Rob’s solar and storage installation experience

Have you ever thought about getting solar and battery storage for your home, but first you’d like to hear what the whole experience is like from beginning to end, from another customer? Well, now you absolutely can!

We’ve been chatting with Rob, who recently decided to invest in solar and storage for his home, to generate his own electricity from the sun, and have the ability to store it for use when he needs it the most. He’ll also make power cuts a thing of the past.

The kit

Rob’s solar and storage system includes 8 SunPower Maxeon 3 430W panels, a Solis 3kW string inverter, bird mesh, and a Tesla Powerwall 2 with Backup Gateway.

The questions and answers

What were Rob’s motivations for getting home solar and storage in the first place? Why did he choose Joju? What was the solar and storage design and installation process like, and how much is Rob’s system generating?

You can find out the answers to all these questions and more by listening to Rob chat about his solar and storage design and installation experience, right here:

Discover more about solar and storage for your home

Check out our solar and storage home case studies

Chat with us, or enquire about getting solar and storage for your home.

Stuart’s two-staged install

Stuart first got in touch with us back in 2021. He already had an EV charge point and wanted to get the full package for his home. He decided it was time for solar and a battery, so he could generate power and save any excess for when the house needed it.

A waiting game

Due to Tesla Powerwall supply timescales over the last year, we’ve often had to be flexible and take a different approach, splitting installations into two stages… installing solar panels and Powerwall’s separately, depending on kit availability. That’s exactly what happened with Stuart’s project.

Panels first, then Powerwall joins the party!

We installed the solar panels first, earlier this year, so that Stuart could instantly have the benefit of onsite generation without having to wait for the Powerwall. We stripped all the tiles back and installed 20 Sunpower 400 Wp panels, the aesthetically pleasing GSE in-roof mounting system, and an 8.2 kW Fronius inverter.

At the same time, we installed the Tesla Gateway – the control unit for the Powerwall, which helps it disconnect from the grid in a power cut. The Gateway would have to wait a short while to be joined by its partner in power storage, but after six months it was time for the Powerwall battery to take its rightful place!

A happy ending

Some installs are simple. Some have challenges along the way. In Stuart’s case stock was the challenge, but with patience and understanding on Stuart’s side and a flexible approach on ours, we have a very happy customer with a full set of kit, generating and storing clean energy for use exactly when the family needs it.

Discover more

Learn about solar panels for your home and how we choose them

How does a home battery work? Read our explanation

Why’s the Powerwall so popular? Head here to find out

Andy’s heavyweight investment

Our customer, Andy Smith, wanted to be more energy self-sufficient with solar, make financial savings, and he had the fields in which to do it! So, earlier this year we took a trip out to the countryside to see what kind of system might work best for him.

On the ground

Having surveyed the site and chatted with Andy, we selected a ground mount system on a Renusol mounting bay, to give us total flexibly on the location of the install, and because it’s relatively quick to lay down. This is where the first part of the ‘heavyweight’ install comes in too, because the plastic moulded frames aren’t fixed. Instead, they’re weighted down with ballast blocks – 3 tons of them in this case, once we’d completed the calculation. That’s basically 174 breeze blocks we moved into Andy’s field… by hand. It took a little bit of time as you can imagine!

Add to that, 35, 385-watt Qcells panels, totalling 13.475 kWp of solar.

We made this choice because the panel is a good all-rounder, solid, with a great balance of aesthetics and performance. Andy’s were the G9 plus versions too, which came with a 25-year warranty.

Making the connection

To connect everything up, we trenched cable from Andy’s chosen field, underground, and back to the garage where the electrics were situated. Andy had previously installed a conduit system with a rope pulley, so we were able to pull the cables from the field, and it’s a brilliant way to hide a pretty large cable. We also fitted a 12kW three-phase Solis inverter.

A little request

One request was that we spaced the array so that Andy could get his lawnmower between the rows, and we were only too happy to help – always thinking practically. Of course, as the cables are sealed underground, sheep can still graze in between the panels too.

Savings on all fronts

As there are also kennels on site, there’s relatively high-powered usage and that leads us to the final reason you could call this a heavyweight investment. It’s down to the savings Andy makes and the export payments he receives. As Andy’s exporting on all three phases, he gets significant export payments, and the investment made has definitely put the smile of champions on his face!

As Andy tells us:

“The Renusol mounting was definitely the right solution for us, and my spreadsheet tells me that so far, the panels have saved me about £1,090 – about half on electricity that I haven’t had to import, and about half on energy I’ve exported. I know it won’t be like this in Winter, but I think I may well get back the installation cost over four years or less. One of the best investments I have made – thanks”.

