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Solar Panels on House

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,262 ✭✭✭✭Joey the lips


    The more I read up on these systems the more I find myself bogged down in oceans of dross. If I'm trying to choose a system which is best for my needs I would like to be able to compare like for like. The bales of litrature out there on the different systems makes that impossible. There are so many different component makers out there that they put a different spin on their own item to make it shine the brightest.

    Is there any handbook, from someone who has done some comparison testing. I know the IAB or BBA Certification is usually our barometer in such cases, but, most of the components I've checked up on do not have these Certifications.

    One thing that constantly springs to mind regarding these systems is the amount of different parts associated with each and the potential for parts to fail. What is the lifespan of a good solar system? what component is the most expensive? what is the next expensive component? and so on.. what regular maintanance/servicing will a system need?

    Everyone has that problem. I use to liken the confusion to the "emporers new clothes" you dont quite know what your getting. I also think the dept of environment is wrong to feel that because builders put panels on houses they are contributing to co2 reduction. Think of the early 90's when the councils start installing a massive amount of weatherglazed windows into council houses. It was later felt a lot more would have been acieved by simply upgrading the roof insulation.

    There is no standard in solar panels. There is actually poor standards in radiators.... With increasing house insulation smaller radiators can actually be specified but plumbers are over specing for fear.

    I think the same is happening with panels. except for they are over estimateing returns. It all boils back to the old reliable... If its too good to be true it usually is..... I see every house in Spain has solar panels for there hot water.:rolleyes: I wonder why.....?


  • Registered Users Posts: 46,064 ✭✭✭✭muffler


    My great grandfather actually pioneered a "natural heating system" a long time ago.


    still.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,262 ✭✭✭✭Joey the lips


    muffler wrote: »
    My great grandfather actually pioneered a "natural heating system" a long time ago.


    still.jpg


    Now here's me thinking your talkin about a good owl ride and off course you have to bring drink into it...


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,632 ✭✭✭heinbloed


    The Estif organisation has now a list of certified ST SYSTEMS as well, not only collectors.
    See
    http://www.estif.org/solarkeymark/regsys.php

    These systems include everything, from collector to storage tank.
    All that the installer has to figure out is the energy demand which has to be suplied.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 23 fergus.wheatley


    Nearly every single system that I come across has an uninsulated cylinder installed. Typically about 40% of the cost of installing a solar system consists of changing the cylinder. At the end of the day, installing a solar system saves money and CO2 emissions, it's just half the savings come from the "unsexy" side of things by making hot water storage more efficient.

    Regardless of energy prices, the following benefits exist;

    1. More hot water is available during the summer.
    2. Better energy rating for the dwelling and higher house value
    3. Lower CO2 emissions
    4. Fuel cost savings of up to 25%.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 23 fergus.wheatley


    Hi Folks,

    Have been considering going solar as an investment. I am not loaded but consider it like a retirement plan anything invested now will repay when I am retireing.

    Any way, My house front is south south East faceing and my back north north west faceing. I also have a gable taking up half of the front.

    What is my options for solar? I half know the answer but would appreciate all opinions. Thanks

    I have attached expected outputs for 40 and 60 vacuum tubes for a variety of roof angles and orientations. In summer there is little enough difference, but in winter the more south facing the better.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    Nearly every single system that I come across has an uninsulated cylinder installed.

    So you are saying that nearly every single system that you have come across in the last, say 2 years, has had an uninsulated cylinder installed!!!!!

    I don't think so.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 23 fergus.wheatley


    So you are saying that nearly every single system that you have come across in the last, say 2 years, has had an uninsulated cylinder installed!!!!!

    I don't think so.

    Nearly all my work in in the retrofit market. I can only talk about my own experience, but the last 6 installs I worked on had uninsulated cylinders.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,262 ✭✭✭✭Joey the lips


    Nearly all my work in in the retrofit market. I can only talk about my own experience, but the last 6 installs I worked on had uninsulated cylinders.

    Well that can actually be an indicator of the market. When you consider there was the guts of 60000 houses built a year during the good times


    http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/kfkfojgbauoj/


    I estimate we have at least 4 years at 60000 that 240 000 houses. If most of the houses you worked on were uninsulated then I suspect they are old housing stock. There is no way IMO the vast majority of buyers(1st time buyers) were buying into solar if the cylinders were uninsulated meaning that the majority of buyers are actually the older age bracket which enforces my thoughts on my "emporers new clothes" theory....ie they are buying into perceived savings.

    What do you think


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    @Solarbook.ie

    Without getting into a tit-for-tat arguement my point is that you threw a saving figure out there of 500 litres of oil per year, based on asumptions.

