Catching Some Rays
By Neil Pascoe
In March 2010 a 1.44 kilowatt photovoltaic array was installed on my house as part of a successful bid in the DECC Carbon Challenge, The installation was completed in two days and by the end of the second day the panels were all connected and had begun to generate electricity.
As well as the panels on the roof the installation also needs an inverter to convert the direct current produced by the panels into alternating current that can be used in the house. This is situated in the loft along with a meter, which records the number of kilowatt hours generated.
The inverter also displays the wattage being generated at any one time. When the array was first installed I watched this display regularly and was surprised to find that some electricity was produced on dull days as well as the sunny ones.
The way I use electricity has changed since I’ve had the panels. For example, whereas previously I used to use the washing machine and the dishwasher at night to take advantage of economy 7, I now try to use them during the day when the sun is out.
To date the system has produced 1250 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to 1250 units and I estimate the saving on my electricity bill for the first year will be about 90 to 100 pounds.
This is the inverter which is situated in the loft and connected directly to the consumer unit.