs electricity to run, but the idea is that it uses less electrical energy than the heat it produce. It circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe – called a ground loop – which is buried in your garden. The water and anti-freeze is pumped around the ground loop and absorbs the naturally occurring heat stored in the ground. The pump itself consists of 3 essential components; the evaporator, a compressor and a condenser – together these take the heat from the water mixture, transfers it to your domestic heating system i.e. your radiators and increases the temperature in the process. A ground source heat pump increases the temperature from the ground by between one and a half and four times – if the ground temperature is 12°C, the output would be between 18 and 48°C so you can say good-bye to those chilly winter mornings! And the best thing is the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year – even in the middle of those harsh winters.

Will they ruin your garden?

No, not intentionally, unless the machines rise and have a thing against your flower garden! Joking aside; The length of the ground loop depends on the size of your home and the amount of heat you need. You’ll need sufficient space for installation of the system, generally with a garden that’s accessible for digging machineryLonger loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead.

Other Things to Consider when installing Ground Source Heat Pumps

  • Is your home well insulated? Since ground source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it’s essential that your home is well insulated and draught-proofed for the heating system to be effective.
  • What type of heating system will you use? Ground source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.
  • Is the system intended for a new development? Combining the installation with other building work can reduce the cost of installing the system
  • Your existing fuel system. Savings will be greater if you replace an old or expensive heating system (like oil, LPG or electric heating) than if you are connected to the mains gas grid.
  • Water heating. You may need a separate electric immersion heater.

Lets get down to the important stuff, MONEY

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) differ in size and complexity, so pinpointing a typical cost is tricky. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates it can range between £11,000 and £15,000 to install one in your home. 
The payback period (the time it takes for the initial cost of the system to be recouped in energy savings) is also difficult to predict, as it depends on how efficiently your system works, the type of system you’re replacing, whether you can get financial support with the Renewable Heat Incentive and how you’ll be using the heat generated from the pump. Things to consider are:
  • A new build property will be generally more suited to a GSHP for retrofitting and RHI etc. 
  • How well insulated your home is.
  •  What you will be using the GSHP for as it is more suited for lower heat temperatures like radiators and underfloor heating
  • Running costs can be higher if you’re also using the system for your hot water supply, and you may require a supplementary electric immersion heater to keep up with your heating needs.
The EST estimates that an average performing ground source heat pump could save you:
  • between £650 and £1,035 a year to replace oil-fired heating
  • between £1,265 and £2,000 a year to replace electric heating 
Financial help is also available. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a government scheme and the EST estimated it could provide an additional £2,325 to £3,690 a year which is big money.
What RHI can do for you

Pros of ground source heat pumps

  • Ground source heat pumps generate less CO2 than conventional heating systems which means they are eco friendly, no protesters outside your door!
  • The Energy Saving Trust (EST) says that a ‘typical’ ground source heat pump could save you between £395 and £2,000 a year depending which existing heating system you are replacing, either way it is a considerable amount of money worth taking back from those dastardly evil energy companies 
  • You can get financial help towards the cost of a ground source heat pump. The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme provides payments to householders who have a heat pump, estimated to be between £2,325 and £3,690 a year for an average four-bedroom detached home.
  • You need to use electricity to power the pump which circulates the liquid in the ground loop, but for every unit of electricity used by the pump, you get between two and four units of heat – making this an efficient way to heat a building.
  • Cheaper Economy 7 electricity tariffs can be used to lower the cost of electricity to power the heat pump, and special heat pump tariffs may be available from some electricity suppliers – alternatively consider solar photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine (if you live in a suitable area) for a greener source of electricity.

Cons of ground source heat pumps

  • Installing a ground source heat pump is expensive – typically £11,000-£15,000, depending on the size of the system (not including the cost of fitting under-floor heating, if required) BUT, don’t forget that you can make your money back, all that money is an investment
  • Ground source heat pumps are generally not suitable for properties with existing gas-fired central heating as the technology works at lower temperatures, making it better suited to homes with underfloor heating.
  • The groundworks required to dig the trench can be expensive and disruptive – planning permission may be required if space is at a premium and you need a borehole. Ground source heat pumps tend to be better suited to new-build homes as they can be planned as part of the construction process.
  • You still need to use electricity to drive the pump, so a ground source heat pump can’t be considered completely zero-carbon unless this is provided by a renewable source, such as solar power or a wind turbine.

Will you be doing your bit in saving the environment?

