Category Archives for "Solar Energy"

The Solar Battery – An Idiots Guide.

Solar Battery: An idiots guide

There have been several government schemes to increase the number of houses using Solar panels, with incentives offered to homeowners including free installation. Once solar panels are fitted you can reduce your electricity bill by harnessing the power of natural sunlight to produce energy. Whilst there is a wide range of solar panels available, one of the most important parts is often neglected; the storage of solar power.

solar panel battery

What is even better, is that you don’t need solar panels fitted to use solar batteries. If you are on an Economy 7 (night and day) tariff you could use solar batteries to store energy to use during peak times, paying the night tariff to charge them. However, let’s focus on using solar batteries linked to a solar panel system.

What are solar batteries & how do they work? 

Solar batteries store the energy produced by solar panels and many homeowners have been caught out by purchasing poor quality batteries and then not seeing the savings expected. By storing solar energy in a good quality battery, you not only save the power for when you need it, such as a cloudy day but reduce your bills even further. By storing energy for when you need it you don’t need to buy additional energy from your electricity provider. The free energy produced by solar panels lasts even longer!

Solar batteries help make homes even more self-sufficient and less reliant on the national grid for electricity. In an ideal world, every home would be self-sufficient, but we are a little way from that yet! With cuts to the benefits of Feed-In-Tariffs (how much you can be paid for the extra energy produced by solar panels), it makes even more sense to purchase a good quality solar battery and safeguard your future energy costs.


This is a great video explaining the concept & how the solar battery works 


What are the best solar batteries?

This will entirely depend on what level of storage you want and how often you are likely to use the battery for stored energy. More and more companies are entering the market and creating a wide range of sizes, from 1kWh (kilowatt-hour) to 14kWh. The bigger the battery, the more you can store.

A kilowatt-hour is the standard unit used by all energy companies to measure your use and refers to 1000 Watts of power used per hour. The average home, depending on size and occupants, will use between 2000 kWh and 4,500 kWh of electricity per year. One kWh is roughly the same as watching TV for three hours or boiling a kettle ten times.

A typical solar battery will cost between £2000 and £4000, but most people will pay less than £4000 for a good quality battery. Most batteries come with a 10-year warranty, protecting your investment for a long period of time and guaranteeing you won’t need a new one for a while. Unfortunately, solar batteries do not currently have the same longevity as solar panels, so you are likely to need to replace them at some point, but they are getting better, and more companies are extending the life of their solar batteries. See Tesla Powerwall .FYI – Post coming soon! 

Tesla powerwall


Lead acid batteries can be purchased for a lot cheaper, but they tend to be less efficient and wear out much more quickly. Lithium-Ion batteries are usually the best option for a long-term solution and most manufacturers only make Lithium Ion batteries as they are much longer-lasting.

Some of the more recent developments in solar batteries include linking to smart technologies such as an app or Wi-Fi, which can display a range of information including the charge level of the battery, usage, and savings made.

Anything else I should consider?

Always get three quotes from registered installers and check the warranty and how many charge cycles each battery is guaranteed for. Like any rechargeable battery, the more it is used the less efficient it becomes and having more charge cycles means it will last even longer. Typically, you can expect 5,000 to 10,000 cycles, but some companies are offering an unlimited warranty on charge cycles now.

Solar batteries are not recommended for a D.I.Y. enthusiast to fit themselves and work must be carried out by a registered engineer. Many suppliers will not sell solar batteries to members of the public and will insist on seeing the correct documentation before sale.

Always bear in mind there will be some maintenance costs involved with a solar battery and the engineer can explain how regularly you should have the battery maintained and the expected costs over the lifetime of the battery. These costs will vary by manufacturer and model so be careful not to get caught out with unexpected future costs.

The engineer can advise on the best type of solar battery for your needs, as well as advising on the placement of the battery. They are not small units and you will need to ensure there is enough space to fit them. You will also need to know the type of power (AC or DC) and whether your solar panels allow for a retrofitted battery (most do, but some batteries are specific to certain systems).

Thanks, Rich,

Standing Seam Metal Roof with Solar Panels

A metal roof with built-in solar panels is the most energy efficient and longest lasting solar roofing solution. A metal roof will usually last in excess of 50 years, and solar PV panels usually last 30+ years with minimal loss of efficiency or or electric power production. The combination of the two creates a one-time green roofing investment that will pay for itself over time, and then it will produce free electricity. Such a smart combination eliminates the chance of roof leaks, since there are no roof penetrations, and gives a homeowner piece of mind and confidence in their green metal roof.

