If you run a business and are looking to make cost savings, then no doubt you’ve looked at how the office is heated during winter. Most of us use traditional convection heaters such as radiators which work by warming up the air around us.
The great news is that infrared heating could well be the solution your business is looking for. Here are just ten reasons why you might want to make the switch sooner rather than later.
It’s Cheap to Install
Installing infrared is relatively cheap. Panels normally cost from £150 upwards depending on the system you choose. Of course, you don’t have to get in a whole system straight away. If you are operating on a tight budget you can change room by room as funds become available – that’s because panels can work independently of each other. The return on investment with infrared in terms of reduced energy costs (sometimes as much as 70%) and a lower carbon footprint means there’s also a good return on investment across the board.
Put it on the wall or attach it to the ceiling, all you need to do is hook your infrared panel to the electricity supply and you’re good to go. You can also install wireless thermostats that enable you to micro-manage your heating a lot better. While placement is important, if you can put a bracket on a wall then you can certainly install an infrared panel.
It’s Low Maintenance
Infrared panels don’t have that many ‘moving’ parts so they’re very low maintenance. Most good quality products have a warranty of between five and ten years which means if anything goes wrong during that time you’ve got back up.
You Can Control Infrared Heating Better
The key with infrared heating is that you feel the warmth straight away. It’s not like convection heating where you wait for a room to reach the right temperature. That means you have better control and you don’t have to turn a panel on until you need it. And if you have draughts that impact on heating, infrared overcomes these quite easily.
Low Energy Costs
Infrared panels use lower levels of electricity which means they are cheaper to run than conventional convection heating. That’s important for businesses that are trying to manage their costs in today’s competitive environment.
You get instant heating with infrared. Step outside in the sunshine and you’ll feel the heat on your face straight away. Infrared panels work in the same way, heating up objects rather than the air around them. That saves you money because you don’t have to turn the heating on an hour or so before your employees get to the office.
That instant warmth and easier and better placement of panels means that you have a more flexible heating system which can be tailored to your exact needs. You can also get panels that are designed to reflect your brand or have other images printed onto them. The panels also take up less space than bulky convection radiators.
Lower Your Business Carbon Footprint
All businesses have an obligation to lower their carbon footprint. With infrared heating, you’re not only using less electricity but you can also switch panels off when you don’t need them. That lowers your carbon footprint significantly.
There’s plenty of evidence that infrared heating is good for the air with lower dust levels and is supposed to be better for people with breathing issues. Find out more about the benefits of infrared heating.
10. Combat Damp
Because infrared heats objects directly, if you live in an old office building that is prone to damp you can dry it out by having panels installed. That means even more health benefits for your office workers.
When most people think about solar power, they think of individual panels spanning across the roof of a home or office rather than a field full of rows upon rows of large scale solar panels. However, that perception is rapidly changing as solar farms become more prominent across the country. Solar farms—also referred to as solar collectives or solar gardens—are either community- or utility-owned solar arrays that citizens can utilize either by the purchase of specific solar panels or with a membership into a co-op. Either way, the contributor can tap into an ideal system that has been specifically designed to generate the most amount of energy possible. In recent years, these types of power arrangements have been popping up across the country in growing numbers for many reasons, and analysts predict these communal systems to be the future of energy production.
Disregards the Roof
Our friends at Home Improvement Leads know that not all roofs are created equal, especially when it comes to solar panel compatibility. Some studies even suggest that upward of 75 percent of homes in the United States are not well suited for a photovoltaic (PV) panel to be able to operate optimally. Considering that most neighbourhoods have similar style homes and foliage, it’s usually likely that if one home is not compatible, then the rest of the neighbourhood won’t be either. In these cases, collectively investing in a solar farm will provide an entire community with energy that’s as sustainable as it is affordable.
More Power with Fewer Panels
Even the most strategically placed residential roof still won’t produce close to the amount of power that solar farms can, since any roof-mounted PV panels must remain stationary. When ground-mounted and motorized, solar panels on these collectives are programmed to track the sun’s path across the sky, generating more than double the amount of kilowatts as a traditional residential system. That means that investors in solar collectives have a substantially smaller investment to make in order to garner an equal reduction in their monthly power bill.
