I am investigating setting up some photovoltaic solar panels at home. Its apparently quite expensive to do in the UK as the granting system is now poor [http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/generate_your_own_energy/grants_for_renewables]. In Germany they seem to have it sorted [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany].
Why photovoltaic and not the direct heating of water type? The water heating type are apparently slightly more ‘efficient’. However, they work best with a hot water tank – we don’t have one as we use a condensing boiler, so it would mean reconfiguring our heating setup; not cheap to do.
I did contact a couple of companies, but was immediately faced with the Hard Sell techniques they seem to have nicked from the Double Glazing companies. I hate this approach.
Also, these systems have moving parts (a pump) and are sometimes not as long lasting as you may expect .
Photvoltaics (the blue ones) generate electricity directly and feed into batteries or back into the mains. Thus, you can use them e.g. to power all your ‘rechargeables’ off the grid, or feed back into the grid to offset againt your fuel bill. Here’s a basic setup checklist
- The solar power array – a collection of solar power producing cells. This converts the suns energy into DC electricity.
- The roof mounting structure, consisting of aluminium or stainless steel components. There are two types; (1) roof integrated where the solar power panels replace the tile and become flush with the rest of the roof (2) on-top mounting where the solar power panels sit above existing roof tiles.
- A solar power inverter is required to convert the DC into AC, which can be used by most home appliances or sold back to the grid.
- The system is linked to your fuse box and an electric meter so you can tell how much energy you have produced and how much unused energy you have sold back to the grid.
Where will it go?
We have a garage roof facing SW and will have a new extension roof in the same alignment next year.
This will be a DIY project – I am going to source all the components and built it myself with help from a builder to fix to the roof. If it works out I’ll publish a How To as well as using this blog to diary the build.
I have found a local maker of photovoltaics so will try to blag a used one to test with. http://www.rayotec.com/solar_power/
Here’s their cute little diagram:
There also seems to be a lot of useful info here: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/
If you have any used components or experience of doing this, please let me know!