Living With Solar Panels
In my new house, we live with solar panels. There are eight of them, working away and providing ‘free’ power. I wish it were quite so simple. Firstly, I am surprised how little we were told about them. It’s as if they were just a benign fitting, like a drain or window frame. Consequently, you just sit back and let them do their stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you sit back, most of your power returns to the National Grid. The power company pay you 2.5 pence per kWh and you buy it back at 28 pence. Are we idiots or what? Living with solar panels can be an entirely new relationship with energy.
Look at your appliances
Our panels produce power as the light increases. At around 7am in summer, they trickle in a few watts, just enough to cover the fridge, freezers and standby. At the greatest light intensity, they rise to 2 kWh’s. Flick on the toaster, at 3000 watts and the kettle, at 3000 watts, and you need supplementary power from the grid. However, use a low rated toaster and kettle at 750 watts each, and you have halved your pull from the grid. Use just one appliance at a time, and it is quarter. The only downside is that you wait four times longer for the kettle. Besides that, where’s the problem? Likewise, use the slow cooker during the day or the breadmaker, and they are entirely free as regards energy. When the sun is highest, we use the mower or washing machine.
Day to day costs
I have no experience of winter usage, only summer. We have brand new and efficient electrical appliances. However, we added a second freezer even though this is ill advised on energy grounds. However, Ann prepares vitually all our food and often this is batch cooking so much of it needs freezing. Overall, we use a fraction over £1.00 per day for electricity. That includes the standing charge of 48p. Gas is also costing a £1.00 per day with standing charge, so just over £2.00 per day covers all energy needs. How much are we sending to the grid? The answer is an average 5 kWh every day.
Living with solar panels
I realise now that all energy estimates for the future are wrong. If you have PV panels then you look completely differently at your energy use. However, we need a battery to store our 5 kWh and use it overnight, and one is on order. That might even charge our electric vehicle, when we buy one. A battery also enables those at work all day to avoid using the grid in the evening. The denouement, of course, is whether any of this makes economic sense. Panels and batteries have a limited life. Time will tell. Whatever, we can wave our green credentials. No pollution, no filthy log burner, no noise and the final, most important point is freedom. Freedom is dumping your reliance on energy companies. Oh, happy days!