Arrival of the FITs Contract

The SSE energy supply contract arrived today, but not for my system. Although the solar panel array was installed two weeks later than that of my own, it was my father’s feed-in tariff agreement (FIT) that was received in the post this morning.

The agreement came with a covering letter thanking him for appointing Scottish & Southern Electric as his FIT licensee. The document confirms that he has been registered for the FIT scheme with two copies of the contract to sign. One to be retained and the other to be returned as soon as possible in an enclosed pre-paid envelope.

Also stated within the communication are the submission dates that the meter readings must be taken and conveyed. This is the reading from the generation meter that records all yielded electricity from the sun. It is to be read and submitted to enable quarterly payments for FITs generation and export. These figures can be emailed or phoned through on or around the required dates.

New Electric Meter – Plan your daytime energy usage and draw less

After first having a visit from my electric supplier’s meter team who tried and failed to replace my meter due to the fusebox restricting the meter from being lifted off its hook, and then another turn-up without a meter, I have now finally had a new meter installed.

It’s been a rather a troublesome affair for something that really should have been so simple. I had to get the electrician back to move the fusebox 30mm so that the meter could be lifted off a screw hook. Call him back again as I was left with only partial electricity in the house and then take more time off work for the meter man to return.

I thought that having a new electric meter fitted would mean that I would get one of the new Smart Meters. Unfortunately these have had several teething problems and have not yet been released for widespread installations. I will need another visit for this in the future when they have been fully rolled out.

A lot of people are under the impression that if you have solar panels on your property then you get free electric by day. I thought this, or at least I did at first – and you do if you generate enough at the time you want it. Having now had a new meter installed I have come to realise a little more about how this works and how much is free.

You would think that if you are producing your own electric from the sun then you should then be able to use what you generate. But no, you get to use what you require at the time of generation – The rest is fed to the grid. You can not store your own electric for use later, although I have read and also heard about a few set-ups and systems that people are coming up with. For the typical user, myself included, what happens is that if you are using electric by day when the solar panels are harvesting the sun’s rays, it will use this electric first and then either top up from the grid if you require more or export any that is unused.

Let’s say I’m boiling my 3kW kettle and my system is harvesting at 2kWh while the water boils, this would then mean I’m drawing electric at 1kWh from the grid. In effect I would be buying this top-up of 1kWh at 19 pence a unit or whatever the present rate is. Now let’s go the other way, if for example, I’m using my personal computer for one hour. It uses approximately 150 watts per hour. If the panels created 1.2kW for the hour while the PC is switched on, I will have fed the excess, slightly over 1kW of electricity onto the grid. Disregarding any government subsidies this will then earn me 3 pence.

Three pence earnings per kW exported is not really worth worrying about. It is far better practice to plan your day time energy usage and draw less.

How is the Solar Electric Monitored?

Now that the panels are up – I can monitor the solar pv electric generated by either the Sunny Boy inverter panel or alternatively using the generation meter. The generation meter provides just a digital readout which is basically all you need as this is what you will get paid on. As it’s all very new to me I’m not sure how these readouts and figures will be collected.

Solar Electric Generation MeterSunnyBoy Inverter LCD Panel

The Sunny Boy inverter however shows a little more detail with the help of some visual representation of the data using graphs and symbols on a black & green LCD panel located on the front of the unit.

The inverter apparently also employs blue-tooth connectivity which sounds rather exciting so I will probably give this a go at some point. I’ve already got my eye on this little device from Amazon.

Belkin Mini Bluetooth Adapter I think that it will be ideal for connecting to the Sunny Boy inverter via bluetooth. And for the price (details here) I think it’s a good deal and as the description below states, it will also have other uses too.

Product Descriptionn – Belkin Mini Bluetooth AdaptorStays connected to your laptop for quick and easy Bluetooth connections. This small adapter simply plugs into one of your laptop’s USB ports, quickly connecting you to the latest Bluetooth wireless technology. The Mini Bluetooth Adaptor communicates with mice, headsets, printers, phones, and other devices enabled with Bluetooth technology. Stays connected to your laptop for quick and easy Bluetooth connections. This small adapter simply plugs into one of your laptop’s USB ports, quickly connecting you to the latest Bluetooth wireless technology. The Mini Bluetooth Adaptor communicates with mice, headsets, printers, phones, and other devices enabled with Bluetooth technology. Features:Uses standard v2.0 + EDR and USB 2.0 to provide optimal performance Distance range of up to 10 metres Distance range of up to 10 metres Works with most devices enabled with Bluetooth technology

I’ll order one of these little blue-tooth devices and blog my findings on here later. For now though I can only monitor via the previous methods mentioned above. And as far as yesterday went, remembering is was not a full day of generation, it’s not looking too bad. The weather has been pretty kind for my solar panel installers this week. I will publish my first few day’s statistics at the weekend.

Solar Installation All Set To Go!

After lots of buts and deliberation the time has finally arrived for me to take my first steps in to the world of solar power harvesting and generation.

The scaffolding arrived and was erected today with good advisory comms prior from the installer. He has also informed me that my property was one of three in the area set to start on Monday morning with a solar pv install. As my array was relatively small it should be completed by Wednesday for a GRID connection and customer handover.

The weather is also looking good for next week – unlike what I was expecting compared to this time last year. I have booked some time off to be around for at least part of the installation process and handover.

I will try and get some photographs during the install to post on this blog and later in the week hopefully be able to give some data feed-back from my first day of generation.

For now though, Scaffolding up and ready for solar PV installationI have attached a photograph of my roof showing scaffolding up and ready for the solar installation team on Monday. I may, if I get time, get up there myself over the weekend  and do a few jobs. I need to seal a soil pipe stack and also the surrounding tile flashing needs re-pointing. Then if weather permits I will get some of the moss off where the solar panels will cover. I know, I am fussy but now is the time if I want to to it!