Solar Power Diverters 101

You’ve installed solar PV panels and you’re generating renewable energy from the sun, so what’s next?  What about a solar diverter, a handy device that works alongside your solar panels to enhance energy utilisation within your household.

A solar diverter’s function is to channel surplus electricity produced by the solar panels towards a designated appliance, typically for water heating, rather than exporting it to the grid, enhancing the overall efficiency of the solar panels for the homeowner.

When the solar panels produce an excess of electricity beyond the current household consumption, the solar diverter automatically detects this surplus and redirects the extra energy to a specified appliance, such as water heaters, or electric heating systems. Most electric vehicle (EV) chargers can also do this too. This increases the self-consumption of solar energy, reducing reliance on grid power and thus, lowering electricity bills. Although using a diverter to heat water is the most common use, it’s worth noting that solar diverters can’t be used to heat hot water if a combi boiler is installed in your home.

Ultimately, the price of a solar diverter is influenced by various factors such as the brand, model, features, and installation specifications. The good news is, they qualify for 0% VAT, which helps improve the payback by saving typical gas use to heat the water. However, the optimal utilisation of solar energy varies depending on individual circumstances. For most users, maximising savings and achieving quicker payback involves using surplus electricity within the home. Yet, if you benefit from a favourable solar buy-back tariff, selling your excess energy back to the grid may prove more worthwhile.

Today we shine a spotlight on the myenergi eddi. As myenergi explain themselves, “a solar photovoltaic (PV) system without an eddi is like a car without a steering wheel or driver. Without an eddi, you have no control over where you want your self-generated energy to go, or how you want to use it.

By installing a myenergi eddi, you are able to make the most of the green energy generated from your solar PV or even your wind generation system. By directing the excess renewable energy to other appliances, you can, for example, heat 100% of your hot water on self-generated green energy.

eddi uses state-of-the-art technology to monitor PV performance and your energy consumption. This means that surplus power can always be used in the best way – heating your water with solar ready for when you need it most. The eddi can fully heat your water using much lower amounts of solar generation, such as during winter mornings, late summer evenings or when it’s overcast, ultimately improving the life and efficiency of the heat pump, and prevents reliance on top ups from the grid.

At Carter Renewables, we highly recommend consulting with us to obtain an accurate cost estimate for a solar diverter tailored to your home, lifestyle and specific requirements. Contact us today to get your solar diverter journey started, and to get that metaphoric steering wheel added to your car!

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Electrical Safety at Home – Don’t Be Shocked

Our Planet Earth has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years, and we have only enjoyed domestic electricity for about 150 of them. Electricity is now something we absolutely take for granted: to light and heat our homes, cook our food, charge the devices to entertain us and much more. On the rare occasion of a power outage, we spring to our pre-charged smartphones to enquire about the cause, and more often than not are able to utilise stored electricity in some form until usual service resumes.

Yet, due to its convenience and normality within our modern lives, we tend to forget that electricity has the power to kill humans when manhandled, and around 2.5 million Brits receive an electric shock annually. That’s a shocking (!) 4% of the population falling foul each year to everything from electrical fires to fatal incidents, often sadly because of faults around their house.

Today we will explore the most common current (ok I’ll stop now) reasons for an electrical mishap, and how you can safeguard yourself against them.

It’s the main culprit for sure – old or faulty wiring will lead to electrical fires or immediate shocks. Even if you’re not a sparky, you can still learn to distinguish between old and new wiring from the colouring. Old plug wiring consists of a red live wire, black neutral wire and a green/yellow or a pure green protective earth (PE) wire:

Old Plug Wiring Colours
Know your old from your new!

Plugs with modern wiring contain a brown wire that is live, a blue neutral wire and a green/yellow PE wire. Broadly speaking, the wiring connections in new plugs are the same as in old ones but with different colours for the neutral and live wires.

