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Is it worth our while?

  • 09-09-2022 11:16pm

    Hi, sorry if my question seems off, or naive, or annoying, but I really don't know the answer and I figured that if I can't get it here I can't get it anywhere on boards.

    We live on the southside of Dublin. We have a bungalow with a south facing roof that's not overlooked by trees or buildings - I dunno exactly, but I'd guess we have about 10 x 6 metres of roof facing almost directly due south. We use gas for heating and hot water (relatively new combi boiler) and electricity for all the other stuff. We don't have an EV, and there's little prospect of us getting one for the next couple of years at least. We're getting through about 4,200 kWh of electricity and about 15,000 kWh gas a year. We're ruthless enough about switching tariffs and suppliers, and we're due a move in about 3 months. We don't know our precise ins and outs of usage over a 24-hour period, but we're probably typical in using more electricity first thing in the morning, in the evening, and at weekends, with patchy usage during the day.

    Is it worth our while thinking of solar PV? And if so what should we think about doing or what should we avoid like the plague? I've read the stickied thread and I'm not really any the wiser. Two friends/colleagues have installed solar PV in the last couple of years. One says yes, the other says "meh".




  • Registered Users Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭DC999

    Yep. Worth your while looking for sure. You use average energy usage which means it will contribute a decent chunk to drop your bills. And you already watch how much energy you use it seems. So that's a good starting place.

    I'd suggest... you get quotes. And listen to the 'go for it' mate. :)

    Avoid like the plague....not getting quotes :)

    I am only setup 6 weeks maybe. But wonder why I waited so long. If we ever move house, we'll get solar there too. Our Nissan Leaf EV gets free 'motion lotion' some months of the year from solar. What's not to love about that? So worth considering that benefit if an EV is a runner in the future

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,895 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    Yes go for it 4.2MWh a year is about average and the solar could do a good chunk of that. You don't need EV's or electric hot water heating or anything especially now that they are after bring in the feed in tariff.

    I wonder what kind of a setup the "meh" colleague has

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭jkforde

    the quality of the contractor is key in this, if you pick an honest bunch, who won't over sell, over install, dump you without fully testing and explaining the system (app, CTs etc, etc), then you can't go wrong. I would advise getting a smart EV charger in at the start, ready to go when you will need it (I assume Type 2 charger specification isn't going to be dumped anytime soon).

    anyway, give it serious consideration and use the winter evenings to research it, line up an installation next March\April when PV production ramps up. go for it, just pick the right company!

    🌦️ 6.7kwp, 45°, SSW, mid-Galway 🌦️

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    Fill that S roof for a 6kW inverter, install the cabling for an EV charger now, you don't need an EV for the €600 grant anymore so maybe even get one installed whilst you have a RECI on site.

    Personal decision to just export to the grid for FIT payment or get a hybrid inverter/battery setup.

    Read the quotes thread at least twice and then PM for installer feedbacks

  • Cheers. He's not actually negative, but he's saying something along the lines of "it looks like it'll eventually pay its way". Mind you, he's a bit like that about everything!

    But I've no idea what setup either of these people are using, and it's all a bit like looking into a hedge for me. Oddly enough, the more enthusiastic one has two setups, one in his own place in the west and one in his former house (now rented out) in Dublin. He says that the Dublin setup is saving more money faster, and he says that's down to the weather.

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  • Thanks. Sounds counter-intuitive, but I've actually started reading the figures more since we got the electricity smart meter. We changed cars recently enough, so ICE (petrol) is where we're at for a while anyway. That said, herself will be changing before me and there's always the possibility of her going hybrid or maybe full-on electric (out and out urban driver).

    It'd be a big investment, so getting quotes is essential. Mind you, we did a big renovation recently, and we were lucky because we had several builders who were all recommended by people we knew and then could get quotes from them all before going ahead. When I look around my estate I don't see any panels on houses.

  • Thanks for these comments. It's ensuring the quality that's important, but like I said above it's not like we'd have access to personal recommendations. We got work done recently and I now have a few tradespeople that I'd recommend to anyone in a heartbeat, but oddly enough not our RECI guy - he did a good job, but let's just say we didn't get on.

    Anyway, it's something I'd like to do, partly to save on the bills and partly because I think it's the right thing. My other half will take a more hard-nosed approach, and that'll keep manners on me!

    I'll take the advice about reading the quotes thread and getting feedback on the installers. I think I'll have another conversation with my (more enthusiastic) mate as well.

    Thanks again to all of you who replied.