Fewer Carbon Emissions
Most people who want to convert their home to solar power do so because they have an interest in protecting the environment, not just their wallet. A key component of that battle is the fight against increasing carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases. A recent study conducted by economists with The Brattle Group found that solar energy generated within a utility-scale configuration produced roughly 50 percent less carbon emissions than a traditional residential PV system. Though solar collectives are not as large an array as a full utility-scale model, environmental benefits are still substantial and well worth the investment.
Appeals to Renters
Americans are simply not meeting their housing needs like they used to. Real estate data giant Zillow found that the average age of first-time homebuyers is now 33 years old, and that most of those people are choosing to rent for at least six years before they buy. When it comes to solar, that’s a large demographic of residents who are unable to tap into the perks of having a solar powered home. Similarly, solar panels aren’t a must-have for renters today, so landlords typically cannot justify the expense of having a PV system installed since they cannot pass on the expense to their tenants. Solar collectives are the perfect solution for those eco-conscious renters that want to tap into a sustainable energy source without having to commit to homeownership in order to do so. Plus, landlords are able to provide that energy option to prospective tenants without any major financial obligation on their part.
Let’s face it, solar panels are not the most aesthetically pleasing home renovation, although technological advances are certainly striving to change that perception with the invention of solar shingles. In fact, up until recently many homeowners associations (HOAs) had it written into their bylaws that homes within their communities could not be outfitted with PV. Legislation has been passed to grant protection to homeowners that want to install solar panels, but only in a few dozen states. For homeowners who live in a state where sustainable power sources aren’t protected, community-driven solar collectives are able to meet their needs while still fulfilling the terms of their HOA contract. Some HOAs have even been marketing their connection to solar farms as a perk to choosing their community over others in the area.
Benefits for All Members of the Community
One of the main issues that all green industries face is that they are almost always more expensive their traditional competitors, thereby pricing out the lower income portion of the population. But some legislation across the country is changing that. States such as Colorado, Vermont, and California have laws in place regarding solar farms, and many require that a percentage of their energy production be reserved for low-income residents, helping to level the playing field and make sustainability more accessible for everyone in that community. Likewise, some communities across the country are also choosing to sponsor local nonprofits with portions of their solar array generated energy. This generosity not only dramatically decreases that organizations monthly outlay, but it lets them qualify for certain tax incentives in the process, too.
Repurpose Unusable Land
Unfortunately, our society hasn’t always made the best decisions when it comes to taking care of our planet. Landfills are especially detrimental to the environment because they release hazardous toxic gases into the surrounding air and groundwater, making the area uninhabitable for people and animals alike. Solar farms like Clean Energy Collective’s Colorado Springs array is able to repurpose this marginalized land into an eco-friendly energy park with the capability to produce enough power for upwards of 300 households—and this helps to turn an eyesore into a sustainable spectacle.
There’s no question that solar farms are rapidly changing the landscape of the solar power industry. With estimates predicting that by 2018, their corner of the market will have grown by sevenfold, it’s safe to say that solar collectives are here to stay. Now it’s up to us to find ways to tap into them.
Increased interest in renewable energy over the last decade or so has left the world with a new, more environmentally friendly outlook on power. Countries around the world are striving for lower carbon footprints, increased energy efficiency, and innovative ways of sourcing and consuming electricity. Solar power, as you might imagine, is at the forefront of renewable energy and the rapidly developing technology behind solar is making it more accessible than ever for industries and residential customers of all shapes and sizes. At Home Improvement Leads, we believe that solar power is the future of energy use and find current international trends in renewable energy fascinating. Here are some of our findings on the status of solar power today, including a few international statistics and technological developments as well as the state of solar power in the UK today.