A Ground Source Heat Pump can help in lowering your CO2 emissions, reducing your carbon footprint by a considerable amount, helping you go down a few shoe sizes! According to the EST, a heat pump with mid-range efficiency uses a third of the energy needed in an average gas or oil boiler to produce the same amount of heat. Added up over a number of years this a significant amount so yes, you will be saving the environment you nice lovely people.

Its in our hands
Are you considering Ground Source Heat Pumps? Visit our website here to get a FREE reliable quote. Its quick and easy and based on our database we can give you the top 3 companies in your area that can do it for you

I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!


Top 5 reasons how solar power can save the world

1. The research and development monies now going into solar energy are great enough to fuel innovation and bring down prices rapidly. First Solar expects solar generation manufacturing costs to fall from 63 cents a watt to 35 cents a watt from now through 2017!
2. Honda is experimenting with a zero-carbon home. It includes a direct DC recharger for an electric car so as to cut down on energy lost to heat during the DC to AC conversion. Charging would take only 2 hours, direct from sunlight.
The opening of Honda Smart Home US, showcasing technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation
3. Thin-skin solar panels will be installed directly on the cars, and a canopy recharger will fill them back up, economical cars are the future (not the Prius)
4. Even poor countries of the global South like Pakistan are finding it affordable now to create enormous solar parks. Bahawalpur faces blackouts and a deficit of 4 gigawatts of electricity. It will soon get 1 gigawatt of electricity from solar and other renewables.
5. There are new technological advancements in Solar Power almost everyday and and a giant flow of ideas of how Solar can save the world which come as abundantly as the actual resource! Japan want to put a solar panel ring around the moon which can have the potential to power a 1/3, THIRD of the world’s energy demands. MIT are researching  solar panels that can grow from bacteria making them more affordable. A group of scientists also want to build solar plants in our oceans as the solar energy is greater there. The amount of solar energy that hits our Earth in an hour is enough to power the world for a year. Surely we have to harness this great natural, renewable resource?!
6. Okay okay, I know I said 5 but TOP 6 doesn’t have the same ring to it, sorry for lying my dear Sirs and Madams but this one is important! After seeing the way Russia is bullying Western Europe over opposition in Brussels to Russia grabbing Ukrainian territory, with Russia threatening to cut off natural gas, many countries will be encouraged to invest in renewable energy sources that cannot be cut off. Thailand is investing in 3 gigawatts of solar energy, not only because its government wants more electricity but because it wants more energy independence! The falling price of solar panels will give a further economic motive for going green, but tensions in the ASEAN countries over the possibility of gradually being reduced to Chinese puppets are real– something Obama is trying to address on his current trip to Japan and other countries of the far east. The alternative to solar, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to produce natural gas, is not affordable in many countries; it uses enormous amounts of precious water, damages the environment, and produces huge methane emissions that threaten deadly climate disruption. Solar gives both cost savings and security, as well as a brighter climate future.
I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

Solar roof tiles (shingles)

To the majority the main reason why they won’t install solar panels is that some can look well… ugly. Nobody wants to lose their curb appeal understandably BUT, you don’t have to get panels. You can get solar roof tiles and they look just dandy!

What are they and how do they work? 

Solar shingles, also called photovoltaic shingles, are solar cells designed to look like conventional asphalt shingles. There are several varieties of solar shingles, including shingle-sized solid panels that take the place of a number of conventional shingles in a strip, semi-rigid designs containing several silicon solar cells that are sized more like conventional shingles, and newer systems using various thin film solar cell technologies that match conventional shingles both in size and flexibility. Solar shingles are manufactured by several companies by now.
Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells, capturing sunlight and transforming it into electricity. Most solar shingles are 12 by 86 inches (300 by 2,180 mm) and can be stapled directly to the roofing cloth. When applied they have a 5 by 86 inches (130 by 2,180 mm) strip of exposed surface. Different models of shingles have different mounting requirements. Some can be applied directly onto roofing felt intermixed with regular asphalt shingles while others may need special installation.

Aren’t they just dandy?!  There are all sorts of shapes and sizes that admittedly do aesthetically dance on the eyes more so than the panels!


So it is a no-brainer then; fit solar tiles instead of panels unless you want to make a statement to your neighbours with your solar panels. Well – as is often the case – it is not as simple as that. The main issue is cost or, more to the point, return on investment. Solar tiles are more expensive – often double the price – and less efficient – typically 10 – 20% less than than solar panels. And as solar PV systems are being presented as an excellent investment with the Feed in Tariffs this will have an impact on their popularity and applicability.
Solar tiles still may have a part to play in the sustainable design of our buildings however. For those that view the appearance of their roof as paramount or for whom cost is not a concern may still want to make the extra investment. Also with new build homes, it may be practical to install solar tiles instead of conventional roof tiles which will offset some of the cost and look great; particularly if they cover the entire roof pitch.
I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

Top 5 reasons to install solar panels!