  • Registered Users Posts: 862 ✭✭✭More Music

    So should the OP ignore the mate who said "meh"? Why is that opinion not worth considering?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,226 ✭✭✭bullit_dodger

    Because there are no details. How much was spent? What size system was it? What is the yield? Was it installed correctly (sized appropriate for the house). All these things make the opinion hard to place a value on. However, there's 30-40 users who have documented their systems, price, yield and I'd say the vast majority (or perhaps even all of them?) would say it's worthwhile doing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,047 ✭✭✭monseiur

    Research is the key here, and that includes grants available from SEAI etc. I don't have first hand knowledge of the system but most impartial opinion seems to suggest that the pay back is 10 to 12 years which, coincindintally, seems to be the lifespan of the actual solar panels ! With technology constantly changing, developing and evolving in this field chances are that solar panels that are top of the pile today will be obselete in less that 10 years. Basically it's a case of paying your money and hoping for the best.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 437 ✭✭Girl Geraldine

    I'd be of the meh camp.

    All well and good installing a top of the range system. But as another poster pointed out, these would rarely have a pay back of less than 10 years. Any system running 24/7 for ten years will probably be starting to give up the ghost after 10 years.

    So you might work out with less hassle to just pay for piped electricity and not have to be worrying about solar.

    Certainly, I would have no intention of getting it. I prefer the simplicity of just having piped energy, a meter and pay the bill.

    I live alone anyway, so my energy use is modest. A PV system, or indeed any sort of renewable energy, would have so long a pay back period that it simply isn't worth the hassle involved.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,895 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    If someone pays too much to an installer it will add years to the break even point or if they get extra add-ons like Eddis that are under-utilised. I try and do all I can to make it pay off quickly such as welding my own ground mounts and buying an inverter with a dent in the case from eBay but most aren't willing to do that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 862 ✭✭✭More Music

    And the exact same rationale can be applied to the mate who said "yes, go for it". No detail about that system either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,844 ✭✭✭✭KCross

    Where is this 10 year lifespan for the panels coming from?

    They have a 20+ warranty! ;)

    Batteries and inverters have a shorter lifespan but the battery is optional and the inverter is only hundreds, not thousands, so not a big deal.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    Solar panels have much longer life span, most are certified at 80% generation after 25/30 years. Panels have had very little technological advancements over the years, a 200w panel from 5 years ago may be obsolete now with 450w panels but this is primarily down to increase in panel size and not technology gains.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭DC999

    I was joking when I said ignore the "meh". You'd always want to find out the pros and cons in the real world. So worth that person talking to both. I was lucky that I knew someone I trusted that got a system maybe a year before me so had real world stats + if they would recommend it (they did). Plus there's a heap of real world stats on the link @bullit_dodger added above.

    100% that there is a bias here in this forum (a type of 'echo chamber' if you will) in the sense that a lot of the people posting on it have had a lot of success using solar. It's a pro-renewals forum. To me, as a user that has just started the solar journey, it's primarily my free, high-quality educational course in solar :)

    And in all the maybe 6 months I've watched ths forum closely, I only recall one person with a negative comment post install. That was if they oversized it at the start. They were happy with it, but wondered if they went too big. But with a strong FIT rate announced since, they get better coinage back. That's not to say there aren't others unhappy that never posted. And for sure if you overpay by a lot, the payback time would take a lot longer - ministry of the obvious of course (+ same for anything you buy).

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,226 ✭✭✭bullit_dodger

    Very true - but plenty of good quality information from people here on the forums who will testify that it's something "worth doing". Now if you decide not to do that, of course that's an individual choice and one that everyone is entitled to make. For sure it's a significant investment, but one I think changes your view on how you use electricity. In a good way.

    As DC999 mentions though it's important that you engage with a trusted, reliable installer. Some of the big operators have very slick advertising, but the prices they charge would make a breakeven point in the 20-25 year period. It's nonsense. An accurately sized system for an average house will be in about the 8-12 year mark. Some heavy users will see break even points as low as 5-6 years, although it's rare.

    As for the hardware, people get confused when they see "Panel guaranteed for 10 years" etc. This doesn't mean that they stop working at 10 years, but rather that they guarantee will say something like "At 10 years, they will produce 88% of the output at day 1". Your panels you buy today could still be producing electricity in 2050! (albeit they won't be producing the same amount)

  • Registered Users Posts: 72 ✭✭Punchin A Keyboard

    I saw a YouTube video on the commercial solar farms out in the deserts in California and they were averaging 5 panel failures per 10000 per annum and the dust coupled with heat would probably be worse than the rain here on panels

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,824 ✭✭✭Markus Antonius

    I'm all for PV, but the prospect of having to read that quotes thread is enough to put Eamon Ryan off solar panels. It's over 110 pages long...

