Alternative Technology at Home in Suffolk
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4kWp Home Solar PV System
I have now had a large professionally installed, grid-tie solar PV system installed at my house. This is because I have been so impressed with the performance of the technology, that I decided I wanted a system large enough to support the electricity consumption of the whole house. It was very expensive, but I believe it was worth it, as it drastically reduced our carbon footprint at a stroke. We could have bought a new luxury car for the same price, but which would benefit the environment more?
The system was installed for me by EvoEnergy.co.uk who I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. Kevin, the MD, worked hands on, to give me exactly what I wanted and nothing was too much trouble for him and his excellent installation team.
I had seriously considered doing all the work myself, but when I did the costing, it was virtually the same price for a professional installation compared to a DIY job. This is because the VAT on a pro installation is only 5% and the work qualified for a £2,500.00 grant from the Energy Saving Trust. Also the work has to have Building Regulations approval and a professional installer can self-certify.
The system uses 22 x Sharp 180 watt panels, giving 3,960 watts on the main ESE facing roof and an SMA Sunny Boy SB3800 inverter, with associated DC and AC isolators and the excellent SMA Sunny Beam portable monitoring unit. The maximum power the system can export to the grid is 3,800 watts as the inverter operates at an impressive efficiency of 96%. We are now registered with Ofgem as a licensed electricity generating station.
My electricity is supplied by Ecotricity, who offer a buy back tariff for all the power I generate, whether I use it myself or export it to the grid, for others to use. We have taken the trouble to ensure that use the of the washing machine, dishwasher and other heavy power consumers is done when we are generating our own power. I had an export meter installed as well as the more usual total generation meter.
After a year of using our home power station, we should be entirely self sufficient in electricity, as we will have exported as much electricity as as we consume. With the ever spiralling cost of energy these days, it makes us feel comfortably isolated from future price increases, which is no bad thing.
Click to see updated generation output data so far of my Solar PV installation.
If this solar installation is too ambitious for you to contemplate at the moment, see details of my DIY smaller solar system.