‘Peel and stick’ flexible solar modules, creating an ‘almost invisible’ solar array, were recently installed by NGRE for a homeowner who wanted to reap all the benefits of low carbon solar generation on his self-designed home while keeping things discrete.
John White, who lives near Oxford and moved into his new property in November, designed his new home with an array of technologies to make it more efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
First on his wish-list was low carbon solar generation.
He said: “We’ve always had a yearning for a more sustainable home, primarily from an environmental standpoint but also in terms of cost-savings, and so from the beginning of this project it was imperative that we had solar. In fact, we wouldn’t have built the house without it and one of the reasons we picked the plot is because of the good location for harvesting the sun.”
Thin, Flexible Modules Bonded to Roof
But John wanted a solution in which this technology could be woven into the fabric of the building itself, forming part of the roof.
John said: “I wanted the most efficient solar system possible but didn’t want to lose the lines of our metal roof with traditional solar panels sitting on top. These thin, flexible, solar modules, are bonded elegantly between the standing seams, rather than obscuring them.”
He added: “We really very happy with it, particularly the aesthetics. From a distance you’d never know and up close they’re almost invisible. They’re a complement to the design of the house.”
The Flextron System
John opted for BIPVco’s Flextron ‘peel & stick’ flexible modules. These ultra-thin modules (2.5mm!) contain integrated solar cells, which are then pre-bonded to an approved roofing material (metal, plastic, glass) chosen by the customer, to create a roofing system that can be installed in the same way as a conventional roof.
Managing Director of NGRE, Greg Bishop, said: “Instead of being fitted onto the roof, they are part of the roof, and because they are so thin, and do not need any sort of mounting system, the overall package is much lighter.”
Flextron modules have a Teflon coated self-cleaning top sheet, a competitive cell efficiency of up to 17%, a low installed weight of less than 3kg/m2 and have been designed to improve performance in low light levels.
Pros and Cons
John said: “There is a compromise in power – you can get higher watts per panel with conventional solar systems – but for us the aesthetic advantage is significant and we’re also pleased you don’t get the problem of grime under panels.
“And the performance in low light was also attractive; looking at the figures now, in January, with the sun just peeking over the hill, we’re pulling 2.5kW, so nearly half power, even with a low-level wintery Sun.”
Greg Said: “The individual modules are small compared with other panels and do generate less power, but John was able to get a decent-sized domestic system by increasing the number of modules.
“The aesthetics and low-light performance are also favourable while there’s also no concern structurally due to wind uplift.”
The PV Solar System
As he had a clean sheet of paper, John designed his new home to face due south, to catch as much solar energy as possible. 21, 235w modules were bonded to the south-facing front roof and 10, 120w modules to the side roof, 90 degrees to the front, to catch the afternoon sun. This makes the array power, 6.14 kWp, with an estimated annual energy production of 5,700 kWh and a carbon offset of 2,981 kg.
The solar array is connected to a 6kW SolarEdge inverter with power optimisers to maximise performance. The system features individual panel monitoring and letting you know if there’s a problem.
The Battery Storage System
John also wanted to ensure that he used his solar energy as efficiently as possible and so added a battery storage system in the form of an 8.2kWh GivEnergy Lithium battery and 3kW AC coupled inverter.
John said: “Incorporating battery storage was always the thought. When the sun is shining you don’t need to worry about using all the energy or sending it elsewhere – it can just be stored and then you can tap into it as and when.”
The GivEnergy storage system is designed to maximise user’s self-consumption by smartly managing their PV system, so that they can use as much clean, self-generated energy as they can and pay for as little energy as possible.
The Zappi Smart Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging System
As well as the John’s solar and battery storage systems he also incorporated other modern, sustainable technology into his new house including an air-source heat pump, triple glazing, solar-treated glass and an extra 60mm insulation as well as an NGRE-installed Zappi smart charger.
The Zappi system not only operates as standard EV charger, but will also allow John to charge his EV for free utilising the clean, green energy generated by his solar system. The charging system combines Zappi’s innovative EV charger with its Hub, so it can be monitored and controlled remotely using Zappi’s myenergi app.
John said: “I was initially a little nervous in regard to my understanding of some of the technologies but felt much better after Greg’s advice and drawing on his experience.”
“We’re extremely happy with the installation. It’s extremely clean and tidy and the power production is more than adequate.
Greg said: “As we can see from John’s build not every solar system works for every customer and we try to tailor our systems to a customer’s wants and needs.
“Whether it be in-roof, on-roof, solar tiles, or as in this case, bonded flexible solar modules, there are a myriad of different configurations and possibilities available.”
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NGRE specialise in the supply of the latest renewable solutions for architects, builders and homeowners in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and have more than 10 years’ experience.