Calum Black, Operations Director at The Electric Heating Company, explains how electricians can benefit from the company’s new solar PV ready electric radiators.
‘The Best Things in Life are Free’ so the song goes. Many homeowners who have installed solar PV on their property would agree and actively seek ways to maximise utilisation of the PV generation for their benefit.
A new approach taken by some homeowners has been to install The Electric Heating Company’s solar PV ready electric radiators in their property and, with the use of an Intelligent Controller, send any solar PV generation not otherwise utilised by the property to them. This offers electricians an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of an innovative new electric heating system.
How does the technology work?
The Electric Heating Company’s solar PV ready electric radiators work in conjunction with an Intelligent Controller to ensure the homeowner is using all of the solar PV energy being generated and minimising what generation is sent back to the grid. The system operates such that the feed in tariff received for generation is not affected.
The Intelligent Controller ensures the homeowners current power demand, e.g. for the kettle, is met first by the solar PV generation and only the excess PV generation not otherwise utilised is sent to the solar PV ready radiators.
The solar PV ready radiators can operate from a small trickle of current being fed to them up to the full current required to heat the radiator to its maximum output. The radiators will modulate at temperature whilst solar gain is being achieved and fed to the radiators. Once the first radiator has reached temperature, the Intelligent Controller will then divert the excess PV generation to a second radiator. The Intelligent Controller then regularly checks back to the first radiator to ensure that it is still at the desired temperature; if it is not then the PV generation will be sent to the first radiator again until it reaches temperature.
“The average installation time for the system is less than a day. For any electrician fitting the system for the first time, The Electric Heating Company will provide free of charge telephone technical support.”
The intention of these solar PV ready radiators is not to provide a whole heating system for a property but to provide a background heat during the day until the main central heating system in the property is required or help provide additional heat for hard to heat areas of a property.
Electricians do not require additional qualifications or approvals to install the system; installation of the Intelligent Controller will not disturb the current solar PV installation or affect the wiring of the existing circuit board in the property. It is recommended electricians install the solar PV ready radiators on their own circuit in the property; the radiators will be wired directly from the Intelligent Controller. The average installation time for the system is less than a day. For any electrician fitting the system for the first time, The Electric Heating Company will provide free of charge telephone technical support.
Trials being undertaken to prove the benefits
To prove the benefits that the solar PV ready radiators can provide, The Electric Heating Company have commissioned a trial study on the system. This trial will involve approximately 40 properties which have solar PV already installed. Each property will be fitted with two of the solar PV ready radiators and an Intelligent Controller.
An independent specialist company will analyse the data collected and compare key performance indicators of this solar PV ready radiator heating system against other heating systems available. Factors such as whole system installation costs, Co2 savings, electricity and gas usage savings, return on investment and increased utilisation of PV generation will be critically assessed.
Initial trial data
Early results from trial properties have demonstrated the ease of installation of the system, improved heating experience for homeowners and an increase in the utilisation of PV generation and reduction in the amount of PV generation being exported back to the Grid.
One trial is a three-bedroom property near Wrexham occupied by a family of four with a gas central heating system and two EHC solar PV ready radiators located in the living room and landing area. Data for the first four weeks indicates that 44.8% of solar PV generation was diverted to the Solar PV ready radiators rather than being exported to the grid.
The trials will run until early 2017 and once the data has been analysed and the independent report completed, it is the intention of The Electric Heating Company to share the report with all interested parties.