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Making the most of your solar panels

You have installed solar panels. Congratulations - you are now generating renewable energy from your home or business, and helping to cut carbon emissions To make sure the panels perform at their best, here are a few suggestions and tips.

First, a couple of things to remember:

Let your buildings insurer know about the solar panels. The installation is unlikely to affect your policy, but you need to notify them.

Make sure that your electricity supplier confirms that you have been registered with Ofgem's Central FIT register. Check that all the installation details are correct. You will need this information if you have any problems with payments, or want to sell your house.

Maintenance

Solar PV panels are relatively maintenance free - they should sit on your roof silently generating electricity and earning you income, especially on bright sunny days.  But here are a few tips to make sure they operate to greatest effect.

  1. Panels on a pitched roof are rinsed off by the rain, but you might like to give them the once-over with water and a soft brush, every few months or so. A long, water-fed window-cleaning pole might be preferable to a hazardous trip up the ladder. Take care!
  2. Prune back any shrubs or trees that are tending to intrude – shading of even a corner of one panel can affect system performance.Sunny Beam monitor
  3. Regularly check on your panels' performance using the wireless monitor – this will not only give you the satisfaction of seeing how much you generate, but also assure you that the panels are working properly. If there is a dip in performance that cannot be explained by lack of sunshine, then check the inverter display. If the red or yellow lights are illuminated, refer to the user manual. You may need to inform the installer.

Using the solar panels to cut your electricity bills

As you know, under the Feed-in Tariff, you are paid a 'generation tariff' (which varies depending on when the system was installed) for every kilowatt hour that your panels generate. Moreover, you are paid a further 'export tariff' for 50% of the total generated. But in addition, you can use the electricity you generate in your own home to power appliances, so cutting the amount you need to draw from the grid. This can add up to considerable saving on your electricity bill.

So, a few tips to maximise these savings:iron

  • Try to use appliances like washing machines, irons or tumble dryers on sunny days when the panels are performing best. For instance, if your panels are generating at a rate of 1.5 kilowatts, this will effectively power a washing machine for free!
  • Use appliances in sequence, not all at the same time.
  • If you are out during the day, use a timer plug to switch on the appliance(s) at the most suitable time of day. Check that all appliances are safe, especially ones to be left unattended. 

Feedback

If you have any queries, comments or tips, please email info@saveyourenergy.org.uk. Happy generating!