Off-grid living UK: A personal account
This blog is written by Solar Plants customer’s, Neil and Stacey from Newcastle, UK. Their blog details their recent off-grid solar energy installation from Solar Plants and experience of living off-grid in the UK.
buying an off-grid home
We first contacted Solar Plants in September 2016 when we were initially looking at purchasing an off-grid home – we were looking for some information on solar PV panels and solar battery back-up systems and cost estimates for an off-grid energy solution for our home.
We made contact with several UK solar PV installers and had site surveys completed – but it became apparent very quickly that none of the other solar PV installers that we had engaged with were fully aware of the complexities and pitfalls of living in a home off-grid.
Ian Hewson, on the other hand, was extremely knowledgeable and was able to answer any questions or concerns we had quickly and efficiently. He was able to give us advice based on previous off-grid solar projects which he had worked on. (Ian is head of the off-grid energy department at Solar Plants).
We went ahead with the installation and had a very good experience; the system which has been installed is fully modular which was our biggest concern going into our first winter and unsure of the power needs of the house – this gives us the flexibility we needed. The system we settled on consists of a Victron Multiplus 5000 inverter/charger, a Fronius PV inverter a BYD LiFePO4 battery pack (around 10kWh) as well as just over 5Kw of solar PV panels. The Victron unit acts as the heart of the system and controls all the other components. It also provides us with a handy app to keep track of usage and state of charge.
Our off-grid solar system was installed in June 2017, and so far, we have had very few days where we did not produce enough power for our needs, in fact, we have only had to run our generator for a total of around 10 hours. We have been pleasantly surprised by how “normal” our electricity use can be while living off-grid. Even charging our electric car every now and then.
Going off-grid was the perfect solution for us because the complete installation cost of the system was slightly less than half the cost of getting our home connected to the mains, and above that, it is free to run now.
We should however also mention that this works well for us because one of us works from home and so we can use excess power on bright days to run our washing machine, dishwasher and any other power-intensive equipment. If we couldn’t do this then we would have needed a much larger solar battery pack. Systems that allow for the use of the battery pack in your electric car to feed back into the house exist in other countries but are unfortunately not yet available in the UK.
solar plants experience
We are also yet to experience a full winter with this system and we expect to learn a lot in the next few months. But we know that Ian and the team at Solar Plants will be there to help guide us through any upgrades that may be required. The aftercare provided by Ian and the Solar Plants team has been excellent, and as and when we decide to expand our capacity we would not look further than Solar Plants UK.
Neil & Stacey
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0800 856 2200