Saving money and helping to save the planet… it’s what we’re all about.

Discover more

Find out more about solar PV and choosing the right system

Read more about how we can help your home turn green

Read more of our residential case studies

Beautiful and powerful – Mike’s new build home

Our customer, Mike, originally contacted us with architects plans for a new build house. He wanted the house to be highly energy efficient… generating its own power without this negatively impacting on the character and aesthetic of his soon-to-be-built home.

Back to black 

We loved working with Mike to bring this vision to life and as solar tiles weren’t widely available at the time of install, and there were technical constraints with the products too, we specified all black solar panels built into the roof.

The all black panels have a black frame, black mono crystalline cells, and a black back-sheet with a neat finish, blending particularly well with dark slate and whilst there is a slight additional cost when compared to traditional on-roof solar, savings are made by not having to install slates and tiles where the panels are located.

We worked with Mike’s main contractor and roofer to complete this solar installation and in terms of the look for Mike’s new home, the panels worked perfectly.

As Mike says,

“We selected the black panels largely for the aesthetics and, given that we were building a new house, it made no sense to put a roof covering on and then put the panels on top… may as well make the panels be the roof covering. It integrates with the house much better”.

Never a truer word, we say!

Panel power

Well, the aesthetic is certainly attractive, but what about the solar generation?

As Mike tells us,

“We can get over 30kWh on really sunny days.  In 2021 to date, we have had 3253hWh. We have battery storage now too and our electricity bill is less than £50 per month, which isn’t bad for an electric only house and two electric cars”.

Not bad indeed!

A great experience

Here’s to architecture that not only looks beautiful, but that also definitely generates the power and here’s to a great solar installation experience all round. Jon, our Head of Residential Solar, led the project and as Mike says,

“It was a really good experience, easy, and Jon was great. He did what he said, when he said he would”.

We can’t say fairer than that!

Find out more

Check out some of our other residential case studies here

Discover how to get the most from your solar

What’s the best solar panel? Here’s our view

solar roof tiles, integrated solar, BIPV, ThamesWey

ThamesWey’s Innovative Battery Microgrid

ThamesWey has recently installed an innovative solar/battery microgrid at a housing estate in Woking.  ThamesWey are a private company, owned by Woking Borough Council, set up to drive carbon reductions and the wider sustainability agenda in the Borough.  They own and manage over 600 properties in support of the Council’s Housing Strategy. ThamesWey offer a range of private rental properties including homes at more affordable rents and key worker accommodation.   ThamesWey have a long history in the solar energy sector; back in the 2000’s, and long before feed-in tariffs were established, they were the leading institution installing solar panels in the UK.  They installed their first solar panels back in 2001, and had installed over 5000 solar panels by 2012.

“It’s in our business plan to trial new technologies, so we wanted to run a demonstrator of centralised battery storage”, explains Rachel Lambert, ThamesWey’s Environmental Projects Manager.  “We wanted to find a solution that saved carbon, whilst simultaneously offering a strong economic case.  At the current state of technology, that required a highly innovative project”.

A Microgrid Serving 14 homes

The site chosen was a group of 14 homes, which already had solar PV installed as integrated solar roof tiles on 12 of the properties since 2010.  ThamesWey built the properties to code 5 of the former Code for Sustainable Homes , and designed them to run off their own private wire network.  ThamesWey import electricity into a substation, and then distribute  this electricity on to the connected homes.

“We came up with a concept of installing batteries at the substation as part of our own microgrid”, said Sam Pepper, Environmental Projects Officer.  “The idea was to capture the excess solar electricity that was being produced during the day, and to use this to benefit all the homes on the network, including those without  solar”.

Developing a microgrid with batteries

ThamesWey asked Joju Solar to help design and implement the scheme.  We undertook extensive modelling of the site, looking at ½ hourly usage and generation across the homes, and predicting what would happen if batteries were incorporated.

This was also a full financial model. ThamesWey buy in electricity that is priced every ½ hour on a real time tariff.  As a ‘commercial’ user, ThamesWey also incur high additional charges of 8p/kWh (called DUoS charges) at peak times between 4pm and 7pm every weekday.  We looked at the savings possible for a variety of battery models and operational regimes.

