Solar PV

Inflation and Shortages-The Perfect Storm

We are seeing very good demand for our services in 2022 however the perfect storm of Brexit, Covid19, and now the war in Ukraine, are causing shortages of raw materials and electrical products; with prices rising dramatically.

Copper, a key component in wiring, has soared in price over the last two years.

Some electrical products, particularly those using semi-conductors and microchips, are subject to longer lead times. Shut downs in China due to COVID are worsening the availability of semiconductors. As of April 19, more than half of China’s biggest cities were under some form of lockdown. Industrial cities and trading ports—including vital hubs like Changchun, Jilin, Shenyang, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Guangzhou—have shuttered businesses, imposed travel restrictions, or told residents to stay home.

High prices and long delays are affecting homeowners looking to go green and install energy saving products, such as heat pumps and solar panels. Though demand is strong due to the soaring costs of electricity and gas affecting home owners.

Demand is also expected to rise for green products due to the cut on VAT on retrofit measures announced in the Spring Statement, and following the launch of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme this month. 

Moreover, the boiler market has been impacted by unprecedented demand coupled with supply chain challenges for steel, cardboard, plastics and electronic components. 

Here at Carter Electrical Installation Ltd we are doing our very best to keep price rises down for our clients,  but unfortunately they are inevitable. We are using all of our industry contacts to source materials and products but some patience will be required.

In addition, a shortage of qualified electricians is affecting the industry and Carter currently has vacancies for solar and heating Engineers. Experience with solar PV and/or heat pumps is a must.

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Rishi Sunak announces VAT relief for home energy efficiency retrofits

In the recent mini budget Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that VAT on domestic green energy projects would be removed for the next 5 years. Previously the VAT rate stood at 5%. So for the likes of solar panels, air source heat pumps and insulation there is to be no VAT.

The Chancellor commented that with soaring energy prices it was now more important than ever for homeowners to make sure that their homes were as an energy efficient as possible. Sunak criticised the “complex rules about who is eligible”.

“The reliefs used to be more generous but from 2019 the European Court of Justice required us to restrict its eligibility,” he told the Commons.

“But thanks to Brexit we’re no longer constrained by EU law.”

Jon Carter, MD of Carter Electrical Installations, commented on this change. “We are already very busy with green energy projects. The absence of VAT can only help more householders want to go ahead with alternative energy sources”

At the last Budget, delivered in October 2021, Sunak confirmed a new rates relief scheme for businesses looking to fit low-carbon technologies onsite, including rooftop solar, battery storage and cycling infrastructure. Heat network installations will benefit from a 100% relief. 

This was originally set to run from 2023 to 2035. With these announcements, Sunak has brought its introduction forward to April 2022. 

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Solar PV Panels

How do Solar Panels work?

Frequently Asked Questions

Solar panels are made out of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

Photovoltaic cells are sandwiched between layers of semi-conducting materials such as silicon. Each layer has different electronic properties that energise when hit by photons from sunlight, creating an electric field. This is known as the photoelectric effect – and it’s this that creates the current needed to produce electricity.

Solar panels generate a direct current of electricity. This is then passed through an inverter to convert it into an alternating current, which can be fed into the National Grid, or used by the home or business the solar panels are attached to.

What type of panels are available?

Options include: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, hybrid and thin film. Solar panels are typically fitted on top of your existing roof. With new builds we can use recessed solar panels so that they are not so obvious at first sight.

How much will Solar Panels cost?

Solar panel system sizes are measured in kilowatt peaks (kWp). This is the maximum output of your system.

“The most common system size, from our survey of more than 1,000 solar panel owners, was between 3.6-4kWp” Which? Prices are from approximately £1000 per 1kW installed (depending on specifications) Therefore the average cost would be around £4,000.

What else do I need to run the system?

