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Author Topic: Ground Based Solar PV advice  (Read 4660 times)
charlesd
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« on: November 19, 2018, 02:24:38 PM »

Hi all.
I am looking into the possibility of having some solar PV. I have no real idea of what I'm looking for other than the ultimate goal is to help mitigate my current electricity costs. Having done a bit of research I have come to the conclusion (maybe incorrectly) that my roof is unlikely to be suitable (too steep,dormer and velux's and faces east/west) but I own the field behind my house and would like to explore the feasibility of putting pv panels there.
I have an idea in my mind of about 15 panels in a single row. There is not an ideal cabling route from the field to the incoming electric supply (which is where I assume I would need to get cables too) but I've done some basic measurements  and with some digging and then routing through the garage and the house to the current meter location is about 80m. I would like to do as much of the basic work myself providing that is within the rules so I would want to do digging for cabling build the frame to mount the panels on. If I'm able I'd be happy laying the cables and mounting panels etc and ideally just have an installer connect the bits together to make it all work. So the as a first few questions, Is my idea practical? How much of the work is OK to do yourself? would installers be happy to work with someone who wants to do a lot of the work themselves?
Thanks
Charles
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rogeriko
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2018, 09:12:25 PM »

If you only want to lower your electric usage during the day you dont need an installer. You just need a competent electrician to sign off the new circuit you will have for the inverter and cabling and to inform the DNO. You will need planning for anything over 9 sq meters of panels.
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charlesd
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2018, 11:47:55 AM »

Hi,
Thanks for the advice about planning, I've chatted with my local planning officer this morning and know what I need to do there but before I pay (460) for the planning application I need to get an idea of the feasibility/costs/scope of the work.
I'm based in the PE 12 area near Holbeach if anyone can recommend a friendly installer who could advise /quote ?

Thanks
Charles
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billi
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 02:31:59 PM »

Hi ,  i would go for Rogers idea and   try to source the gear myself , and a ground mount frame is easy to built safe and cheap

I would say one can find a 4 kW PV Panels and Inverter for 2000-2500 GBP  today

Billi
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1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
nowty
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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2018, 03:12:14 PM »

Charlesd - if I had a field around the back I would not limit myself to a 4kw install, especially if your going to the trouble of laying 80m of cable.

Whats your annual electricity consumption ?

Do you have single or three phase supply ?

How is your house heated ?

I was round someones house picking up some gear I bought on fleebay the other week and we were chatting about PV.
I assumed they had a standard 4kW install, then they told me to look out of their back window.
They had a field at the back, had put a 3 phase supply in and installed 50kW of panels !  hysteria
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11kW+ of PV installed and 54+ MWh generated.
Lithium battery storage of 50+ kWh.
Hot water storage of 15+ kWh.
Heat storage of 15+ kWh.
6kW Ground source heatpump.
EV BMW i3 (another 30+ kWh's of storage).
250,000+ litres of water harvested from underground river.
Home grown Fruit and Veg.
biff
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 04:44:52 PM »

Hello Charlesd and welcome to the forum,
                                     Thank you for opening the query on PV . We don,t get near enough queries on PV as of late. You are in good hands and the lads are very experienced and of course helpful.
Roger is actually a busy installer whose help here on the forum has been invaluable. Billi, whose experience is in electronics and off Grid applications, is one of our original moderators. Nowtry is a star in his own right , in fact I think the guy is borderline genius if not a genius.   And we have many many more famous members whose expertise is legendary.
   These guys have done their best to keep me right and I know they will do their best for you,
                               Good luck,   Biff
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An unpaid Navitron volunteer,who has been living off-grid,powered by wind and solar,each year better than the last one.
charlesd
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 09:32:08 AM »

Thanks for the welcome and continuing replies.
To add a little more detail my current energy use if I'm reading it correctly is around 7000kwr per year costing me between 2.50 and 3 on the average day. Both my wife and I work from home and our usage is quite high during the day because of that. We heat or primarily with a wood stove and oil central heating and have no mains gas. I want to be able to claim fit if possible hence my thoughts that I need an installer? I'm happy to source parts and build frame etc digging the cablec trench is not a concern i have some other jobs the need a digger including replacing some water pipes in the field so would do that at the same time. Budget would probably restrict me to somewhere between 10 and 20 panels also the conversation I had with the planning officer suggested that something considered domestic will be easier to get through planning.
If I go with sourcing the equipment myself what are the basics required? Also will I need any sort of building near the panels or can all the other bits be at the house end of the cable?
Cheers Charles
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nowty
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 10:23:50 AM »

At 7,000 kWh per year, your electricity usage is about the same as mine 7 years ago before all this renewable business. I brought that down to under 1000 kWhs, although you wont get it that low without a lot of PV and battery storage. But its just an illustration as to what can be done.

With PV in your location in optimal conditions (south facing and no shading), you will generate circa 1,000 kWh per each kW of panels you install, so if you install 5kW of panels (20 standard panels) you would expect to generate 5,000 kWh per year.

Without batteries you will typically use half and export half, so expect a third off your leccy bill. With batteries over half off your bill is possible, but the economics of doing so are questionable.

If you have a hot water tank heated via an immersion heater, a simple Immersun type diverter will give you free hot water (Mar to Sep) from the other half which would have been exported.

If you want FITs you need an installer but cabling and ground mount frames can be done by yourself. Its possible to buy all the equipment yourself too but you are unlikely to find an installer willing to use the equipment so you need to decide whether to go the FIT route or DIY (non FIT) route. It used to be a no brainer with the historic high FIT payments but its now not so clear cut.