As well as this, if you have any of the following in your house, get in touch with us today for us to check them out safely:

  • Cables coated in black rubber were phased out in the 60s
  • Cables coated in lead or fabric were installed pre-60s
  • A wooden-backed fuse box or cast iron switches would be pre-60s
  • Wall-mounted light switches in the bathroom are pre-60s

If the back of your TV, or by your bedside table looks like the image below on a permanent basis, please reconsider installing some additional sockets to cope with your electrical appliance demand. Misuse of extension plugs and leads is one of the biggest electrical offenders in the UK, not helped by the fact that appliances are often plugged into them constantly throughout the day and night, silently overheating, resulting in melted sockets or worse case scenario, house fires.

Overloaded Extension Sockets
Dangerously overloaded extension sockets

If you do have a lot of devices, think about only plugging them in when you need to use them, as the purpose of extension leads was originally for that exact use only – such as when you needed additional electricity to mow the lawn or vacuum your car. Additionally, make sure the extension lead you’re using is up to the job – the capacity should well exceed the electrical demand you’re placing on the cord.

We literally can’t live without them, needing a charger for everything from our phone, laptop and kids’ tablets to our vacuum cleaners and toothbrushes! And while the original charger that came with your device may be compliant with UK properties and our electrical systems, there’s a high chance that any replacement or ‘spare’ chargers, bought in a rush from Amazon Prime, are low-quality products made in China for as little as 3p a pop.

So how can you check your charger is compliant with UK properties and your plug sockets, in order to keep safe?

  • Check the Plug Pin: Examine the pins and ensure there is a minimum distance of 9.5mm between the edge of the pins and the charger’s edge. Failure to meet this standard could pose a risk of electric shock. Difficulty in plugging the charger into the socket may indicate incorrect pin length or size.
  • Verify the Markings: When purchasing a charger, ensure the brand’s markings are clearly visible. The output voltage should match that of your device, and a CE mark should be present to confirm compliance with EU regulations.
  • Refer to the Manual: Upon purchasing a device or charger, refer to the provided instructions for proper usage guidelines. These instructions will include details on correctly using the charger and offer essential electrical guidance.
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Step Inside the Carter ‘Green’ House

Being in the trade, I have the benefit of being able to install at below-market rates, which was a huge benefit and incentive to get started on this project. My main intentions, however, were to demonstrate how using renewables together can a) reduce your carbon footprint,  b) save you money, and c) earn you money.

The house is a 1970 bungalow, with approximately 145m2 of floor area, insulated cavity walls (although I do wonder sometimes!), old wood-framed double glazed windows, and a rather old gas boiler. The radiators throughout the house were a mix of single and double panels, which I planned to upgrade. Fortunately, the house, being an L-shape, had two zones for the heating plumbed in and 15mm legs to the radiators would help the flow rates for future heat pump installation

So far, I have added 7.91kWp of solar PV across the east, south and west elevations of the house to maximise solar efficiency, converting sunlight into renewable energy to power various electrical devices. Around the same time, I installed a 13.5kWh battery capable of charging and discharging energy from the grid, and storing excess solar energy to utilise during periods of high demand on the grid, or overnight. A 12kW heat pump combined with a smart Domestic Hot Water (DHW) cylinder is a more environmentally-friendly heating option compared to traditional boilers, and powered by the solar PV panels, reduces not only my carbon footprint, but my energy bills too. And of course, an EV charger was one of the first things to be installed to help power the Carter Electrical fleet!

Solar PV Panels
Solar PV panels across three of the elevations of the bungalow

As a snapshot, in 2022 we used 17,673 kWh of gas at an average cost of 6p/kWh, mainly for heating and domestic hot water, but also a small bit for cooking, bringing our net cost of gas for the year to £1,034. In addition to this, we imported 5182 kWh of electricity costing £571 – a small part was for electric vehicle (EV) charging, but the bulk was for domestic use. This meant we had a total demand of 22,855 kWh from the grid,.

