Considering tomorrow today
Solar Photovoltaic Panels
We wish you a Happy Christmas and may the New Year bring you good fortune. Let us all hope that 2023 is the turning point for addressing climate change; let us all take action and create change. This month Forum member Ken looks at Solar Panel installation.
Solar Photovoltaic Panels
If you ever considered Solar Panels to be an unreliable investment with a long payback, think again! The current price of energy means that you will have to pay a lot and you can choose whether you want to keep paying for all your electricity or use at least some of that money as an investment with a typical simple payback of around six years and free power thereafter. This paper identifies potential pitfalls so that you can take care.
The rise in prices for energy have resulted in havoc for the solar energy market with large numbers of suppliers being inundated with enquiries and orders. Some have simply stopped considering new enquiries because they already have enough work until spring. Many entrepreneurs have recognised the opportunities of this market and started or bought small businesses to quote for supply and fitting of solar panels and related equipment but I wonder how many of these will fail, as do most new small businesses, within the first few years. Customers risk price increases before installations are completed and the lack of assurance that the supplier will exist to provide any follow up.
For most new customers, the potential purchase of solar panels is comparable in size to that of their car but there the similarity of transactions ends. For cars, the market is awash with product information and comparisons and innumerable registered dealers backed by the car manufacturers. For Solar Panels every request for information seems to result in a sales person making their assessment of what you need and giving a quote which may include product brochures but little opportunity to compare and assess anything more than total cost and a payback calculation that is totally dependent on the assumptions made by the sales person.
The general assumption that your current annual consumption is a good basis to identify the number of solar panels is not good enough unless you really use the same amount of electricity every day. Check your electricity bills and note the amount used (in KWH) each month. Identify reasons for peaks and troughs and whether they should be included in forecasts of the future.
Typical usage will be highest in the winter and unfortunately that coincides with the period in which the solar panels produce the lowest amount of power. It is not worth quintupling the number of panels in order to cover January, but simply doubling the number needed to cover June will cover March to September and make a good contribution in the other months.
Free solar power is not the only benefit of installing solar panels and a battery. The battery can be charged with relatively very low cost electricity overnight and that has clear benefits in the darker 4 months. So choose your electricity provider on the basis of both day time and night time tariffs and what you can get for exporting your excess power.
Before you contract and pay a deposit, investigate whether the company is one you want to rely upon and whether any deposit would truly be covered by any guarantee scheme. It took me a long time to recover my deposit from a company that was not a member of the scheme stated in their contract.
The author has no financial interest in any related business and readers are welcome to address any questions on this subject directly to Ken @firstname.lastname@example.org putting Ken Solar Panels in the title box.
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