Solar PV panels need an inverter to convert the direct current produced by the panels in to alternating current that is used by the household. Inverters are often situated in lofts, though this can be problematic due to high temperatures experienced during summer months. Most inverters now have internet connection capability, so you can keep an eye on your system using apps or web browsers, even when you’re away. The technology also raises awareness of your energy usage, encouraging you to be more sustainable, and save more money.

Consider a storage battery to store the power that is generated from your solar panels during the day. Storage batteries can also be used to store cheap power during the night. This power could then be used to charge your EV or used back in the house when power demand is high. https://www.powervault.co.uk/

Who Can I trust?

Carter Electrical Installations are a MCS-accredited installation company that installs MCS-certified products. MCS is an industry-led quality assurance scheme, which demonstrates the quality and reliability of approved products and installation companies.

Being MCS certified demonstrates to our customers that we install to the industry-expected level of quality every time. MCS gives you a mark of quality which provides assurance.

We are also a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC). This means that they have agreed to abide by high consumer protection standards. RECC also runs a dispute-resolution process if you have a complaint against an installer registered with it.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee?

The Smart Export Generator (SEG) launched on 1 January 2020 and is a government-backed initiative. The SEG requires some electricity suppliers (SEG Licensees) to pay small-scale generators (SEG Generators) for low-carbon electricity which they export back to the National Grid, providing certain criteria are met.

Anyone with one of the following technology types could benefit from the SEG (provided they meet the rest of the eligibility criteria) up to a capacity of 5MW, or up to 50kW for micro-CHP:

  • Solar photovoltaic (solar PV)
  • Wind
  • Micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP)
  • Hydro
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD)

These installations must be located in Great Britain.

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Home EV car charging point

EV Charger Grants Ending Soon.

The current grant scheme for the installation of home chargers is due to end on 31st March 2022. The current Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides a 75% contribution towards the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle home charger; although this grant has been capped at £350.

We are expecting a surge in demand, so if you are thinking of installing a home charger please do get in touch as soon as possible so as not to miss out on the grant. You don’t have to physically have the vehicle you just need proof of an order, deposit or a lease agreement.

According to the UK Government a reformed EVHS will start in 2022. However, changes will be geared towards boosting uptake of EVs for people in blocks of flats and rental accommodation, landlords and social housing providers, plus apartment block owners. On top of this, the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) will be extended to allow SME’s to install chargers for employees. We are also experiencing strong demand for EV chargers from commercial sites and have plenty of experience in fitting multiple charger units.

The last claim for an installation that the government will accept under the scheme will be 30th April 2022. Also, the last date for an installation accepted under the scheme will be March 31 2022.

To qualify for the current EVHS grant – also known as the OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles plug-in grant) – you’ll need to:

  • Have a qualifying electric vehicle that produces 0g/km of Co2 and must cost less than £35,000
  • Have access to off-street parking
  • Be parked somewhere that an electrician can run a charging cable from the distribution board (electricity supply) to your car
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Coming To You in 2022-Higher Energy Bills

The UK generates about half of its electricity from natural gas. ( Wind, solar and hydroelectric accounts for 25%, nuclear just under 12% and coal a little over 1%). With natural gas prices having soared from 56p per therm to around 190p per therm during 2021 (peak price was 451p per therm) electricity prices are expected to rise sharply in 2022. So far the energy crisis has seen 28 energy suppliers go bust. There is concern that consumers energy bills could double this year. The price cap for a standard variable tariff is presently at £1,277. This could be increased to around £2,000 in April, after Ofgem have reviewed the cap in February.

In previous blogs we have talked about the best ways to cut your electricity consumption and produce your own energy through Solar PV Panels. The inevitable rise of domestic energy prices in 2022 will drive the returns higher on reducing your own consumption and producing your own power. There could also be more Government incentives provided to consumers to encourage them to switch to greener energy.

Solar PV Panels

A recent Solar PV installation at Oakbank.