    If I am going to build a new house and I am considering installing an oil boiler for my primary source of heating and I read your post my first asumption is that if I install a solar panel heating system I will save the equivolent of 500 litres of oil per year.

    This is not the case as any new house will not install an un-insulated cylinder as part of their system, this reduces your assumed savings by 50% straight away. You also neglect to mention that the oil boiler will also have to kick in to suppliment the solar heating for a large portion of the Autumn, Winter and Spring which reduces further your purported savings.

    What I am saying is I would like someone to give me the facts straight and I feel you are not doing that.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,948 ✭✭✭gizmo555


    There is an ongoing theme among many of the posters in this forum who are in the business of installing solar hot water systems of citing potential savings for their systems which on examination are based on the most inefficient possible existing systems and solar energy substituting for the most expensive possible energy sources.

    Many of the so-called "savings" could be obtained at a lot less cost and hassle by, for example, spending €25 on a lagging jacket, or getting a night rate electricity meter installed by ESB Networks at no cost.

    Simple changes of habit can make big differences too - if, for example, you usually spend five minutes in the shower, reducing this by one minute will yield an instant 20% saving of both energy and water.

    As for such a system adding to the value of a house, I would be sceptical. Like so many other house "improvements", if done well it may act as a selling point, potentially making the house easier to sell, but of doubtful value in actually increasing the price obtained. If done badly, it may actually reduce the house price. For example, many people find tube solar collectors ugly and they could easily put off potential buyers.

    I always recall when looking at claims of adding "value" to houses a survey of UK-based estate agents published by the Sunday Times a couple of years ago - I'll try to find a link later. The bottom line was that the only improvement which could reliably add at least as much as it cost to a house's value was painting and decorating. None of the dozen or so others examined (extensions, patios, etc) could be relied on to even recover their cost, and many actually reduced house values by putting off potential buyers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,627 ✭✭✭quentingargan


    Well that can actually be an indicator of the market. When you consider there was the guts of 60000 houses built a year during the good times

    The majority of retrofits I have seen have also been to houses that relied largely on laundry to keep the cylinder warm! That part of the house is traditionally called a hotpress for very good reason!

    Even where the cylinder has been lagged, or insulated with a few mm of foam, the fittings coming from the cylinder, and associated pipework has always been warm as toast. There are massive losses in most hotpresses, and it is true that a fair share of the cost of installing solar water heating is replacing the cylinder, re-fitting the pipework, and insulating everything properly afterwards.

    Eh, I have seen completed solar projects, including photos on boards, where the end results were still unsatisfactory....

    You might argue that this is heat just lost to the house, but during the summertime, this isn't the case. And a lot of it lost through gaping holes in the hotpress ceiling where heat just goes into the attic.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,948 ✭✭✭gizmo555


    With respect, Quentin, this is yet another variation on the same theme. If there are serious deficiencies in cylinder and pipework insulation, or gaping holes in hotpress ceilings, these are issues which can be easily resolved as a DIY project and at a fraction of the typical €2,500 to €3,500 after grant cost of a solar retrofit.

    TBH, you and Solarbook come across like the proverbial man with a hammer to whom every problem appears to be a nail. There are pros and cons to solar hot water systems, but fixing holes in ceilings and bringing insulation up to a reasonable standard can't reasonably be counted among the pros.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,627 ✭✭✭quentingargan


    gizmo555 wrote: »
    If there are serious deficiencies in cylinder and pipework insulation, or gaping holes in hotpress ceilings, these are issues which can be easily resolved as a DIY project

    Agreed. I would be the first to tell people to look at all the low-hanging fruit first. I've often said to people not to look at solar until after they have done the attic, draught proofing etc.

    But there is an added value to having a well insulated cylinder to replace the usual jumble of clothes tossed over the copper cylinder. It contributes to the savings made, but only if other aspects of the project also stack up for you.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,632 ✭✭✭heinbloed


    What is the lifespan of a good solar system?

    The sellers of ST systems who also do the installation give - on the EU continent- a lifetime of over 20 years as a number to take. So do the civil engineers/heating engineers over there who have to sign for the energy suply of a building. This is not to be mixed up with the guarantee, this could be anywhere between 2-20 years, depending on the seller and his conditions (maintenance!).

    In France for example any installation being part of a domestic structure - and this includes the heating and water system- cares a legal guarantee of 10 years. Be it a water tap or a radiator, a boiler or a shower tray, a sewer or a ST system.
    This French guarantee is however nilified if the owner neglected his duties (maintenance!).
    ... what component is the most expensive?

