Tuesday, 17 January 2017

New FIT Rates from April 2017 - Increased Solar Feed in Tariffs

The FIT rate from April each year is determined by the RPI inflation rate for the previous December. This was announced today as 2.5% so FIT rates will rise by that amount from April 2017.

Currently we get 49.43p per kWh that we generate as our solar PV panels were installed in November 2011. This will increase to 50.67p per kWh from April 2017.
The export rate will increase from 3.48p per kWH to 3.57p per kWh at the same time

(Rates for 2016/17 are 49.43p for generation and 3.48p for export. Numbers calculated based on 2.5% RPI on existing 2016/17 FIT rates for 2011 installations)

New FIT Rates from April 2017 - Increased Solar Feed in Tariffs
New FIT Rates from April 2017 - Increased Solar Feed in Tariffs

Rates for more recent installations can be found here

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Long Term Solar Panel Generation Review - 5 Year Output Data

We've now had our solar panels for over 5 years and have collected 5 complete years worth of data from them.


It's interesting to see how years and months compared and how similar some months are every year. Overall the annual generation has been consistently over 3000 kWh which is pretty impressive for 3kWp panels. We are fortunate that our panels face almost directly due South and have minimal shading so are probably about as good as you're likely to get for a location in the south of the UK (We're based in Kent)

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ideal Logic + Plus Combi Boiler Review & Installation Costs

We needed a new boiler for our rental property and most plumbers seemed to be recommending the Ideal Logic Plus Combi Boiler as it has a 7 year warranty on it as long as the service is carried out every year. Being a rental property the boiler needs a gas safety certificate annually so servicing at the same time to ensure the warranty remains valid makes sense.

It was quite a hard decision as all the information online about Ideal boilers was quite negative but it seems that the Logic Plus combi boiler is a very different design and far more reliable than older ones that have some serious problems and issues.

The old boiler was a Vokera Compact HE that had been exceptionally unreliable over the last 5 years and was very costly to repair with parts taking days to arrive. I'm hoping that the Ideal Logic Plus boiler will have much better parts availability should any faults arise as it's a UK company.

So far the installation went smoothly and was completed within a day by 2 gas safe plumbers. The Ideal Logic Plus has the option for a wireless thermostat controller which I chose and so far it seems to warm the house much more effectively as well as giving better water pressure than the old boiler.

I'll try to update this with more details as the time goes on and record any issues with the Logic Plus boiler that we experience but fingers crossed that won't be for a few years yet!

The Ideal Logic boiler comes with a service pack to record details of the services carried out alongside the instruction and installation manuals.

The cost of the boiler installation in January 2017 was £2000 which included the boiler, fitting as well as Powerflush and fitting a new magnaclean unit.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Saving Money with LED Bulbs and Solar Panels

Even before we had solar panels installed I was starting to be aware of power consumption and trying to reduce the electricity we used by switching to low energy light bulbs. For most bulbs in the house we replaced the standard bulbs with CFL low energy versions so 100W bulbs became 20W CFL. After having the solar panels fitted and monitoring our electricity usage I tackled some of the other big guzzlers by replacing kitchen GU10 50W bulbs with LED versions at 5W.

Saving Money with LED Bulbs to replace CFL
Until this week I wasn't aware how LED technology had moved on and that LED versions of standard bayonet and screw light bulb fittings were now available at very low prices. I took the plunge and bought a few 5W LED bulbs from Screwfix. I've beenvery impressed with the brightness and how they instantly come on compared to CFL ones and the power consumption is far better too.

In the hallway it was a 20W CFL replacing a 100W standard bulb. That's now been changed to a 5.8W LED which seems very similar brightness despite only being a 40W equivalent rating. Best of all the LED bulb was only £1.79.

It's really great way of reducing energy use as well as saving money as it's now well within 12 months payback for heavily used lights. In fact a colleague was changing his halogen GU10 bulbs for 5W LEDs and I did a few calculations. For the most heavily used bulbs the payback would be under a month!

LED bulbs to save electricity
LED bulbs to save electricity

The only problem I have now is a stock of CFL and standard bulbs that I've replaced!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Solar Panels 5 Years Review

Our solar panels have now been installed for 5 years and I've just submitted the latest generation reading for our FIT (Feed in Tariff) payments. The total electricity generated over the last 5 years is an incredible 16,000 kWh. This is way more than the PV-GIS estimates of 2400 kWh when we purchased the panels and equates to around 3200kWh per year.

You can see detailed generation figures for our solar panels over the last 5 years here. These show generation by month as well as year and peak daily generation seen by month.
Solar Panels 5 Years Review
Solar Panels 5 Years Review

What problems have we had with our solar panels?

The panels themselves have been great and no real issues apart from pigeons finding them to be a perfect place to build a nest. Fortunately our panels have a velux window in the middle of them which means we are able to open it and get access to the underside of the solar panels. Others with pigeon problems are not quite so lucky!

Apart from pigeons the only other problem we have had was electrical. We discovered earlier in 2016 that the solar panel inverter was cutting out. On investigation the electrician found that one of the terminals on the solar MCB in the consumer unit had shorted due to the wire being loose.

solar panel inverter was cutting out
solar panel inverter was cutting out

Luckily it was discovered in time and we only lost a few days generation in January - possibly the best month it could have happened!

Would I do anything differently?

Even after 5 years and having a much greater knowledge of solar panels compared to when we purchased I don't think there are any major things I would do differently. Since the panels were fitted we have moved the generation meter inside and altered the wiring so that the inverter remains outside. In hindsight we could have waited a few months and benefited from much lower prices in the lull between the massive drop in FIT payments being announced and implemented but at the time it would have been a huge risk.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

How Long is SunnyBoy inverter data stored?

Unfortunately I've discovered that SunnyBoy inverters only hold 2 months of detailed data so if you go beyond that then you lose the detailed data for any day over 2 months ago. Daily totals are still retained.

Sunny Boy inverter data can be downloaded using Bluetooth and the Sunny Explorer software so that you have a record of your solar panel electricity generation.

How Long is SunnyBoy inverter data stored?
How Long is SunnyBoy inverter data stored?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Solar data for July-September 2016

Solar panel generation data for July-September 2016 has now been loaded to the site. You can view how much electricity was produced each month here

Unfortunately I've discovered that SunnyBoy inverters only hold 2 months of detailed data so if you go beyond that then you lose the detailed data for any day over 2 months ago. Daily totals are still retained.