My Experiences With an Installed Solar 5.23kWp System in Oxfordshire, UK

We put solar panels on our roof in June 2017. I found it really difficult to find the right supplier. I filled in one of those online forms through an advert on facebook and had the dodgiest guy come around to talk about solar panels. I didn’t trust them at all.

After loads of calling including in filling in webforms for the like of JoJu solar, who never returned my messages, I came across Oxford Solar PV. Jonny was awesome who came around and explained what was possible. He talked to my wife (@beckettcatherine) who was super skeptical, and reassured us both.

I had lots of questions about whether we should get a battery as well so to store the power. We also asked about getting it to trigger the heating system. Jonny made some solid recommendations. He said the batteries would have a pay back period of around 12 years, with only a guarantee for 10. That for me was quite a kicker - I wanted a battery but there was no way to persuade my wife!

We then got non-obligatory quote, which didn’t cost even though we were given so much time. The details are here:

  • 16No SunPower 327W E20 panels giving a 5.23kWp system generating 4,848kWh annually
  • Installation of Solar Edge system to offer monitoring

Cost was: £8,540 + VAT at 5%.

Expectations in terms of pay back

Fit payments for 4848kWh – £195.86 Export payments for 4848kWh - £117.56 Reduced bill assuming 50% usage - £339.36

Total annual benefit - £653

We therefore calculated a 14 year pay back. With the solar panels having a guarantee of 25 years, this started to make sense (to me, had a lot of convincing of my better half), as long we stayed in the house.

The risk of leaving before getting the lifetime benefit did weigh on our minds. @beckettcatherine did a lot of reading online about this and came to the conclusion that you couldn’t definitively argue that these panels would increase the value of the house.

However, we did find out it would take us an energy rating and that is valuable - about £10,000… But there wasn’t sufficient evidence to back up that argument definitively. But we did decide to go ahead.

We needed to get permission from the national grid for the installation, as it was over 5Kw, but that came within 5 weeks, and Oxford Solar PV came and did the installation really efficiently.

This is what it now looks like.

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I’ve run the numbers for the benefit of Better Century.

  • Income year one was £451.93 in the first year (as we had produced 6,042kwh).
  • Saving on energy was 3,210kwhs, saving us £505

Total income/saving; £957 (£304 more than Jonny’s estimate)

That means actual pay back period will be 9.3 years - not bad!

The one thing I do love is the Solar Edge system. It tells me all the time what’s going on with the generation and expenditure of energy in the house. This means I’ve found loads of things to reduce our energy bill through (like electric under floor heating - a killer for bills!, and getting storage heaters instead of electric heaters for parts of the house).

Here’s the most recent read out from the Solar Edge! Really cool - producing way more than using during these summer months!

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I’m really annoyed about the VAT rise to 20% because that means I probably wouldn’t have been able to persuade my wife to have them. It’s also really bad that the feed in tariff is being pulled, although, from what I understand, there are still a number of energy suppliers who are still paying (see this other Better Century thread).

A few tips for people looking to get solar panels:

  • Have a look at http://www.yougen.co.uk/ - really good source of suppliers and has recommendations.
  • Get a SolarEdge system and monitor your energy use.

Please share your experiences so help build the knowledge base :grinning:

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Update on the year so far. Not bad! 3/4 of all electricity used from solar… Now for the dark months!!