Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Solar Industry Mis-Sells Solar Panels

Unfortunately, the solar industry has been more than happy for solar panels to be misconstrued as a 'panacea' (a solution to all). The truth, however, is that solar panels have a rightful place in our energy network and should be part of our lives, but they have their limitations; as does every product or technology.

One of the biggest problems is that we (human beings) are very blasé about electricity and it is only when we have to start thinking about taking it with us do we start to see the reality.

The average UK couple uses over 4000kWh a year, or 11kWh a day! OK, so that costs us only about £1.75 a day, which doesn't sound like much, but when we want to use electricity away from the national grid, we start to realise how much that really is. We supply off-grid panels which are the most efficient in the world, but even our ultra-efficient 100W units will only produce 0.6kWh a day in summer; cheap imports will struggle to do even that!! What this means, is that to produce just one-tenth of the power we would use on a normal day at home, we need two 100W panels (about £800, plus £100 for electronics and an angled mounting frame).

Thanks to the solar industry's 'optimistic' approach to selling, we often get enquiries from people asking if a single 100W panel is enough for their fridge, TV, microwave, lights, kettle and phone charger... In some cases, people also want to heat their bath water too! These enquiries are generally from well-educated, sensible people who have done nothing more than listen to the hype.

The cold hard fact is that solar is a great technology when used correctly, but that when we want to power our creature comforts away from the national grid, there are a few simple rules:

1. Be realistic
2. Use energy responsibly
3. Seek honest advice
4. see rule #1

For more help and advice, please don't hesitate to get in touch or try our solar system calculators.

Monday, 24 October 2011

'The Log Pod' and Cleversolar team up for the "glamping" market.

'Glamping' was a completely new term for us when we first with the guys at The Log Pod Ltd. It seems, however, that we were in the minority; glamping (Glamorous Camping) is one of the fastest growing sectors in the camping market.

If you are in the same boat we were a few months ago, glamping usually involves forgetting about sleeping under canvass and staying in a 'teepee' or basic wood cabin - a pod. The Log Pod Ltd  is one of the newest and innovative producers of wooden pods and as part of their new product range, they wanted to offer a 'power pack' option, which allows Log Pod users to carry on using some creature comforts, wherever they are.

Fitted during the manufacturing process, or retrofitted later, the new solar option from Cleversolar provides enough electricity for campers to charge mobiles phones, use laptops and camera equipment, boil travel kettles and even keep things cool in a travel refrigerator. Obviously, space and visual impact was a major concern, and the CS-100 monocrystalline panel, with its sleek black frame, met all of the requirements and was within budget.

To find out more about Cleversolar and The Log Pod, or even book a stay in a pod, check out www.thelogpod.co.uk

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Solar Electric Fencing

We have been supplying solar powered fence energisers for some years now, but in the last 12-18 months, they have accounted for a much higher proportion of units sold than ever before. The two main benefits of a solar fence system are that 1) the fence is 'always' on because the battery never runs out, and 2) you don't need to carry heavy batteries to and fro, or install expensive mains cabling. Read more...

Off-grid / On-grid; what’s the difference?

By Robin Whitlock, Freelance Environmental Journalist

People install renewable energy systems for many different reasons. For some it’s a chance to save money in the face of higher conventional fuel bills, for others it is a chance to earn money from the government’s Feed-in Tariff’s scheme while for those concerned about environmental issues it is a means of reducing their carbon footprint and doing something about climate change.

One of the main advantages of using a grid-tie system, that is a renewable energy system (in most cases solar PV or solar thermal panels) that is tied in to the national grid, is that there is a back-up source of energy for those times when the sun doesn’t shine, such as at night or during bad weather during the winter. However, this leaves the householder vulnerable not only to rising energy prices but also to situations in which the national grid fails. That might seem the stuff of memory, reminders of the 70’s oil crisis, but there have been numerous power failures in more modern times too and there are some who believe such power losses will again become a regular occurrence.

The solution is to go off grid. However, this entails storing energy in a bank of batteries, ready for when the solar panels are not generating energy or the wind dies down, and this tends to be a rather expensive option, whereas a grid-tie system is relatively cheap.

Despite this, for those living in remote areas, going off-grid may be the better option, and in fact off-grid systems are becoming increasingly important to the populations of developing countries where a national grid, if it exists, cannot always be relied upon.

An off-grid system also means that you are totally energy independent. It gives you a freedom that is lacking when you are tied to the grid. It is also totally green – no power cables, no coal or fossil-fuelled energy and a lower carbon footprint. Going off-grid also means that the strain on the national grid is reduced, so in some ways it also benefits those around you who may not be in a position to go the same way. For those interested in self-sufficiency, going off-grid is the logical way to go.

For off-grid systems you will need a charge controller which manages the power generated by the panels and the  battery (usually 12, 24 or 48 volts DC). An off-grid inverter is also used to convert DC into AC for household use. You may also need a stand-by diesel generator to back-up the system for periods when the sun isn’t shining or the wind has dropped and it may also be an idea to use a propane or wood hot water heater to reduce the drain on the battery bank, which incidentally should be capable of providing energy for at least three days without a solar or wind-powered charge. Another good idea is to plan your energy use beforehand by undertaking a load analysis.



Hardy Solar


Cleversolar goes mobile

As more and more people are browsing our website from handheld devices, we have just launched our new mobile site m.cleversolar.mobi This is a work in progress, but allows users of iPhones and Smartphones the opportunity to learn more about us without having to squeeze the full site onto a small screen. We plan to improve the functionality of the site over the coming months, including search and e-commerce facilities. If you have any suggestions or comments, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Welcome to Cleversolar's Blogger Page

As part of our continuing effort to provide clients with as much useful information about solar power and solar products, we plan to post regularly online. In addition to our Facebook and Twitter accounts (and our corporate website of course), we hope you will find this blog useful and informative. If you have any ideas or comments about this or any of our services, please do not hesitate to tell us.