The price of a typical 3.5 kilowatt-peak solar panel system is about £4,800. Based on the Energy Saving Trust’s figures, it can take anywhere between 11 and 20 years to recoup the costs of installing panels for a typical home. This depends on where you live, how much electricity you use and when you use it. And also what you’re paid under the smart export guarantee.

You can use this Solar Energy Calculator to get an estimate of costs and savings of installing Solar PV Panels. Or why not get in touch with us here at Carter Electrical Installations and we can give you an estimate of costs and benefits?

And not forgetting commercial units. Here in the UK, a recent study suggested that covering 61 per cent of south-facing commercial roofs with solar PV could provide all the energy needed for UK businesses. This would save medium-sized and larger enterprises at least £30,000 a year on their energy bills.

Storage Batteries

Installation of a storage battery in 2022.

A battery can store any excess power generated by your solar panels that you don’t use at the time, rather than exporting it back to the national grid. Surveys show that at present households without batteries only consume around 25% of power that Solar PV panels produce. The batteries cost about £4,000 to £8,000. We have a wide range of storage batteries that we can install depending on your needs.

The savings you make on your bills can be significant. The price you’re paid for each unit of energy you export to the grid is usually much lower than the price you pay your supplier for electricity. So, economically, it makes more sense to store the energy and use it yourself – with E.on saying a household with a battery could use 30% more of the electricity they generate themselves. Also if you have an electric vehicle you could be powering that very cheaply.

Another potential advantage of a battery is that it can increase the rate you get paid for exporting your electricity back to the grid. Some firms will pay many times more than the standard amount if you buy certain types of batteries.

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One Step Greener

#OneStepGreener is one of the key messages from COP26. It encourages people to take actions that have a positive impact on our environment. Simple steps we can take every day to make life more sustainable and they all add up. 

With all of the recent focus on COP26 many people are asking what they can do in their own lives to cut carbon emissions. We have been focussing on this subject here at Carter Electrical with many blogs showing what changes households can make to become greener and emit less carbon.

At Carter Electrical we understand that people do want green options but are careful to spend their money wisely. Therefore we offer a full range of green energy products from economy lines to state of the art devices. We can now offer Solar PV, EV chargers, Air Source Heat Pumps, storage batteries and energy saving LED lighting. There are also many Government grants available to help you purchase energy creating/saving products.

We also believe that is very important to have your Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) kept up to date. A new unit will keep you safe and ensure that you’re not wasting electricity. Maybe run a check on your energy usage to see if you are wasting power?

It can be done!! Earlier in the year we were thrilled to have received the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) report for the new build house we worked on in Frimley.

It achieved 98/101 on the EPC, it is net zero on CO2 (Carbon) emissions. The only way to improve the rating would have been with Solar Thermal water heating.

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FAQ-LED Lights

  1. Will I save money with LED bulbs?

With electricity prices soaring we are seeing clients looking for ways to save on electricity usage. Switching your old incandescent lights for LED lighting is a very good method of using less electricity. LED stands for light emitting diode. LED lighting products produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs as they don’t produce heat that is wasted. Lighting makes up 15% of the average UK household electricity consumption.

The vast majority of light bulbs now sold are LED but there remains many light fittings in UK households that use old fashioned light bulbs. New figures from AMA Research’s latest Lighting Market Report show that the take-up of LEDs in home lighting is increasing but that only 14% of lights in UK households are LEDs.

2. Do LED bulbs last longer?

As well as being energy efficient LED light bulbs will last considerably longer than old fashioned light bulbs.

Typically, the important parts of a light bulb, such as the filament, weaken over time, which causes the bulb to burn out. But LEDs don’t burn out the same way that other bulbs do; instead, the amount of light they produce decreases gradually in what is called “lumen depreciation”. The lifetime of an LED bulb is based on how long it takes for the lumen output of the bulb to decrease to 30%, so it will likely last longer than the average rated lifetime hour listed on the box if you don’t mind or don’t notice the decreased illumination.

