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Solar panel advice

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Here's a bit of advice if you are planning to install solar panels. Don't put them on the roof.  If they go wrong (And they will) it costs an arm and a leg to get them fixed. Install them at ground level so you have access to them without paying for specialist roof workers.  Mine failed last winter and cost me £1200 to have a couple of connectors renewed and an insulation check. Total work time - around half an hour.  They failed again this week. I was forced to get out onto the roof to disconnect a short circuiting panel - would have cost me another £1200 to get the repairers out but all it needed was to unplug two connectors and plug them back in a different order. Time take -- 15 minutes. I have lost the use of the disconnected panel permanently but they no longer make that type. Given that it is in the middle of an array it is not practical to replace it with another of different type and dimensions.

 

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Problem is our cats would sit on them if they were on ground level!  Or the grandkids would accidentally crack them whilst they were playing football.

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All the people round here who had them fitted were oldies and they died before they could recoup the cost! The only person I know who makes any money out of them has a house in Southwell fitted with panels but lives most of the time in Spain! I certainly wouldn’t want them fixed on the roof where they look ugly and are expensive to put right when things go wrong. I have thought about putting an array in the meadow but at 77 I don’t think I’ll be around long enough to show a profit!

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Phil. It’s not all about profit!  We probably won’t recoup the cost of our solar panels But our electricity bill is quite low now and we do get money sent back to us from the solar panel company - average of  £150 quarterly.  We pay £40 / month on direct debit to the electricity company but some days this summer we were using less than £1 per day according to the smart meter.   I pick the times  to do the washing and the dishwasher etc to make the maximum use of the solar energy.    I get a kick out of knowing that I’m helping our planet by using a natural resource to provide electricity. 

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Sadly the true cost of the panels mean we don't really save the planet and if the rest of us didn't contirbute to the cost of them through a tariff on our bills there would be no savings at all. Those 'early adopters' who are just about to reach break even point are now facing the prospect of having to replace them as they wear out and reach the end of their useful life.

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It just seems such a waste not to use the planet’s natural renewable resources to provide our power.  I love seeing the fields round here full of solar panels and the wind turbines at many of the farms.  Unfortunately we don’t have any waterfalls in this neck of the woods so can’t use HEP !!

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Solar panels in fields and wind turbines are a blight on the countryside. I suppose, like pylons, we will have to accept them eventually. Offshore turbines are better but still look horrendous as when looking out to sea at Chapel St. Leonard’s. Almost as horrendous as looking inland at the caravans! :biggrin:

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A good friend and old farming neighbour of ours In Buckinghamshire has a bank of solar panels in a meadow on his land.  He’s also had heat exchangers installed.  It’s worked really well for him in the past few years as he converted all the farm buildings into commercial use and now he has a very profitable Business Park set in rolling countryside.  
This is a photo I took of the solar panels, they aren’t visible from the house or lane but generate a lot of electricity for the family home and the commercial units18512-B36-57-A5-4-AD1-962-F-5-D81-F92-D4

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In some areas it's better to put them on the roof, it stops people nickin em.

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They’re ok when they’re not generally visible but they are ugly to look at. I could fill our meadow with them but it’s not a sight I’d want to view from my bedroom window as I look across the valley to the wooded Trent Hills.There is a planning application locally for a large site of them at Halloughton, opposite Brackenhurst College, but the road beyond Hallougton is just a farm track so they won’t be seen other than from the air.

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The fact is it's not a stand alone problem, there are consequences. Admiring fields full of nice shiny panels or whizzing windmills is fine but the land they sit on once produced food to feed us.  The shortfall in production has to be made up with imports and increases in food miles as we drag stuff in from around the globe.

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The way in which we see the planet must change.  It’s no good thinking that the idyllic countryside of yesteryear should and will always remain the same. .  It’s our greedy use of electricity that has accelerated the need for the so -called   ‘ugly’ solar and wind farms.   We will increasingly rely on renewable resources and we need to embrace these if we want to maintain our energy-hungry lifestyles.

In a hundred years, (if the world is still here) I think the people will probably be amused at our attitudes today, just as we are vaguely amused at people’s horror at the advent of the railways cutting through the countryside  all those years ago.


