I live in a detached 1950s house just south of Bristol, and having recently moved in was interested to fit solar panels. I work from home about half of the week, so would be able to use a reasonable amount of the power generated, but my primary motivation was to support the renewable energy market. My energy supplier is Ecotricity, and they handled the connection extremely smoothly through their 'Microtricity' team.
are based in near Nailsea, a couple of miles away so I chose to support a local firm. The assessment process was incredibly simple, and I was offered a 15% discount on the initial quote. Warren was efficient, polite and knowledgeable. He had already checked the orientation and size of my roof using 'google earth' before arriving so all he had to do was check my electrical system and make sure the scaffolding company wouldn't have any problems. The final quote of £5105 arrived a couple of days later and I booked the fitting for the following week, putting down a deposit of £880.
Installation and commissioning took less than a week, with scaffolders arriving one day, panels fitted the next, and the electrician finishing off the third day. I had a chance to 'borrow' the scaffolding over the weekend to clean out my gutters, before it was all packed up early the next week. Simples!
Because I paid an extra £400 for an electrical switch for my immersion heater, I have a box on the wall in my airing cupboard that shows what is going on, and I can't help taking a look on sunny days to see how well the system is performing. The panels are fitted on two sides of the house at right angles to each other, so the east facing panels start generating power as soon as the sun is up over the tree line at around 7am, and the power finally stops as it gets blocked by another tree line about 8pm. As long as I don't put appliances on at the same time, I rarely use much additional power. The residual use in the house is less than 200 W, which seems to be for the fridge & the freezer, plus any standby power I don't switch off. The only appliance that goes over the limit of the panels is my kettle which is a fast boil 3.5kW model.
My one (BIG)
gripe about the whole process was the lack of explanation about the new rules on the link between the house's Energy Performance Certificate and the Feed in Tarif I was eligible for. To be fair, Solarsense mentioned it in passing, but failed to say that it wasn't possible to retrospectively change the EPC after the system had been commissioned. Therefore, fitting the system wouldn't help improve my EPC until after the FIT was set. I was 1 point below the necessary D rating, and simply having replaced all my bulbs for LEDs since the certificate was done, was enough to sort it. However, I'm told there is absolutely no wriggle room on this once the system has been commissioned, so now I am stuck with a lower rate of return for the entire life of the system. VERY ANNOYING and I think VERY UNFAIR
but I'm not sure who to blame; me for not checking sooner, Solarsense for not explaining it to me and the government for being so bloody-minded about screwing the FIT payments down to the minimum.
Overall though, if you can afford it, I highly recommend it, it feels great :-)