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  • FIRST POST
    Microbeman
    Free solar power system. Is it a scam?
    • #1
    • 11th Nov 09, 9:04 PM
    Free solar power system. Is it a scam? 11th Nov 09 at 9:04 PM
    Official MoneySavingExpert.com Insert

    If you landed on this page, perhaps via Google, looking for information about solar panels, please also read the full Free solar panels? guide on the main site

    Back to the original post........



    Hi fellow MSE users.
    I have been offered a free solar power system by this company called "a shade greener". They have a website (just google ashadegreener) sorry not allowed to post links as a new member.
    Basically they are offering to install a photovoltaic solar system for free so that they can get some government money available next year aimed at getting more of these systems in use. All maintenance is by them but I get the benefit of having cheaper electricity. My house fits their criteria (south facing) and they are going to get in touch to give me more details but it just seems too good to be true. Is it a scam? Is a a marketing ploy to get a foot in my door or is it genuine? Some close friends have had their house turned down on the basis that it didn't face South so they are not just offering it to everybody. Has anybody had any experience of this company or has more knowledge of the government scheme. I'd be very interested to know before they visit me.
    Thanks
    Microbeman

    :confused:
    Last edited by Former MSE Dan; 22-02-2013 at 3:30 PM.
Page 46
  • XRayDave
    Here's an Excel graph of our PV panel output to date.



    Data up to & including Mon 20th Dec (the last date I have figures for until next Wednesday (29th).

    Season's Greetings,

    XRayDave
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 27th Dec 10, 6:03 PM
    • 28,032 Posts
    • 13,882 Thanks
    Cardew
    So, from install in 2nd June we have generated 1780kWh. Not too shabby then

    So, based on 50% usage (rough guess) and 10p/kWh (reasonable unit cost), this has saved just about 90 (which I'd rather have in my pocket than the power company's).

    Season's Greetings to all,

    XRD
    Originally posted by XRayDave
    XRD,
    The total generated is absolutely in line with expectations for an ASG system - they expect a minimum of 2,800kWh pa.

    However your 50% usage is just as you state a rough guess.

    You might be able to use that much during daylight hours, but I suggest many(the majority?) of people will not be able to use 900kWh in just over 6 months.

    I have not seen any confirmed figures where people have used that amount - the two contributors to MSE who have export meters and hence can confirm their consumption, use 500kWh and 1,000kWh per year.
  • XRayDave
    You might be able to use that much during daylight hours, but I suggest many(the majority?) of people will not be able to use 900kWh in just over 6 months.
    Originally posted by Cardew
    I think that the 50% figure is probably quite reasonable because during the day when my wife & I are out at work, my mother is still at home.

    Trying to "educate" both my wife and my mother to use the washing machine/dishwasher when the panels are generating during the day. Rather an up-hill struggle though. My wife, for example, sets the dishwasher on either last thing at night (so that the dishes will be clean & dry for morning) or just before popping out in the morning to go to work (but I don't know why). If she'd only leave these 'till mid-morning when the panels are working well - or even better, with the sun so low in the winter sky, the panels seem to peak around 1pm.

    ... 'course, on a steely-grey cloudy day in winter, it doesn't really matter!

    Making some headway with my mother, but I suspect that some re-education will be required come the spring (or should I say a reminder??). As for my wife ...

    XRD
    Last edited by XRayDave; 27-12-2010 at 6:19 PM. Reason: Clarity
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 27th Dec 10, 8:00 PM
    • 28,032 Posts
    • 13,882 Thanks
    Cardew
    Trying to "educate" both my wife and my mother to use the washing machine/dishwasher when the panels are generating during the day. Rather an up-hill struggle though. My wife, for example, sets the dishwasher on either last thing at night (so that the dishes will be clean & dry for morning) or just before popping out in the morning to go to work (but I don't know why). If she'd only leave these 'till mid-morning when the panels are working well - or even better, with the sun so low in the winter sky, the panels seem to peak around 1pm.


    XRD
    Originally posted by XRayDave
    A similar dilemma is faced by people on Economy 7.

    When we had E7, my wife would put the dishwasher on overnight to take advantage of the cheap electricity. However it often wasn't full and there was room to put in the breakfast dishes for example.