Why go with a metal roof, instead of asphalt shingles:

Why would you want to install PV solar panels with a metal roof, instead of installing it on the existing asphalt shingle roof? The answer is very simple; asphalt shingles last an average of 15 years, while your solar panels should last at least 30 years. That means that even if you install your solar panels over a brand new asphalt shingles roof, you will have to remove the whole solar system in 15 years, replace the roof, and then put the solar panels back onto the roof. With the installation costs of a solar PV system being about $2 per watt, and an average solar system size of 3 KW, you will have to pay an extra $6000 (in today’s dollars, before any inflation is calculated) to reinstall your solar panels, and another $1500-2000 to
remove the panels, so that the roof can be replaced. With today’s average solar system price of $9-11 including solar panels, inverter, all wiring, rack-mounting system, permits, installation, etc.), the removal and re-installation price amounts to about 25% of the total solar system cost.

A properly installed standing seam metal roof will easily outlast any asphalt shingles roof by 3 time or more, and it will also outlast a warranty period on any solar panels. When your solar panels get old, and start producing less electricity than what they were designed for, you will have an option to either keep the old solar panels or install the new ones (as a side-note – average efficiency loss of a solar panel is 0.5% per year or 10% over a 20 year warranty period). All your infrastructure will already be in place, and you can simply swap the old solar panels for the new ones. You may also have to swap the charge controller / inverter. In 20 or 30 years, as technology progresses, the efficiency of solar panels and inverters will be much higher, and the cost per watt will be considerably lower. At the same time you will still have your metal roof, performing at 100% efficiency – being leak free and beautiful, that is.

Installing solar panels on a standing seam metal roof

Solar panels can be attached to a standing seam metal roof in two different ways. One is to use a thin film Solar PV panel laminated inside the pan of a standing seam metal roof – a so called solar metal roofing concept, when solar panels are integrated with the roofing material. The limitations of solar metal roofing include lower efficiency (per sq. foot or sq. meter) of the solar PV laminates. Therefore you would need double the roof area to get the same number of kW of a solar system. Also the size limitation of each solar PV laminate (18 feet long panels) make it impossible to install them on roofs with a roof run of less than 18.5 feet.

A better way to install solar panels onto a metal roof is to use S-5 clips or mounting brackets, specially designed to add adequate strength and support of rack-mounting systems installed on standing seam metal roofs. S-5 clops are made of cast aluminum blocks, with stainless steel tightening screws. S-5 clips are attached to the ribs or locks of a standing seam panel, and provide great pullout ratio, meeting and exceeding Miami-Dade county building code requirements for wind uplift.

S-5 Solar Panel mounting clamps allow for a quick and inexpensive installation of the solar rack-mounting system. Solar panels can be attached directly to the clamps, or to horizontal / vertical rails. The overall cost of such solar racking system is reduced from about $1 per watt, to about 50 cents per watt, or less. Also, you do not have to worry about any roof leaks, as there are no roof penetrations, and all mounting hardware is attached to the ribs of the metal roof panels.

You can also get a double tax credit for your solar roofing installation – Your first tax credit would be a 30% tax credit for solar panels, and and another one – up to $1500 cool roof tax credit. An average cost of metal roofing materials will exceed $5000 per roof, so you will be able to get a full 30% cool roof tax credit. With today’s metal roofing prices for steel standing seam ranging from $15000-20000, a $1500 tax credit will save you about 7-10% off your lifetime metal roof.

Double Glazing Guide window design guide

Window Design 

Before you can appreciate just how much a window can save you on your utility bills, you must understand the actual working of an energy efficient window.  This window replacement guide will attempt to help you in this understanding.  The theory is fairly straightforward: windows that are designed to be energy efficient are capable of slowing the heat transfer process between the inside of your house and the outdoors.  We all know that heat travels from warm to cold spaces.  In this way, the window becomes an agent of energy loss.  During the winter, the warmth of the house tends to dissipate out through the window and during the warmer season, the hot air outside tries to rush into your house via the same window as well.


Windows are central to the heat transfer process because they don’t provide good insulation as other parts of your wall assembly.  For example roofs, floors and walls are better insulated against heat loss.  The old single pane windows or inadequately installed double pane windows, or cracks on the window or frames are all prime candidates to facilitate this process.  To exacerbate the matter, even the best-sealed windows also allow some form of heat loss through the glass, as the glass is a natural conductor of heat through conduction.  This windows replacement guide will explain the technologies used to lower air flow and subsequently heat transfer.  These are the glazing technique, low-U values, low-E coatings, as well as gases like argon or krypton between panes.  As a result, these efficient windows will block the cold of winter away, while keeping you cool during the hot season.  Additionally, this guide will also deal with how to avoid the condensations formed inside the windows.  The performance indicator of an energy-efficient window is down to the construction of the window frame and a spacer material, and the object used to separate the main window glass and the individual frames of glass within the pane.