International solar statistics
The worldwide solar market has developed and changed significantly in the past few years, with intriguing new statistics that show the changing face of solar power. According to the International Energy Agency – Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme’s Trends 2016 in Photovoltaic Applications report, China still leads the global solar market with the number one slot in the top 10 installations for 2015 list. After installing 15.15 gigawatts (gW) of photovoltaics (PVs) in 2015 (the highest recorded annual installation in the history of these trend reports), China maintains a worldwide lead of 43.5 gW of installed PV capacity to date.
While Japan and the United States stay at number two and three respectively with 10.8 gW and 7.3 gW of installed PV capacity for 2015, there are several newer additions to the top 10 list that demonstrate how solar power is changing around the world.
Both the United Kingdom and India are newcomers to the top five—with smaller annual installations of 4.1 gW and 2.1 gW respectively—but their presence alone shows that the renewable energy market in these countries is growing quickly and that they have a bright solar future. The UK, at number four on the International Energy Agency’s list of 2015 installations, has been a part of the top 10 list since 2013 but has seen steady and significant growth over the past few years with increased residential PV installations as well as industrial use.
Until recently, India was considered to be an emerging solar market with significant installations in industrial and off-grid areas alone. However, the introduction of widespread residential solar power has allowed this country to jump up onto the radar of the International Energy Agency and be seen for its true solar potential. At number five on the list, India is expected to stay at the forefront of solar power for the foreseeable future because of its size and potential for both grid-based and off-grid installations.
The rest of the top 10 PV installations for 2015 includes Germany at number six, Australia at seven, Korea at eight, France at nine, and Canada at 10. Interestingly, Germany’s lower position this year is a result of several years of declining annual PV installations but still leaves the country at number two for cumulative solar capacity with 1.46 gW installed in 2015 and just under 40 gW total (slightly less than China’s 43.5 gW).
What do these numbers mean for the global solar market? With around 51 gW of installed solar capacity in 2015 alone, the cumulative PV capacity for the whole world is now roughly 228 gW and is set to grow even more in the coming years.
As mentioned above, the solar market in the United Kingdom has seen significant developments in recent years. This is largely due to decreasing costs of photovoltaic panels and government schemes that allow solar power to be accessible and financially beneficial for more homeowners.
According to the September 2016 Solar Photovoltaics Deployment report from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, the UK now has over 11 gW of cumulative photovoltaic capacity—an increase of around 30% from this time last year. However, there are several potential barriers to the continued growth of the UK solar market, including the recent cuts to wind and solar power by the new Conservative government.
Until recently, Feed-In Tariffs have been of particular interest to British homeowners who use solar power because these schemes allow solar power users to receive paybacks from their energy companies on the money generated by their PV panels. If a home produces more energy than it needs, government incentives like these will offer a small payment to homeowners for simply using their solar panels. The original Feed-In Tariff scheme is unfortunately now defunct, but the new version promises to give homeowners a generation-tariff, or preset subsidy amount for each kilowatt hour produced by their solar panels. You can find out more about this new scheme here.
The growth of the solar market in the UK is partially dependent on price, but the availability of shared and community solar programmes that make solar power accessible to a larger part of the population also contributes to the success of renewable energy. Several shared solar farms, including the Orchard Community Energy project in Kent and Wedmore Solar Farm in Somerset, are in the early stages of planning and development with the ultimate goal of offering shared solar and funds to local communities.
More information on the current developments and challenges of the solar market in the UK can be found at the Solar Power Portal.
Current solar developments
While the United Kingdom is certainly making strides towards a high profile in the global renewable energy market, there are projects going on in other areas of the world that will take solar power to an entirely new level.
Solar farms like the ones mentioned above in the UK are one of the newest developments in the solar world, but the massive solar plants in California—this American state holds the top three slots in PE magazine’s list of largest solar photovoltaic plants in the world—demonstrate just how far shared solar can go. The largest of these plants, the Solar Star Projects in Kern and Los Angeles counties, has a capacity of 579 megawatts and can power up to 255,000 homes. These kinds of projects are crucial to the development of accessible solar power for industries, businesses, and homes that might otherwise not be able to benefit from renewable energy.
