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Discussion Starter #1
I'm based in North West London. I'm going to have some building works done including a loft conversation and some re-roofing work. I also want to get solar panels installed on the roof but this will be a bit later after the building works has finished. I'd like to get some solar expert advice before I get the building works done, so that if there are any reasonable design changes I can make to the roofing which would make it better/easier for the solar then it is far easier to make those changes at the design stage rather than after the building works has finished.

Upon someone's recommendation, I've reached out to one solar company which supposedly had excellent customer service but the company fobbed me off and told me to get in touch after the building works were done and when I was ready to go ahead with solar. Obviously this does nothing to address my concern above.

Does anyone have any recommendations for companies doing solar installations with excellent customer service that may be open to doing such an initial consultation off architectural plans?
 

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It could be worth thinking about having done at the same time if you can afford it as the scaffolding will be there which will reduce your install cost a bit. We're having an extension done at the moment, I'd thought about having solar put on when it was all finished and finances had recovered a bit. The solar company i got to move my existing array however suggested i have in roof panels put on the extension while being done, scaffolding was up and ready for them and it saved a bit on tiles.

I used a company called Eco power and lighting who are based in Ware, hertfordshire, so they may cover your area depending how far in to london you are. Image of my in roof panels below, had 3 east and 3 west put in (1.8Kwp in total), note the tiles were reclaimed so don't look shiny and new.

IMG_20200609_162347.jpg
 

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I can't recommend a company in UK (for obvious reasons, sine I live in Sweden) but if I were you, I'd try to complete the roof works while the roof is worked on. If you can't afford it right now I think it would be the best to prepare for it, like design it, discuss it with some companies, decide how and were you want to install the inverter, what sort of inverter and panels, the number of panels, capacity, and most of all, how you enter the hose with the necessary wiring to connect it to the mains. Installation depends a lot on you and how your hose looks like, but at one point the wires must enter your building, so you definitely need some thinking and planning. Also, if you can, I'd advice you to have the inverter away from places where you want quiet. Not everyone is disturbed by the sound of the fan, which occasionally starts up, but after having had mine running for about a half year, I am glad it is in a separate building, where I have my home work shop space. It is not disturbing there, but would not want it in the kitchen or near my living room or sleeping rooms. I think it is totally silent when it is dark, but during half the year it is producing electricity from very early in the morning until very late in the evening and night and I would not like to listen to the randomly starting fan... So, prepare as much as possible if you can't install everything now, but definitely prepare the space and the way wires are drawn and lay down conduits (pipes) as well as drill holes while you are working on the roof. That's the minimum I would do.
 

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Both really good advice, unfortunately budget really does not allow everything to be done at the same time even though that is what I would like in an ideal world. Sounds like there's a lot to think about and I definitely need to get a solar expert company in to get their input at the design/planning stage. Hopefully I can get some more recommendations from other people who chime in :-D
 

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Both really good advice, unfortunately budget really does not allow everything to be done at the same time even though that is what I would like in an ideal world. Sounds like there's a lot to think about and I definitely need to get a solar expert company in to get their input at the design/planning stage. Hopefully I can get some more recommendations from other people who chime in :-D
I have a Solaredge system and very happy with it. It works nice and also like the app. They in fact have an office in London, you can try to contact them if you need more information. I ended up with this system because after a long survey I considered it as reliable and high quality and providing good support. I think it is important not to get the cheapest but to get quality. While all promise everything you and I want to hear, I believe that there are too many fortune seekers in the area, so I went for this, established brand, and a local installer with history and whom I believed in. No regrets so far. It's a fairly big investment, so it's an advantage if it works according to the expectations.

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This is how mine looked like (picture taken in December 2019), 39 solar panels, giving about 11MWh calculated yearly solar energy production where I am living, which is about half of what I am using normally. So far, it seems that the calculated values will be matched by reality.
 

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BTW, don't get batteries. It's not worth it, takes too much space and there is a fire hazard and other risks. Financially it would be feasible if we had a lot of daylight during winter as well, but unfortunately, the sun sets early and raises late during the coldest period here.

