Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Solar Panel install, day #1

Anyone new to this blog: I have long-wanted solar power for my house. I’m sick of watching energy companies do sod all about renewable energy, whilst charging me ever more money for their coal-fired power that causes so many problems*, and I am also keenly aware that the UK’s feed-in-tariff means that it’s a VERY good investment. With interest rates this low, your money is better off on the roof than in the bank (at least until they lower the tariff for new adopters next year, so hurry!)  However, because my ancient pre-napoleonic house has a stone-tile roof, and is ‘listed’ I can’t put them on the roof, so instead, they are going in the driveway, which luckily is stupidly big for a house this small.

The installers showed up yesterday to start fitting the ground mount frames:

That’s the frame before most of it gets pounded down into the ground and then concreted in. It’s quite a cool system because hardly any concrete is used, yet they are very very stable.

Make no mistake, these are BIG and THICK and mostly HEAVY metal frames. These aren’t going anywhere, any time soon. Although obviously, should the need arise everything *is* eventually removable. There are very few good pictures of ground mounted solar panels in a domestic environment, so I thought I really should snap some. I found it hard to visualise them accurately before ordering it all.

This is the complete array of solar panel frames as it stands now. Two rows of five panels. The back row looks elevated, but actually it’s the same height, we just have a sloping driveway. The gap is needed to stop the front row obscuring and shading the back one. I’m assuming that tuesday will be spent mostly digging the (quite long) trench to take the power to the house. I bet no actual panels get attached until wednesday. I expect it to look a lot nicer and a lot less like an industrial oil-refinery outside my window when that happens. Plus the plan is to get some willow-hurdles to line the back and probably the sides of them to make them look less GRRRRR. I should point out that the initial reaction to these frames now is *Eeek, they are BIG!*. I can’t dispute that.

*I know solar has it’s problems, and personally I’m backing tidal power for the UK< but the thing is, for 95% of people, the ONLY renewable energy they have direct access to owning and installing is solar thermal or PV (wind doesnt scale down well, and there is no water nearby for hydro. House not airtight enough for geothermal), and our house has no hot water tank, ruling out solar thermal, so there was basically one possible solution, and this is it.

11 thoughts on Solar Panel install, day #1

  1. Nice man. I would *love* to be able to do something like this. Only problem is, I live in a flat. Hope you get everything switch on soon. :)

  2. Nice, But are the panels fixed in one position? or do they have some kind of tracking array so they can follow the sun and stay in the optimum position?

  3. They are fixed. The sun in the UK is pretty poor, and the economic cost of solar-trackers just isn’t viable outside of spain or the sahara. Pity. Would have been l33t :D
    Luckily they point due south.

  4. The big tree in the background is casting shadow on your left panels :(
    You won’t get full optimized sunshine.

  5. there is shading at some points of the day, but it’s minimal and they have bypass diodes so its not much of an imapct on total output.

  6. How can you live in England without a hot water tank?! Skip showers in the winter?

  7. we have a boiler that generates hot water on demand, and anyway the shower is electric, so it’s not a problem :D

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