In the high tech world of solar power, one name has stood out in news headlines for several years. Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla, is an innovative inspiration for renewable energy technology around the world. The latest solar news from Tesla is the introduction of integrated solar roof tiles that can link to Musk’s solar battery known as the Powerwall in order to maximize energy efficiency and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a home.
Because the technology behind solar power is changing so rapidly, it can be difficult to stay up to date on the most current scientific developments behind photovoltaics and solar innovation. However, it is clear to see that solar power is a viable and reliable renewable energy source that is here to stay. If countries around the world embrace it, solar power will soon replace standard energy use and significantly alter our impact on the environment.
Looking to raise the roof? Whether that means you’re celebrating or upgrading your roof, there are many eco-friendly options out there to consider. At Home Improvement Leads, we’re dedicated to finding green alternatives for home upgrades and repairs. Here are a few of our favourite roofing solutions to help you conserve energy and reduce your utility bills.
Cool roofs are great for warmer climates. They are designed to enhance solar reflectance and thermal emittance. Basically, cool roofs reflect heat so that it doesn’t seep into the roof and ultimately, your home.This roof can even cool itself down by emitting thermal radiation.
All of this means you’ll use your A/C less since your home will stay cooler. In fact, the Cool Roof Rating Council suggests cool roofs can save you 7-15% of total cooling costs each year. The only thing to keep in mind is that cool roofs can increase heating costs during colder seasons, but in warm and tropical climates, this spike is significantly canceled out by warm-weather savings.
Solar energy is sweeping the nation as a cost-effective way to conserve energy and go green. With the popularity of solar-powered products rising, technology is advancing. Now, you can easily incorporate solar energy into your life, big ways and small.
Opt for a solar roof to cut back on energy consumption and reduce your monthly utility bills.. The best part about using solar energy is that the sun is free and unlimited. You’ll never run out of “fuel.” Solar roofs can charge even on overcast days, and they can power your home with solar electricity. A roof that works for you? Yes, please!
The days of ugly, obvious solar panels are over. You can now choose from sleek solar roof manufacturers, like Tesla, which pride themselves in making energy-efficient options beautiful. Tesla offers solar roofs that are designed to look like Tuscan tile, slate glass, texture glass, and smooth glass. Your neighbors won’t know the difference; but your wallet will!
Reduce and Reuse
Sustainable roofing is an affordable option that uses repurposed materials and renewable resources. Some examples of sustainable roofing are metal, asphalt shingles, ceramic tiles, cedar shakes, wood, polymer and photovoltaic panel systems, as recommended by Elemental Green. The best part about sustainable roofing is that it can be recycled after it’s worn out.
You can also opt for a smaller-scale solution and protect your roof with elastomeric coating. According to Marton Roofing Industries, this small step can lower your building’s energy consumption by up to 40%. It can even restore and protect your roof, resulting in long-term savings.
Bring it to Life
Living roofs are a unique and fresh way to conserve energy. You can actually use your roof to grow herbs, plants, vegetables and more. A rooftop garden adds a lot of curb appeal to your home, but it also provides temperature control. Plants can reduce the amount of heat a building absorbs, which reduces A/C consumption, much like a cool roof. Plus, you can grow your own vegetable garden and go green in more ways than one!
New Scientist reports on a study by the University of Cardiff, which states that “green roofs and walls can cool local temperatures by between 3.6°C and 11.3°C, depending on the city.” This makes green roofs a great solution for warmer climates.
Made of Metal
Metal roofing may not seem very energy-efficient, but it is actually a responsible solution. Steel and aluminum are great choices for roofing, as they reflect sunlight and excess warmth during those long summer months.
Additionally, metal roofs are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, which means less frequent repairs and replacements.
Spray without Seams
Polyurethane foam is often used as a roofing solution on commercial buildings, but it is possible to use on residential and even sloped roofs. The foam is sprayed onto the roof, and then covered with an elastomeric coating, which offers protection from the sun.
According to My Energy Solution, polyurethane foam roofing is incredible energy-efficient, and it stabilizes your home at a cozy temperature, year-round. This solution is literally seamless, which means you’re less likely to have to deal with leaks. It’s a cost-efficient treatment, perhaps the most inexpensive of all green options.
