Solar Panels Devon Totnes Energy Plus Nissan Leaf
If you have been reading my Blog you will know how I have been studying renewable energy and electric vehicles for over 12 months.
In April 2017 I took the plunge and purchased my first Nissan Leaf so it was inevitable that I would end up purchasing solar panels to generate my own power for free.
Let me explain the process I undertook to purchase my particular system and choice of supplier.
If you are considering taking the plunge then do visit the website of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code where they have Tips to avoid being ripped off by solar panel cowboys .
It is all sensible advice you should follow.
I choose three local Devon Solar Panel Installers for my quotes. It was interesting how the three pitches varied.
One was knowledgeable but tried to sell me a standard system they used.
One was very knowledgeable but made assumption about how much electricity I could export to the grid.
The one I chose was Totnes Energy
Andrew Collenette came and conducted the survey. He actually listened and understood my system needs and made a number of helpful suggestions and alternatives for me to consider.
He gave unbiased advice.
I had specific needs.
I was retired so I would be home during the day which meant I could charge my car whilst the system was operating at full capacity.
We explored the option of a Tesla Power Wall but on reflection the cost benefit was out weighed by my ability to make use of most of my generated power during the day.
I settled on a 20 panel display using the best quality and highest output panels linked to an Iboost diverter to heat my immersion tank hot water.
This would be a 5.9KW system and Andrew applied to Western Power Distribution to lift the export tariff from 3.86KW.
Thanks to Andrew the tariff was raised to allow 5KW export back to the grid.
Something none of the other companies had thought possible or had offered.
Karen insisted they should be as least intrusive on the eye as possible so Andrew made sure we had the most discrete panel possible.
Solar Panel Installation
This was a worry for me as we had just had a room built between the garage and the house.
This meant the scaffolding necessary would have to be carried through this room to the rear of the property where the panels were to be fitted on the rear roof.
Ogdens Scaffolding duly arrived and the lads were very careful and extremely efficient and quick. In 2.5 hours the whole scaffolding structure was assembled.
You can see me nervously inspecting the roof from the scaffolding.
The next day two lads from Totnes Energy arrived.
My only regret is I do not remember their names to credit them properly. They worked very hard during an extremely hot day and by 5pm had all 20 panels up and installed on the roof.
The electrician arrived that same day and soon had the Iboost and inverter installed exactly where I wanted them in the house and garage.
There was no complaint about difficulty of wiring, he just got on and made my suggestions work.
The next day Andrew arrived to connect the inverter to the internet and connect me to the Solar Edge Monitoring platform
The above is the chart for the 15th August 2017 the first real full day of generation. It was a cloudy day with sunny periods.
You can see generation commenced just before 0700 and ended just after 2000 a total of 13 hours.
During this period the panels generated just under 29 KW.
So how did this energy get used.
Well it heated our large hot water tank through the electric immersion heater all day.
This is great as hot water is being generated before I even get up. PLUS it did not use any Gas to heat it!!
The day time saw the car plugged in and charging on the trickle charger. This takes just under the 3 KW in use.
The car was at 55% charged when I put it on and by 6pm it was fully charged.
The dishwasher was on during the day.
The washing machine was on during the day (but not at the same time!).
Tea was cooked and numerous cups of tea throughout the day.
So at 8.45pm the same day I had drawn just £1.20 worth of electricity from the grid.
EDF put up my tariff to 19.67p per KWh on the 21st June 2017 so I had used a very little from the grid.
I had also exported electricity back to the grid during the day.
If you look at the graph you will see the peaks at 4KW so I will have actually earned money from the feed in tariff which will reduce the days charge as well.
Plus I have not factored in any saving on Gas not used to heat my water during the day!
If you also allow for the equivalent cost of diesel I would have bought for a 50% charge you will see just how cost effective these solar panels will work out for me. See my Blog post Nissan Leaf Review By Owner The First 1000 Miles
Now the graph shows the restriction on generation caused by lots of clouds.
If it had been a clear sunny day I would have had virtually zero electric costs.
Solar Panels Devon Totnes Energy Plus Nissan Leaf
The projected return on investment suggests the system will pay for itself in 8.8 years at 14p a KWh. However this takes no account of the saving in Gas and the saving in diesel as well as the increase in unit costs from EDF. Therefore I reckon it will be at least half that period for me.
So how much does it cost to charge an electric car ?
Pod Point quote the following figures but note its based on a 10p KWh rate and not my 19.67.
Charging an electric car at home costs about £3.00 for a full charge or 2p per mile. Average overnight electricity rate is 10p per kWh, which means charging your car for as little as 2p per mile. Fully charging a 30kW Nissan LEAF will cost about £3.00 and give you about 150 miles of range.
However charging from solar panels on a clear day should work out for free, zero, nada, zilch or even nothing!
Some further things to consider when installing Solar Panels
The scaffolding may cause satellite interference or the panels may cause interference for internal roof mounted ariels (I was lucky and they did not for me)
The feed in tariff must be applied for and involves a lot of form filling (Andrew did sit beside me on the computer to help me get it right!) plus to get the maximum you must have an EPC certificate of D or above to qualify for the highest rate.
Do identify your own needs before you get any quotes – make sure you can get the best from your solar installation and not what the supplier may want to install.
I am now heavily into DEM or in other words Domestic Energy Management. Karen says I am turning into a sad old git!!!
So what is next?
Apart from trying to disperse clouds over Ivybridge I will now start to explore alternative energy suppliers. I have been with SWEB / EDF all my life and have never switched. Not for much longer now as I am on a crusade to get a better energy price deal.
Also I am looking at a Zappi. A what I hear you cry! Zappi is a smart vehicle charger that will smooth out the peaks and troughs in solar generation – check out their website – Myenergi
The finished product below
Whilst my system is not designed to make me independent from the National Grid it is comforting to know the majority of energy I now use has not been generated from Nuclear Power, Coal or Gas eg Dirty Energy but from my own renewable energy eg Clean Energy.
A big thank you to Andrew and his team at Totnes Energy for giving me what I wanted at a fair price.
If you have been, thanks for reading this far and do consider leaving a comment below.