 

 

 

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What’s life all about if we can’t enjoy the beautiful English countryside? I’ve spent many years working in a factory. I don’t want to live in one as well.

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I don't view the countryside through rose tinted glasses much as I enjoy it. The fact is we live a tiny chunk of land that is slowly being washed away and the more we gobble up for commerce and industry the less there will be for those that follow us. People hated living near power lines, they will hate having a windmill in the backyard even more.

 

Margie is right, we cannot carry on as we are but we say that and people nod slowly in agreement, something must be done - and go back to doing whatever they like and tomorrow is another day.

 

What's the answer? no idea but what I do know if it's not a joined up solution it will fail.

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I don't think we're gobbling up the land for industry. Most of that has gone to China. As for commerce it's now been shown that much of that can be done from home. We are however building houses for our expanding population as it seems half the world want to come and live here. 

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I dislike wind farms.  My son lived in Bedfordshire by the A5 until about 5 years ago when Planning was given for a large wind turbine just across a couple of fields from their house.  Even though it was at least 200m away they could hear it whirring away.  They moved. 
Actually, when that son was at Loughborough University studying Geography the only student who gained a First Class Degree on his course was a lad whose dissertation was about wind farms.  That was in 1998, before wind turbines were blotting our landscape.

As for the loss of our countryside, the enormous distribution centres popping up at the side of our motorways, serving the likes of Amazon, are the biggest sadness as far as I’m concerned.  However, when one flies into any airport in the country the lush green fields are still there to see, we still have plenty of countryside.  

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Hate to sound pessimistic but I think nature will solve the problem with or without our assistance. Something will annihilate a large proportion of the world's population and balance will be restored. There won't be a housing shortage then and life will be very different.  Nothing is forever. All situations and problems are temporary...and so are we!

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A proper little Ray of sunshine.

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It'll help the solar panels generate more electricity  :)

 

Solar panels are sore issue with me at the moment I am afraid   :angry2:

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Just a point to ponder. The very very best solar panels are at their peak 25% efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. This drops off depending on the angle of the sun hitting the panels, the amount of dirt and dust on the panel and the age of the panels. They are also vulnerable to large hailstones as many people in OZ have found out recently. We have 6Kw installed on our roof and a solar hot water system. A lot of the electricity generated goes into running the pool pumps but for nine months of the year we pay nothing for hot water heating. Not sure what I will do when these need replacing. As the feed in tariffs keep reducing I think it may well be new solar panels and feeding any excess power into a battery bank to use in the evening or when the sun is not shining.

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Batteries are becoming flavour of the month in the solar industry. The max allowed in the UK for a domestic panel setup is 16amp (4kW) and  costs  about £6 - 8000. Batteries depending on capcity £8 - 15000+. fitting not included and can be anything from £500 to 2000 - and you still need a connection to the mains for it all to work properly.

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I wonder why there is so much difference country to country as the source of all the stuff is likely to be the same

A reasonable quality 6 Kw system here fully installed is $5,000-6,000 that's 2,800 - 3,300 quid. A lot cheaper than the UK and this does not include any government rebates.

A similar mid range 6 Kw panel system with 10 Kwh  battery back up fully installed is 9,000 to 12,000 quid. Again rebates are available.

As with everything quality can vary the prices.

The sun does tend to shine more here in Australia than it does in the UK as in Adelaide we have around 2,800 hours of sunshine per year whereas London has 1600 hours and this has a real affect on the payback time for the systems.

Having said that on, Sunday we had more than our usual average rainfall for the month in 10 hours and the last few days have been very cloudy so I have had to switch the solar hot water system to night tariff.

 

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We lease our solar panels. No money down and $110 a month, throughout the year. If we didn't have this, our electric bills for June,July, August and September would be horrendous. We moved into this house 3 years ago, no solar panels.  First electric bill for Aug/Sept was over $300. Solar went on before next bill! All maintenance/repairs done free of charge by solar company. 

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Oz.

For that $5000 to $6000, is that the cost installed on a 2 or more storey house with concrete tiles or Slate that require cutting and with full scaffolding up to access it?

 

Due to the Extra Sun I would imagine the take up solar systems in Aus is far greater than the U.K leading to greater buying power by the installers and there's probably more competition in prices due to larger numbers of installers.

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