Going Solar Part 1 – Installing a 4kW PV Array at the Automated Home
Having watched the price of photovoltaic solar panels steadily fall over the last few years and seeing a drop in incentives looming on the horizon, we decided to pull the trigger on a system for the Automated Home.
Two of the companies quoted a similar figure of around £5,000 whilst the third quoted for a more sophisticated system using micro-inverters at almost double that.
We went with the Solar Panel Co NI, one of the companies around £5K after receiving a personal recommendation from a friend that had used them before.
Our system comprises of 14 x 285W SolarWorld mono black panels and an SMA Sunny Boy 3600TL-21 inverter.
Whilst we could have mounted some panels on the south-facing roof at the front of the Automated Home they wouldn’t have looked great and we have plenty of space so we opted for a ground mounted system in the back garden instead.
Our rear fence runs around 25 degrees off perfect South meaning the parallel array faces SSE. A slightly westerly facing array is usually better than an easterly one as that means you continue to generate a little more power in the evenings when you normally use the most. But it should make very little practical difference.
The guys from the Solar Panel Co NI did a fantastic job, installing the ground mount in the garden, erecting the panels, burying the cables that run into Node Zero and connecting everything to the SMA Inverter – all in one day.
Northern Ireland has it’s own incentive scheme (NIRO), like the rest of the UK – England and Wales (RO), Scotland (ROS). ROCs payments continue for 20 years and we cover the economics in part 2 of this review series, but I’ll say this, it’s a special moment when you see your electricity metre slow down, stop and then start to go backwards 🙂
For now checkout the video of the system below and make sure to watch to the end for the obligatory time lapse of the whole day.