Homeowner Blog

Tesla Time-of-Use goes live: is 2018 the year for time-of-use tariffs?

Henry Day 13 Apr 2018

Tesla recently confirmed that their eagerly anticipated Time-Based Control feature for Powerwall 2 is being rolled out to existing systems. 

We are now able to reveal the functionality available (and to confirm that as expected it's pretty comprehensive)...

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Topics: Powerwall2, Tesla Solar Battery

Pigeon Seeks Room With A View: Solar Panel Bird Proofing

Erica Charles 05 Apr 2018

Solar panels offer a ready-made shelter for nesting under combined with a high vantage point from which to survey the surroundings.

If there’s such a thing as estate agency in bird world, and in particular pigeon world, it’s easy to envisage the blurb on the sale particulars for a nest under a well-located 4kW array.

Of course the pigeon’s gain is the system owner’s loss. Nesting birds cause problems for solar panels and increase the need for general building maintenance. 

Luckily the industry has now developed well-proven solutions for solar panel protection: solar mesh and solar bird spikes.

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Topics: Solar panel bird proofing, Solar panel protection

Which home car charging station? (and driving the 999 steps to heaven..)

Erica Charles 06 Mar 2018

Electric cars are coming of age.

There are 130,000 electric vehicles driving on UK roads, car manufacturers are investing heavily in the technology, and the charging infrastructure is gradually being rolled out.

What's more electric vehicles are already breaking all of the records. Whilst the gas guzzling Bugatti Chiron manages 0-60 in a leisurely 2.3 seconds, Japanese car maker Aspark has produced the electric Aspark Owl which does 0-60 in 1.921 seconds. Meanwhile the electric Range Rover Sport has recently climbed the ‘999 steps to heaven’ in Tianmen Mountain (watch the video from the start of minute 4 if you don't want to listen to the preamble). And of course, Elon Musk's Tesla  is nearly 5 million miles away from Earth, travelling, at the time of writing, at a speed of 7257 miles / hour, doubtless with Bowie's Starman still blaring out to announce man's latest visitation in space. Along with a load of our very best bacteria, apparently.

All very exciting. Back to the mainstream...

Driving an electric car costs around 3.5p per mile as opposed to 15p or more per mile for a petrol car.  If you drive 100 miles a week, you can save around £11.50 per week in fuel costs, to set against increased lease / finance costs of around £15 per week.

So for £3.50 a week you will be cutting out tailgate emissions, reducing pollution, and saving yourself from breathing in petrol fumes every time you fill up.

Now that you’ve been convinced to make your next car electric, you’ll need an EV charger.

Which charger?

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Topics: zappi, Home car charging station, EVBox, EO Charging

Get Ready for the Sun: Solar Panel Maintenance and Cleaning

Erica Charles 23 Jan 2018

Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner.  And with it, the start of the sunny-but- not-so-hot season in which solar panels thrive.

Clean panels do better than dirty panels. And a well-maintained, serviced system does best of all.  

Which begs the question, how proactive should you be in looking after your solar system? What do other Spirit Energy customers do by way of servicing?

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Topics: Solar panel maintenance

Are Solar Panels Worth It in 2018? Yes, Solar Power Costs From 5p/kWh!

Erica Charles 09 Jan 2018

This month saw a modest drop in the feed-in tariff. The tariff for a typical 0-10 kWp domestic system is now 3.93p per kWh, down from 4p per kWh before Christmas.

And well down from the heady days of 2010, when the feed-in tariff scheme was first launched and the subsidy was 43p per kWh.  So, are solar panels a good investment today?

Speaking purely from a financial view, the answer is a resounding yes.  Of course beyond the financial, there are many other environmental benefits to be gained from installing solar, installing residential battery storage, driving an electric vehicle etc. Not least because they all contribute directly or indirectly to tackling air pollution, which, we are told, is gradually destroying the nation's health.

Back to the financials. The solar subsidy may have fallen, but so has the cost of the technology.  Overall the cost of domestic solar electricity is now between 4p and 10p per kWh.  This is well below the 15p average domestic import cost from the grid (which, by the way increased by 7% in the last 12 months....)

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Topics: Is Solar a Good Investment?

Save around 10% on your electricity bill with Voltage Optimisation

Erica Charles 11 Dec 2017

In line with CE and EU regulations, most of the UK’s electrical equipment is optimised to work at 220-230v. For historic reasons our electricity is supplied at an average of 242v but could be as high as 253v.

It is a little known fact that the more voltage you apply to an appliance the more energy it consumes – costing you more and shortening the life of the device.

By reducing your voltage supply to 230V or slightly below, it is possible to make a substantial energy saving (~ 12% reduction in the average home) and prolong the life of your electronic appliances.

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Topics: Voltage Optimisation

Buy cheap, use peak - a game changer for the UK electricity market?

Erica Charles 30 Nov 2017

Our Tesla rep Jerry came to our office this week to update us on the latest Powerwall 2 developments.

The most exciting thing? Timed charging and discharging is due to go live in January or Feburary 2018.  

Why is this so exciting?

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Topics: Powerwall2, Tesla Solar Battery

Lutron Lighting Controls: The World Between Off and On (and "Alexa turn my lights off")

Erica Charles 23 Nov 2017

Most of us have heard of Thomas Edison and his 1000 plus ways not to make a lightbulb.  But how many of us realise how much our world owes to Joel Spira?

And what's he got to do with Alexa?

The answer lies in Lutron lighting controls: creating a world between Off and On...

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Topics: Lutron Homeworks, Lutron Lighting Controls

To infinity and beyond: the infinite Tesla solar tile warranty

Erica Charles 16 Nov 2017

I have been updating our Guide to Building Integrated PV, available as a free download from our website.  

Inevitably I had to check out the Tesla UK website for an update on their long-awaited solar roof tiles. And I read this:

Infinite Tile Warranty

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Topics: Roof Integrated Solar Panels, In Roof Solar Panels, Tesla Solar Tiles

High efficiency solar panels: SunPower panels output 30-50% more power

Erica Charles 03 Nov 2017

As a rule of thumb, with the decline in Feed-in Tariffs and the advent of battery storage, a grid-connected solar system is best sized with an annual output (kWh) approximately equal to the annual usage of the property.  Battery storage capacity in kWh is typically set at 1 to 2 time the system size.

So if your load is 5,400kWh a year, and a kWp outputs 900kWh a year, size the system at 6 kWp and install 6kWh - 12 kWh of battery storage.

What if your roof is too small to achieve this with standard panels? Which panel do you turn to?

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Topics: SunPower, BenQ