    So it was something of a false economy to use a machine that wasn't full.
  • Jon Tiffany
    So you are looking at a saving of around 180 per year, not too bad at all. Thanks for putting the graph together.

    This ties in with my figures, my Direct Debit has just been reduced by 12 per month, my system is much smaller than yours and has been in for around 4 months.

    I take monthly meter readings and had been monitoring my energy useage for some time before putting in the panels so I have a good feel for the savings that are being made.

    Cardew - 50% useage is perfectly reasonable to assume for the majority of people. The sample of 2 people with export meters that you keep referring to is not exactly enough to give any real figures. For example, those with smaller systems (say around 1-2kWp) will likely use more, especially if at home all day.

    I've got an extra remote energy monitor, if I get time I'll set it up so I can measure my export, this will increase the sample size by 50%
    • grahamc2003
    • By grahamc2003 27th Dec 10, 8:52 PM
    • 1,747 Posts
    • 1,373 Thanks
    grahamc2003

    Cardew - 50% useage is perfectly reasonable to assume for the majority of people. The sample of 2 people with export meters that you keep referring to is not exactly enough to give any real figures. For example, those with smaller systems (say around 1-2kWp) will likely use more, especially if at home all day.
    Originally posted by Jon Tiffany
    While obviously not a representative sample in statistical terms, I would apply a very great weighting to the accuracy of those two users with export meters compared to those who do nothing more than guess at their percentage utilisation. Afterall, all the two users with meters have to do is read the meters!

    I think people in general don't appreciate just how difficult it is to use the electricity generated (which is afterall asynchronous generation - could be 1 kw one minute, and 3kw the next around midday. Away from midday, it could be 500w one minute and zero the next. The only way of ensuring a high percentage of that is by having a constant 3 or 4 kw load on for the 3 or 4 hours around midday for example. Most seem to think putting the dishwasher or washing machine on will do that (at least for an hour or so), but that is in fact totally incorrect. This is due to the fact that the load of such machines varies during the cycle - from 0kw to something like 3kw. So the real situation is the panels give you a variable supply, and the usage people propose gives a variable load - and this is why you see those with meters reporting lowish utilisation rates, even though they know the theories involved and utilise all the techniques possible to use as much solar power as possible.

    I suspect this is counter-intuitive to many people without meters, and so they are very likely to overestimate the usage they'll make. If they don't ever get meters to measure their actual usage (indirectly by measuring the export), they'll probably always think they are using a high percentage - that seems to be human nature.

    Of course, as you state, the lower the capacity of the system, the higher the utilisation, all other things being equal. But there comes a point for those with 'free' systems, where the benefit is almost insignificant if a low capacity system is fitted, even if the percentage utilisation is high.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 27th Dec 10, 11:16 PM
    • 28,032 Posts
    • 13,882 Thanks
    Cardew
    Cardew - 50% useage is perfectly reasonable to assume for the majority of people.
    Originally posted by Jon Tiffany
    Pantomime time again - 'Oh yes it is - Oh no it isn't'

    People who have 'rent a roof' systems want to believe 50% is reasonable.

    My feeling(and it is only subjective) is that most won't achieve 50% and it is not just the two people here on MSE that influence my opinion; I have yet to read of any confirmed figures to support the 50% estimate for larger systems.

    Even so, even if someone with the ASG system could achieve 50% utilization it would be 1400kWh to 1500kWh pa.

    Typically someone has taken a figure of 90 for over 6 months from the beginning of June(the 2nd) and doubled it making 180. You are hardly likely to get the same output for the remainder of Dec to 02 June.
  • Jon Tiffany

    I think people in general don't appreciate just how difficult it is to use the electricity generated (which is afterall asynchronous generation - could be 1 kw one minute, and 3kw the next around midday. Away from midday, it could be 500w one minute and zero the next. The only way of ensuring a high percentage of that is by having a constant 3 or 4 kw load on for the 3 or 4 hours around midday for example.
    Originally posted by grahamc2003
    Dont forget that not everyday consists of peak outputs at midday.

    In the morning, afternoon, evening, cloudy days and during late autumn, winter and early spring the peak output will be much lower and more likely to be consumed in the house.

