Has anyone fitted solar panels?

(29 Posts)
zisforzebra Mon 01-Feb-10 22:22:11

Has anyone fitted solar panels to their house and how much did it cost?

Also, did you need planning permission? We have a north/south facing roof which I think would be great but don't really know where to start.

Thanks! smile

ImSoNotTelling Mon 01-Feb-10 22:29:00

Oooh I would love to know the answer to this one we are thinking about it too...

choosyfloosy Mon 01-Feb-10 22:32:23

No. Whenever I've looked at the sums they just haven't added up, but I last looked a while ago, and the feed-in tariff is going to revolutionise the payback period.

Am a shareholder in a local cooperative enterprise which has put panels onto likely roofs (e.g. in an industrial estate, school church so far) and has also just got funding to put in other microgeneration equipment (e.g. a hydroelectric setup on a weir round the corner). I would be very happy to send you details if you CAT me, and if it's not local to you you could try and set up something similar locally!

zisforzebra Mon 01-Feb-10 23:21:09

Oooh, that would be great choosy! I don't have CAT at the moment but I will try and get it set up tomorrow (just off to bed now!) Thanks! smile

Takver Tue 02-Feb-10 10:52:59

Are you talking photovoltaic (ie electricity generating) panels, or water heating solar panels?

You'll need planning permission for both (I think - we do, but we're in a conservation area, so its possible that you don't).

Financial figures are very different for the two.

choosyfloosy Tue 02-Feb-10 19:49:00

Oh blimey, my sub expired a week or so ago and I'm strapped until the end of Feb.

This is the community organisation I was talking about here

Of course takver is completely right blush - the economics of water heating systems are quite different, and I know several people who have them.

Takver Tue 02-Feb-10 20:12:30

More time now . . . sorry, this is going to be a long one

OK, so generally, of the two, solar hot water panels are much more likely to give you an 'economic payback' ie you are likely to save more money than it costs you to put them up there within a reasonable period of time. They are also probably the best bet in terms of reducing fossil fuel use relative to the amount of resources used to make them. And they can be very cheap indeed if you are handy and can make them yourself - they'll be less efficient than the bought ones, but then you can make a bigger area of panel. (FWIW we had one that DH made from an old radiator, and it would regularly produce water too hot to put your hands in.) Often the main cost is likely to be plumbing it into your hot water system, particularly getting a special tank with two loops. But even then there are ways round that (eg two standard - & therefore cheap - tanks side by side linked top & bottom)

If you only have space for one thing, and if there aren't plumbing related reasons why not, hot water panels are generally I would say considered the best bet.

The thing with photovoltaic panels is that it is (ignoring potential improvements because of feed in tariffs) much more expensive than buying electricity from the grid.

BUT equally, most of us don't make every (or even most) decision in our lives on the basis of cost. Lots of people wouldn't buy battery eggs for example, even though they are the cheapest, and most people don't choose their car on the basis of what is cheapest. So, (to put it emotively) you might feel that even though it will cost more, you would rather have clean electricity that isn't going to trash the planet.

Having said that . . . the best bet first of all is to look at how much electricity you use and where you can cut it. It is always cheaper to reduce how much you use, rather than try to generate more power. Which sounds really obvious, but it is the part of the equation that tends to drop off the list as it doesn't involve anyone selling anything!

For reference, we're in Wales, and we can assume, on average, 2 'standard sun hours' per day in summer, and 1 'standard sun hour' in the winter. So if we have 1 KW of panels (costing say £5K including inverter to connect it to the grid etc) then we will get on average 1.5 KWh of power per day.

At the moment our electricity use runs at about that (2KWh per day winter, 1 in summer, so back to front to production, but since we're thinking of a grid connected system that doesn't matter so much). I would say our usage is very much on the low side as although we're living on grid at the moment its new for us & we've been off grid for years so we're in the way of keeping it down to a minimum.

ImSoNotTelling Wed 03-Feb-10 11:23:22

Thanks for that post takver, have been watching the thread with interest and that is really comprehensive.

We have recently switched our gas and leccy to ovo and are on their 100% green electricity tariff - so for best cost/eco balance i would thin we should keep our gas and leccy with them and install solar hot water.

smile

ImSoNotTelling Wed 03-Feb-10 11:24:21

Obviously gas isn't going to be green whichever way you look at it hmm but the leccy is green anway.

Takver Sat 06-Feb-10 17:03:31

There was a really interesting article in the guardian today about new feed in tariffs announced this week - it looks as though they will make a big difference to affordability.

It also answers the question about planning - apparantly you don't need it in England in most circs - we are in Wales, where you still do need to apply (leaving aside the fact that we are in a National Park which makes it stricter again).

Fibonacci Sun 07-Feb-10 19:27:35

Don't have my own solar panels but know a fair bit about it because of my job.

I agree with Takver that you should not consider any type of microgeneration until you have first addressed the energy efficiency of your house.

You also need a South facing roof.

Solar thermal (hot water) starts at about £3,500. At the moment there's no government Feed in Tariff for solar thermal but they are planning to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive in 2011, which will make this a really good deal. There is one UK company which currently pays a RHI - Good Energy.

Solar pv starts at around £10,000 and with the new feed in tariff you can expect to get paid about £870 a year (including the money you save on electricity) - a yield of 8%, much better than you'd get from the bank.

Lots more helpful info here: www.generateyourown.co.uk .

Thin you are unlikely to need planning permission unless your house is listed or you live in a conservation area.

ImSoNotTelling Mon 08-Feb-10 10:18:17

Interesting stuff/.

We have realiseed we can't afford to do it now anyway, the quote for the extension came in higher than we;d hoped (bigsurprise!).