You should however make sure you are selling unused production back to the grid company because unfortunately, a lot of what we produce during the high season is not used by us, and I guess that will be the same for you. Our house uses electricity for the heating, so we use most electricity during the darker and colder time of the year, and now during the nights when the temperature drops to below +10C. While we charge our cars during the day now, we are not driving as much as we would normally (due to COVID-19... you know, working from home and so on) so we don't use a lot during the days.
 

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Give these guys a try, they did my install and were very happy to talk pre-sale:
Maybe they are OK, I don't know, but the web first page shows an installation I would DEFINITELY advice against.

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The reason is that both the inverter on the wall and the batteries on the floor are generating some heat which is wasted when those items are outdoors. Where I am living, we don't waste with heat, so an indoor installation is preferred because it reduces heating costs, not wasteng energy. Maybe that picture is taken in Hawaii or Australia where you don't need to do that and mostly need cooling, but even in UK, which is warmer then Sweden, you would prefer normally to reuse every bit of energy, which is the produced heat also. That is sort of the idea behind solar energy also.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
BTW, don't get batteries. It's not worth it, takes too much space and there is a fire hazard and other risks. Financially it would be feasible if we had a lot of daylight during winter as well, but unfortunately, the sun sets early and raises late during the coldest period here.

You should however make sure you are selling unused production back to the grid company because unfortunately, a lot of what we produce during the high season is not used by us, and I guess that will be the same for you. Our house uses electricity for the heating, so we use most electricity during the darker and colder time of the year, and now during the nights when the temperature drops to below +10C. While we charge our cars during the day now, we are not driving as much as we would normally (due to COVID-19... you know, working from home and so on) so we don't use a lot during the days.
I do like the appeal of the home storage battery but it's the high cost and long payback period that puts me off. Besides, I think getting a Zappie and an Eddie might help with using as much solar as possible. I have an EV which is not going to be used during the day (so seems perfect to use excess energy there). Likewise, the Eddie will help divert excess to heating hot water.

So my thinking of priority would be:
Immediate Home Energy Consumption > Eddie (hot water) > Zappie (car charging) > Export to grid

I'm hoping with the above, that there will be very little exported to the grid. Hopefully the cost of batteries will keep coming down and I can revisit that decision in the future.
 

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If you have a gas boiler for heating water, then it's very cheap to heat water. it's much more valuable going into your car first, and eddi second. Paid exporting is sometimes more valuable than heating water!
 

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I do like the appeal of the home storage battery but it's the high cost and long payback period that puts me off. Besides, I think getting a Zappie and an Eddie might help with using as much solar as possible. I have an EV which is not going to be used during the day (so seems perfect to use excess energy there). Likewise, the Eddie will help divert excess to heating hot water.

So my thinking of priority would be:
Immediate Home Energy Consumption > Eddie (hot water) > Zappie (car charging) > Export to grid

I'm hoping with the above, that there will be very little exported to the grid. Hopefully the cost of batteries will keep coming down and I can revisit that decision in the future.
I have an EV and a PHEV and would very much like to use their batteries when I know that I would not use them the day after but unfortunately I can't do that here in Sweden and a dedicated battery is far too expensive.
 

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I'm based in North West London. I'm going to have some building works done including a loft conversation and some re-roofing work. I also want to get solar panels installed on the roof but this will be a bit later after the building works has finished. I'd like to get some solar expert advice before I get the building works done, so that if there are any reasonable design changes I can make to the roofing which would make it better/easier for the solar then it is far easier to make those changes at the design stage rather than after the building works has finished.
We'd be very happy to help - just fill in a form here: Solar & Battery Installed Together - Tanjent Energy. Currently we're advising on 2 loft conversions and an extension. If possible for you, the advice on combining the solar with other work is good as it'll save on scaffolding (which can be up to £1k) and gives you the option of fitting in-roof panels, which can save a lot on tiles.

Maybe they are OK, I don't know, but the web first page shows an installation I would DEFINITELY advice against.

View attachment 131099
We have used that photo (that came from the manufacturer) rather tonque in cheek. It obviously isn't in the UK! And a bigger issue than it being outside is that the inverter isn't connected to the batteries or anything else - that's marketing PR for you!

