A family in Wiltshire switched to solar photovoltaic when they discovered it was the best way to reduce their carbon footprint, boost their home’s energy efficiency and significantly reduce their electricity bill.
With a detached three-bedroom brick cottage more than 100 years old, no cavity wall insulation in its oldest part, six external walls and some draught, they had several options, though space for improvements was tight. Some specialist surveyors, whom they asked to produce an energy ‘master plan’, presented several choices, including more insulation, a new boiler and electrical radiators.
Most recommendations made sense but it was clear the biggest, quickest impact was achievable by installing solar photovoltaic modules combined with battery storage, to generate rooftop electricity and store it for 24-hour use.
The home is in a conservation area, in a village located in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – factors that can make for tight planning restrictions. The homeowners were particularly concerned about the look of the modules and how they would blend into the surroundings.
Many councils now encourage renewable energy solutions to help meet national carbon reduction targets, and a check with the local authority found consent was not needed, provided the panels didn’t protrude more than 20cm from the roof, or go higher than the top part of it.
T H White Installation of Devizes recommended 12 SOLARWATT Vision 60M style (305 Wp) glass-glass modules, with total installed capacity of 3.660 kWp. The L-shaped tiled roof accommodates six modules each, in-line on southeast- and southwest-facing sides.
The 2.4 kWh modular MyReserve smart solar battery fits snugly into an upstairs drying cupboard, fixed to the wall above a SOLARWATT command unit containing the battery electronics, and below a Fronius solar inverter to convert the DC charge from the modules to AC for household use.
Total installation time was under three days – half a day to put up the scaffolding then two for the solar modules, coinciding with installing the smart battery, inverter and associated electronics.
The system comes with industry-leading warranties – 30 years for product and performance on the modules and 10 years for the MyReserve. Customers also benefit from free SOLARWATT FullCoverage insurance, protecting against theft, damage, flooding, vandalism and performance loss.
And the family’s reaction? “The system has worked brilliantly from day one,” said father and husband Peter. “The black modules look very sleek and stylish on the roof and you can tell by the look and feel how solid and robust they are."
"Inside, the battery, inverter and associated electronics make the whole set-up extremely compact – no big, bulky batteries as it’s all modular. The barely perceptible humming tells us the sun’s out, so we know we’re generating free electricity. A SOLARWATT phone app means we can monitor systems performance – generation, charging level and any imported power – anywhere, at any time."
“A few months in, we look forward to calculating how much we’re saving when the bills come in. It will be a lot. And it’s great to be using clean, green electricity, so we’re far less reliant on the utility company – that’s a good feeling.”