Our gas usage in 2023 was 0 kWh! This was largely down to installing the heat pump and induction hob, and removing the gas to the property. If we had remained on gas with the existing boiler, the costs would have nearly doubled. Our electricity usage was 10,900 kWh, of which 7313 kWh came from the grid at an average cost of 13p/kWh. Therefore, grid electricity cost £928.64 however, I exported 1723 kWh worth £361.87 at an average of 21p/kWh. In addition to this, there were some Octopus Energy Octoplus saving credits and seven referrals which totalled £405.36. So once export was taken away from usage, my net cost of electricity was £161.41 for the year. This meant an incredible saving of over £1440 compared to 2022; our combined savings on gas and electricity was closer to over £2500.

7kWp of solar PV with a Tesla Powerwall battery was approximately £20,000. You can get cheaper, but this system is high-specification, using SolarEdge optimisers to minimise tree shading and multiple elevations as in the case of our bungalow. It is a large battery, but this allows us to maximise charging with cheap off-peak electricity in the winter, as well as capturing all the generation in the summer. The Octopus Agile Tariff and the battery has made the unit cost of electricity extremely low.

Tesla Powerwall
Jon’s Tesla Powerwall, which is high-specification, cost £20,000

The 12kW Samsung HTQ heat pump, Mixergy Cylinder and Homely controls came to about £12,500, although there is a £7,500 Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant available which brings the cost down closer to a boiler change. On top of that, our new radiators cost between £200-£300 per unit to swap. 

Samsung HTQ Heat Pump
The Samsung HTQ heat pump, which can be installed with the help of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant

It is a large initial outlay, but we are effectively buying 25 years of electricity upfront with the solar panels, and the battery then facilitates the ability to maximise the generation use and access to off peak cheaper electricity. With the cheaper electricity and the 350-500% efficiency of the heat pump, the cost to heat the house and domestic hot water drops dramatically and will only get cheaper. Remember – the price of gas will only ever go up due to it being a finite resource! 

Heat Pump Efficiency
Jon’s heat pump running yesterday at over 500% efficiency

It’s a change of mindset: we buy a car, a fridge or a sofa out of necessity and it’s not always the cheapest. We need electricity to run the house and we need to heat the house in winter and hot water all the time, so why not invest in something that allows you to do it cheaper and also helps reduce the use of fossil fuels at the same time?

I want to look to improve the efficiency of the heat pump, which is a lot of fun through experimentation and playing with settings to best suit our climate. I installed data collectors on all new equipment, so I’m constantly monitoring it to see if there are improvements that can be made. Next on the list, is to improve the insulation of the house and minimise draughts – I have a lot of old, leaky double-glazed windows that could be improved! Tech-wise, I’d love a wind turbine, but it’s not feasible (or so I’m told by my wife).

Do heat pumps work? Yes. Do solar panels work? Yes. Do battery storage systems work? YES. Together they are a large initial investment, however, if you have the capital expenditure, then it is clear and obvious you can reduce the operational expenditure of your house quite significantly. I reduced my utility costs by 90% in my first year of making these changes, and I am looking forward to continuing to analyse my energy usage in 2024 to further enjoy the long-term financial benefits, as well as knowing I’m reducing mine and my family’s carbon footprint! Contact us today to conduct a thorough analysis of your energy needs, local climate conditions, and available incentives, to help tailor a solution to your specific requirements.

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tesla powerwall installation reading

Best Ever Testimonial for Installation of Green Energy Products

Installation of solar panels, Tesla Powerwall battery and Air Source Heat Pump

This project in Caversham has been a full installation of Green energy products. We installed 10Kw of solar panels with a supporting Solar Edge inverter and hot water diverter, a Tesla Powerwall battery, an Air Source Heat Pump from Midea, and a Mixergy smart tank. A fully integrated solution. So much so that the client has had his gas supply removed.

Please read Nigel’s glowing testimonial below.

“From the moment we contacted Carter Electrical, they demonstrated a deep understanding of our renewable energy goals and provided a high-quality service.

Renewable energy solution

Their team worked closely with us to design and implement a custom renewable energy solution for my home, covering; solar, heat-pump, battery, smart hot water tank, underfloor heating and car charger.

The installation process was completed rapidly, with Matt getting us up and running before the winter set in. The team were flexible during the installation and were able accommodate additional panels on our roof.