Solar power is more efficient, affordable, and easy to install and use than ever before. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should turn to solar energy.

Solar is Easy

Modern Solar systems make going solar virtually stress-free for the home-owner. Installation crews can usually install a residential system in less than a week, and most installation companies take care of the necessary permits as part of their service. Using solar energy is easy too. Once the system is installed, your home’s internal wiring and appliances all work the same as before.

Solar is Flexible

Solar systems work even in areas with less than perfect weather. While solar energy has always made sense in places like the south of England, modern panels generate power at reduced rates even on days with partial sunlight. If you live in a temperate climate with frequent days of partial sun like the North of Scotland, you can still get the benefits of a solar energy system by using a net meter to manage your power needs.
Net meters are utility meters that runs forward or backward depending on the situation. Net meters let you sell excess energy back to the utility company for credit when you produce more than you need, and buy back that power at night or during bad weather.

Solar is Independent

One of the best reasons to consider a solar system for your home is freedom. The idea of becoming energy independent has become a popular subject nationally over the past few years, and owners of solar systems begin their journey to energy independence by reducing their dependence on public utilities, especially with their sky-rocketing prices you don’t want to be around for.

Solar is Environmentally Sound

Environmentally sound building practices are often more efficient than traditional methods, and solar energy is one of the best green investments you can make. Offering more than just panels and an inverter, some companies can install complete home energy management and solar energy systems that lower utility bills while reducing your carbon footprint.

Solar is Affordable

Government feed-in-tarrifs can help reduce the cost of your new system by selling back your excess energy back to the grid, earning up to £750 a year. Not to mention the new RHI that just launched (9th of April) means
Solar energy provides home owners with simple, secure, environmentally sound power, while tax credits and easy financing make energy independence a financially viable alternative to public utilities for more and more home-owners every day. Will you join them?

What you NEED to know before buying Solar Panels

Can I Get A Solar Panel System?

Before you decide to get a solar array there are a number of factors you have to consider as it can be a big deal. There are a number of things that have to be expertly evaluated before you can even consider putting panels on your roof.
First of all, some might have to come out and do a site survey. An engineer will climb up on your roof, take measurements, inspect to see if you have visibility to the south, and use this funky solar pathfinder device to determine the times of day that particular areas would be shaded.
Solar Path finder
They go to the four corners of where the solar array is going to be installed with the Solar Pathfinder, and with it point towards the south it has a series of marks on it and a glass dome which reflects anything that would be throwing a shadow. You basically look at the reflection and see what time of day the shadow might affect that spot. 
To get the most out of your panels you need to have them in a pin-point location to work efficiently as possible, you can’t just bung them on any old place! Basically this means it must be facing south within about a 20 degree window. If they can’t point the panels in that direction, you might as well not do it because your solar generation drops dramatically. Same goes for shade. If you’ve got a building beside you, or trees that tower over the house, you’re done.
Even if your roof points south, and nothing’s blocking the sun you still need to have an engineering survey done to determine if your roof can bear the additional weight! Luckily, it only adds about 5-6 pounds per square foot of roof loading, so most roofs should be able to take it.

How Big of a Solar Panel System Do I Need?

To some extent figuring out what you need is narrowed down by how much room you have and cost. But you also need to take a look at your previous year’s electric bills, find out what your electric rates are, and research what the projected generation will be for the size of system you’re thinking about.
Here’s a site to let you calculateproduction for your location. Just pick your country and region  You’ll come up with an estimate that looks kind of like this:
Station Identification
City: LondonòGatwick
Country/Province: GBR  
Latitude: 51.15° N
Longitude:     0.18° W
Elevation: 62 m
Weather Data:     IWEC
PV System Specifications
DC Rating: 4.00 kW
DC to AC Derate Factor: 0.770
AC Rating: 3.08 kW
Array Type: Fixed Tilt  
Array Tilt: 51.2°
Array Azimuth: 180.0°
Energy Specifications
Energy Cost:     0.0752 pound/kWh
Solar Radiation


1.45      128  9.63 
1.90      151  11.36 
2.55      227  17.07 
3.99      347  26.09 
4.60      406  30.53 
4.38      368  27.67 
4.63      397  29.85 
4.52      390  29.33 
3.56      302  22.71 
10  2.64      232  17.45 
11  1.61      137  10.30 
12  0.97      79  5.94 
Year  3.07      3163  237.86 
Can I Get A Solar Panel System?

