solar panels

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trionam | 10:29 Wed 07th Dec 2011 | Property
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Im looking for some advice about solar panels my mother is thinking of getting them shes been quoted €€5000 are these just to heat the water in the home?Im just wondering if its going to save her much money in the long run as she lives alone. Its an old cottage so would it be a better investment to upgrade the insulation to save on the energy bills or are solar panels a good idea.cheers.


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If they are photovoltaic panels (for electricity) and she is on mains electricity then certainly not worth while.If they are for hot water they might be worthwhile if she uses a lot of hot water and she gets a lot of hot water for her money. To be blunt all commercial solar panel installations are a waste of money as you will get more payback from your money if you put it in a building society. It would be better to go for insulation, if it is possible, loft and wall cavity being most worth while. If the cottage has small windows it probably isn't worth double glazing them.
Get figures from the solar panel people and remember they will be very optimistic based on an ideal situation. You can't spend money twice and bear in mind that if your mother is old you might need the money for other things that would improve her quality of life.
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thats great jomifl shes not old and is in great health I think she might be jumping the gun on getting these the guy is coming back to her today so I wanted to know a bit more she is on mains electricity so Id imagine its just the ones for water I just cant see where you'd make masive savings with one person maybe for a large family they might be good,as you say what you could earn in and building society would probably be more thanks!
I thought you could sell on electricity to the grid at a premium rate and that could make it more profitable
In an ideal situation you will get 300 watts per sq.metre under full sunshine at midday. When you consider that any installation only gets direct sunshine for about 4 hours per day and that clear skies rarely occur,you would expect to get heat worth about 50pence per week from 1 sq. metre. of panel. To be worth while the installation shouldn't cost more than about £100 per sq. metre installed including pipework and v. large hot water storage tank. This estimate is slightly pessimistic but at least errs on the side of caution.
F 30 the government has just reduced the subsidy for selling-on home made electricity, and they could do it again.
Yes, I recall all agreements with the grid had to be completed by some date in December to get the recent incentive, but I thought you could still get something back for selling on to energy. I'm not certain though
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hiya factor30 she lives in ireland so that wouldnt have mattered anyway Ive told her to hold off giving this guy a deposit she had really decided this without really checking into it. I reckon this guy gave her the big sales pitch on how she will save money,I just dont see how she can on her own she also goes to the gym a lot so maybe two to three showers a week at home hardly justifies spending 5k to save very little.
>I reckon this guy gave her the big sales pitch on how she will save money

Unfortunately some of these sales people will say anything just to get the sale.

They will promise anything as they know they will probably not be in the job when the customer starts to complain, in fact even the company they work for could well have gone under as well.

Dont let them sweet talk your mother into buying ANYTHING.
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thanks vhg I think this guy was coming to collect his deposit she was worried about what to tell him I told her dont worry about him he was the one trying to sell you something you dont need!Im sure she can do things to reduce the energy bills I can check out her attic to see what the insulation is like Im just sure now solar panels are not the answer thanks everyone.
Some of jomifl's advice is just plain wrong. For example - 'the government has just reduced the subsidy for selling-on home made electricity, and they could do it again'. It is true the UK Government has just reduced the subsidy from about 40p per kWh to about 20p per kWh for infeed tariff but the point is that one is locked into a binding contract at the point of installation so the Government can't just change the price to existing users.
However trionam is evidently in Eire and I don't know what the Eire Government scheme is.
Where I do agree with jomifl is that the first priority should be in installing insulation to the property - not spending money in solar panels.
In terms of what you can expect from a UK solar power installation, a colleague is reporting 3kWh per day from a Home Counties brand new (to beat the tariff-change deadline) installation on a dull December day. Provided one uses electricity to heat the hot water in the summer and shoulder seasions (and not the conventional CH) there is every expectation that these installations are worthwhile. They should be evaluated on the capacity for useful energy to the householder - not the ability to sell excess electricity back to the National Grid.
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Hi buildersmate Ive checked and think she can improve her attic insulation I dont think we have any such scheme here for selling on electricity but I could be wrong Im just glad I got some input here otherwise she would have agreed to the solar panels yesterday but based on what you've said she would have to be using a lot of hot water for the solar panels to be worthwhile I think shes done the right thing not getting them.thanks for your advice also.
Solar panels are the new double glazing. You'll be dealing with a load of crooks and conmen!
Buildersmate, I don't think my statement re. subsidies was wrong. I didn't say the subsidy could be reduced once a contract was in place, simply because I don't know enough about it. Re. the installation that gathers 3kwh (25pence?) per day, do you know what the collection area is and what the installation cost. I presume that you are referring to a PV installation if the energy is measured in Kwh. Bearing in mind the low efficiency of PV arrays I would guess that you would need between 4 and 5 Sq. metres at least to achieve that output and in december probably 10sq.metres. I have just looked at the energy saving trust's website and their figures are based on an average efficiency of 12% based on optimum conditions eg. sun shining all day, directly on the panels. with an incident angle of 90 degrees. This is obviously preposterous and unattainable. In practice average efficency would be about one fifth of their claims.
People I'm talking to are finding that the projected payback period for the UK systems is around seven years (purchased outright but include the now-defunct higher-level infeed tariff). This anomaly has been created because the cost of the panels has fallen by about 40% over the last year as the volume has increased.
The payback period will now fall back to perhaps 15 years, given the reduced infeed payments on offer.
Hi Builder's mate, that is interesting about the price of pv panels falling, do you think there has been a fall in sales because of the economic situation which has resulted in price cutting? I have noticed in SW. France a lot of supermakets are now installing massive arrays of panels which also act as car park sun shelters. Perhaps the price has dropped enough to make it economical or the government is handing out incentives.
I believe it to be because the significant R&D costs in developing these things are well on the way to being paid off. Happens with every technology-led product.
"Solar panels are the new double glazing. You'll be dealing with a load of crooks and conmen!" - Hasn't that always been the case with builders?
Errr ... No.
Only with a reasonably small minority who unfortunately then receive a lot of publicity. But that's the same as with most 'experts'.
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