If you are serious in obtaining a FENSA certification for your household, then it is imperative for you to know that correct windows choice can enhance your qualification. FENSA accreditation is awarded based on window’s size, solar heating gain, U-factor and a host of other considerations.


Double Glazing

Glazing is the word used to define the glass in a window.  A double-glazed window describes two panes window; triple-glazed contains three. An “energy-glazed” window has a layer of lamination a gas-filled within the panes of glass. The reduction in solar gain goes is proportional to the numberamount[/size] of glazing.

If the solar gain is overly high, carpet, furniture and floors tend to fade easily and you need more energy for cooling to offset the solar gain; still, a decent amount of solar gain is necessary to counter the cold of winter. A double-glazed can trigger a 10 percent reduction in solar gain; triple-glazing by 20 percent. This windows replacement guide urges that households with single-glazed or single-pane windows upgrade to double- or triple-glazed windows. It will make a world of difference for your utility bills.



Low-emissivity (low-E) coating also restricts the amount of energy transfer through the window. This coating is a transparent lamination that applies itself to the window pane directly. It can be coated on either the inside surfaces (surfaces on opposing ends) or the exterior. Low-E coatings facilitate passing through of sunlight but can cut down the heat transfer process via the window glass. In addition, businesses have also made available low-E squared and low-E cubed, which are effectively the extensions of low-E coatings and denotes two or three layers of coatings of low-E respectively.

There are two variations of low-E coatings, i.e. soft and hard types. Soft-coat low-E is comparatively not as robust and it can disintegrate under prolonged exposure to moisture and air. Conversely, while hard low-E coatings are able to withstand harsher conditions, their energy efficiencies are not comparable to those of soft coatings.

As per guideline provided by U.S. Department of Energy, low-E coated (both soft and hard variations) windows are typically priced around 10% – 15% more than conventional windows, which more than compensate the 30 to 50 percent enhancement in energy loss reduction. Low-E coated windows have come a long way from its early days of make-to-order status to become standard on windows.


As pointed out earlier in this windows guide, R-value defines the efficiency of insulation of ceilings, walls, etc.; its reading is in direct relationship with the extent or effectiveness of the insulation. However, it is not practical to use R-value alone to measure windows insulation. They are different in the sense that they are subject to several external factors, such as wind, rain, sunlight, inside and outside air temperatures, just to name some of them. It is only natural that a different measurement system is applied on to windows.

This measurement system is called U-value, also known as U-factor. The U-value here is a more useful calculation of heat loss via the window, or heat transfer. (R-values may still be listed on windows on sales, but the values have no real significance as they are just readings on the center portion of the window, thus not an accurate measurement for the entire window.) When one is referring to U-value, the lower the reading, the higher the energy efficiency is. In cold weathers, U-value of .35 or lower is preferred.

Windows with multi-glazing and have krypton or argon filled are also effective in reducing heat loss and generally have low U-values.


Solar Heat Gain Coefficient(SHGC)

The SHGC is an indicator used to measure how well solar radiation is blocked from the sun. Lower reading of SHGC means less solar heat is transmitted across. The ENERGY STAR program includes guidelines and criteria for doors and windows for three climate zones in the UK Manufacturers would be in a better position to tell if the product is ENERGY STAR–certified or not. For ENERGY STAR certification criteria, all products are required to be rated, certified, and labelled for both SHGC as well as U-value according to the procedures of the NFRC (or short for National Fenestration Rating Council) or able to satisfy the ENERGY STAR qualification criteria in at least one of the climate zones.

Solar Assisted Biking

I’ve been biking for many years, and since I bike in mountainous country, I have been interested in adding solar assist for long journeys. You can pedal, or let the sun help you get up those hills. Another option is you pedal to charge the battery, and the motor always powers the bike. When you get home, you can plug into your home for a fast, full charge, and you can have onboard solar for slow rate charging while on the road. Here are some ideas for those who want solar powered transportation:

Save Money through Conservation and Efficiency

It’s getting rough out there economically. Times are getting harder, and a primary way to ease the crunch is to use less, and use what you need more efficiently. We have gone on a hunt to wring out the best efficiency we can out of our appliances and usage habits, and share some of these tips with you. We have put together a free guide to help you in the areas of water, electric, fuel and other areas of consumption we think will be helpful.

We have produced a DIY guide to home energy conservation and efficiency. Learn how to save hundreds per month in heating, cooling, transportation and electric bills. We live off grid, and produce our own food, fuel and energy, from heat to electricity. This is no joke. You will save money if you implement these tips. Living green does not have to cost money, it can save money. In these harsh economic times, measures need to be taken to reduce operating expenditures, and reduce resource depletion. We have done it, and we are sharing. We ask for a $10 donation, but the guide is yours regardless. You can download it from the files section of the discussion group at

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