    Also, while this thread is mainly with regard to the ASG systems, there are many people who have bought their own systems reading this and they should be aware that a smaler system will give a much higher percentage used in the house.
  • Jon Tiffany

    Typically someone has taken a figure of 90 for over 6 months from the beginning of June(the 2nd) and doubled it making 180. You are hardly likely to get the same output for the remainder of Dec to 02 June.
    Originally posted by Cardew
    Ok, lets make an allowence for December (lowest output) being included the second set of 6 months and not quite making 50% useage, must still be at least 100 savings as a worst case scenario.
    • grahamc2003
    • By grahamc2003 28th Dec 10, 11:12 AM
    • 1,747 Posts
    • 1,373 Thanks
    grahamc2003
    Dont forget that not everyday consists of peak outputs at midday.

    In the morning, afternoon, evening, cloudy days and during late autumn, winter and early spring the peak output will be much lower and more likely to be consumed in the house.

    Also, while this thread is mainly with regard to the ASG systems, there are many people who have bought their own systems reading this and they should be aware that a smaler system will give a much higher percentage used in the house.
    Originally posted by Jon Tiffany
    I agree with all that, and I hadn't forgotten that the peak isn't reached everyday.

    But the fact that you will probably have 100% utilisation when the output is 100w is neither here nor there when postulating the overall utilisation. I'd estimate that around 90% of the output is produced in the four hours around midday (could anyone come up with an accurate figure?), so that period becomes is the substantive issue. That means for high utilisation, you have to have a high load (say 3.8kw) for constantly for those 4 hours (at least in the summer). That is pretty hard to do for the average household. The almost 100% utilisation of low outputs is probably typical, but that is only a small contribution to the overall utilisation.

    Until there's an automatic system for sensing the generation and load, which switches in extra load when generation exceeds load, the utilisation will probably be lower than 50% if the techniques proposed are followed (i.e. switching in wasing machines at midday etc). My view is based on developing techniques of matching supply and demand in real time for the grid itself, so isn't purely uneducated guesswork. What running your washing machine at midday will do is rise the utilisation from what it would otherwise be (so it's worth doing if you have a full washload), but I expect the rate will still be below 50% typically, for a typical almost 4kw installation.

    If a control system were introduced to automatically soak up the excess generation, then it's likely to be dumping the excess into heating water. While better than getting nothing for the energy, the value of that isn't then 10p/kwh, but more likely 3p/kwh for those with gas heating, because that is the cost of the energy displaced.

    On the other point, my posts are mainly aimed at 'free' systems, because that is the theme of this thread. Those who own their own systems I would think wouldn't be largely concerned with anything but the fit, which is by far the bigger earner. As an aside, that situation strikes me as odd anyway - the return from installing a so called 'green' energy generator is mainly from subsidy, and very little from the 'green' generation the system was (totally illogically imv) set up to provide. As a further aside, just to be clear, I don't criticise anybody exploiting the system, just the system itself - I intend to exploit the rhi when it's introduced, although I disagree with it's aims and think that too is very expensive madness.
    Last edited by grahamc2003; 28-12-2010 at 11:17 AM.
    • zeupater
    • By zeupater 28th Dec 10, 12:35 PM
    • 4,975 Posts
    • 6,733 Thanks
    zeupater
    Ok, lets make an allowence for December (lowest output) being included the second set of 6 months and not quite making 50% useage, must still be at least 100 savings as a worst case scenario.
    Originally posted by Jon Tiffany
    Hi Jon

    As a rough guide the annual generation in the ASG area will probably be ....

    Jan ..... 3.4%
    Feb ..... 5.3%
    Mar ..... 8.1%
    Apr ..... 10.7%
    May .....13.4%
    Jun ..... 12.4%
    Jul ..... 13.1%
    Aug .....11.5%
    Sep ..... 9.5%
    Oct ..... 6.6%
    Nov ..... 3.7%
    Dec ..... 2.3%

    .... so it's likely that from June to Dec a system will average closer to 60% of annual generation than 50%, also remember that Autumn 2010 was especially good for insolation and therefore shouldn't be considered typical.

    With a 3.3kWp system it will be very, very hard to achieve a 50% in house usage, if you can do this you are using the output very well as even high energy consumption appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines are unlikely to do this on their own, whilst running multiple high consumption appliances at the same time will probably result in power import .... I recently attempted to explain why for a washing machine here .... http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showpost.php?p=39448174&postcount=889 .... dishwashers etc are similar.

