Homeowner Blog

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

The Solar Cold Callers are back ... is the SolarEdge retrofit they're selling worth it?

Erica Charles 20 Oct 2017

If you own a domestic solar PV installation it’s likely that you will have been cold-called recently about the system. We get emails or calls from our customers along the following lines about once a week:

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Topics: Domestic Solar Cold Calls, SolarEdge

zappi: The Intelligent EV Charger Optimising the Use of Excess Solar

Erica Charles 11 Oct 2017

Many of our customers have installed an iBoost or Immersun or similar to divert excess solar PV into their hot water tank.

If you have an electric vehicle (EV), it makes sense to divert excess electricity into the EV battery.  In fact if your hot water is heated by gas, oil or biomass, it makes more sense to charge the car than it does to charge the hot water tank.

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Topics: eddi, EV charging, solar self consumption, zappi

£5000 Giveaway from the Carbon Trust for SMEs and State Schools

Erica Charles 27 Sep 2017

Did you know that the Green Business Fund will provide a non-refundable capital contribution of 15% of project costs, up to £5,000 towards the cost of energy efficiency measures such as LED lighting upgrades and solar PV? 

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Topics: Carbon Trust Loans, SMEs, Energy Efficiency Finance, Salix Finance

What do you mean our batteries don't work in a power cut? (said my husband)

Erica Charles 22 Sep 2017


Last summer I installed a 14kWh battery system alongside my existing 7kWp home solar PV system. All went to plan until one day we had a letter from SSE saying they would be turning off our power one Saturday for 'routine maintenance', or something like that.

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Topics: Solar with battery backup, Solar panel backup

Solar PV Battery Storage: Marks out of 10 for the Powerwall 2

Erica Charles 08 Sep 2017


In the past 12 months, Tesla has generated unprecedented interest in home battery storage, and in particular solar PV battery storage, both in the US and in the UK.

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Topics: Solar PV battery storage, Powerwall2

Now taking orders for EV charge points

ID 13 Jul 2017

Get a generous £500 government grant towards your EV charger installation.

Spirit Solar engineers are now approved to install electric vehicle charge points, and claim the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant on behalf of our customers.

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Thinking about  battery storage for solar panels?

Author 13 Jul 2017

Anyone thinking about getting battery storage for solar panels, should monitor their electricity usage for at least 3 months using a specialist energy monitoring device.

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Topics: Smappee monitoring, Monitor home electricity use