I reckon if we wait 2 or 3 years it'll all be getting cheaper and better anyway as it becomes a mainstream thing to have.

Thanks ever so much.

Takver Mon 08-Feb-10 10:24:01

In the short term you could look at where you could cut electricity use - don't know if you have an OWL monitor or similar, but they're really helpful & I reckon generally save enough to pay for themselves quite quickly. If you work out how big a pv array you could have on your roof, you can then try to use the same/less power than that in the interim. . .

For us the monitor picked up really quickly that our central heating pump was stupidly inefficient, we've swapped from one that uses 50 watts whenever on to one using from 6 - 9 watts depending on how much of the house we're heating, which has brought our usage right down.

ImSoNotTelling Mon 08-Feb-10 10:28:25

Well we're having half the house knocked down in a few months, hopefully hmm, and having underfloor heating put into half the house so we may need a new boiler and all sorts anyway. Will have to keep a close eye on the plumber etc I suppose.

Fennel Mon 08-Feb-10 10:36:10

We've been waiting for the price to come down but I think this new deal, the one Takver links too, makes it suddenly look more viable in terms of paying for itself.

We are thinking of the deal where you pay 10,000, apparently you get back about 1000 a year, and the panels are supposed to last 20 years, so in the long run it should save money.

We do live in a sunny part of Devon though, I wouldn't have bothered with solar panels where we used to live in Manchester.

Takver Mon 08-Feb-10 10:43:18

Fennel - I think 20 years is on the pessimistic side - we used to have some 2nd hand panels that we bought from a research station in the States where they had been used since the 70s in an experiment designed to trash them (!) - they had had mirrors focused on them to increase the sunlight intensity & try to burn out the glue. They worked fine and AFAIK are still working well for the new owners of our house despite being well over 30 years old.

I'msonottelling - definitely check out super efficient c/h pumps, the cost difference is between about £40 for a standard inefficient pump vs £65 - £70 for a super efficient one, but even so most plumbers just fit the standard ones (including until very recently our friend who specialises in fitting wood burning rayburns for people who want to stop using gas/oil). If you want I could find out the make of ours & you could ask your plumber.

Fennel Mon 08-Feb-10 10:48:14

Well that's good to hear Takver. I agree that solar energy isn't just about the money, but we don't really want to be throwing 10k at something that doesn't work well.

We do need planning permission where we live but my sister got it, she lives nearby, and we have a roof shaped like a W so I think we could put panels on the bit people don't see.

Takver Mon 08-Feb-10 11:11:48

I totally agree - also I don't see the point of spending lots of money before trying to do as much as you can to save energy more cheaply IYKWIM.

DH used to install RE systems years ago (admittedly when they were both more expensive and less well developed) but he never made any money as he always used to persuade people with 'normal' houses either to go for solar thermal or energy saving measures - which left him installing PV for people living in boats & vans who never had any money to pay him . . . Luckily for our finances we then moved to Spain where there's lots of sun and lots of people with no mains!

snorkie Mon 08-Feb-10 12:20:49

"a yield of 8%, much better than you'd get from the bank" You aren't really comparing apples with apples here - with the bank you can get you original investment back, with the solar panels you are spending it, although I suppose you might increase the value of your home a bit by installing them.

The panels typically do last longer than 20years, though their efficiency falls off a little, but you may need to budget for replacing the inverter in that timeframe.

bobdog Sun 21-Feb-10 19:36:45

We fitted a hot water system on shed roof this summer for £1200 including a super over the top computer temp reader.

Navitron www.navitron.org.uk/category.php?catID=71

Don't really know why more people do this, it was very easy, a great system and soooo much cheaper then the dodgy cowboys who did our neighbours

randomangel Tue 27-Jul-10 13:43:07

Anyone here from the US installed solar panels yet? I've been thinking about getting a system for a while now, but I'm still having second thoughts about it. I'm mostly concerned about the savings, which depend a lot on government incentives. Right now, solar panel technology doesn't seem advanced enough to be worth the switch on its own merits. Maybe I will try solar hot water first, which could save a lot of energy and seems more reliable.

RitaM Sun 12-Dec-10 12:17:49

Lots of companies are offering to install solar panels for free if you have a suitable roof, in return for the income generated through Feed In Tariffs. More info about these plus much more at:

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your- own-energy/Solar-electricity#FreeSolarPV

conculainey Mon 17-Jan-11 18:46:49

I have installed solar water heating tubes which will heat my domestic water to 55 celius in the winter and also boost the central heating system in the winter. In the summer months I use the panels for hot water only and have installed 2 copper storage cylinders to cope with the ammount of warm water they produce (55-65 celcius in the summer), the pumps that contol the flow from the panels are solar powered and viaries its speed in relation to the ammount of energy from the sun so it can work without any mains electricity at all.
80% of all my electricity is supplied via a homemade wind turbine and a few solar panels, all the energy is stored in low voltage batteries which have recycled from scrap cars, this supply will run everything in my home except a kettle and a washing machine but hopefully I will have a larger wind turbine fitted later this year which will allow me to be self suficent in heat and electricity completely.

MyBoysHaveDogsNames Wed 02-Feb-11 16:11:33

But the whole point of getting solar panels is to benefit from the Feed in Tariff! That's where you will get your money back. I wouldn't like a third party to own something on my roof - how does that work if you sell your property?

GeorgeEliot Wed 09-Feb-11 18:49:50

Myboys, not everyone can afford the £10k + you need to invest to install your own solar panels, although you should also be able to get a bank loan to cover it because of the Feed in Tariff.

If you go for a PV-for-free offer, you still benefit from free electricity - worth about £170 a year on average.

If you sell your property the new owner benefits from free electricity - which might increase the value of your home.

Interesting article about it here: www.goodenergy.co.uk/

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