The Anonymous Widower

Questions About Solar Panels

Yesterday, despite the temperature being about eight or nine outside, because the evil devil had switched the radiant heaters on, the temperature had risen to twenty-eight inside my house, due to heat coming in through my skylight and by radiation from the flat roof.

Now the flat roof has been relaid and insulated, so to make matters worse the heat once in can’t get out.

So I decided I’d had enough and have decided to do what I had already ascertained was to be the next steps.

  • Put an electric shutter over the skylight.
  • Fit solar panels to both generate electricity and shade my house from the sun.

Hopefully, I’d generate enough electricity to run the air-conditioner, when the sun is on.

I entered my details into a comparison site and they said they’d select six local installers.

Within half an hour, I had a call on my phone and as the guy was in his van just round the corner, he was in my house doing a survey within five minutes.

He was also very much a local supplier, as both his flat and office were within five hundred metres.

He quoted for a four kilowatt system with sixteen panels, which he said would cost £5,000 as standard including installation and VAT.

I could also have micro-inverters which would up the cost to £6,300.

He indicated that micro-inverters were more efficient and had a loner life. He also enclosed the data sheet for the Enphase microinverters.

So I asked myself what are micro-inverters and what advantages do I get.

I found this web page entitled Should I Get Micro-Inverters For My Solar PV System?

Read the page and you’ll find there are two kinds of inverters;string and micro.

With a string inverter, you have one device that converts the DC of the panels to the AC of the house. So it’s like having one charger for all your devices.

With a micro inverter, each panel has its own inverter.

So the number of electronic components probably explains the difference in cost.

But there are other differences.

  • String inverters have typically a five year guarantee, whereas micro inverters have one of twenty-five. Only a madman would offer such a guarantee, if the devices failed regularly.
  • String inverters gear their output to the poorest performing panel, whereas with micro-inverters each panel performs according to the sun it gets.
  • If there is a chance of major shading, go for micro inverters.
  • Failures do happen and surely if each panel is an complete system, if one should fail, it is a problem, which is easier to locate and remedy.

Now I’m no expert, but my electrical engineering training says that micro-inverters are a better bet.

Years ago, when I worked at ICI, some others in the office were working on automating a chemical plant. Up until 1970, traditionally each temperature, pressure and position sensor input went into a massive and extremely expensive analogue to digital converter to link to the computer. But in this development, every input had its own converter.

I ‘m not in automation these days, but I doubt they use a massive and expensive converter and each input is handled individually.

So with my panels, I’m tempted to pay the extra £1,300.

I’m still waiting for the other five installers to phone.

March 12, 2016 - Posted by | World | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. People who have solar panels are on the whole pleased with them – my church has them as well. We have decided not to because our house is old and the style of roof isn’t ideal. And living directly under the flight path for Manchester airport we have very high wind currents at times. Mum’s would possibly be ideal and is something I might think about when we know what are doing with it. The tenant’s are signed up until October anyway, so we won’t be doing anything until then. After that it depends what the girls want to do with their 12.5%. But we haven’t applied for Probate yet, we see solicitor about that on Thursday.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | March 12, 2016 | Reply


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