Many UK properties have Solar PV systems installed to benefit from free, clean electricity. But did you know that a solar system can potentially be set up with a solar diverter to bring you additional benefits and savings in the form of free hot water.
What Does a Solar Diverter Do?
A solar diverter is a useful device that redirects any solar power not being utilised in your home to an electrical appliance, typically an immersion, which can then heat the water in your home.
How Does a Solar Diverter Work?
A solar diverter allows you to make the most of the energy generated by your solar PV system by redirecting excess electricity produced into heating the water in your home. Solar diverters are operated and monitored by a sensor that connects your main meter and consumer unit and is able to cleverly monitor and prioritise the electrical demands of your home.
A solar diverter monitors the electricity being consumed in the home, and that being produced by the solar panels, and diverts any excess solar energy being produced to the immersion unit. This means you are effectively heating your water cylinder using the free solar energy that is generated by your own solar panel system.
A small electronic box is installed near your hot water cylinder and hooked into the solar element power supply. Then two CT clamps are installed, one on your solar PV AC wire and the other around your main incoming mains supply.
Adding a solar power diverter to your solar setup is a good alternative to storing your excess energy in batteries or exporting it back to the National Grid in return for payment.
Why Send Excess Solar Electricity Produced By Solar Panels To Your Immersion?
Very few people have an export meter as part of their solar system. Hence, the government assumes you are exporting 50% of what is generated and pays you accordingly. Therefore, if you can use all the electricity you generate at home instead of exporting it, you will receive the most feed-in tariff payments possible (if you were signed up to the scheme before it closed to new applicants) and save the most energy.
The electricity is diverted to the immersion heater by these solar power diverters, monitoring the electricity used in the home and the electricity produced by the solar panels. Therefore, when there is a surplus of electricity with nowhere to go (i.e no battery storage), it is diverted to the solar unit; without the power diverter, this electricity would be re-routed back to the National Grid.
Is Your Home Suitable For A Solar Diverter?
To install a solar diverter in your home, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have your own installed solar PV system.
- A standard boiler and hot water cylinder setup.
- There must be less than 30m between your water tank and the utility meter.
- Your energy use must not surpass your energy generation as an immersion diverter requires a source of surplus energy to function.
The Benefits of Solar Diverters As Part of A Solar PV System
- To begin, as a smart add-on device, a solar diverter does not have to be put in at the same time as your Solar Panel System, making it an excellent supplemental investment anytime.
- With a Solar diverter, you can heat your water using free green energy, lowering your carbon footprint and energy expenditures.
- Solar diverters have a speedy return on investment, often paying for themselves in less than two years.
- Solar diverters generally function flawlessly. As soon as you connect the solar diverter to your Solar PV System, it will begin diverting any excess energy produced to your immersion heater.
- With a solar diverter installed, you may utilise 100% of your solar power, resulting in no green energy waste at all!
- Solar diverters can be used beyond just powering hot water systems, and depending on the diverter, can also be used for more than one heating element including hot tubs, spas, or even pool heating.
- Solar power diverters are usually straightforward with an install taking around 30 minutes to install.
- Solar diverters reduce the work your own home boiler has to do, allowing it to last longer.
- Finally, Solar PV combined with a solar diverter provides a less expensive and relatively maintenance free alternative to Solar Thermal (which requires you to have a water tank). Using your Solar PV System to heat your water is a dependable alternative because there are no moving parts, and a solar diverter is a relatively inexpensive add-on.
- Installing a solar diverter does not affect your Feed-In-Tariff payments (if you are still eligible for them, since the scheme closed to new applicants in March 2019) because the Feed-In-Tariff will pay for 50% of the energy you create, regardless of how much energy you export. So, regardless of how much you send back to the grid or use to heat your hot water, you will still earn the same amount.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Solar Diverters?
Other than the initial cost, which would be expected to be around £500-£800, including installation, there are no real disadvantages to having a power diverter added to your solar PV system. If insufficient power is being generated, particularly during cold and cloudy weather, diverters are able to allow electricity to be drawn from the grid to cover the shortfall when required.
Solar immersion diverters are able to work in conjunction with a solar battery setup, though there is always the risk that both technologies will end up ‘competing’ with one another for the excess energy produced. Special settings within your system will enable your priorities to be set if you are operating a solar diverter alongside battery storage.
Solar Diverters UK Summary
A solar PV diverter is an excellent addition to just about any solar PV system. It enables you to make the most of the renewable energy you create while also lowering the environmental impact of your household as well as your energy costs.
Furthermore, solar PV diverters have a short payback time, with most paying for themselves in two years or less, which makes them an excellent, long-term, investment.