Going Solar

If I had had a roof which faced south I would have gone solar years ago, back when the Feed in Tariff was a stupidly high 43.3p/kWh. However, back then the solar panels were less efficient and more expensive, and given we didn’t have anywhere near an optimum south facing roof it seemed impractical at the time. And we didn’t have the spare cash.

Although the Feed in Tariff is now a much reduced 14.9p/kWh, solar panels have increased in efficiency and come down in price, and with the good old grid under pressure it seemed as good a time as any to jump on the bandwagon. The Feed in Tariff (FiT) goes down again in the New Year, further provoking the move to get this done now. I pushed out a few enquiries and after some discussion about the finer details we’ve placed a contract to supply, install and commission to the local network a twenty panel array for a total outlay of around £5k5.

Of course, it’s not really newsworthy nowadays to blog to the world, “hey, folks, I’ve gone solar!” But for my own peace of mind I want to keep track of how my investment is doing… did I buy a pup? At this stage I won’t identify the company I’m dealing with. Later, when it’s clear they were smashing, or awful, I’ll mark them out for attention or avoidance. I’ll also detail the specification once it’s all in and working.

Energy consumption

I guess I’m a pretty poor eco-druid. No, truth to tell I’m a bloody awful one. We probably use more than our fair share of energy in this house, even now there’s only the two of us here (miss being at Manchester, where it rains and yet they have solar arrays). The four-bed detached house was built in 2001 to current standards and is therefore not too bad in terms of insulation etc. Gas is only used for hot water and central heating. All the lighting is low energy but there’s a lot of electronics going on all the time – computers, entertainment etc – and of course cooking, washing and (unless it’s good and sunny outside) drying.

  • Electricity annual consumption 6300kWh which costs around £900
  • Gas annual consumption 15000kWh which costs around £700

So there’s our benchmark. Those are the figures against which we’ll test the solar array.

I believe there are lifestyle changes that can boost the effectiveness of solar generation. The way it works seems to be that you meter the amount of juice you’re generating then the government pays you for half (FiT and p/unit) assuming you use the other half. With such an estimate it makes sense to try and use more than half. Using electrical goods when the sun shines, etc. Potentially, early retirement might assist with that…

So, there we go; them’s the plans. They could however all fall over if the DNO refuses to grant a connection – possible but unlikely. Waiting is, and the next update will probably be after the site installation survey has taken place.

4 responses to “Going Solar”

  1. Kudos! Watching with interest to see how it goes.


  2. Ok mate, here’s my own benchmark for your info. We live in a 3 bed semi, built around 1998 and there are four of us. Last six months consumption figures (paid to energy companies) Gas useage 2945 Kw/hrs and electric 867 Kw/hrs. Solar produced a total of 468 Kw/hrs and I don’t have a dual tarif meter so the meter ran backwards by the amount from the solar, meaning total electrical useage was around 1335 Kw/hrs before solar production. I have changed all the bulbs in the house to LED, main TV runs around 74 watts peak (panasonic 32 ins) and new fridge freezer running at 40Kw/hr per annum. Just increased the loft insulation to over 300 mm (the latest standard) and, as you know, changed the boiler (previous was 2002 standard efficiency model) to latest Baxi duo-tec running at 91% efficiency. That should give you something to think about!


  3. What you’re saying is we are profligate with our energy use!

    Comparing like for like equivalents
    My annual Electricity consumption is 6300kWh to your 2670kWh
    My annual Gas consumption is 15000kWh to your 5890kWh

    So we’re consuming two and a half times the energy you are… for real?


  4. Projected consumption for the year is around 2850 Kw/hr for electric and probably around 9000 Kw/hr for gas dependant upon the type of winter we get. The six month figures I gave were between the end of May and the end of November this year. Using current figures that works out about £450 for electric and £500 for gas per annum. The solar production will increase next year as I add some more 190 watt panels (obviously).


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