Solar panels without Smart meter?

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We are in the process of applying for a government grant/ interest free loan for ASHP through Home Energy Scotland. As part of the application an advisor phoned me today to suggest we consider Solar panels as part of the application as there is additional funding (unspecified) towards that. 
Our existing heating is oil, but after a catastrophic fail last month It needs replacing with something. The heating engineer suggested ASHP, so we started that process. The HES advisor that called today pointed out that ASHP will increase our electricity bills and this could be mitigated by a Solar PV installation. 
However, although we have a recently installed Smart meter it only functions as dumb, just like everyone else in the village. We are in a black spot when it comes to mobile phone signals and I presume this to be the reason. So I have made the assumption that we will not be able to benefit from any ‘spare’ electricity generated . 
Our house faces east to west. We have dormer windows on the east facing side and velux windows on the west facing. I’m thinking  west would be best logistically with the larger flatter surface area. 
My question is does it really matter that we cannot sell back to the grid? Should that even  be part of the consideration ? We are both retired so at home all day. I was prepared to take on the loan for the ASHP, but this has opened a whole new can of worms as I have no idea about affordability. 
I should have the report from the HES advisor next week, and am eagerly waiting for the ASHP installation quote. 
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  • matelodave
    matelodave Posts: 8,620 Forumite
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    edited 11 February 2023 at 10:35AM
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    Have you really done all the sums.

    TBH replacing an oil boiler with an ASHP is going to cost you a lot of money and will probably cost you quite a bit more to run.

    To get the best out of an ASHP it wont be a drop in replacement for your oil boiler, radiators will need to be upgraded and probably some of the pipework. Even with a grant its going to work out to be pretty expensive and even more if you have to take out a loan and pay interest.

    Dunno what the going rate is for oil where you live but even at a £1 a litre its going to be cheaper per kwh than using an ASHP at the moment and probably even cheaper when leccy costs increase in April.

    I'm not anti-ASHP, I've got one and had it for 12 years and know how to use it to get the best out of it but it still costs significantly more than an equivalent oil boiler to instal and run.

    In the last couple of weeks on days when when the temperature drops below zero, we can chew through nigh on 60kwh a day (at 35p/kw = £21/day). We got through £400 in January.

    Regarding solar panels, again do the sums - bear in mind that the heat pump is working at its hardest in the winter when the days are short and cold and the sun, when it shines, is very low in the sky so you wont get much from them.  The sun doesn't shine as much as it does in the summer when you don't need heat so it's not going to do much to reduce your leccy consumption in the winter.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't do it but do seriously work out the costs, get several quotes and read up on them. Being green and efficient isn't quite the same as being cost effective and it could take you more than forever to break even.

    There are a few threads on heatpumps on the forum but you you need to put some effort in to understand how they work and how to optimise them.

    Have a look at this one as it does what you are trying to do and may give you some pointers as there's a lot of input from heatpump owners
     - https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6240076/i-bought-a-heat-pump/p1
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
  • Ectophile
    Ectophile Posts: 7,379 Forumite
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    A SMETS2 meter will record any exported electricity, even if it can't phone home with the meter readings.  It's worth checking if you can get a supplier to pay you the export payments, based on manual readings.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • [Deleted User]
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    I have solar panels. They will save you money, my quarterly electricity bill last summer was £60 and I got about £55 back from the national grid. But it has probably taken me about 10 years to make back the initial outlay on getting the panels.
  • cannugec5
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    Have you really done all the sums.
    ….

    Have a look at this one as it does what you are trying to do and may give you some pointers as there's a lot of input from heatpump owners
     - https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6240076/i-bought-a-heat-pump/p1
    Thanks for the link. That was very informative and I had completely missed it when I did a search before posting. 
    As for the sums - no, not yet really. We are waiting for the quotes. 
    However with a catastrophic fail of our current oil system we know there is going to be a large cost whatever we do. So feel it’s time to bite the bullet and go greener at the same time. 
    The oil tank is no longer compliant due to changes in legislation as to where they can be positioned so a new oil system would also require a new tank probably in the front garden in full view. 
    If we opt for the ASHP there is a grant available for a not insubstantial £9k plus interest free loan for the remainder of the cost. 
    We are aware the hot water tank will need replacing, but that would also be required anyway as it is not large enough for a single bath! We have a massive airing cupboard with a tiny tank in it for some reason, but we have just ignored it and used the shower. I would like to use the bath more. 
    We are waiting to find out about radiators. We do have a lot but there is space to increase the size of them if required. 

