We asked Max to tell us how he built his own solar power station.
“I’d just bought my first EV, a beat up 2014 VW e-up! I really just wanted to see if I could get any electric driving using exclusively electricity I’d generated myself. I’m pretty scared of heights so luckily I have a flat roof garage which had just been re-roofed so was a great candidate for solar.
I worked out what I needed with the help of Bimble Solar on the South Coast who specialise in supplying budget solar gear. I bought 9 used, three year old panels that had been removed from a building due to incorrect weight calculations! I also bought an inverter and all the cables from them. They offer a half hour free consultation so they checked through all my plans to make sure my idea was sound.
The difficult part was attaching everything to my EDPM rubber roof without screwing into it as I didn’t want any leaks. I designed a framework using Sketchup 3D software that would use L brackets to reach around the side of the garage and were screwed to the sides to secure everything down. To my surprise, once I’d cut all the timber to size at ground level, I assembled it on the roof and everything fitted perfectly!
My long suffering wife helped me haul the panels onto the roof using bits of string and I screwed everything down and plugged it all together. I mounted the inverter in my garage and did all the wiring short of joining it to the consumer unit. I paid a spark £150 to connect everything to the consumer unit and do the paperwork for the new circuit.
The spark had never done anything like this before so we both cheered and high fived when it was all turned on and it instantly started generating! Beyond that, I had to do the paperwork to notify my DNO (District Network Operator) which they were super helpful with. I also added the system to my buildings insurance.
So the outcome? On a sunny day, I can charge my car at 5 amps (very slowly) exclusively from the sun, gaining maybe 25 miles or so a day. Other than that, it does really make a good dent in my consumption at home. It’s a 2kW system and although it’s partially shaded until 12pm every day and is mounted at 5º which isn’t exactly optimum, it’s generating approximately 1,600 kWh a year.
The entire system including paying the spark cost just over £1,200. By my calculations, it’ll have paid for itself in about four years, possibly sooner with the price of electricity these days! We’re planning on moving house in the next few years and I’m hoping to build a gigantic system there!”