On Sat, 26 Jan 2008 09:16:50 +0000 someone who may be Mike P
1) You need to decide whether the panel will produce hot water or
2) Hot water is the better one to go for first, from all viewpoints
I can think of.
3) There is a lot to be said for a DIY installation.
has a lot of information.
In article ,
David Hansen writes:
Hot water system which is DIY installed is the only
thing at the moment which is even remotely viable.
I think the next area where things might become viable
are incorporation of such technologies at build time
when the technology gets to the stage where it can be
installed by the same limited skilled labour which is
already on the building site without any significant
extra effort. At the moment, the cost of specialist
installers render the payback longer than the life of
most systems, even if the parts themselves were free.
Photovoltaics start from the disadvantage of being
horribly inefficient, and there's a bit of a world
shortage of the pure silicon needed (not to mention
that manufacturing it is expensive in energy use).
They also stop working as they heat up, and due to
their poor efficiency, most of the energy they collect
goes into heating them up. Altogether a poor solution
which is crying out for a technological advance which
instantly makes the current technology obsolete, but
has eluded scientists for decades so far.
For domestic use, if you're talking about photovoltaic, it may be worth
holding off for some (undefined, long) time. Since we seem to be on the
edge of the rollout of new technology for solar PV.
At present the cells are made by slicing silicon crystals into wafers,
doing some technical jiggery-pokery then mounting slices of the wafer
into a PV array. It's an expensive process and because the silicon is
fragile subject to a highish failure rate in the factory.
A couple of companies are claiming to have made progress in depositing
silicon onto a glass substrate in a new (cheaper) process. The forecasts
have been made by the companies that they coudl reduce costs to about 1%
of current costs. I suspect that would mean a fall to about 10% of
current costs for consumers.
If it's true and not just vapourware this could be a bad time to be
buying the current hideously expensive cells.
.. and you are absolutely right.
Probably the reverse because it's adding some complexity and
maintenance uncertainty that some buyers may be unwilling to take.
I would suggest you arrange an opinion from an estate agent. I
suspect that at best, they will say it's neutral, and are more likely
to say that it's a liability.
Assuming that he does his downsizing in the next 5-10 years, he's not
going to see a saving in energy cost that will go anywhere near to
covering the installation.
Normally I would say 'caveat emptor', but here I have to say that this
is nothing short of exploitation of the elderly, and it disgusts me.
The amount gives the rest of the clue. The salesperson knows full
well that there is no way in hell, even if the gentleman lives to be
the age of a WW1 veteran, that he will ever realise a return on his
Can you get your partner to convince him, if he won't listen to you?
My father was 81 when he was sold his, similarly priced system, the
firm have recently been fined for mis selling. In his 3 remaining
years I'm convinced he never saw any savings simply because he left
his gas dhw system configured as before. After his death I went to the
house prior to its sale and it did produce hot water but as his demand
for dhw would have been less than 100 quids worth in a year it could
never pay him.
The new owners saw it as a novelty but there's no way it added to the
On 26 Jan 2008 17:02:39 GMT someone who may be
If one measures viability only in terms of simple payback period.
Of course if one does this then there are many things one shouldn't
install as they have infinite simple payback periods. A new
television or kitchen are examples.
On Sat, 26 Jan 2008 11:48:14 -0000 someone who may be "Pete Smith"
What is too cold? The exterior temperature? Solar panels work on the
sun, not the external temperature.
In the winter it is highly likely not to be sunny enough to produce
all the hot water one needs. However, the heating that is provided
means less other fuels are needed.
On a bright winter day a well insulated house which has been warmed
up by the boiler can be maintained at a reasonable temperature by a
solar panel for the daylight hours. This does involve a heating
system designed for this.
Any properly designed solar system will have at least one
thermostatic mixing valve on the hot water system.
Should it be necessary to control the store temperature there are a
variety of ways of doing this.
That rather depends on the system. You have described a solar only
island system. However, such systems generally have other means of
charging the battery as well. They also practice energy efficiency
and so tend to avoid electric fires.
A grid tied system has no battery. In effect it uses the grid as a
On Sat, 26 Jan 2008 21:40:11 +0000 someone who may be Mike P
I think you are right. Unless there is a particular complexity, such
as east/west orientation, it is a lot. Solartwin are advertising
installation from £1500 less.
I think this is the wrong reason to install such a system.
On Sat, 26 Jan 2008 22:45:10 +0000 someone who may be AJH
Changing the settings on other water heating systems is part of the
installation process of anybody who knows what they are doing.