Since the system was installed, we’ve seen significant reductions in our energy bills. In mid Feb for the first time we achieved full independence, going a full day on solar and battery alone. We’ve also had the gas meter taken out. Having independence and energy security were core objectives of our project and Carter’s helped to deliver them for us.

We highly recommend Carter’s to anyone who is looking to start saving money on their energy bills and doing their bit for the planet.”

Nigel Markey

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tesla powerwall installers reading

Green Energy Projects-The Heat Goes On.

2023 has started out extremely busy for us here at Carter Electrical Installations. We are working on several projects, both commercial and residential, where clients are looking for Green energy solutions. So as well as having solar panels fitted clients are looking for solutions by adding storage batteries, EV chargers and Air Source Heat Pumps. We described this as the Triple Solution in a blog last year.

Clearly the surge in energy prices last year is driving demand for Green energy solutions. The return on investment on installing these products is so much higher when gas and electricity prices have soared. Also helping is the easing of supply chain bottlenecks, although some products are still on fairly long lead times.

Emmer Green Energy Project

We recently completed a project in Emmer Green where we added more solar panels, an immersion diverter and a Zappi EV charger. This project will be completed next year when we add a Tesla storage battery. This is one of the products that still has a long lead time.

The solar panels were mounted on a K2 system and we installed a Solar Edge 4kw inverter. The EV charger is from myenergi Zappi and we also installed an Eddi immersion diverter from myenergi.

Caversham Energy Project

The project highlighted in the header picture is from our recent work in Chazey Road, Caversham. The client is so pleased with the results that he has cut off his gas supply and gone fully electric. This was a comprehensive project with 10kw of solar fitted to SolarEdge inverter, with optimisers to maximise panel performance and minimise the effects of shading, a Tesla storage battery, a Samsung HTQ air source heat pump and a Mixergy smart hot water cylinder. This is a serious investment by the client but has superb outcomes with lower bills for most of the year and insulated against price increases.

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Solar panel installation

2022 and all that

For this our December blog we are going to look back on our blogs posts from 2022. Little did we know how prescient our first blog of the year was going to be. Titled “Coming to your in 2022-Higher Energy Bills” we predicted that the energy cap would rise sharply in April. What we didn’t know was the Putin would order the invasion of Ukraine and send gas and oil prices soaring further. The energy cap will rise to £4,279 in January.

However consumers are protected by the Energy Price Guarantee until March 2024. The Energy Price Guarantee protects consumers reducing the unit cost of electricity and gas so that that a typical dual fuel direct debit bill for January 2023 remains at £2,500 and will be increased from April 2023 to a new level of £3000. Ofgem are also moving to quarterly price cap updates.

Lets hope that energy prices saw their peaks in 2022 and that wholesale prices of gas and oil continue to fall further. We have offered advice in a couple of blogs of how to save money and how to run your gas boiler efficiently.

We further addressed price inflation in our blogs for May and June titled The Perfect Storm-Parts 1 and 2. As well as energy price inflation these two blogs discussed the shortages in the supply chain affecting our electrical business. Some parts have been in acute shortages all year and have affected our work flow and deliverability on projects.

The rapid rise in energy prices has led to a record year for Carter Electrical Installations with our Green Energy projects. We have covered the installation of Green Energy in several blogs this year. Offering advice on the best products to use and how to run things efficiently. We have seen good demand from golf courses to install Solar PV and storage batteries and covered the topic in our July blog-Golf Courses Go Green. We also wrote blogs on Solar Panels and how they work and storage batteries-Battery Power

Carter Electrical are a local to Reading family run company, that has built up plenty of experience in installing Solar PV, inverters, storage batteries, EV chargers and Air Source Heat Pumps. Its this combination of skills combined with our electrical contracting background that makes us quite unique in the industry. The one issue that we continue to focus on is recruiting more electricians with experience of green energy. Though we do offer training in this area for qualified electricians. We covered this subject in our August blog-Are You Looking For A New Challenge?