Seize the Slope
If you have a low-sloped roof, you can apply cool coating or single-ply membrane to reduce cooling demands. This coating paints onto various materials, like asphalt, gravel, metal, and more. If you don’t want to replace your roof, this is a great way to go green without the financial commitment.
Steep-sloped roofs are often found on residential homes, and you can opt for clay, slate or concrete tile roofs to cool it off. And add some color! Those pigments can reflect solar energy. While clay tile is more susceptible to hail damage, it’s still a good solution in areas with moderate to mild weather conditions. Otherwise, opt for slate, which is stronger and requires little maintenance. Slate is a resource that you can purchase reclaimed, and even recycle when you replace it.
Be a Star
There are quit
e a few options for energy-efficient roofing, so as a general rule of thumb, search for an Energy Star rating. Pay attention to the solar reflective index (SRI) especially. These materials will help reflect heat and reduce the roof’s surface temperature by up to 10 degrees celsius. Energy Star also claims qualified products can reduce your home’s cooling demand by 10 to 15 percent. Cha-ching!
Choosing energy-efficient roofing materials can be a smart move for your finances, as well as the environment. It’s a win-win!
When we look at heating our homes and offices in the UK, gas and hot water heating and bulky radiators in very room tends to come to mind first of all. Not many people think of infrared heating. It’s a tech that’s more often associated with bar fires and garden sheds or dusty old factory floors.
Actually, there are some great benefits to be had from switching to infrared in the home – the latest panels are great to look at, use low amounts of electricity, get you warm as soon as you switch them on and are supposed to be healthier for you.
According to Infrared Technologies:
“Infrared heating is beneficial for people with health conditions such as asthma or bronchial ailments. Its unique heating method does not create air currents that increase dust circulation in the room. It also prevents unwanted humidity that causes mould to grow.”
When you head out on a hot day, you can usually feel the immediate impact of the sun on your face and bare skin. This is infrared heating at its most natural. The rays from the sun hit your body and those light waves on the infrared spectrum warm you up. It’s different from the traditional convection heating you get with radiators which heat up the surrounding air.
Infrared acts on objects. That’s why you get the immediate feeling of warmth. For this reason alone, it takes a lot less time for you to get comfortable. With radiators you have to put them on for a while (sometimes a long while!) before the air heats up and the room actually begins to feel warm.
Cut Costs with Infrared
First of all, infrared heaters use less electricity and are therefore cheaper to run. Set your system up properly and you can pick and choose which heaters you have on in which rooms. So if you’re only using the lounge, that’s the only radiator you need on. This gives you a lot of power to maintain and reduce your energy usage even over the cold winter months.
And because infrared heaters warm you up immediately, you don’t have to worry about not having panels on around the rest of the house. Simply turn them on when you walk into a particular room and you get instant warmth.
Got Draughts? Infrared Doesn’t Care
When you have normal convection heating and you get a draught it can suddenly cool down a room and make it uncomfortable. With infrared you simply don’t get this problem. Remember, it heats up objects, not the air. That means you hardly notice it when someone opens a door and lets in the cold air from outside.
Health and Infrared
Because it works on objects, infrared can help reduce condensation and prevent problems such as damp. If you have a room that suffers from excess damp, an infrared panel can dry out the wall and stop it reoccurring. This is great news for old properties and even better news for people’s health. There is also some evidence that it’s great for people who have breathing issues or conditions such as asthma because you get less dust in the air.
It’s Reasonably Cheap
Compared to installing a new hot water heating system, heat pump system or biomass boiler, infrared is pretty cheap. Panels cost as little as £150 for a good quality smaller product and are simple to install. All you need is a plug socket or fused spur and a wall or ceiling to put it on. Panels are also low maintenance because they have no moving parts and good quality ones will last you well over 20 years! You can get ones that hook up to wireless thermostats and timers so you can have complete control of your heating.