We settled on the installation of 3 x Tesla Powerwalls for a number of reasons:

  • Tesla offer the cheapest storage per kWh of battery capacity
  • Using 3 Powerwalls allows 40.2 kWh of electricity to be stored.
  • The 3 Powerwalls can supply 15kW of instantaneous power, allowing the aggregated load of the homes to be fully covered for most of the year
  • The Tesla Powerwall can be set up to import cheap, cleaner, night time electricity in winter months, adding additional savings when there isn’t excess solar available
  • The Tesla Powerwall can be set up to preferentially discharge when electricity prices are high to maximise savings – in this case during the peak DUoS periods of weekday evenings. By eliminating consumption across the 14 homes in the peak period, DUoS charges become zero.
  • An additional benefit of load shifting out of the peak period is that this is also when the grid is the dirtiest in terms of utilising fossil fuels.

Overall the scheme offers the best economics we have seen for behind the meter batteries, with a full return on investment within the 10 year warrantied lifetime of the Tesla Powerwall.

This centralised approach is approximately 5 times cheaper than the alternative of installing a battery in each home, showing the advantage of deploying batteries into a microgrid.

Installing a battery Microgrid

Joju installed the batteries at the substation over a 3-day period.  The only issue faced with the installation was making the final connection between the batteries and the supply in the substation, which needed to be switched off to manage the works safely.  Homeowners were informed in advance by letter that their supply would be briefly interrupted on the final day, and the necessary connection was made within 15 minutes.

Batteries for Sites with Landlord’s Supply

The ThamesWey project is a clear demonstrator of the strong economic case for batteries within a microgrid context in both the commerical solar panels and public sector renewables spheres.  At first glance it might seem that this kind of site is fairly unique, but the same approach can be adopted wherever there is a landlord’s electricity supply in place – most commonly in blocks of flats.  Any situation where the landlord buys electricity into a building (or site), and then sells on electricity to tenants, can benefit from battery storage behind the landlords meter (but in front of the tenants).  It’s a model Joju Solar are now rolling out at numerous sites across the country.

Mark Rolt, ThamesWey’s Chief Executive Officer concludes “We were delighted to work with Joju Solar to install these batteries at our substation as part of an innovative trial of a centralised battery. The associated carbon savings from maximising the use of energy generated from a renewable energy technology supports our founding commitment to reduce carbon emissions in the Borough.”

Find Out More

 

Zappi, myenegie, solar charger, ev charger

A Happy Zappi Customer

Roger has just bought a Zappi electric car charger to power his brand new Volkswagen e-golf. Roger has had the good fortune to be inspired by the latest electric vehicle technology up close. A Director of Photography by trade, Roger got the electric vehicle bug when filming the Formula E cars in action on the Greenland ice-sheet! Further work followed filming the Jaguar i-pace, and that inspired Roger himself to make his next car a fully electric one.

The Zappi EV charger

The Zappi is usually used to charge electric cars directly off the excess electricity produced by solar panels.  However, Roger chose a Zappi charger for his home, even though he doesn’t own solar panels yet. “We’re debating whether to move to New Zealand, but we got the Zappi in case we stayed; if we do solar is next on the list for us”. However, Roger saw the benefits of the Zappi unit, not just for allowing him to integrate with solar in future, but also in terms of the programmability of the existing device. “I can set it to start charging at 12:30 at night for a full 8 hours at the night rate of 7p per unit. It’s a great product, and seems to have more control than other units.

Flexible Electricians

The installation was completed in just a few hours. Our electrician found a convenient wiring route from the consumer unit to a discrete charging unit mounted in the porch. “I thought we’d have to go out and though the garage, but the electrician thought on his feet and found a neat route under the floor and up into the consumer unit.

Another EV convert

Overall, Roger’s very pleased with his step into the world of electric transportation. “I was delighted with the Zappi installation. Great communication, a seamless install, and a great product”. And of course, Roger filmed the whole installation, making this great little video.

Further Reading

• Find out more about the Zappi charger here
• Find out more about electric car charging points for your home
• Are you thinking about the complete set of solar PV, battery storage and EV charging?

Car charging, garage

Tony’s Smart Electric Car Charger

Tony and Nicky Michaels have just installed a smart New Motion electric car charging point for their home in North London.  Like many people taking the plunge and switching to an electric vehicle they have needed to install a chargepoint at home, and they chose Joju to carry out the works.

Choosing to get an electric car

Tony and Nicky have been trying to do their bit for the environment, including a full eco-design for their home“We’re aware of global warming and try to do as much as possible when we can.  We’d been thinking of getting an electric car for years.  We do lots of town driving, so it really seemed to make sense.  The electric car has been brilliant – we wish we’d done it much earlier.”

New Motion chargepoint

The property is a little unusual for the UK in that it has a 3-phase electrical supply.  “The main reason for choosing the New Motion charger was that it had a three phase supply so we could charge up at 22kW”.  The chargepoint is also smart enabled as standard allowing you to see your charging data, and the cost of running the car on a portal.  Drivers of petrol and diesel cars are very aware of how much it costs to run, as they hand over money in the petrol station.  That’s not always as visible for EV owners as they just plug in, and money doesn’t change hands until you get your next electricity bill.  The New Motion portal allows you to see what your running costs really are.