On a more serious note, this is our approach: Best Locations for your Home Battery System - Tanjent Energy
 

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We have used that photo (that came from the manufacturer) rather tonque in cheek. It obviously isn't in the UK! And a bigger issue than it being outside is that the inverter isn't connected to the batteries or anything else - that's marketing PR for you!
Well, if the batteries and the inverter are connected or not is not possible to see in that picture. If it would be placed there, I certainly would prefer invisible wiring, especially if the installation and the building is new, which was my assumption. So in that respect, it is not necessarily "fake image" for marketing only, but of course, your company, so you know it but there is no way I can see that. For me, it is a perfect location for Hawaii or Australia, or South Africa, but not for UK or Sweden or most of Europe.
I agree with the garage installation, or any other indoor installation where one can use the heat the system generates, but completely disagree with loft installation proposal, since in that case, you might as well install it like in that marketing picture discussed before. Installing in a loft is wasting heat and energy, and that should be avoided if possible. After all, the idea of installing solar panels is to save as much energy as possible. Why is loft installation is popular in UK is outside my comprehension, since it is equal to outdoor installation with some rain and weather protection, that's all. Of course, you install where the customer points to (if that's possible) but in my opinion, it would be best to advise against it whenever that is possible. Best location is near the meter anyway, and very few have their meters on the loft (none in Sweden...), as I believe the case even in the UK.
 

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As per others above... try... JoJu solar, spirit energy and Tangent as above.

They seem to be the better ones recommended on here and other solar forums I frequent.
If you go for in roof panels then not only do they look a lot better than the usual rail mounting ones, but the key benefit is the huge reduction in weight on the roof as the tiles are not required.
Had I even had an inkling this was an option 5.5yrs ago. I would have done this on our roof. It was also pertinent at the time as massive snowfall in the USA was causing roof structures to cave in and it’s a must to have a structural analysis of the roof to make sure its strong enough to take not just the tiles, the solar panels, but also the weight of snow accumulations. We do get lots of snow sometimes in the UK and you need to plan for decades into the future.

If you do go battery storage route, remember it’s cheaper to do this at point of solar install, then to retrofit later.
Lastly switch to a low cost energy provider like Octopus Go or Agile, whether you have an EV or not, you'll save loads.
 

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I agree with the garage installation, or any other indoor installation where one can use the heat the system generates, but completely disagree with loft installation proposal, since in that case, you might as well install it like in that marketing picture discussed before. Installing in a loft is wasting heat and energy, and that should be avoided if possible.
I suspect that just reflects the differences in our climates - it gets hot enough here in the summer that you wouldn't necessarily want a heat source inside your living space.

If you do go battery storage route, remember it’s cheaper to do this at point of solar install, then to retrofit later.
Good point - you don't just save on the eletrician's time, but you can also pay just 5% VAT instead of 20% VAT (potentially saving another £1k).
 
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I suspect that just reflects the differences in our climates - it gets hot enough here in the summer that you wouldn't necessarily want a heat source inside your living space.
Actually, that might be true, but in most part of the year, it is also just as cold as here. I live in the southern part of Swede, Sweden is VERY long from South to North, so there is a huge difference in climate as well.

Never the less, another argument why installations in lofts is not a good idea at all is that during the sunny days it gets VERY hot under the roof, you can easily end up well above maximum operating temperatures. Especially for battery installations, this can actually cause a very dangerous situation with fire or explosion as worst case scenario. Batteries do get very hot even under normal conditions, even winter time, so if the ambient temperature is already 50C, which is not even very high for a hot and sunny day, then you have to add that to the normal charging temperature of the battery and that creates a nasty situation up there. So, NEVER in my life I'd accept such kind of installation, not only because of the wasted energy, but also because of the risks involved.

Another thing is that I did not propose to install in my living space, but indoors, in garage, tool shed, home workshop, cellar, washing room or whatever indoor space you might have where you normally would use the heat, instead of wasting it. Extreme conditions, even if it is hotter in UK a few days per year, doesn't matter, you NEVER design a system like this for the extremes, but for the normal. And normally, you need heat more than cooling in UK, just like in Sweden. Anyway, not even here in Sweden I would want that inside my living area, like kitchen, living room or anything like that, which I have stated already in my first post.
 