    HTH
    Z
    "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit. " ...... Aristotle
  • Gizmosmum
    Structural Survey
    I'm not sure if I'm over cautious but I don't seem to be hearing about anyone having structural surveys of the roof before installation is taking place.

    A friend of mine had panels installed just before Christmas and her installer included in the cost of the solar panels a structural survey. The roof looked ok to me but the surveyor said it didn't meet today's standards and there was no guarantee that the panels would withstand that once in 25 years wind or snow load.

    Although it slowed the install down a bit it didn't cost my friend anymore because the installer covered the extra cost of extra roof mounting kit and strengthening needed to make sure the roof is secure.

    I thought this was a good service, it cost 250 for the survey but the price for the install was reasonable anyway. I suppose the question is was it really necessary or could the system have been 250 cheaper?? And maybe as much of a point if you're going down the free route what happens if you haven't had a structural survey and the wind takes your panels off the roof, damaging it in the process? Does your insurance cover you??
    Target of wind & watertight by Sept 2011
  • Jon Tiffany
    I'd estimate that around 90% of the output is produced in the four hours around midday (could anyone come up with an accurate figure?), so that period becomes is the substantive issue.
    Originally posted by grahamc2003
    54% is generated in the four hours around midday.

    Calculated using data found here:

    http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,12342.15.html

    The remaining 46% of the output is spread over a period of 13 hours at much lower outputs, so more likely to be consumed within the house.
    • grahamc2003
    • By grahamc2003 29th Dec 10, 2:23 PM
    • 1,747 Posts
    • 1,373 Thanks
    grahamc2003
    54% is generated in the four hours around midday.

    Calculated using data found here:

    http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php/topic,12342.15.html

    The remaining 46% of the output is spread over a period of 13 hours at much lower outputs, so more likely to be consumed within the house.
    Originally posted by Jon Tiffany
    I can't find your source data, but surely something is incorrect since you are saying the panels generate, on average, for 17 hours per day. Is that correct?
  • Jon Tiffany
    I can't find your source data, but surely something is incorrect since you are saying the panels generate, on average, for 17 hours per day. Is that correct?
    Originally posted by grahamc2003
    No you have misunderstood. I did not say that the panels generate for average of 17 hours per day. 17 hours is the range over which the output is spread.

    I.e.

    Earliest generation starts between 4 and 5am
    Latest generation is between 9 and 10pm

    It is available for anyone to download from the link provided earlier, look at post number 20 and you will see the link for the data, its not hard to find.

    If you are still having trouble finding the data just PM me and I'll email you a copy.
  • XRayDave
    I'm not sure if I'm over cautious but I don't seem to be hearing about anyone having structural surveys of the roof before installation is taking place.
    Originally posted by Gizmosmum
    Hi

    ASG carried out a structural survey on the roof a couple of weeks before the install - just to check that the roof structure was suitable for the load - measuring the size of the joists etc. As with all work carried out by ASG - this was at no cost to us.

    I'd be very surprised (not to say alarmed ) if a company - either "rent-a-roof" kind or a manufacturer/supplier/installer - didn't do a survey of the roof, and if it was for a purchased system, I'd be very surprised if this was an extra cost .

    Hope this helps,

    Happy New Year

    XRD
  • Gizmosmum
    Hi

    ASG carried out a structural survey on the roof a couple of weeks before the install - just to check that the roof structure was suitable for the load - measuring the size of the joists etc. As with all work carried out by ASG - this was at no cost to us.

    I'd be very surprised (not to say alarmed ) if a company - either "rent-a-roof" kind or a manufacturer/supplier/installer - didn't do a survey of the roof, and if it was for a purchased system, I'd be very surprised if this was an extra cost .

    Hope this helps,

    Happy New Year

    XRD
    Originally posted by XRayDave
    I suppose extra costs just depends on whether the company identifies it seperately or includes it in the price. This particular company identified it as part of the cost.

    There seems to be several types of "surveys" out there at the minute. The "I want to sell a system" - 20 min survey with a price at the end of it. The thorough installer survey which includes measuring the roof structure, checking the electrcis and completing a sap assessment which takes about 60 - 90 mins and then a structural survey in addition to the through installer survey, where drawings are created, pressure points calculated and corresponding strengthening carried out to ensure the extra load on the roof will withstand freak wind/snow loads.