EV chargepoint installation

Tony and Nicky’s unique property posed some engineering challenges for the team.  Their incoming supply is in the basement, and we needed to run cables up to the ground floor garage.  The floor in between was concrete, so this was a pretty major task for the electricians.  Nonethless, despite these technical challenges, the team still completed the install in just under a day.

Fast Charging with New Motion

“The New Motion charger works excellently – we’ve had no problems at all – and we can fully charge in under 2 hours.  And we were very happy with the install too – as well as getting all the chargepoint grant paperwork in order.  We needed to go out at 5:30 that evening, and everything got completed on time.”

Further Reading

Tesla, powerwall, ev charging, electric vehicle

Chris’s Complete Set

Chris Savage has jumped straight into the smart electric future; he purchased the complete set of technologies offered by Joju Solar in one go.  His home now features a solar PV roof, Tesla Powerwall 2 battery storage, an electric vehicle charging point, and an Immersun device to divert any excess solar electricity into hot water heating.

Driven by his electric car

Chris’s reasons for getting solar and battery storage shows how complementary these technologies are.  Whilst we have seen people with PV roofs going on to get and electric car, for Chris it was the other way round.  “I’m fundamentally green, but it was getting an electric car that pushed me into finally doing this.  I’d been thinking about solar for some years, but it was the idea that it could help charge my car that was most appealing.”  Seeing an episode of Fully Charged about the Tesla Powerwall also prompted Chris to incorporate storage into his home energy upgrade.

The design challenge

Integrating so many components can be complex, so ensuring all aspects work well together is critical.  The system is designed so that the solar produces electricity in the day, which is used or stored in the battery.  The battery discharges in the evening and night-time into lights and appliances in the house, and trickle charges the car.  Chris has a plug-in hybrid Mercedes, which has a comparatively small battery capacity of 6.5kWh, so it’s not a drain on the battery.  Chris has got involved too: “I fiddled with the charging profile on the electric car, so it doesn’t exceed the output capacity of Powerwall”.  On the best days in summer, Chris’s PV system will generate more electricity than even the Powerwall 2 can take, so here any excess electricity is diverted into the hot water tank, using the Immersun, rather than being fed back to the grid.

Turning carbon into a game

It does give you a fuzzy glow to know you are producing your own electricity. It’s very interesting and I’ve been rather obsessive about it! We’ve managed self-powered up in the high 90%’s.  It’s almost a game trying to minimise grid electricity – a bit like driving the car, when we sort of consider it a failure to use fossil fuels

Further Reading

 

Sunpower, Tesla, Powerwall2, installation

Robert Llewellyn’s Home of the Future

Comic actor, TV presenter and creator of Fully Charged, Robert Llewellyn, is a passionate proponent of new energy technologies. Fully Charged, started as a YouTube channel looking not just at electric vehicles, but also at the way electricity is generated from renewable sources. It’s now a global phenomenon, with live shows across the world. If you’re not following Fully Charged, we thoroughly recommend you do – it really is the best source of news about new energy technologies out there, and puts mainstream media to shame!

Why choose solar and storage?

Robert Llewellyn has had solar PV on the roof of his house in the Cotswolds for some years, but has increasingly felt he could do more.  “I’ve had solar since 2011 and as soon as you have it, you want a battery. In theory, it makes so much sense and for once in life the practice proves the point”.

The design challenge

Robert is, of course, also passionate about his electric vehicles which also need charging at home.  Our brief was to therefore boost his solar generation, utilise a greater percentage of the solar electricity on site, and use any excess to charge his cars.

The home of the future

We upgraded Robert’s existing solar PV system of 2.5kW conventional modules to 16 high efficiency Sunpower 327 modules, totalling 5.23kW.  These high efficiency modules (over 21%) have doubled the generation from his roof space.

In order to use more electricity onsite, we installed one of the first Powerwall2 battery systems in the country.  This Tesla solar battery unit is much larger than conventional battery units, holding an impressive 13.4kWh of energy.  This greater battery capacity matches to the larger PV system – anything smaller would fill up too quickly.

The system works by using excess solar electricity to charge the Powerwall2 during the day.  It discharges in the evening to loads in the house, but by midnight we don’t expect the battery to be empty.  It’s at this point that the Powerwall2 discharges into Robert’s car batteries.  The car batteries then fill any remainder with cheaper night-time tariff electricity.