Not Just for the Home
Many offices and businesses are now turning to infrared heating because it is more cost effective. Large offices can be a devil to heat properly especially when they have big open spaces. Infrared heating solves this issue and keeps the environment comfortable at a much lower cost. They also suit outdoor heating, patios, pubs, clubs and anywhere that requires quick and targeted heat. Because the infrared heaters heat people and objects like the sun and not the air, they are ideally suited to the outdoors, and what with being IP rated they will withstand all weathers.
Finally, infrared heating panels are great to look at. They take up less space compared to conventional radiators. You can fit them to the wall or ceiling and you can buy ones with designs on them. In other words, you can have an infrared panel that doubles as artwork. You can also get panels that can be used as mirrors.
If you want a heating technology that saves you money and looks great, then infrared heating panels are a very good option.
The man who called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to damage the US economy is soon to take control of the most powerful nation on Earth. Sound scary? Many in America and around the world think so.
While angry liberals took the streets in the aftermath of the US election results, green advocates took a sharp intake of breath and pondered the future. Will President Trump pull back from the Climate Change agreement? Are fossil fuels back on the agenda? What is going to happen to Obama’s Clean Power Plan? Should we all just give up now?
Before you start tearing out your hair and prophesying the end of the world as we know it, Donald Trump hasn’t been big on any particular policy during his campaign, let alone the country’s current green agenda. He’s not a guy given to firm ideologies (except perhaps a Wall Street greed is good one) and is just as likely to embrace climate change in the future as deny its existence – it all depends on what suits him and whether there’s a benefit in it.
After all, he’s promised to build a wall on the Mexican border and no one really thinks he’s going to do that, not even his most ardent supporters.
Do we? While there’s no doubt the status quo has been given a big kick up the backside in recent days, the real truth is that no one knows what is going to happen. It’s the uncertainty that is killing us and many are looking on the dark side rather than hoping for a better future.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”
Trump later rolled back on this by saying it was a joke, complaining that China is not really keen on the climate change agenda (strange, because they are one of the leading developers of solar power at the moment).
Like most things Trump, the rhetoric is a little confused. It changes from day to day, sometimes from minute to minute.
Obama sanctioned the climate change agreement last November and signed the US up on his own rather than going through Congress. That means Trump, if he wishes, is well within his right to repeal the decision immediately when he gets into office. Will he? You wouldn’t put money on it but then no one gave him a chance of winning the nomination and the presidency. Is he a smart operator? Well, you wouldn’t put money on that either. When Obama wished President Elect Trump every success, you had the sneaking feeling that the fingers behind his back were crossed.
Republican Dominance and Climate Change
A big factor may not be Trump at all but the fact that the Republican party has control of both the presidency and the House. They have, in the past, been more climate change sceptic than democratic advocates. The good news is that the number of conservatives who believe the climate is changing is increasing, and something needs to be done, up to almost 50% in recent times according to a Centre for Climate Change Communication survey. That could be the saving grace for green activists and businesses across the country, if not the world.
What if Trump Cancels America’s Climate Change Agreement?
If it does happen, you can expect some pretty big fireworks. There was a lot of haggling involved in getting everyone on board for the agreement in the first place, many of them doing it at the expense of their own industrial developments and more than a little begrudgingly. Bringing down carbon emissions is a big challenge, particularly for countries such as India and China. While regions such as Europe will probably continue to do their best to develop clean energy and cut CO2, others might see a US withdrawal from the agreement as a chance to renege on their climate change obligations.
Growth the Key
What may be more important to Trump is the potential for growth in the renewables industry and the number of jobs it can deliver. It was a central part of his appeal that he was going to create jobs and boost the US economy. If solar and wind power can show that they provide an avenue to do this, then development could see more profitable times ahead.
According to the LA Times, Trump’s environmental policy is more likely to be influenced by market realities than ideological notions:
“The challenge Trump faces is that increasingly the economics in the energy sector favor renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are reducing costs quickly. Increased fracking has produced natural gas at prices that are cheaper than coal. And a worldwide oil glut has reduced petroleum profits to the point where reducing regulation and opening federal lands to drilling is unlikely to bring a drilling boom.”
