Get the most from your Solar PV system – updated for 2022
Use as much of your own Solar PV Power as possible
Regardless of whether or not exported electricity is paid for, it is good practice to self-consume your Solar PV generation. This year will see the introduction of the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) and Clean Export Premium (CEP) in Ireland. These export payments will be a lot lower than the daytime price you pay to import from the grid. You will make bigger savings on your electric bill if you adapt your electricity usage to make the most out of your Solar PV panels.
The basic principle is to use as few appliances as possible after dark. This is can be hard to achieve due to busy lifestyles, but in summertime when we have bright mornings and long evenings, it should be easier. Even on a low light day, the cost of operating an electrical appliance can be supplemented by Solar PV power.
- Stagger your use of major appliances during the day to make sure you import as little electricity as possible
- Charge mobile phones, laptops, tablets, toothbrushes etc. during the day
- Set timers, or delay start timers, on your dishwasher, washing machine, tumble drier etc. so that they come on during the day – and remember to stagger their start times
- Consider using your electric oven during the day, or using a slow-cooker with a timer
- If you have a gas hob, consider using the microwave during the day instead
- Keep an eye on the weather – if you know it is going to be sunny in a few days, hold off running appliances
Monitor your power
Knowledge is Power! If you know what appliances in your home are consuming power, when and how much, you will be able to make informed decisions as to what to control.
Hybrid or ‘battery ready’ Solar PV inverters (and some ‘smart’ Inverters) have the means to monitor your household consumption, and an online dashboard showing the times of day your are consuming power, and by how much. They will also show the times of day you are exporting power (a basic inverter generally cannot). You can install these inverters without a battery.
Use an immersion heater controller
Excess electricity can be diverted to your immersion heater in a hot water cylinder – using your cylinder like a battery. Most cylinders in Ireland will have a 3kW immersion heater element; this element can take up to 3000 watts of your Solar PV power. This device would control your immersion in proportion to the amount of Solar PV power available – it can start your immersion from as low as 100 watts, and it also switches off your immersion if the power is needed by another appliance, all automatically.
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Electric space heating
Normally when it is sunny in Ireland, we do not require a lot of heat for our homes – however, there are certain months of the year when it is bright but still cold, typically March, April, and September. Far Infrared heating panels and mirrors, such as those from Herschel, can be used to consume surplus Solar PV electricity and heat rooms in your house.
These heaters can be more effective than traditional electric radiators, as they use the thermal mass of the room to store heat.
If your Solar PV system is large enough to warrant it, batteries would allow you to consum Solar power at night time and even provide an emergency power supply in the event of a power cut. It is important to install the right size of battery, so we would recommend a period of energy monitoring before the correct battery size is chosen or an analysis of your usage by a registered Solar PV installer.
Lastly, keep an eye of your inverter and ensure your panels are clean and not over shaded – particularly if you have problems with dust or bird droppings, or nearby trees.