This approach is perfect, as the battery is completely empty the next morning ready to capture the maximum possible solar energy throughout the day.

It is slightly unconventional to charge a battery (Powerwall2) and then discharge it into another battery (vehicles), and thermodynamically this might not seem sensible.  It is, however, the best thing to do economically.  Robert uses his free solar electricity first, then cheap night-time electricity, with any remaining (on poor days in winter) coming at standard day rates.

Early results were very promising. As Robert said:

“I’ve had the system running for 2 days and my mains electricity usage has reduced by 95%.  Okay, it’s summer, it’s sunny, and over the year I’m sure it won’t manage that, but it’s obvious it will reduce our overall demand on the grid by a substantial amount and utilise far more of the power the panels produce.”

We think this is a perfect example of integrating solar generation, storage technologies and electric vehicle charging.  It’s complex, from an engineering standpoint, as we have to balance PV capacity, battery storage capacity, loads in the house and electric vehicle loads, but we’ve found an optimal solution.  The home of the future is increasingly going to incorporate all these technologies operating in combination.

One happy customer

“Joju Solar have been patient and supportive throughout the install of my new solar array and Powerwall 2 battery system. They needed to be patient due to my constant faltering, budget anxiety and ridiculous schedule.  They fitted the battery in a day, wired it up, stayed longer than expected to make sure it was all working, left the place spotlessly tidy and did a very fine job.” – Robert Llewellyn

And there’s more!

We’ve since been back to Robert’s home for a further install. Watch this space for details.

 

Further reading

  • We’ve developed a free guide to Tesla’s Powerwall2, so you can understand if it is the right option for you.
  • You can see the installation process for Robert’s Powerwall2 in this technical blog
  • The high efficiency Sunpower solar modules are essential to make this system work. Here’s our guide to the most efficient modules on the market

EV Charging Time for Mr Wolff

EV Charging Time for Mr Wolff

What time is it Mr Wolff? Electric Vehicle Charging time of course! Joju residential customer Dick Wolff explains his reasons for having Electric Vehicle (EV) charging installed when he hasn’t even got an electric vehicle yet.

Oxford councillor and Green Group’s Shadow member for Transport, culture and communities Dick Wolff became one of our newest Joju solar PV customers this month. He also became one of our newest EV charging point customers too. A 7.98kWp SolarWorld system on SolarEdge optimisers and metering was fitted at Dick’s Oxford home alongside a 7.2kW eOLEV home charger supplied by EO charging.

The EO home charger describes itself as “the most easy-to-use, reliable and affordable charger on the market.” There is no software required so you can just plug in and instantly get a charge. EO is, therefore, great for customers who want a quick and easy solution. All you need to do is decide the power you want.

Power Miles of charge p/h Charge time Perfect for
3.7kW 15 7hrs Overnight parking

 

7kW 30 3.5hrs At work parking

 

11kW 50 2hrs Parking whilst you shop

 

22kW 100 1hr Quick stop parking

We spoke to Dick about why he had chosen to have solar PV and EV charging installed at his home. Here’s what he said.

What were your reasons for installing Solar PV?

“It’s two-fold really. The first reason is about energy security for our future. We have bought this house for our retirement. It’s a new build and we wanted to take a long term look to our future. We wanted to be less dependent on the grid as energy prices are certain to rise and rising energy costs will be a challenge when we have less income in retirement.

The second reason is to lower our impact on the environment. I have been a member of the Green Party and I am a councillor in Oxford and reducing our carbon footprint and helping to do our bit to fight climate change is important. Together these two reasons make a strong case for why solar PV was a logical choice for us.”

Why did you install EV charging as well?

“We wanted the house to do as much as it could. We haven’t even got an electric vehicle yet but this gives us the opportunity for the future. I know that our next vehicle will be electric so it was the smart thing to do. We have smart metering throughout the house and we replaced the entire gas heating system with an underfloor ground heat pump. Like I said this house is about our future retirement so it made sense to make it a house for the future too.”

Why did you choose Joju?

“Joju had come to us highly recommended. But I was also very aware of them from my work as a councillor in Oxford. I had seen the work they had done in areas of Oxford like Rose Hill and knew they offered high quality products and great service. We weren’t disappointed. Joju have been brilliant. The whole process worked really well. The only delay in the whole process came from the Government and waiting for approval. Joju did everything in their power to ensure a smooth process.”

If you are interested in EV Charging

If you would like EV charging installed then Joju can definitely help. We are authorised to install electric vehicle charging points under the Government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which means that for approved systems, customers like yourselves can now receive grants. For more information on EV charging, approved systems, and how to obtain a grant, please do not hesitate to get in touch.