In other words, gas and renewables may be the more profitable sectors for the new leader of the free world. The best that can be said at the moment, however, is that we don’t really know what Trump’s presidency is going to deliver.
This may indeed be a bad time for climate change advocates. Trump could reverse the climate change agreement. He could start a decline in renewables that has a huge impact across the world and damages all our attempts to reduce carbon emissions and get access to cleaner energy. Just as likely, he may invest in a growing and increasingly economically viable sector like renewables and subsequently stay on board with other countries and the global reduction of emissions.
Maximise your solar energy consumption and become more independent, cut your electricity bills and lower your environmental impact. The Powerwall 2 is coming to the UK in 2017.
The Holy Grail for solar has always been about how we store all that energy created during the day for times when the sun isn’t out. To date, home and office installations have been linked to the National Grid and users have benefited from a regular supply, which covers any shortfalls, as well as Feed in Tariffs that pay them for the amount of electricity they produce.
Reductions in solar tariffs at the beginning of the year made the return on investment for solar a little less attractive. The development of good storage technology, therefore, is seen by the industry as all the more important. If you can create electricity during the day and store it for use overnight, the savings on solar systems and potential independence of users could well change the way we look at electricity production completely.
The good news is that the technology to do this is beginning to develop at pace and is now more affordable for domestic and small business installations. Leading the way is American firm Tesla, famed for its investment in the electric car industry who are now focussing on solar storage and better solar PV tiles. We could be seeing the start of an energy revolution that will transform how we get our electricity. And it’s coming to the UK over the next year.
What is Powerwall?
When it was launched in 2015, CEO of Tesla Elon Musk said that the Powerwall represented “a fundamental transformation [in] how energy is delivered across the Earth.” It’s a compact, wall mounted lithium ion battery that has a decent storage capacity. That means you can have one or more in your home or office and it can be used to provide power when you most need it.
How does it work? If you have solar panels you will produce a DC current and this gets fed into the battery and stored. The battery is then connected to an inverter that produces AC current which can be used in the home. Since the launch of the original Powerwall, Tesla have now brought Powerwall 2 to the market which has almost double the storage capacity and can power a standard home for the whole day. For those looking to make the most of their energy production, installing Powerwall means you are less dependent on the Grid and able to cut the amount spent on utility bills.
The Benefits of Powerwall
The major benefit of Powerwall is that it can provide the electricity you need when you need it. Most of us are out at work during the day and the major part of our usage normally takes place while the sun is heading down and our solar panels are producing less electricity.
Powerwall can easily be installed in the home and immediately reduces dependence on the National Grid for the power you need to operate at peak times such as in the evening.
You can install the number of batteries that fit your needs and storage requirements.
Your home power system will operate sustainably and you’ll have greater energy independence.
During the day you fill up the battery and during the night you use the energy in the battery, it’s as simple as that. Essentially if you have a great solar roof combined with good storage you not only reduce your carbon emissions but your costs as well.
The Powerwall is durable, low maintenance, and can be wall mounted or floor mounted. Tesla offer a 10-year warranty for their batteries but you should realistically expect it to last about 15 years.
The Powerwall has inbuilt thermal controls which maximise the energy efficiency for a longer life and better power production.
It’s safe for home energy storage and there are no unserviceable parts. You can put it on your wall, anywhere in your home, and it is safe to touch so you don’t need to worry about areas of your home being off limits.
With Powerwall 2 coming onto the market, we can see how storage is beginning to develop at a greater pace. The original Powerwall came in 7 kW and 10 kW storage. The new version comes in 14 kWh capacity and is cheaper overall. In other words, not only is the storage capacity rising but the price is coming down.
The Powerwall 2 is expected to come onto the UK market shortly and could well revolutionise energy around the world as we begin to see its benefits. The Powerwall 2 also now has a built in inverter so you don’t have to get additional hardware to feed into your home or office.
