Solar Panels – SouthDownsSolar

Preamble

Following on from my first solar inspection by Apple, I continued to get more surveys and quotes.

First Contact

After a quick exploratory phone call with a guy called Andy Chapman from SouthDownsSolar, I was informed that 14 panels would be required for a little under 4kW. Any more than 14 panels requires planning permission, as well as the reduced return per unit of electricity generated.

Instead of the iBoost, they employ the superior PowerDiverter, designed by a chap from Brighton University, Dr Simon Walters, and are built in Newhaven and Burgess Hill. Best to wait until ext year for next version.

One inverter is installed in the roof and optimisers are used, one per panel.

Panel dimensions are 1m x 1.7m approx, Chinese manufactured, JA 285W  (Persium)

14 x Panels gives 3.99 KW

1 x Inverter – Israeli made inverter, stored in the roof.

14 x Solar Edge optimisers – which sit on the panels. They have monitoring software available.

The micro-inverters have been deprecated.

Roof Dimensions

Roof inclination is approx 40°. Panels have to be 300 mm in from the outside edges of the roof, to avoid wind induced stress on the panel edges. This 300mm inset avoids the wind getting under the panels and lifting them up.

Panels are grouped together to reduce installation costs, so this installation does not have west-facing panels, which is partially due to the trees causing possible shading in the evening and in winter. However, by 15:40 on 30 September 2015, the East facing roof was completely in the shade.

My ancient 50 year old distribution box will need upgrading, the electrician will advise.

Batteries

Tesla – indoors, moulded/sculpted for walls. There is a joint partnership between PowerDivertor and Tesla.

Standard Li-ion boxes are stored in garage, like a rack system (similar to UPS systems).

A new upcoming battery technology is Lithium Ferric Sulphate, however it is better to wait until mass demand, when the price comes down, then install them.

LightWave was told to partner with the Solar People for an appropriate use of the technology.

Energy saving

LightwaveRF used to control the house. This is in v2 of the PowerDivertor. Basically 2-3 hours is used to heat the water and then the excess energy is used around the home, after exporting. This energy can be used for storage heaters, under floor heating etc.. An iOS app is supplied for monitoring and switching.

Stick to a 4kW limit of electricity usage,so as not to have to import electricity. Don’t use the kettle and the washing machine at the same time.

Finance and Costs

50% is paid for by gov but probably more like 70% is exported to the grid.

No finance is available, as they are not FSCA approved.

5-8 years payback.

Rough cost will be £7500 + VAT

Feed-in Tariff drops by 0.5p on 1st Oct 2015, then drops to 1.6p in January.

Useful links

Gridwatch – to monitor the Import and export of power to the UK.

Rampton, wind farm, offshore from Newhaven, energy feeds in to Twinham substation (Hickstead)

Second Contact

The proposal was promptly sent that night and the ever attentive Andy came around the following day for a follow up chat, a cuppa and to answer my flood of questions.

I had briefly read the proposal briefly and had the following questions:

  • How quickly can repairs be performed? – As soon as possible…
  • Who does the repairs?
  • Do I require planning permission? No
  • Is the £200/day labour included? Yes
  • Is the EPC free? Yes, the £100 is included, and lasts 10 years
  • Do I need a new distribution board? Ask the electrician when he comes.
  • Do I need to notify the insurance? No, but I have informed them anyway
  • How long does it take to send in the EPC? You can do it all online.
  • How long does it take to set up the agreement with the energy provider? It will be done by SouthDownsSolar in the background.
  • Are there any add-ons? No, apart from the OWL monitoring box, and the plugins for the PowerDiverter 2. See also LightWaveRF.
  • Are there any extended warranties? Yes, for SolarEdge, but only through the manufacturer. However, by the time the component have dies, a better model will have been developed, so it is not really necessary.
  • Can I get a Central Heating heater, similar to an immersion heater, that the PowerDiverter can use? Dunno

Other tips included:

  • The use of Water Pumps, for (luxury) showers, which have Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings.
  • The mounting rails are 3.2m long
  • SolarEdge is Israeli
Battery Systems

Some battery technology to look out for include:

As an aside, the battery systems are contained in a 300mm square cupboard.

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