Televisions and kitchens are not sold on the basis of a payback period.
Solar panels, to a great extent are.
Therefore to make a comparison is not valid in the way that you have done.
Why does somebody buy a television? Generally because they like to
watch the programs on it - perhaps it makes them feel good.
Why do they buy a kitchen? Partly functionality and partly because the
look pleases them and makes them feel good.
If you were to say that some people might like to have a solar panel
because the appearance pleases them, then fair enough. Perhaps there's
a market for dummy ones at a tenth of the price of a real one that
would satisfy that market.
If you were to say that some people might like to buy a solar panel in
order to feel good that they ar "doing their bit for the environment"
then also fair enough. They might want to research a bit further and
learn that it doesn't actually achieve very much, but if the feel good
factor is there then why not? The small number is not going to have
any significant impact one way or the other.
I'm expecting to see the Chinese introducing little house windmills to
the market really soon now. These will be light in weight and cheap to
manufacture (and resource friendly) and have a little motor inside to
drive the blades round when there is little or no wind; will run from a
highly efficient switched mode wall wart. People should feel good
about these as well and they'll be every bit as effective as the "real
On Sun, 27 Jan 2008 09:56:47 +0000, David Hansen
head down on the keyboard, banged
out this message:
.. xxOn Sat, 26 Jan 2008 21:40:11 +0000 someone who may be Mike P
.. xx wrote this:-
.. xx>I am asking on behalf of my partners father ..... who is 80 years old
.. xx>and has just put a down payment on a £5000 system for hot water.
.. xx>I am not convinced it is a good idea.
.. xxI think you are right. Unless there is a particular complexity, such
.. xxas east/west orientation, it is a lot. Solartwin are advertising
.. xxinstallation from £1500 less.
.. xx>He is convinced it will put value on his house when he sells up to
.. xxI think this is the wrong reason to install such a system.
It now appears that there was no "cooling off" period on his paperwork
(deposit he gave was £1000) and there appears to be no web site for
the company ... Solar Image based in Berverley I believe.
My partner is going on Monday to see the paperwork and see if we can
make head or tail of it all.
It might be all bonafide, but the no cooling period off is worrying
and he alledgedly was told it does not need sunlight and it will use
antifreeze, not water. The mind boggles!
On Sun, 27 Jan 2008 11:10:38 +0000, Si head
down on the keyboard, banged out this message:
.. xxIn message , Mike P
.. xx writes
.. xx>he alledgedly was told it does not need sunlight and it will use
.. xx>antifreeze, not water.
.. xxantifreeze in the water that circulates through the outdoor solar
.. xxcollectors is sensible.
Obviously .... too me and many others, but maybe not to an 80 year
If that is what he was told, I wonder what other gems he was fed.
The irony is that he can get a grant for all this if he really wants
On Sun, 27 Jan 2008 11:17:10 +0000, Andy Hall head
down on the keyboard, banged out this message:
.. xx> It now appears that there was no "cooling off" period on his paperwork
.. xx> (deposit he gave was £1000) and there appears to be no web site for
.. xx> the company ... Solar Image based in Berverley I believe.
.. xxHe paid by cash or cheque?
.. xx> My partner is going on Monday to see the paperwork and see if we can
.. xx> make head or tail of it all.
.. xx> It might be all bonafide, but the no cooling period off is worrying
.. xx> and he alledgedly was told it does not need sunlight and it will use
.. xx> antifreeze, not water. The mind boggles!
.. xxThat bit's almost right...
Deposit paid with a M&S Credit card.
I know but the installers didn't do it because the basic operation was
a hard sell with a grant kickback for the installers.
The net effect was it was only while we had the opportunity to talk in
hospital in the weeks prior to his death ( whilst we socialised in his
later life he distanced himself from his kids and didn't confide in
us) that he said he had monitored his gas use and couldn't see the
solar contribution. A visit back to the house, which still had two
lodgers, so showed the reason was simply that the dhw timer was still
topping the tank up at 23:00 after most washing activity was finished,
and then in the morning the gas came on at 6:00 at about the time the
lodgers were getting ready for work and stayed on till 10:00. Hence by
the time the panel was able to provide heat from its non optimal SSE
orientation the tank was still full of hot water. By late afternoon
the panel was shaded when the evening wash period started.
Apart from the price I'm sure it was a reasonable installation if run
properly but most punters just expect to turn a tap or push a button
and get instant results.