Powerwall and Solar Slate Tiles
Tesla’s move on solar and energy storage has been helped by their developing union with Solar City, one of America’s biggest solar panel companies. The introduction of new solar tiles that look like ordinary tiles is not new but the products coming out of Solar City are made from textured glass which allows the sun to reach the hidden solar panels beneath.
According to Musk at the recent launch, these two innovations in combination could well kick start the storage solar industry and give people low cost energy for many years to come. Take a look at what he had to say at the launch in the video below:
Installing Powerwall is easy. A typical system includes the battery, a power inverter, a meter and an electric panel. The size of the 6.4 kWh model is 130 cm by 80 cm and can fit comfortably in any home. If you need more capacity for a busy household, then you can install more batteries or the 14 kWh Powerwall 2 (which has the inverter actually inbuilt).
As with most things renewable, the devil is in the return on investment. If you are going to install the Powerwall, what savings does it give you? And when can you expect to get money back on your initial investment? Much will obviously depend on your home, the type of solar system you have installed, where you are located and what your usage requirements are. It’s a good idea to get professional advice from a local expert to see just how much your home can benefit from solar and storage.
The average price you can expect to pay for a 7 kWh capacity battery is £4,500. There are cheaper batteries on the market but these usually offer a much lower capacity of around 2 kWh. With the average home usage at 10 kWh, one Tesla Powerwall battery will go a good way to meeting your daily needs.
One of the first to install the Powerwall was the Kerr family in Wales who found that their self-consumption increased from just 15% (because they were mostly out at work during the day and production wasn’t saved) to 67% once the battery was put in. During the summer months, this rose to over 90%. In May 2016, this meant that the family’s electricity bill for the whole month was just a shade over £11.
The new Powerwall 2 is retailing at around £5,400 for a 14 kW array, plus an extra £1,000 for installation and accessories such as the meter. Shopping around can get you a cheaper price, particularly as this market is fast developing across the UK. Return on investment over the average 10 year warranty life is expected to be reasonably good but does depend on how much energy you use and other factors – getting a professional assessment of your usage is therefore important in the first instance, even if you already have solar panels installed.
Tesla’s Solar Tiles
Installing Powerwall with existing solar systems is easy and can produce a good return on investment over the 10-15-year lifetime of the battery. But Tesla are also selling their updated product with the concept of brand new solar tiles that not only look good but are highly efficient as well.
These, in combination with the battery, could mean that domestic installations and businesses will have access to a unique opportunity to become energy independent, with lower and more controllable electricity generation costs and a greatly decreased impact on the environment. Most estimates in the US at the moment put the payback date for investment in these new solar tiles at around 8-9 years, slightly more than existing solar panel systems.
Expect the cost to come down once production is in full sway though. In conjunction with the latest Powerwall battery solar tiles are no doubt going to become more attractive for new builds and installations to combine these two technologies.
Changing How You Use Power
While installing a storage system such as Powerwall and opting for the latest solar tiles can all reduce your fuel costs, so can making a few changes to your energy usage itself. Looking at how and when you use electricity during the day can provide further savings. For example, if you have several high power tasks that you carry out such as putting on the dishwasher, doing this during the day when the sun is shining can be more cost effective and less of a drain on battery energy storage. Swapping a few things around can make a big difference here and ensure that you have capacity later in the day, particularly when the nights start to draw in over winter.
Is Powerwall for Me?
Yes. Solar and other renewable storage is the future and is set to revolutionise not only our home energy production and consumption but on a larger scale too. Tesla are also working on industrial scale storage which means that our utility companies will soon be able to store power created by wind and solar farms across the country.
With better capacity and it’s solid, easy to install design, Tesla’s Powerwall 2 has begun to bring storage technology to the masses. For homes that already have solar installed, it’s a good, strong addition that can spread energy availability and cut down utility bills even further. The more you produce your own power and the less you use the National Grid, the quicker you will see a return on investment and greater independence.
Looking at the way you use energy can bring additional benefits and improve your return on investment.
Where Can I Find Powerwall Installers?
If you want to find out just how much installing Powerwall can mean to your home or business energy production and usage, then it pays to get the experts in to survey your situation.