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    It's reflective of current demand but you will learn a lot from it, number of panels, what inverers folk are going with, price quotes etc. Apart from knowledge gain it could also save you a lot of money. Totally up to you though

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,010 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    For someone considering solar, is it worth sizing your panels to cover your entire needs if possible, or sizing them to cover the baseload current from your house (daily house heating, water heating only)

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 62,694 CMod ✭✭✭✭unkel

    @slave1 - "Solar panels have much longer life span, most are certified at 80% generation after 25/30 years. Panels have had very little technological advancements over the years, a 200w panel from 5 years ago may be obsolete now with 450w panels but this is primarily down to increase in panel size and not technology gains."

    This is exactly it. Panel efficiency is improving, but it's glacial. Where the better panels now have 21-22% efficiency, they had maybe 15% about 10-15 years ago. Manufacturers are "cheating", they are just making the panels bigger and bigger to give them a higher wattage rating, make it look like they are improving much more than they are

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    I just put in 455w panels and can see the same company is now shipping 560w beasts, but it's all down to dimensions as efficiency went from 21.08% to 21.68% so just an 3% efficiency gain.

    The 560w are 2.3m X 1.1m, 28kgs so perfect for a ground mount DIY but I would not like to be solo handling those panels, 28kgs across such a large surface area is very hard to manage.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    BTW, panel warranty is to be minimum 84.8% performance at the end of 25years, ~ 0.55% annual degradation

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,682 ✭✭✭yankinlk

    No need to read the thread. Read the FAQ pinned to this forum. Get three quotes (use the reocmmneded installers or choose your own) and POST your quotes in the quotes thread. Couldn't be simpler.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 62,694 CMod ✭✭✭✭unkel

    Yes panels go up once and last forever. Not sure why so many people keep repeating pub talk arguments about a life of just 10 years. Maybe your inverter will break down after 10 years, but that's very easy to replace yourself in less than an hour and costs hundreds. Not a big deal. The big money for a PV install is in the actual install costs of having scaffolding and lads on your roof and an electrician wiring the inverter into your consumer unit. And of course the profit margin of the installer. These are one-off costs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 437 ✭✭Girl Geraldine

    YEah but the average Joe Shmoe isn't going to be up for DIY replacement of inverters and stuff. The average joe or jane soap would be doing well to even grasp that the device had failed, and could be years on from the failure before they realise that their bills are now higher because of the failure.

    They are not going to have the knowledge or abilities to change a piece of equipment like that and will be relying on an electrician to come in and do it and supply a suitable replacement. If they can even get someone to take on the job.

    I'd absolutely agree that this forum is an echo-chamber. What installation and maintenance savings are possible for enthusiasts is not applicable to the regular joe who has neither the interest nor ability to understand the workings of a system like this, even as simple as it all usually is. They are just not interested in it 99% of the time.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 17,888 Mod ✭✭✭✭slave1

    Most inverters come with 10year warranty, Unkel said replacement "after 10 years", that does not equate to 10years and a day, it could be 16 years or 14 years, we'll know when we know.

    There are typically 5/6 "click" connections in an inverter and a single "power" cable to be connected via a screwdriver, even if not DIY inclined the time to remove and replace an inverter is less than an hour so there will be no issue with high electrician costs.

    A straight forward 5kW inverter is ~ €600, in the overall cost of a PV install it's noise and shouldn't be a cause of concern to stop an install, a TV is more expensive and will need replacing in less a time span

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 4,562 Mod ✭✭✭✭Tree

    I think you don't give Joe or Jane Soap enough credit basic competencies. The apps are easy enough to use, and they often flag alarms for users. Ringing your installer for a fix isn't that difficult, even if they may not be out to you today to fix it.

    I have no intention of replacing any of the components of my solar system myself in the event they fail. That doesn't mean solar is out of reach for me, it just means I need to be able to call my installer for help. My gas central heating is more likely to fail than my solar, does that mean I shouldn't have GFCH cause I can't replace that myself either?

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 62,694 CMod ✭✭✭✭unkel

    @Girl Geraldine - "YEah but the average Joe Shmoe isn't going to be up for DIY replacement of inverters and stuff. "

    Yes fair enough. It shouldn't take an electrician more than about 15 minutes to replace the inverter, it really is as simple as replacing a socket. So just a call out charge.

    @Girl Geraldine - "The average joe or jane soap would be doing well to even grasp that the device had failed, and could be years on from the failure before they realise that their bills are now higher because of the failure."

    That's clutching at straws. They were smart enough and tuned in enough to organise to get a solar PV system installed, paid thousands for it, yet they don't notice when it's not producing? Don't notice it for years? Nah, that's simply not going to happen.