    It's the latter that this friend had carried out and it turned out that the pressure points where the roof mounting system was going to be installed were too far apart, meaning that if there was a greater than normal wind the trusses with roof fixings on would be carrying too much weight. ould be a load of old tosh for all I know but I do know there are people carrying out "structural" surveys that aren't qualified in the conventional structural surveying sense... maybe it doesn't matter, if your insurance covers the freak wind/snow etc ....
    Target of wind & watertight by Sept 2011
  • beedydad
    For those of you interested...

    For Nov, total generated o/p from our 3.3kWp ASG system was 138kWh. Two days towards the end of the month produced 11 & 12kWh respectively.

    For Dec (up to Mon 20th) the panels have only produced 77kWh but 4 of those days produced zero (panels covered with snow) and three days we only got 1kWh. With leaden grey skies, we seem to get 2-4kWh and on the odd day where we get clear-blue sunny winter skies, we have had 3x11kWh and a 10!

    So, from install in 2nd June we have generated 1780kWh. Not too shabby then

    So, based on 50% usage (rough guess) and 10p/kWh (reasonable unit cost), this has saved just about 90 (which I'd rather have in my pocket than the power company's).

    Season's Greetings to all,

    XRD
    Originally posted by XRayDave
    What I find extrordinary is that whilst you have been seemingly pleased with the generated power and you and others are argueing over how much of this you have actually used - may be 50% +/-

    The main issue over "free" or "rent a roof" is that there can be no arguing over the easy money earnt by the company who owns the system. They don't care a jot about what you do, whether you change your way of living, purchase timers to bring on gizmos to ake advantage of the best of times of days - you have to do all that!!

    They just sit in their offices enjoying the power generated which then equates to money in the bank for them with no further effort!! (oh maybe a service or 2 inthe future - just to make sure the system functions at max benefit!!)

    Anyway based on your figures they have earned to date:-

    1780 x 41.3p = 735.14
    1780 x 3p x 50% = 26.70

    A grand total of 761.84 -

    Which is probably about 10 x what you have gained - that is if you can accurately calculate the figure.

    Finally i would think your move of supplier to change from 13.5 down to under 10p has probably/will have saved you much more than anything you have gained from solar!!

    Regards
    • grahamc2003
    • By grahamc2003 30th Dec 10, 1:58 PM
    • 1,747 Posts
    • 1,373 Thanks
    grahamc2003
    What I find extrordinary is that whilst you have been seemingly pleased with the generated power and you and others are argueing over how much of this you have actually used - may be 50% +/-

    The main issue over "free" or "rent a roof" is that there can be no arguing over the easy money earnt by the company who owns the system. They don't care a jot about what you do, whether you change your way of living, purchase timers to bring on gizmos to ake advantage of the best of times of days - you have to do all that!!

    They just sit in their offices enjoying the power generated which then equates to money in the bank for them with no further effort!! (oh maybe a service or 2 inthe future - just to make sure the system functions at max benefit!!)

    Anyway based on your figures they have earned to date:-

    1780 x 41.3p = 735.14
    1780 x 3p x 50% = 26.70

    A grand total of 761.84 -

    Which is probably about 10 x what you have gained - that is if you can accurately calculate the figure.

    Finally i would think your move of supplier to change from 13.5 down to under 10p has probably/will have saved you much more than anything you have gained from solar!!

    Regards
    Originally posted by beedydad
    Another point along those lines - for the roof renter to get his cut (say 80 in his case), all consumers have to pay about 840+ (80 to the renter, 760 to the owner, plus unspecified amounts for systems development to support the scheme). Add in other such schemes loaded onto bills, and it's clear that the cost per consumer either exceeds, or will soon exceed, the renter benefit (80) - and at that point, even those getting the 'free' electricity are losing out overall. Their glee is really not due to any gain, but just to a loss less than those not with a 'free' system.
  • Gizmosmum
    All true, but ASG etc have taken the risk with the banks. It's them who will be in the sh*t if the government retracts the FiT not the householder. I don't really see any difference between this and any other commercial operation/investment. The greater the risk the greater the return.
    Target of wind & watertight by Sept 2011
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