With more and more people looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, solar panels are becoming an increasingly common sight around Ireland. If you’re thinking about installing Solar PV panels to generate your own electricity and cut your energy costs, you probably have a few questions.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people ask when considering Solar PV, starting with the initial cost.
How much does it cost to get solar panels?
We’ll start with the equipment required. A standard installation consists of six 300-watt Solar PV panels, and an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) produced by the panels to the alternating current (AC) used around the home.
With Electric Ireland, that standard installation costs €4,800 (inc. VAT). The total panel surface area for the six-panel setup is 10.2m2 so it does not need planning permission, subject to this list of conditional planning exemptions.
That setup will provide a total of 1.8kWP (kWP = the maximum potential output), in other words, at full capacity you will get 1.8 units of electricity per hour. One unit of electricity is equivalent to about 6 hours of television or one washing machine cycle. We’ll go into further detail on the cost-saving that generates below.
What are my options?
Before that, there are other options to consider to ensure that you get the most out of your Solar PV panels. When you generate electricity via Solar PV panels, you will sometimes generate more energy than you’re using. Especially as the best time to generate electricity is in the middle of the day when your home may be empty. Options like a Diverter or a Battery Storage Unit will help you to make use of that excess electricity.
A Diverter is designed to monitor the Solar PV generated power and the electricity demand in the home. If there is an excess generated, the Diverter will use that ’spare’ generated power to heat your water.
Adding a Diverter to your setup will add €400 to the installation, bringing it to €5,200 (inc. VAT).
You can also add a Battery Storage Unit which will give you a different way to use excess electricity. As the name suggests, rather than using the excess to heat water, the battery will store the ‘spare’ electricity for use later. Installation of a Battery Storage Units start at €6,900 (5kWh) inclusive of VAT and installation.
What supports are available?
The good news is that you don’t need to pay the full cost of Solar PV installation yourself. There are grants available from the SEAI for installations with or without a Diverter or battery. These amount to €700 per kWP of Solar PV installed and €1,000 towards battery storage, bringing the net cost down to €3,540 for standard install without Diverter or €3,940 with a Diverter, and €5,900 for a 5kWh Battery Storage Unit.
How much will solar panels save me?
Just how much you can save depends on a few factors like your location, the angle of your roof and the aspect of your house. South-facing panels on a 35 degree roof is ideal in Ireland. Your usage will also have a big impact, if you use appliances during the day you will save more than someone who only uses electricity in the evening.
Adding a Diverter would increase your savings, with some of the unused excess going to heating water. However, a Battery Storage Unit is the most efficient way to squeeze every drop of energy from your Solar PV panels. As a rule of thumb, savings are almost doubled when solar is combined with battery storage and a day/night meter. This is because the battery can also take advantage of cheaper Night-Saver electricity rates and help to power the home for less during the day.
Your savings can be calculated using Electric Ireland’s Solar PV Calculator. Don’t forget to tick ‘battery storage’ to see what a storage unit can do for you.
How do solar panels help the environment?
As solar panels convert daylight into electricity they provide the perfect, renewable energy source for your home with zero emissions and no negative impact on the environment. While we are on a journey toward more renewable energy resources, for now, most of the energy generated by the national grid still comes from gas, oil and fossil fuels. The more you use solar generated electricity, the less you need to use energy from the national grid.
When you add a Diverter or Battery Storage Unit to use any excess solar electricity generated, you will reduce your household’s energy demand even further.
In the future, as a result of projects like the StoreNet initiative, our national grid may also be able to store its excess or borrow some electricity from homeowners to help lower peaks in demand. This technology may even create new opportunities like allowing you to share or sell the electricity generated by your solar panels to other homes.
It has never been cheaper or easier to start generating or storing free, renewable electricity from the sun. When you do the maths on the cost savings and environmental benefits of solar, the only question left is ‘when can you get started?’.
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