  • cannugec5
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    Ectophile said:
    A SMETS2 meter will record any exported electricity, even if it can't phone home with the meter readings.  It's worth checking if you can get a supplier to pay you the export payments, based on manual readings.
    I have today spoken with a lady who lives locally who has solar panels and gives quarterly manual readings for her export. That feels positive to me. Just need to find out if it remains an option to new customers. 
  • cannugec5
    cannugec5 Posts: 460 Forumite
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    edited 13 February 2023 at 7:11PM
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    I have solar panels. They will save you money, my quarterly electricity bill last summer was £60 and I got about £55 back from the national grid. But it has probably taken me about 10 years to make back the initial outlay on getting the panels.
    Thank you. That’s good to hear. I know it’s not a quick return on the investment but it’s great to learn that you are now reaping the benefits. 
    I just need to find out the costs now - it might be simply unaffordable at the same time as the ASHP, although I’d still consider it for later. 
  • Apodemus
    Apodemus Posts: 3,384 Forumite
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    If you have windows of any sort on your roof (dormers or velux) you are already reducing your roof area for panels, so to maximise generation, you might be best to have panels on both the east and west elevation.

    To cover for the winter heating need versus summer electricity generation, you need to be able to export the electricity to the grid.

    Be very, very wary of HES's calculation of COP on your ASHP.  I'd take the winter COP with a grain of salt as HES can sometimes quote manufacturer data, using South of England winter temperatures, rather than local temperatures.

    Have HES provided a comparison for a wood pellet boiler?  These are also covered by the scheme but HES won't always tell you that.  Boiler costs can be similar to an ASHP, but won't require the same degree of alteration to existing radiator sizes and in an averagely insulated Scottish house can often provide better output temperatures.
  • cannugec5
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    Apodemus said:

    Have HES provided a comparison for a wood pellet boiler?  These are also covered by the scheme but HES won't always tell you that.  Boiler costs can be similar to an ASHP, but won't require the same degree of alteration to existing radiator sizes and in an averagely insulated Scottish house can often provide better output temperatures.
    We have not considered Biomass because of the space they require. I understand that when considering boiler with space all round it  plus pellets, at least 5 metres by 5 metres is required. We are hoping to convert our garage into an en suite bedroom, instead it would only be a boiler room. HES didn’t offer it as even a consideration. 
    do know of one or two people locally with biomass systems but they have farms and barns to house everything. 

    I have now approached a solar installer for a quote. There are just two accredited companies in the area, both with the same surname and in the same village! I think they might be father and son. They are just over 40 miles from here, but do cover our area. I’m thinking with such a huge catchment they might be very busy. 
    In the meantime, and with doing lots of reading, I’m thinking that although a solar system would be good I’m not sure that we would generate enough to justify the additional ££££ on a battery. It’s a question for the experts to ensure I’m really understanding what I’m reading. 
  • Apodemus
    Apodemus Posts: 3,384 Forumite
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    I appreciate that you may simply not be interested in the extra work of a pellet system, and that is fair enough.  But just in case anyone is hanging on every word in this thread, I'm pretty sure you could find a much more compact pellet installation than 25 square metres.  Don't confuse traditional Bio-mass boilers (typically with a large water heat store), with simple pellet boilers - each has their place, but have differing space requirements.  There are pellet boilers that really don't take up any more space than a conventional boiler (even some that can form a feature in your living room or replace a range-cooker in the Kitchen).    Granted, you need to be able to store pellets, but sometimes the space where the oil tank was can easily be replaced with a pellet store.
  • aliby21
    aliby21 Posts: 322 Forumite
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    cannugec5 said:

    However with a catastrophic fail of our current oil system we know there is going to be a large cost whatever we do. So feel it’s time to bite the bullet and go greener at the same time. 
    The oil tank is no longer compliant due to changes in legislation as to where they can be positioned so a new oil system would also require a new tank probably in the front garden in full view. 


    Not sure what the catastrophic failure entailed, but you will not necessarily require a new oil tank just because the existing one does not comply with current regulations.  If the tank is functional you can attach a new boiler to it. 
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