It just remains to wish all of our readers, customers and suppliers a very merry Christmas and a successful and healthy New Year. Best Wishes from Jon, Matt and the Team

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Solar panels Reading

Saving Energy-Saving Money

We have written several blogs on the subject of saving energy and there are many great blogs out there that also give excellent tips on how to use less power. Therefore we have decided to share some of our favourite blogs from the internet and highlight the best tips to save money this winter.

6 tips to cut your energy bills:

We like this article from the BBC as it gives six simple tips to cut your energy bills that don’t cost a fortune to implement. They are

1) use an air fryer or microwave instead of an oven,

2) install LED lightbulbs,

3) turn your central heating down,

4) insulate and draught proof your home,

5) use your appliances more economically

6) and finally take shorter showers!!

We have previously written a blog about LED lightbulbs

This blog from EDF goes through the house in more detail giving you some more great ideas on how to save on your energy consumption

There are obviously larger expenditures that will save you money in the long run and many of these investments are now showing good returns as the price of energy has soared. Investments such as the installation of double glazing, solar panels, air source pumps can cost thousands of pounds but can indeed save you thousands of pounds over the long run. There are also government grants to enable households to make these green investments.

Installation of storage batteries

Installing a storage battery can also prove to be a good investment as the battery will store the electricity generated by your solar panels or the cheap electricity that is available to purchase overnight. Our latest blog discusses the merits of Tesla and Huawei Luna storage batteries.

You can also take this questionnaire on the UK Government website to see if your home would benefit from home improvements that could make your property cheaper to heat and keep warm.

Please do get in touch with us here at Carter Electrical Installations if you’re thinking about embarking on any of these projects.

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Electric car charging points

The Perfect Storm-Part 2

Following on form our previous blog about lack of supply and high prices we have now had the Price Cap announcement from Ofgem and the government’s response to the expected much higher energy bills this autumn. After a £700 rise in the energy cap this Spring the cap is expected to rise to £2,800 in October. This is a further rise of £800.

The government is helping out the less well off with payments totalling £650 in July and in the Autumn. This money will be given to over 8 million low income families who are on Universal Credit. All households in October will be given a £400 discount on their energy bills

With many households already paying over £300 per month for gas and electricity we are seeing a huge rise in enquiries for Solar PV, storage batteries and Air Source Heat Pumps. With annual energy bills approaching £3,500 to £4,000 the economics of installing green energy in your home are becoming very favourable. It has been possible to install Solar PV and storage batteries for £5,000 in your average UK home. So with energy prices where they now are green energy domestic projects look to be giving a good return on investment.

However the industry is facing critical supply issues.

1. Shortages in Raw Commodities

Heightened demand for certain commodities has resulted in soaring raw material prices as supply shortages continue, a lingering effect of COVID-19. In particular, a shortage of polysilicon, a key component in the photovoltaic (PV) supply chain, has caused solar panel pricing to skyrocket due to exponential demand for solar cells. Other components of PV cells — including silver, copper, aluminum and glass — have also been subjected to inflationary prices as demand outpaces supply.

We have experienced delays in Tesla Powerwalls and Solar PV Inverters. These are two of the biggest parts that we are having supply issues with. Solar panels can be installed but cannot operate without an inverter. Inverters convert direct current (DC) electricity, which is what a solar panel generates, to alternating current (AC) electricity, which the electrical grid uses.

2. Supply Chain Constraints

Commodity shortages are only exacerbated by global supply chain bottlenecks caused by increased shipping costs, factory closures, trade actions and import tariffs. These supply chain constraints hit China particularly hard and have resulted in nearly crippling schedule impacts on the United States solar industry, which is heavily dependent on solar panels manufactured in China. This is having a knock on effect in Europe.

For a variety of reasons manufacturers of solar panels have had to shift production away from China, resulting in higher prices and longer shipping lead times for key project hardware. Shanghai was recently subject to further lockdowns due to Covid19.

Ocean freight rates surged again in April, worsening supply chain bottlenecks. Also issues with P&O ferries have not helped getting supply into UK.

It really is the perfect storm creating product shortages and spiralling prices. We really will try our best at Carter Electrical but patience will be needed from our customers when it comes to completing green energy projects.

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