Published on January 3rd, 2017 | by Martin Clancy

Investing In Your Home 2017 – Your Guide To Solar

At the beginning of each year, we all make plans and although they can vary substantially, they generally relate to making improvements in our lives. One area that people look towards is, their home and the opportunity to invest. With that in mind, we’re giving you the low down on solar energy in Ireland, in 2017.

So what is the deal with solar? Firstly, there are two types of solar. Solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. Solar thermal consists of solar flat plate collectors or tubes on your roof containing heat transfer elements to a solution, glycol. This is heated by the suns radiation and the heat generated is put to practical use to heat water or other mediums.

During this energy conversion and exchange the water is pumped through a solar coil in the water storage tank where it heats the water. It is important to note that solar won’t provide hot water year-round, but it is estimated that it will provide you with up to 60% of your hot water needs. The system will work throughout the year but it will require the support of a boiler in the shorter days of the winter season where there is less solar gain.

It goes without saying, the estimated 60% offset in hot water production should directly offset your bills by a similar amount. As well as the available savings available with solar thermal panels and the convenience of hot water in the months you don’t choose to use your boiler, the renewable energy produced helps reduce the emission of CO2 and therefore protects the environment. And as stated in a previous post, there are solar grants available up to €1200.


An illustration of how solar thermal works in your home.

In the illustration above, the panels on your roof absorb the solar energy gained from the direct and indirect sun light. This energy is then transferred through a coil in the cylinder which in turn heats the hot water cylinder. The heated water is then available to use throughout your home.

Solar thermal solely involves the heating of your water though larger, reputable companies may offer a Climote heating control upgrade as part of their package due to grants and credits which are involved with renewable energy solutions as part of home improvement works.

Solar Photovoltaic
The second solar option, is solar photovoltaic technology. Otherwise known as Solar PV or Solar Electric.

This technology involves solar photovoltaic panels, whereby the suns radiation creates an electric charge through the silicon elements contained in solar pv cells. PV gets its name from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), which is called the PV effect. This electric charge is created in the form of DC electricity. Each domestic and commercial installation then needs an inverter technology to transfer the DC electricity to AC electricity for use throughout the home or business.

In order to get the most of a Solar PV system, you can upgrade your system to also contain an iBoost or similar technology that allows excess electricity to be transferred towards heating water, allowing the system owner to save further.

The latest technology linked with solar PV is battery storage. There are a few different solutions that essentially do the same thing. They store excess electricity created during strong solar conditions, to be used at times when the system is not producing. Elon Musks Tesla Powerwall is leading the way in making battery solutions more affordable and with the latest Tesla Powerewall II being launched in 2017 be sure to look out for accredited installers for more details on this exciting release. The solar slate is also due for launch by Tesla late in 2017 but is not yet priced and looks like it will be considerably more expensive than current solar panels.

Costs & Investment
As there are differences in the technologies and the capabilities of both, there are significant pricing differences involved also. With this in mind, it is important to weigh up the options available to you, the orientation of your house along with other factors will be analysed as part of any technical survey that a reputable solar company should perform. An example of the process involved in installation can be seen here.

As with many home improvement works, it is very hard to quantify the monetary value particular works can add to the resale price of your home as this can fluctuate for many reasons. However, it goes without saying, that if there are two identical homes in the same area and one has a solar panel system fitted that can guarantee savings on an annual basis to a new owner, it will almost always sell first.

Make enquiries with a solar company as to the benefits a solar energy system would bring to your home. You can always discuss the possible solutions I have outlined above.


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