Certain cheaper LED bulbs will only last about 5,000 hours, which is still 4,000 – 3,000 hours longer than the average lifespan of an incandescent, but many branded bulbs are rated for over 25,000 hours.

3. Can I use LED bulbs in my existing light fittings?

When it comes to LED light bulbs, they will turn on and work in any light fixture that provides them at least the minimum wattage they’re specified for. Because of the efficiency of LED bulbs, this figure is often very low. Some LED bulbs may even be tolerant of too little or too much wattage, to a certain point. This is yet another thing they share with incandescent and halogen bulbs.

The major variance factor is lumens. Supplying too much or too little voltage to any light will cause a fluctuation in the amount of light it outputs, but with LEDs, this can be especially dramatic. This is because their power needs fall far below most other types of lightbulbs out there.

To put it simply, look at the wattage and lumens together when buying an LED lightbulb. It may require only 8 watts to shine at a decent level, for example, but reaching that same lumen rating with an incandescent bulb would take far more power. One way to tell is to look at wattage equivalents when buying LED bulbs.

4. What is the brightness of LED bulbs like?

LEDs are capable of emitting an extremely high level of brightness. That’s why wattage is no longer a viable measurement of brightness – instead, look at a bulb’s lumen output when you’re making the switch to LEDs or other energy-efficient lighting.

5. Can LED bulbs come in different colours?

Incandescent bulbs require gels or filters to create different colours and shades of light. On the other hand, LEDs offer a wide range of colours and colour temperatures without the use of gels or filters, which can burn out or fade over time. With LEDs, it is the actual diode (or its phosphorus coating) that is changed to alter the colour of the emitted light, so you can trust that it will stay the same shade until the end of its lifespan.

6. Can LEDs be more flexible in design?

LEDs have tremendous design flexibility. Because LEDs are so small they can be used in virtually any application you can think of. They can be combined in bunches for a traditional bulb, used in isolation as a small device light, or strung out in sequence in a linear fashion. Just about everything you can think of can be done with LEDs.

If you would like to discuss your lights and your light fittings with us please give us a call on 0118 967 7033 or email us admin@carter-electrical.co.uk

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Triple Solution

We are seeing an increasing number of clients ordering Electric Vehicles, both for their home and business use. Therefore we are regularly getting asked for the installation of EV chargers for home and business use. Many clients are also going that one step further and are asking for the complete green energy package of Solar Panels, storage batteries and EV chargers.

This triple solution enables you to create power from the sun, store it if you don’t need it at the time, and then charge your electric vehicle with your own energy. Indeed you might also be able to sell some of your power back to the grid.

Here at Carter Electrical Installations we can offer this triple solution with products to suit all budgets. For the high end solution we recommend LG Solar Panels, with a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery and an Andersen charger for your EV. We would also add Solar Edge inverters-inverters change the DC voltage from the solar panels to AC voltage that can be used in the property. We can offer bespoke packages offering the best value for money for the client. We fit the products professionally and are on hand to give a good level of advice and after service.

Remember there are also government grants available for most green energy projects. We can help you in applying for these.

This image and the header photo show our latest installation for Organico Foods in Reading. This system by Huawei FusionSolar has Solar panels with a battery to store excess energy.

Another recent installation was a 12 panel 4.6kW system installed with SolarEdge inverter & optimisers. We had previously fitted a Zappi for customer’s EV. They have also opted for a Tesla Powerwall AC battery. We’ve installed the Tesla Gateway in preparation for the imminent delivery of the battery unit.

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Energy Loggers-Hire A Professional

This might seem a boring subject to blog about but here at Carter Electrcial Energy Loggers are a vital tool for us. They help us measure clients energy usage so that we can fit the correct solar system. The loggers could also potentially spot electrical usage that the client is unaware of. With subsequent action taken by us they could reduce their energy bills.

