If you use more energy than the solar panels produce or you use energy when the solar panels are not generating, you will draw electricity from the Grid (your energy supplier) who charges you.
The system is not able to store energy so at night time you will solely be using electricity provided by your energy supplier.
A typical 3kWp (3000 watts) household array of solar panels will produce 3kW (3000W) per hour under optimum conditions such as:
For example, at midday on a clear and bright day in July the panels may be producing close to 3000W per hour. However, on a cloudy afternoon in December that value might be nearer to 100W per hour. In order to know how to utilise the free energy wisely, you need to have an idea of how much electricity different appliances use.
The most commonly used household appliances use on average the following amounts of energy per hour:
The below gives an estimated example of the annual energy usage patterns of different sized households in the UK.
The solar panels will not provide you with all the electricity your household requires, so you
will still need to pay an electricity bill to your energy supplier.
In the winter the amount of electricity produced by the PV system will be much lower than in the summer. See below an example of a 3kW system’s anticipated optimal performance.
To maximise the solar energy, you should spread the use of your appliances throughout the day. If you use them all at the same time you could use more energy than the solar panels are generating. For example, for a 3kWp PV system at the property, at midday in August the system could produce 3kW in one hour. If both a dishwasher and washing machine are put on at the same time, this will likely consume all of the energy the PV system is producing and energy will still need to be drawn from the Grid (the energy suppliers’ electricity) for any other appliances that are on: the fridge freezer, television or laptops.
Charge any electrical items during the day such as laptops, phones, and electric toothbrushes.
If the solar panels are shaded, they may not be able to generate as much free electricity as they could. To prevent this from happening make sure any trees, hedges and shrubs in your garden are pruned.
Remember to turn off any appliances at the mains when not in use as they can still use energy even if they are not being used.
The property is wired to draw first from the solar PV system and second from the Grid (your electricity supplier), so you essentially have two separate electricity supplies. One is free to use but has a finite amount of energy available (the solar PV system) and the second is paid for and you use as much as you need (your electricity supplier).
Because the property draws from the solar PV system first, and the two supplies are separate, your energy bill will not mention the solar energy. The electricity company will not know from your bills that you have solar panels as the usage of the solar energy will not appear on your electricity bills as credit, or a discount. As long as they are charging you for the electricity that is actually being used from them, rather than an estimate, you will be paying the correct amount.
The solar generation meter is usually with the rest of the equipment for the solar panels. We should be able to monitor the generation meter remotely, but we do not monitor the household meter, including the export channel, so we will not be able to confirm this figure to you.
Feel free to give us a call and we can check our remote monitoring to ensure the solar PV system is working fine. However, the energy companies are regularly increasing their tariffs; therefore, your bill will increase with this, as the solar panels are not going to produce more energy than they have previously to counter-act this.
Please check our guidance on how to make the most of the solar energy, you may be able to tweak your energy consumption habits to reduce your use of ‘paid for’ electricity.
If your electricity supplier offers you a smart meter, they need to be made aware that there is a solar PV system at the property so that they send an appropriately trained electrician that knows how to safely isolate the solar PV system during the works and does not accidentally by-pass the solar PV system.
When you have arranged the visit for the fitting, you do not need to inform us, as most smart meters only take around 2 hours to fit. This means that whilst your solar PV system will be off for this time, and the daily generation of the solar PV system will be a little lower than normal, it will not disrupt our ability to read the solar PV meter. However, if you would like to let us know please feel free to contact us and we will make a note for our monitoring team in case anything irregular does arise following the visit.
Before the electrician leaves, please ensure that they have re-energised the solar PV system and do not accidentally leave it switched off to ensure that you do not lose out on any solar energy.
If you suspect that the electrician that has fitted the smart meter has by-passed the solar PV system, we will not be able to tell from our remote monitoring. You will need to contact your electricity provider and request that they send someone back out as we are not legally allowed to make changes to their meter or wiring.
If you believe there is something wrong with the system, i.e. if there is an error on the display of the meter or inverter, please contact us and we will check if it is still generating correctly via our remote monitoring portal and will advise you accordingly.
Please note that the system will not be producing anything once the sun has set so it is not unusual for errors to show during non-daylight hours
Once the power has returned, please ensure that all the fuses in your switch board have been turned back on (usually in the up position), including the solar PV. If you do not believe that the system is booting up and it is sunny outside then please contact us and we will look to our remote readings and advise if a visit is required.
If we need to visit you, we will first try to contact details you have provided us. This contact will come either from our office or from one of our maintenance teams to arrange a visit. If we do not have your contact information or we cannot get in touch with you, we will then send you letter and it will come only from Freetricity.
We also do not charge homeowners for routine maintenance visits. The only event that you may be charged for is if you have caused damage to the system or you require the system to be temporarily removed and reinstalled.
If you received contact from a company that you are unsure about, please give us a call on 0203 189 4500 and we will verify it for you.
Depending on your contract you may not be able to remove the system, even temporarily, without being at risk of breaching the agreement. Please do not undertake works that will impact the performance of the solar PV system, either due to any part of it being removed or due to it being switched off, without first contacting us.
Please ensure that you include the full property address in all correspondence.
Not all contracts have the option to do this and you should either review your contract or contact us and we will confirm if it is possible and what the cost would be.
If you are the tenant or the owner of a commercial property with solar panels on the roof or ground mounted and you have any enquires which are not answered by our FAQs please contact us by telephone on 0203 189 4500 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
0203 189 4500
1 Filament Walk, Suite 216, Wandsworth London, SW18 4GQ
1 Filament Walk, Suite 216, Wandsworth London, SW18 4GQ
Freetricity Operations Limited, 1 Filament Walk, Suite 216, Wandsworth London, SW18 4GQ