Let the sun power your home by installing your own PV panels
One Change: You’ll be helping to save the planet, and (after 6-9 years), making a profit too
On sunny days I’m often sending 4kW of power for free to my neighbours
This column is not qualified to give financial advice, and yet, if we were to do so, our number one recommendation would be to fit solar PV (photo-voltaic) panels to your roof or in your garden. Not only are you helping the planet, but you’ll have the investment paid back within six to nine years, and from then on will be making profit for the next two decades. Considering the uncertainty of the global financial system and meagre interest rates offered by banks, there appears to be no better place to invest one’s savings.
An installation of seven panels (2kW) will cost about €3,600 (once you’ve been repaid the Government’s SEAI grant of €1,400 – if your house was built pre-2011). The electricity it will produce over the next 20 to 30 years will significantly help to power your house, heat your water, charge your future electric car, and the excess electricity can be diverted to the national grid. The Government Climate Action plan has indicated that power companies will soon be compelled to pay you for the excess electricity you feed into the grid, which will shorten your pay-back time.
Further savings may be achieved if future property tax rates are based on your home’s energy efficiency, as the PV panels should significantly improve your BER rating, and there may also be more benefits if the Government begins taxing electricity as it does petrol and diesel currently.
Power at night
The 14 solar panels perched on a gravelled terrace in my garden charge my 2.4kW battery which provides my power at night and helps boost power during cloudy patches of the day, if for example I’m running the oven and kettle at the same time. The panels also heat the immersion, and the excess power gets diverted as my free gift to the national grid. On sunny days I’m often sending 4kW of power for free to my neighbours. The system cost me €5,500, after the €3,800 SEAI grant.
The likelihood is that this grant will be phased out once the feed-in tariff is introduced, so now is an ideal time to invest in solar. That said, be careful: the sector is a bit like double-glazing in the 1980s, with some operators inflating their costs and pressurising homeowners to sign a contract immediately. Your best option is to check out a kit price at solartricity.ie/kits-complete-range and get a independent installer to supply and fit it.
The big companies who advertise and have sales teams on the road will always be more expensive. A 4.2kW system with 2.4kW battery storage and a hot water diverter should cost €10,000. If you feel you’re being fleeced, try www.spvenergy.ie (Cavan), northwestpv.ie (Donegal) or cloverenergysystems.com (Dublin).
One Change is a weekly column about the changes – big and small – that we can make in our daily lives for the good of the planet.