The header photo above shows us setting up the Fluke Corporation data logger for a 2 week session so we can advise our client on an ideal sized solar system to meet their usage. That’s why we use the #hireaprofessional

Checking For Overloads

Here is Martin setting up some monitoring equipment at one of our client’s units. They’re having issues with overloads so looking to balance out their power usage across circuits- using the Fluke United Kingdom 1732 power analyser.

The logger discovers sources of electrical energy waste to identify possible energy savings, and conduct load studies. For you electrical nerds the logger:

  •  Automatically captures log voltage, current, power, power factor, energy and associated values
  • It has the highest safety rating in the industry: 600 V CAT IV/1000 V CAT III rated for use at the service entrance and downstream.

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Working From Home? Upgrade Your Home Office

Are you enjoying working from home? Not missing the hour long commute? Want to prove to your boss that you are more productive at home? Want to stay working from home?

However, does your home office hardware and infrastructure support your maximum productivity? Have you moved in to a garden office like thousands of others, but still not got everything working properly? Do you need a power supply to your garden office?

Outlets

First, let’s look at the easy changes that we can do right away, such as making sure your office has enough outlets, so you don’t need to use extension cords. Extension cords are a sign that you need a wiring upgrade. They’re a trip hazard, they’re ugly, and they’re unnecessary when you have the infrastructure you need.

You can tackle a shortage of outlets by calling an electrician. At the same time you increase the number of outlets, you can also add some USB charging points. Instead of clogging up the AC plugs when you’re charging USB devices, simply add USB outlets and charge your devices. In many situations, just changing out old AC points with USB points actually doubles the number of useable outlets. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Dedicated Computer Circuit

Another easy improvement is adding a dedicated computer circuit for the office/computer equipment. Because computers use more sophisticated components and are more sensitive to any changes in the electrical signal, a dedicated circuit is a needed safety feature. This circuit isolates your computer equipment from other devices on other circuits, such as heaters and refrigerators that intermittently draw more power. Whatever happens elsewhere in the home’s electrical system is separate from your computers.

Another upgrade is a surge suppressor. Installing a whole-house surge suppressor, that is located near the electrical panel, will protect the entire home from damaging electrical surges.

Hard-Wired Internet Connection for Better Speed

Lastly, replacing Wi-Fi with a hard-wired internet connection can provide a more stable connection that’s better for high-bandwidth tasks like videoconferencing. If you ever find that your Wi-Fi is a bit sketchy or unreliable, a hard-wired connection will solve that problem. It’s also a benefit when you have multiple users competing for bandwidth. Also a great solution for a garden office.

Although you might start with just a few upgrades, you may find your home office could also benefit from better lighting, security cameras, and other electrical upgrades that all need more power. Contact us here at Carter Electrical Installations to learn more about these and other improvements that will boost your productivity and enhance your home office security.

PS.

Consumer Units-aka Fuseboards

Check Out The Four Indicators That Signal You May Need An Upgrade.

1- Age- If your fuseboard has not been changed in twenty years then it is likely not compliant with current standards and may not provide you with basic protection. Technology and safety associated with consumer units has also moved on massively in the last thirty years from both the perspective of shock and fire protection and also the ease of use for the homeowner.

2- Does your consumer unit have an RCD (Residual Current Device)? Most modern consumer units should have and this single device massively increases the safety of your home electrics.

3- Live parts exposed- Are the working parts, fuses, or circuit breakers enclosed or are parts of the board exposed? It’s surprising how many fuseboards we come across with fuseholders or blanking plates missing leave live parts exposed to touch.

4- Fire risk- Is your fuseboard constructed of wood or plastic? If it is then it may not meet fire regulations. Should the worst happen, would the location of your fuseboard impede your escape in the event that it caught fire? Many consumer units are located either in an under-stairs cupboard or by the front door and many of these cupboards are also used to store potentially flammable objects.

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