    This depends on the system. Technically underdeveloped installations must be maintained on a regular base. The call for the plumber and his work every two years costs more primary energy than would be saved - with toy installations. The annual or bi-annual maintenance is the most expensive component during the life span of such a system.

    What leads to the next question:
    ....what is the next expensive component?

    The collector. If something goes wrong with these technically underdeveloped systems it is usually the collector which has to be replaced.
    Looking at standard collectors freezing or clogging or fogging-up the replacement of it costs something between € 500-800 including all costs in Ireland. Cowboys do it cheaper, dumping the left-overs in the field, draining glycol into water systems etc., using no proper safety equipment when working on roofs.
    Cost of the standard 2m2 flat collector when imported: € 150-200 .- .....

    So to reduce costs to a contemporary €0.03 per kWh modern ST systems are no toy installations. Nor are their installers fellows who depend on FAS schemes or other subsidies, ST energy is fully marketable to it's real costs.
    In Denmark installers of new ST systems charged € 0.045 per kWh in 2006, nowadays it is down to € 0.03 per kWh when newly installed....metered and individually billed to the consumer.

    You forgive me not to publish a link to these relevant economic numbers and to those who offer them.
    It would be against the rules.....

    Your questions are justified. Similar to the question what does a car cost. What is it's most expensive part, the next one, how long does it last.....


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,948 ✭✭✭gizmo555


    Agreed. I would be the first to tell people to look at all the low-hanging fruit first.

    All other fruit hangs lower.
    But there is an added value to having a well insulated cylinder to replace the usual jumble of clothes tossed over the copper cylinder. It contributes to the savings made, but only if other aspects of the project also stack up for you.

    One can get a very well insulated cylinder for about €500 without going to the trouble of putting in a solar system. You can get a lagging jacket for €25. Anyone who is relying on a "jumble of clothes" to insulate their hot water cylinder by definition falls into the category of people who you "would be the first to tell . . . to look at all the low-hanging fruit first."


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    heinbloed wrote: »
    Your questions are justified. Similar to the question what does a car cost. What is it's most expensive part, the next one, how long does it last.....

    Thank you for answering them. :)

    (please quote a post within tags, it's monotenous following you around doing it...thanks)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 23 fergus.wheatley


    I was collecting a 300 litre triple coil copper cylinder yesterday from DPL in Kilmainham, the lads hadn't brought it down to the shop so they sent me to the factory at the back where I had a chat with Brian, the foreman. 40% of the cylinders he sends out TODAY are UNINSULATED.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,948 ✭✭✭gizmo555


    40% of the cylinders he sends out TODAY are UNINSULATED.

    This is plain daft, but adhering to the "low hanging fruit" principle, it doesn't show that the buyers of these cylinders need full-blown solar h/w systems, merely that they should have bought an insulated cylinder instead. If we can have laws brought in to take incandescent light bulbs off the market, why are these still still even allowed to be sold?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,632 ✭✭✭heinbloed


    The building regulations stipulate energy efficient building methods already.
    That there is little demand from those who foot the energy bills to get value for money is due to the undereducation of the broad masses.
    Here the state is organising the consumer organisation, in other countries it is the consumer who organises the state.
    As long as there is no demand for energy efficiency from the consumer side there won't be any.
    If the state forces by law energy saving in the home the money spend to do so (be it for the purchase of building services or materials) will be spend - on the energy to provide for these things.
    Only a reduction on spending power will lead to energy savings.

    But why saving energy in the first place? The sun shines for free....


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1 harleyrider


    heinbloed wrote: »
    If the state forces by law energy saving in the home the money spend to do so (be it for the purchase of building services or materials) will be spend - on the energy to provide for these things.
    Only a reduction on spending power will lead to energy savings.

    But why saving energy in the first place? The sun shines for free....

    The point of saving energy, especially at this point, is so that you can afford to get a solar panel system that's big enough to cover your needs. If you've got the A/C and the furnace going at the same time, and trying to rely on "free" solar power to run them, good luck. Once the price of <SNIP> solar panels is down, and the efficiency is up, more people will be able to afford enough panels to be self-sufficient. Then people who don't rely on power companies can use as much power as they produce, which in the near future could be a heck of a lot at a reasonable price.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,547 ✭✭✭✭Poor Uncle Tom


    harleyrider, the following was taken from the forum charter:

    Do not advertise any commercial activity on this site. This will lead to an immediate ban, the duration of which is at the moderators discretion.

    Do not promote yourself or your business/company or use the forum for personal or professional gain. Company names or links to company names cannot be used as account names when posting in this forum or any of the Construction and Planning forum/sub forums.


    Any threads naming specific companies/traders will be deleted.


    Please read the Forum Charter in full before posting again.


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