Sunday 18 June 2017

Solar PV upgrades being sold by pushy sales calls

Over the last year, I have found a plethora of Companies have started hard sales campaigns to sell  products or services to existing Solar PV owners. This has not really been helped along by the availability of databases that can be purchased detailing solar owners contact data, making it so much easier for them to get in contact.

Many of you existing solar owners will have had calls or letters from organisations proposing to make your system work far better than it currently does. While most of the products are good,  in most cases here, it is the selling that is suspect, along with the highly inflated prices to go with it.

To give you a ‘heads up’ on current sales company’s promotions, I have compiled a short list below:

1    1) Solar Edge optimised systems. The technology works well to minimise shading problems on solar panels with some clever technology, and will boost generation for part shaded systems. However, the salesmen are indicating far higher gains, and a far higher price than an ‘honest’ company would charge. If your solar is in the clear and has no shading, the Solar Edge system will never pay for itself. A recent example I was told by a customer the dodgy salesman quoted £5400 for a system that should have been just £3000.

      2) Voltage Optimisers . For very few solar owners, their grid voltage is quite high, causing the inverter to shut down when it is sunny. For this 2% of people, a voltage optimizer will sort the problem, bringing the grid voltage down. Sales guys are selling them to just about anyone and at hugely inflated prices, ie £3000 instead of £500

      3)Maintenance Contracts. Many people are getting a misleading letter, telling them their solar installer is now out of business. That statement is not true for around 20% of people, so is being investigated by Trading Standards. This particular company (and I'm sure others too), are selling expensive maintenance contracts amounting to £250 a year. Your system will only need a 5 year check at best for around £100.  You can keep an eye on the panels being clean and your system is working in between times by yourself.

      3)A very naughty  company are even calling people to tell them someone is going to come and maintain the system for free as part of their warranty that is just about to expire. The maintenance will not end up free, as they will expect you to sign up for monthly payments or whatever they can get away with. In addition, as part of any solar warranty, there is never a maintenance included. Don’t be fooled!

There will be other scams and highly priced devices being sold over the phone, not only to Solar Owners, but to anyone. The best advice as always is never to buy anything from telephone sales.

If you would like some idea of pricing for Solar PV add on products, call us at 

Friday 2 June 2017

Powering your outdoor event .. Quietly..

We’ve all been there, festivals, country shows and countryside events where the atmosphere is shattered by the buzz of generators. For trade stands, power can be essential, music events need lights and amplifiers, even the local gymkhana needs to have commentary over a public address system.

Times have moved on and portable power is becoming the domain of Hybrid generators, a combination of silent battery power with occasional generator noise. The idea is quite simple really, the batteries operate an electronic inverter to provide 230v mains power, just like a normal generator. When the batteries get low, a fuel generator runs for half hour or so and allows the battery system to run again quietly for hours. The original concept came about simply to save money on fuel, but the side effect is low noise as well.

Hybrid generators come in all sizes, from full container size to power a large business or large off grid house right down to a few boxes being tucked in a corner of a van for site use. To save fuel even further, if space permits, a solar panel or two can be bolted on keeping generator time even shorter.

Many people across the UK are using fixed hybrid systems to power their houses and businesses full time, usually because of no grid availability. The whole idea is easily transferred to a portable version.

For small events and trade stands, the ideal solution will be to have a hybrid generator fitted within a vehicle. For larger events requiring more power, a modular unit can be used, easily removed after the event by trailer or tractor. If you regularly have to have a generator running for your trade, consider going Hybrid, the fuel savings will be wonderful now fossil fuels are going up in price again. Plus think of life without endless noise and exhaust fumes.

Chris Rudge. 01392 368724

Tuesday 18 April 2017

Getting the best out of your Solar PV system

Many of you will have a solar PV system installed on your house or barn roof and will be enjoying the annual Summer upsurge in generated power that will not only earn you Feed in Tariff payments, but save you buying power off the grid as well.

