Solar panel installation day

Today we’re having our long-awaited solar panels installed.
This is beyond exciting. I have wanted solar PV panels for years. Not only do they provide free electricity, but they reduce our reliance on ‘dirty’ fuels – especially coal and nuclear energy, which I dislike intensely. Since moving into our house in December, it’s been near the top of our wish list, not least because of the race to beat the changes in the feed-in tariff.

Yes, the kit and installation is currently decidedly on the pricey side (around £9000). We’re very fortunate to have generous parents who are paying for them. Three installation companies came and quoted for the job, and my dad (who already has PV panels and also has an electrical engineering background) was on hand to fire questions at them while I just tried to nod in the right places. He ended up choosing the same firm that had installed his.

The details of our system:
We have 16 shiny new Linuo 235W poly panels and a 3.6 PVI inverter, which is limited to 3680W output (you have to do a lot more paperwork if your system is 4KW or higher). The yield estimates are 2746 kWh using the government’s standard assessment procedure (SAP) figures (this is a fairly blunt estimate which the supplier is obliged by law to quote), and 3278 kWh if you calculate it using PVsol (this is likely to be a more accurate measure as it takes panel efficiency, specific location, and specific angle into consideration). Our roof is west-south-west facing, so not the most productive, but good enough. I will report back on how it gets on.

The installation
It’s noisy (lots of drilling and banging and shouting). It’s messy (there are tools on the stairs, a ladder on the landing, all manner of stuff in the hall and in the front garden, and they spilled a cup of tea on the carpet). All this on the same day as one of the adoption assessment visits from our social worker. Eeeek. Not ideal, but she seemed to cope with it OK. I’m sure she’s seen far worse. I did manage to rescue her shoes (which she’d left by the front door) from under a pile of tools before she noticed. Honestly! But the worst part of the installation is that is about 2 degrees today and the guys keep leaving the front door wide open. We keep shutting all the internal doors in an attempt to keep some of the heat in, but the house is decidedly nippy. I just hope the saving on our next electricity bill outweighs the cost of the gas for today’s heating! Brr.

They seem to be listening to hits of the 80s on the radio (I got a blast of Boy Meets Girl’s Waiting for a Star to Fall earlier) – this I can live with! And in the grand scheme of things, one day’s inconvenience is a small price to pay for lovely solar panels, all that free electricity, and monthly cheques from the electricity company.

Things I didn’t really want to overhear the electricians saying
‘Which one’s positive and which one’s negative?’
‘That’s asbestos there…’ (i.e. in our loft)
‘Why are we drilling another hole?’

Summary
It’s all going to be worth it. I’m looking forward to everything being finished, the scaffolding coming down, and being able to look up our roof with a little glow of pride that we’re doing our bit. I also am going to LOVE using the little gadget that tells you how much electricity’s been generated and draws graphs and stuff. Bring it on. Today we are becoming a solar-powered household.

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