If you dont get the system commissioned by next March you wont get any FITs at all (might even be earlier if there is a rush).

All equipment (apart from panels) can be back at the house, as long as the DC voltage from the panels is at the high end you wont lose much efficiency.
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11kW+ of PV installed and 54+ MWh generated.
Lithium battery storage of 50+ kWh.
Hot water storage of 15+ kWh.
Heat storage of 15+ kWh.
6kW Ground source heatpump.
EV BMW i3 (another 30+ kWh's of storage).
250,000+ litres of water harvested from underground river.
Home grown Fruit and Veg.
charlesd
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2018, 01:40:02 PM »

Ok so it sounds like I have a diy option which might mean cheaper install and equipment costs but no fit. Or an installer and higher costs but would get fit if it's all in and done march (end of?). The march date looks tight given the planning permission requirement from memory it's 12weeks.
Is there an ballpark figure for what the fit element of say a 4kwh set up of panels might be and difference in cost between an installer and diy? Basically if there's not much in it I think I'd rather spend the upfront on more panels and go diy but if the fit element is significant then it may be worth getting on with the planning application asap.
Cheers Charles
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nowty
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2018, 02:13:29 PM »

FIT Rates
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2018/07/fit_generation_and_export_payment_rate_table_01_july_-_31_march_2019.pdf

Basically assuming you can get an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for "D" or better you get roughly 6p per kWh you generate. This includes the export element which is simply deemed export, i.e its not metered so you get it anyway on half your generation even if you export nothing. You get this for 20 years, is tax free and indexed linked with RPI.

If your property cannot make a "D" rating then you get less than 3p per kWh you generate which comprises almost all of the export element. As you have got oil heating, you may have difficulty making a "D" rating. Others will have more info on the likeliness of this.

So if you did a 5kW system that would give you 300 per year on top of your energy bill savings. Or 140 if your property cannot meet the EPC "D" rating.

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11kW+ of PV installed and 54+ MWh generated.
Lithium battery storage of 50+ kWh.
Hot water storage of 15+ kWh.
Heat storage of 15+ kWh.
6kW Ground source heatpump.
EV BMW i3 (another 30+ kWh's of storage).
250,000+ litres of water harvested from underground river.
Home grown Fruit and Veg.
rogeriko
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2018, 06:59:49 PM »

Personally I would DIY the install and use the money saved to buy a battery system. As Billi said you can easily find 4 or 5 Kw of panels and an inverter for 2500. I have a 5kw grid tie inverter on Ebay at the moment for 250 and nobody is buying it, there are tons of panels for under 100 pounds each.
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offthegridandy
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2018, 08:29:56 PM »

Agreed, Roger.
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8 KVA Lister TS2 Startamatic Genny
24 Volt 1000amp battery bank
Outback VFX3024
4.6 Kw PV array ground mounted
Outback Flexmax 80
2 X Flexmax 30 PV CC
2.5 Kw WT H Piggot design 4.5 Mtr Dia AC coupled
12 Mtr free standing Tower.
u/floor heating from oil boiler cross linked to 12 K wood stove
charlesd
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2018, 08:58:45 PM »

So if I'm understanding correctly the consensus seems to be that the best bet would be to just buy panels and an inverter and to get my friendly sparky to connect it all up.
I understand this way I don't get the fit but I assume I still get something for electricity I generate but don't use? How does this work do I have another meter or does the smart meter I have know the electric is going out instead of coming in?
Battery storage I'm really not sure about yet but am I correct in assuming that if I leave them out initially I can retro fit reasonably easily at a later date?
And finally for now it looks like most panels ive googled are about 1mx1.6m approx is this fairly standard? I have to show the area I'm I tending to use for the planning app but obviously won't decide or buy any panels until I actually have it.
Once again thanks for your being patient with what are probably stupid questions but the more I look into this the less I seem to understand.
Cheers Charles
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rogeriko
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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2018, 09:13:47 PM »

The fit is now so small its not worth bothering about. You will have free electric and hot water during the day time for about 6/7 months of the year. And later when you install batteries they will cover your electric needs at night as well. Put as many panels as you can, its okay to connect 6kw of panels to a 3.8kw inverter.
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sam_cat
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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2018, 08:03:23 AM »

So if I'm understanding correctly the consensus seems to be that the best bet would be to just buy panels and an inverter and to get my friendly sparky to connect it all up.

Yes, the FIT is so small now its hardly worth bothering with. DIY install + sparky will allow use of second hand kit and should save you a pretty penny. Plus you are MUCH more familiar with how it was installed and setup.


I understand this way I don't get the fit but I assume I still get something for electricity I generate but don't use? How does this work do I have another meter or does the smart meter I have know the electric is going out instead of coming in?

Nope, any excess that goes back to the grid is provided gratis. Look into a solarimmersion controller.. Any excess is dumped into your hot water tank


Battery storage I'm really not sure about yet but am I correct in assuming that if I leave them out initially I can retro fit reasonably easily at a later date?

I have been doing the sums every 6-12 months and it still doesnt make financial sense, but yes, it can be retrofitted.

And finally for now it looks like most panels ive googled are about 1mx1.6m approx is this fairly standard? I have to show the area I'm I tending to use for the planning app but obviously won't decide or buy any panels until I actually have it.

Yup, pretty standard size (give or take a few mm)
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