Electric Meter Going Backwards

Over the Christmas holidays during a couple of sunny days I noticed that my electric meter was spinning backwards. Up till then I hadn’t really had any decent days to witness this before. At least not while at home in the daytime.

I have searched around on the internet a little to see if this was how the grid feed-in tariff works and discovered quite a lot of posts on various solar forums discussing the subject. It seems that I may have an old electric meter. And this is why on sunny days when electric generation is greater than my needs it causes the meter to run backwards – the greater the generation the faster it spins!

After reviewing some of the information online I have today phoned and reported it to my electric supplier. It was logged with the micro-generation department by the operative, who will look into and call me back. I will post again once I have received a reply.

Solar Panel Generation – First Month Stats

Today  marks my first month since my Sanyo solar panel array with Sunny Boy inverter was installed. Within a previous blog, on 27th November after just four days, I posted my first solar electricity generation statistics. Maybe at that time I set my expectations a little high, especially considering it was the end of November with the darkest and shortest of wintry days still to come.

At that time I could not compare these solar stats with other systems in the area. Even now I can not compare like for like electricity harvesting systems. I have however, now that I have my own system, come into contact with others who have offered some feedback. Also since the 7th December, if you have been following these pages, you will have noted that my father is also now an owner of a solar array. This will enable future entries to include statistics for this system also.

As already mentioned, I am a solar novice and this was and still is all very new to me. I’m promoting this blog as my journey in the hope that it will help others. Maybe inspire and encourage others to do the same. Or pessimistically, dissuade them!

Below I have published my first month’s electricity generation statistics for the period from 24th November to 23rd December 2011. If you have not been following, these figures are for a 2kWh solar array facing south, south-east. During this first month the system harvested just over 53 kW of electricity, averaging 1.77 kW per day. The chart also shows some interesting spikes of generation hitting highs of almost 3.5 kW.

Solar electricity generation statistics - month 1

Repairs and Further Issues

We started the repair to ridge tiles today and whilst on the top of the scaffolding we were also able to look at other areas that we were unable to look at when previously inspecting the installation.

The top hanging wall tile that had not been re-fitted correctly dropped away at the slightest touch. The wood batten beneath had not been put back and fixed firmly against wall to enable the tile to lay flat or indeed securely. Whilst fixing this we also tied in the loose wires and filled the unused hole drilled in the fascia board.

As the house has dormer windows with a flat roof and apex above, we agreed that this was also a great opportunity to look at the solar panels fixed on both sides of the East-West split. With the benefit of the added scaffolding it was just a case of walking around onto the flat roof. I can’t understand why on earth they didn’t do this originally when putting the scaffolding up – It would of made the installation a lot easier! From the roof we were a little dismayed to find that 4 of the panels appeared to be scratched next to the clamps and also the East array of five divided by the soil stack in the middle were not level. Although you would never notice from ground level, we also found a multitude of nuts, bolts, nails, wire strips and even some bracketing parts left sprawled around on top of the asphalt. Slightly annoying but at least we were able to clear-up.

We continued with the ridge tile repairs and finished off by re-fixing the dry verge tiles.

The next job will be reporting these new issues.
Merry Christmas

High Court – Subsidy Cuts Ruling

A high court judge ruled today that the governments plans to slash Feed-in Tariff incentives was unlawful.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker responded:

“We disagree with the Court’s decision. We will be seeking an appeal and hope to secure a hearing as soon as possible. Regardless of today’s outcome, the current high tariffs for solar PV are not sustainable and changes need to be made in order to protect the budget which is funded by consumers through their energy bills.”

SolarEdge Monitoring

An email was received this week with details regarding the monitoring of the East-West split SolarEdge power optimised solar system installed at my fathers property. This would enable him to log-on to the SolarEdge monitoring portal and view the solar system’s performance. You can also, if required, view public sites around the world and compare.

And today also saw the scaffolding arrive to enable repair work to begin on the loose ridge tiles. This was caused at the time of installation by the installers drilling incorrectly and dislodging the tiles.

Solar Installation Complaint

Over the weekend the complaint was submitted regarding all the problems and faults discovered upon the inspection of the solar panel installation. Most of which has already been mentioned within my previous blog.

Yesterday the fitters returned to rectify the loose ridge tiles. They wanted to do this by climbing up to the top of the apex and also on the end of a fully extended ladder, which even then would not give sufficient reach to work safely let alone complete an adequate job. My father deemed this as unsafe and impractical to complete to an acceptable finish. He stopped them from attempting this and offered, with my help, to do the ridge tile repairs himself providing that  the correct scaffolding was erected. The original scaffolding should have been put around this area as per initial quotation and instructions. If they can arrange this it would enable us to remove the top dry verge tiles and give access to remove and re-bed the ridge tiles and complete the work correctly.

One of the fitters also looked in the loft to check the rafter screws. He wanted to redo the screws by undoing and straightening them up. My father was not prepared to have this done due to the weather conditions and poor lighting – Not to mention the mess made last time. Later, it was decided that this would probably further weaken the rafters and that bracing over would be a better option.

Solar Panel Installation Report

The FIT application was submitted by email on Thursday evening without any problems. As the December 12th deadline was now approaching, my father also phone the supplier to confirm its receipt. I won’t go into too much more detail on this process as my previous blog on the 1st December can be read ( here ), this goes into a little more about the FIT application and submission procedure experienced with my own installation towards the end of November.

Today, my entry is really concentrating on providing a report and details of my father’s actual installation. As mentioned on my previous entry that an inspection would be required due to noticing and hearing a few disconcerting sounds. Also I have provided some photographs to show the finished East-West solar panel installation.

We first checked the loft area as this was an area where my father had heard a rather abrupt command of ‘stop’ by one of the fitters. On inspection we found that the top corner of the gable end internal wall where it joins the rafters and roof supports was showing a large hole. On closer inspection we found that the fitter must have been drilling upwards towards the ridge tiles. This had caused some of the masonry and block work to come away just underneath. He had then re-drilled horizontally some 150mm lower.

Next, while still in the loft, we found holes in the felt where the fitter must have stabbed at the felt with either a screwdriver or drill. Nearby he had used another hole to feed the solar array’s cabling through. Why he did not use the lap of the felt located just above to do this is just one of the questions we will be asking. Also we were horrified to see screws splitting down the sides of the rafters. Others were coming out at all sorts of angles with more that fifty percent of the screw not in the joist. Instead of using a pilot hole first, he must have just screwed-in causing several more instances of this on each side of the loft.

This stomach churning experience then continued on the outside. While looking up under the gable end we could see that a hole was drilled and then left unused in the fascia board. A tile was also hanging precariously just above, and the dry verge cap was no longer straight. Coming around the back of the house looking up at the ridge we could see that the end ridge-tile was longer sitting fixed to its bed of mortar.

A complaint will now be made detailing some of our findings. I will also try to borrow a long enough ladder to get up on the roof and see what else has been going on.

West side of East-West solar splitEast side of East-West solar split