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Batteries do get very hot even under normal conditions, even winter time, so if the ambient temperature is already 50C, which is not even very high for a hot and sunny day, then you have to add that to the normal charging temperature of the battery and that creates a nasty situation up there. So, NEVER in my life I'd accept such kind of installation, not only because of the wasted energy, but also because of the risks involved.
Everyone has different views, of course, but yours do not reflect my experience. I've just had a look at the portal for my system and the highest temperature my batteries have achieved (I have them in an attached garage) in the last 6 months is 26C. Naturally they include temperature control so the worst thing that's likely to be happen in a loft on a hot summer's day is that your charge rate slows down.
 
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Everyone has different views, of course, but yours do not reflect my experience. I've just had a look at the portal for my system and the highest temperature my batteries have achieved (I have them in an attached garage) in the last 6 months is 26C. Naturally they include temperature control so the worst thing that's likely to be happen in a loft on a hot summer's day is that your charge rate slows down.
It's NOT a question of views or experience, it's a question of technical specification. I am talking about maximum operating temperature of the equipment you install under roofs without any climate control and insulation. The heat (and the chill) will no doubt be well above, and also well below the specs many times per year. This means both a fire hazard and risk of SEVERELY reduced life span of the equipment. In the electronics, typically and most probably, the caps will blow because they are rarely speced to those temperatures. Reding about your qualifications on your web, you should clearly understand what I am talking about.

It gets very hot under the roof and also very cold during the winter and NONE of that is beneficial for safety and operational reliability. Just shutting down charging or reducing the charge current because it is too hot is not enough of a safety measure, it is the ultimate measure, especially if the environment is too hot. The worst thing which can happen is that the whole place burns down in a very violent fire. Reduced life span or degraded efficiency is the BEST thing which can happen in that sort of environment.

I am not arguing against garage installation, only the loft installation which you are recommending. Li-Ion batteries (I assume you are using those) should never be allowed to be charged below 0°C and above 45°C (32 to 113°F). Of course, there are different qualities, and I have no idea which sort you install, but generally they all have about the same specs, and it is a VERY poor idea to go outside those specs given by the manufacturer, assuming you are buying those from a serious supplier, and not the cheapest crap with fake labels. Even taking your example of garage installation, 26°C temperature is far too high on a loft, where the ambient temperature easily rises above 40°C during sunny days, 26+40=66°C and that's VERY near the critical level of around 70°C where Li-Ion can become unstable and might start a thermal runaway.

If I was running such business I would definitely advise AGAINST loft installation and would prefer losing the customers who demands such installation. Fire hazard with respect to solar panel installations are frequently discussed subjects at the moment in Sweden, due to more and more installations, and worries from fire fighters for their own life. It is said that about 1/3 of them do NOT comply with electrical safety and fire regulations, are undocumented, unsafe and dangerous. In Sweden, unless an installation is according to ALL regulations, fire fighters will NOT try to fight fire in such homes/installations, but let the whole ting burn down safely and controlled, protecting only the neighbourhood (if possible) but mainly, protecting life only (their own is number 1 priority), not goods or property. Fire can start any time and anywhere in a home, and if you have a huge Li-Ion battery pack on the loft then that itself is a huge risk, even if everything is properly installed. So there are plenty arguments against loft installations. Anyway, maybe fire hazard is not discussed as much in UK as in Sweden, but here, fire experts and insurance companies are worrying a lot about these things, and the subject often pops up as solar panel installations and battery operated transport increase.

Just out of my own curiosity I checked how it is here and now. Right now it is 25°C in the air here, it is cloudy and has been cloudy for a couple of hours, practically zero wind. I went up to my loft and the temperature measured with the same two meters (yes, two for best reference) shows 35°C, so the difference is already +10°C between the air and the loft air temperature. The inverter temperature is 33°C at the hottest part, on the top. It is installed in a well insulated, and well vented building (my home workshop/storage room), which has a temperature of 23°C now so the inverter is also +10°C hotter than the room air temperature. It is highly likely even hotter under the skin of it, but I will not open it for testing.

I think this is very important for the OP to consider, even if you ignore it as nonsense and continue recommending the installation.
 

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The way around all these problems is to go for AC storage and put batteries and inverter/chargers in a basement where temperatures barely change year round.
 
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