Off grid solar PV installation review for UK off grid house review
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Off grid solar PV installation review for UK off grid house review

Hi I’m Debbie and I live at sunrise farm,
which is the home of Horses Helping People and we’re off-grid. Previously we
were living at a rented yard and again we were off-grid and we had to run a
generator which was expensive, it was noisy, the smell of the diesel was awful, you’ve always got the worry of the pollution but for a short term option it
wasn’t worth us actually getting onto on grid because the cost of connection were
about fifty five thousand pounds. We really wanted to find a long-term home for our therapeutic horsemanship center but in Buckinghamshire the costs are
really high so we couldn’t afford to buy somewhere with facilities so we wrote to
all the farmers in the area to see if anyone had got a few acres that we could
buy. We only got one reply but one reply is all you need so here we are at
Sunrise Farm. When we moved in we hadn’t got planning permission, so that was the
next stage. We thought a grid connection would be straightforward because there
was an electricity pole at the gate but it turned out to be the wrong sort of
electricity and they wanted 50,000 pounds for a connection, they brought the
price down to 35,000 but it was still way outside our budget so we bought a
generator that we thought would serve our needs but actually it was so
expensive to run and we had the same problems with it being noisy, with it
being expensive and with the pollution again, so we settled temporarily for
running a small generator – the same problems it’s still noisy it still uses
a lot of petrol and you’ve still got the pollution problem and the added problem
is being small it doesn’t run all the electricity that you need so
particularly for the business we really couldn’t develop in the way we
wanted to so we decided to look at the option of solar panels. We originally got
three quotes for solar panels, at that time we couldn’t go ahead because we
couldn’t quite afford it but meanwhile on an off-grid forum I heard about Solar
Plants and I had a look at the website and I was really impressed with what I
saw. First of all there was a dedicated off-grid department.
The testimonials and reviews all looked really good so I decided to contact them
and have a chat. I was straightaway put through to Ian who actually runs the
off-grid department and he has a specialist knowledge so you’re not
talking to a salesman, you’re talking to the person that knows what they’re
talking about and so Ian came out for a site survey and we felt really confident
that this was a guy that could go ahead and do us a really good solar panel
installation. When the installation was booked it was for January, so Ian and Scott came down on one of the coldest five days of the year but they were fantastic
they just got on with their work, we were carrying on with our business with
clients on site and Ian and Scott were always totally unobtrusive so it’s no problem
with them being around with the clients and they also had all the time in the
world for my endless stupid questions of how it worked.
Nothing was too much trouble and they did a great job. Building a house
off-grid has been a lot of fun but also very challenging, for us it’s a real
budget build and we’ve had to learn the skills as we go along because we
couldn’t afford to pay a lot of people to do the work. So one of the challenges
was that we started building before the solar panels were in place so sometimes
we had to use our own power rather than power tools but it’s been great actually
planning right from the design of the build and making it as eco-friendly as
possible because that’s one of our philosophies is that we want to leave a
smaller footprint on the earth as we can. The build is a timber frame and one of
the key things about it is that it’s super insulated so hopefully it would be
nice and warm in winter as well as cool in summer and that seems to be working
so far. We like to use natural products where possible so we’ve used a mix of
wood fiber insulation and sheep’s wool on the inside. The building itself is
cladding larch and it’s been a real pleasure to actually work alongside some
of the craftsmen that have been involved in the build with us. Horses Helping People is a therapeutic horsemanship centre which
means we bring people and horses together with the hope of benefitting the
people’s lives in some way whether that’s emotional, physical or mental
well-being but we’re great believers that that should be done with no
detriment to the horses mental, emotional or physical well-being, so we see horses
as the partners in our work rather than just objects or tools that we use. Having the solar panels has been huge for us it means that we can develop our
business in really positive way. Previously we couldn’t provide a warm
heated space for the clients and we didn’t have lights to continue sessions
in the winter after dark but now the admin can be done by
volunteers during the day and it’s made a huge difference and as residents here
at sunrise farm it’s made a difference to us as individuals as well! Simple
things like having a fridge freezer that most people take for granted – you just
can’t run one of those off of a small generator so it’s delightful just to be
able to go in the freezer get out the ice cream and the ice cubes
in this heat wave and really enjoy the benefits of having our solar panels. In
the winter you may need to top up with a bit of generator but actually we’ve had
these panels in since January and we’ve run our generator for a total of two
hours to top up in all that time so it’s so easy compared with the smell and the
noise of running a generator. We get really good backup from Solar Plants as well when they installed the solar panels they showed us the app that we
could use to monitor the solar panels so even if we’re out for the day we can
have a look on the app and see how the solar panels are doing and we also get a lot of support ongoing from Ian back at the off-grid
department, so if you’ve got any questions about the ongoing use of the
solar panels there’s no problem with us getting in touch and we’re never made to
feel like a nuisance or anything like that so I would really recommend Solar
Plants for anyone that’s thinking of having a solar panel installation.

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