Solar Panel System Tips and Tricks

Oh boy, there is a lot they aren’t telling you! For example, one really good thing is that these systems are mostly guaranteed for 20 years! What isn’t really talked about is that its the solar panels that are warrantied for that long, but the inverters are not. So when you’re doing your ROI calculations you need to include the fact that you’re going to have to spend more money somewhere in the middle of the life-cycle for changing out parts.
Sunny Boy Solar Inverter
Speaking inverters, I should explain that the reason you need an inverter is that the solar panels put out DC current. This is like the current that comes out of a battery. But houses use AC current. So the inverter takes care of the conversion. There are two different kinds of inverters that are currently in use.

Solar MicroInverters

Being dependent on one inverter can be inefficient, if they inverter goes down or has technical problems it means you won’t be generating any electricity. An answer to the efficiency problem comes in the form of micro-inverters. Instead of stringing multiple panels together and putting them through one big inverter, micro-inverters are installed on every single solar panel. This allows each panel to contribute 100% of its production to the home, and if one fails it doesn’t affect the output of any others.

Choosing between Inverters and MicroInverters

Each type of inverter has its own benefits. While micro-inverters are more efficient, they are also more costly. It could also mean a lot more wiring that have to be mounted and routed. Yikes! Big inverters might weigh 140 pounds(ish), but they get mounted in one spot and with minimal wiring. They are also extremely reliable, having been around since the beginning of the industry.

Other Things To Keep In Mind

Another thing no one bothered to mention is that the roof on your house generally doesn’t last as long as these systems. So let’s say you have a 10 or 15 year old roof. There is NO WAY it’s going to last as long as the panels. What do you do then? If you have to do any work on the roof you have to deal with the solar array first. Although some companies do provide a service that in the event of your roof needs repairs they will take down the Solar Panels for you for a cheaper price than it would cost originally. If you are worried about this then I would advise to talk about this with a trusted company that will be willing to help you out e.g. the solar company that fitted the panels.

Who’s going to look after the system? And how? I advise to stay at home and participate during the install so you can learn how things are connected, and if something needed minor repairs you could do it yourself.If you have a pitched roof, you probably don’t want to be getting on it to service your panels. So make sure the company you choose has been around a long time so you don’t have to rely on service from someone else.


How Long Does It Take To Install A Solar Panel System?

The good news is that it only takes about a day to a couple of days days for them to be installed on your roof. The bad news is, that the answer isn’t that simple. After we did the site survey and worked out pricing and all that, we had to sign contracts. Those contracts had to get sent off for approval to the electric company because we were going to be tying into the grid. Meanwhile, you have to have the structural engineer come to the house to determine if the roof could bear the weight. All of those things can take weeks to complete.
By the way, if you’re wondering if you can do all this yourself – the answer is no. Next question!

How much do Solar Panels cost?

Obviously Solar Panels range from country to country, region to region but, specifically in the UK (where I just so happen to be from) They are about £5,000-£10,000 but this all depends on the size, quality and quantity of Solar Panels you buy! A website that proved very useful to me was Solar Panel Quoter. They give you a lovely FREE quote from your region specifically and can give you a list of the top 3 companies in your area from their database, how convenient! 
Another thing before you are put off by the expensive price, you aren’t JUST buying the panels themselves with that money. Its also for the install which is in itself a complicated process witnessing it for yourself you’ll understand its worth every penny, just its a lot of pennies!

Your pay back can easily be done over a simple spreadsheet, factoring in the months when the panels will be at either a low or high efficiency. It should be fairly straight forward but on average most solar panel systems make back their money in roughly in half their life times. Which means it is worth getting them, you just need the money to kick-start it! However, if you can afford to do it, it is also a form of insurance against the potential of sky-rocketing energy prices.

This should be about everything you need to consider before installing solar panels. If I have missed anything out or you have any queries, make sure to comment below!

I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams! 

Costs and benefits of different Solar Panels

If you’ve ever wondered how much you would need to invest to harness the sun’s energy for your own personal use, this blog will give you an idea of the costs and benefits of each system. On the simplest level, there are two types of solar panels. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels which produce electricity, and solar thermal panels which produce hot water.