As some of the earlier systems installed are now over 5 years old, is it still operating as well as it used to? One of the things you can easily check will be dirt and moss buildup on the panels. Many areas in rural locations we find are vulnerable to a deposit of verdigris on the glass. If left there, it will cause your power generation to drop off dramatically. Getting the panels cleaned will bring the generated power back to healthy levels. The cost of a clean can be covered by a couple of weeks generation in midsummer, so well worth the effort.

Again with older systems, older technology solar inverters fitted to convert DC power into Mains 230v, will have been limited in capabilities and were suited for solar array’s with no shading. If any shading occurs from, say, a chimney or tree on one of the panels, the whole array will suffer from reduced power output. This would common on many houses.
To combat this problem, a new optimizer system was developed enabling solar PV with shading problems to get more generation simply by letting each panel generate to best of its ability, without being affected by shading on another panel. The market leader is Solar Edge, and can be retro installed on any existing solar PV installation. Older installations on a high rate of FiT could benefit from this upgrade, which though usually costs around £3000, can enable your PV system to make that cost back within 10 years if you have shading problems during the day. See our website for more information

If you have noticed a drop off in generated power over the current life of your PV system, now will be the best time to have the system serviced. Though you can anticipate a small drop in generation each year to panel efficiency drop off, other factors such as loose connections can create really large losses. Many Solar installers will carry out a standard service every 5 years, the recommended period, for around £100 and can save you much more if catching a problem early on. We offer this service to people in the South West UK

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Making the most of your excess Solar PV generation

Its been a while since I have written a post, though I see I have a whole load of half completed drafts. Things have been busy over the last few months!

Just this week I have put together this editorial for a regional magazine, The Landsman, and thought it would be a good idea to reproduce here as solar storage has changed dramatically since just last year, with far better batteries available at really good prices that mean Li-Ion is now leading the way over Lead Acid on performance and cost!

If you’re an owner of solar PV panels, you will already be aware of the benefits that are brought simply by daylight. Lower power bills and free to use electricity count as main drivers of course, along with Feed in Tariff payments meaning you receive a payment simply for generating your own power.

One of the small drawbacks of this seemingly utopian system is that a proportion of this generated power will be exported straight out onto the grid without any benefit to you but add some technology and this could change. There are devices available that can be retro fitted to grab power before it gets exported allowing you to store it for later use.

The budget version is just one of the many power diversion devices on the market. A reliable unit is the Solar iBoost, costing around £400, which keeps a check on that excess PV power and sends it to the immersion heater in your hot water cylinder to store as hot water. Great if you have a hot water cylinder to use, if not, maybe look at battery storage?

Until a few years ago, Solar battery technology was still based on traditional lead/acid, like a car battery. This was mainly due to economics as compact lithium based batteries were still really expensive, but they do offer a 10-15 year lifespan and require no maintenance.

This situation has now changed, and since Tesla’s introduction of the cumbersomely large Lithium Ion battery a year or so ago, other manufacturers such as LG, Victron and SolaX are now producing more compact storage devices, ideal for installation inside your home. Based on the same concept as hot water diversion, battery storage systems divert the excess power to be exported into a set of batteries. A controller keeps that power securely stored away until your house needs to draw power off the grid, then releases if back for you to use. In an ideal situation, with a good balance between battery and solar array size, you should see a dramatic reduction in the amount of electricity you purchase.
Most are easy to fit, and can be easily accommodated in your house and integrated with your existing Solar PV system. Some models also provide you with a backup power socket to keep you supplied with 230v power if in the case of a power cut - handy for rurally situated people.

Though the concept of payback is not used in the battery storage world, we have recently seen what may be the first of many energy price increases, so it does spur us to consider ways of keeping electricity bills as low as possible. You’ll find that good quality systems start at around £4,000 installed and will provide you with either online or in home monitoring too. For more information speak to Chris Rudge on or visit