Solar Photovoltaic

Panels which convert the sun’s energy into electricity use solar voltaic cells to capture it. They do not need direct sunlight to work, generating electricity even on cloudy days (though not as much). The cells convert the energy into electricity which can be used in the house, or sold back to your own electricity supplier. Details on tariffs can be found here
In May 2012, the Department of Energy and Climate Change assessed the costs of solar PV, based on the average 3kWp (kilowatts peak) system that is installed. The average cost of installation was found to be £7,700. Whilst larger systems cost more, they are actually more cost effective in terms of the savings they produce. If you are wondering how much a Solar panel will cost you, you can click here for a FREE quote from your region!
On average, a 3kWp system has been found to generate 2,500 kilowatt hours of electricity every year. This is equivalent to about 3/4 of the average household’s electrical needs for a year. A larger system could therefore exceed the household’s requirements, with the extra being sold onto grid.
So the obvious benefit is that once you have paid for the installation your bills will be significantly reduced. If you are producing more electricity than you need you can sell it back to the grid. Furthermore, if you are eligible for the Feed-in Tariff scheme, this could generate savings and income of approximately £750 per year (based on rates applicable since April 1st 2014). Here you get paid for both the electricity you generate and use and that which is sold back to grid. At this rate, the average payback is around 14 years.
There is very little maintenance required. As the panels are tilted at an angle, they should be cleaned by rain water. Being dirty will impair their performance, so if necessary you can contact window cleaning companies to wash them for you. The panels should last for 25 years, although inverters might break before then. 

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal panels work in conjunction with a hot water cylinder, so you must make sure you have a suitable one, or room to fit one, if you are thinking of installing this type of panel. The panels heat water that is circulated through a coil in the hot water cylinder, transferring the heat to the domestic hot water stored in the cylinder. If the panels are not able to produce enough hot water, an immersion heater or boiler will top it up. Once again there are the benefits of cutting you bills and reducing your carbon footprint.
The average cost of this system is £4800 and it produces moderate savings. In the summer it will produce most of your hot water. In the winter, it will need the boiler or immersion heater to produce most of it.
Maintenance costs are low and they come with 5 or 10 year guarantees. As with solar voltaic, they need to be kept clean, though hopefully rainfall will achieve this. You should also check it, or have it checked, for leaks. Leaks of the antifreeze in the panel will have a strong smell so should be noticeable. The pump may need changing after 10 years or so at a cost of around £100.
Studies have shown savings of around £55 per year (230kgCO2/year) when replacing gas heated hot water and £80 per year (510kgCO2/year) when replacing immersion hot water. However, savings will vary from house to house, depending on which way the panels are facing and which part of the country they are located.

Solar PV/T

It stands for ‘photovoltaic thermal’. It’s basically a hybrid solar panel consisting of photovoltaic (electrical), or PV, and thermal (heating) functionalities – usually separate – which will contribute towards a house’s electricity demands while heating hot water. 
PVT is essentially a photovoltaic collector that produces heat as a byproduct. The panel absorbs photons (electro­magnetic radiation) from the sun, and an inverter changes this direct current (DC) into an alternating current (AC), suitable for use in the home. The process naturally generates heat, which is transferred via an aluminium heat exchanger – located on the back of the collector – to a closed circuit through which runs an antifreeze heat transfer fluid (a mix of water and glycol); the fluid takes the heat to the hot water cylinder. When set up correctly, this process actually aids the functionality of the PV module, as it causes the heat in the cells to dissipate — and PV cells are more efficient when they are cooler. The best place to find this exclusive technology is at Newform Energy 
There is one potential problem in that heat output can be three times the electricity output. If we assume a 4kWp system, a standard PV array of that size would produce 3,000 to 3,200kWh of electricity each year. A PVT system will produce over 3,500kWh of electricity and up to 10,500kWh of hot water each year. That sounds fine, as an average house with four people in it will need about 4,000kWh for hot water and 8,000 to 10,000kWh for space heating. But, and it is quite a big but, PVT will produce around 50% of that hot water in the three summer months — some 5,250kWh when we actually need only 1,000kWh. So what do we do with the rest?



Clearly from a financial perspective, solar voltaic panels produce far greater savings. Continual improvements in technology and falling installation costs are also bringing the payback time down. PV/T would be more ideal but obviously it does cost a little bit extra and aren’t guaranteed as long as PV. Whilst this blog has looked at costs and benefits in financial terms, what it cannot measure is the importance to you of going green. However, if the environment is your priority, the fact that your investment will pay back in time is a comforting bonus. After all you only need solar panels the size of Ireland to power the entire WORLD! So do your part! 
 In no way am I saying ‘pave over Ireland with solar panels’ think of the leprechauns!
I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!