October 30, 2021

Solar + Free Electric Car Charging


Solar Panel & Electric Car Charger Install

As it becomes even more of an imperative to look after the world we live in, how we provide power to 41 Mill has been a consideration for a few years now. There's no mains gas in Mill Village, meaning all houses are both powered and heated by electricity. We made the move to a 100% renewable energy supplier a few years ago now, but have been keen to install Solar Panels for some time. A recent two week break whilst we enjoyed Lower MillĀ  as a family proved the perfect opportunity.

After an initial chat with local Electrical Contractors, GH Installations, we agreed the specification. The orientation of our roof isn't perfect (East / West facing), and we've got a few overhanging trees so we specified the maximum number of panels possible. Using Solar Edge's nifty 3D design tool, we got a build out of the likely annual energy production based on the location and orientation of the site.

As 41 Mill is in a Nature Reserve, considerations around the impact of projects to the local area are taken very seriously, whilst balancing the ever increasing need to focus on sustainability. In support of Lower Mill's significant ecological efforts ( https://www.habitat-zero.com ), the approval process for the installation was really straight forward.

As we de-camped to Lower Mill for a few weeks, Graham and his team started work (just as we hit an uncharacteristically unpleasant hot spell... not the perfect time to be working on a roof!). The panels were up and running within a week just in time for the hottest part of the Summer. Peak production so far has been in the region of 30kWh a day. More than powering the needs of the house without using electricity from the grid... and in fact sending electricity back to the grid which is incredibly satisfying to be able to do.

As Electric Car ownership continues to grow at pace, a rise in enquiries from guests looking for a dedicated charging option for their EV became really noticeable from the start of this year. So the natural next phase of the project was installing a dedicated electric car charger for the Cottage. Whilst the development has a handful of chargers open to communal use, they're in far from optimal locations (10+ minute walk from the Cottage). We've also noticed they've been used more and more over the Summer. Those with electric cars will know that shared chargers with no booking system aren't ideal. When you need juice... you need juice!

Logistically the installation of our charger was a bit more complex than the panels, as we needed to route the charging cable half a meter under the ground through our neighbour's over in Carp's Rise Cottage garden to our parking spot. In return for permission to duct the cable through the perimeter of their Garden, we had an additional two pull cables installed to allow them to add their own electric charger at a later date. With plans agreed, work was completed recently and we're now proud owners of a UK designed and built MyEnergi Zappi . The Zappi is a smart charger that allows us to specify how cars are charged when plugged in. Purely with solar, or a combination of solar and grid depending on how quickly the car needs to be charged.

Overall, a really exciting project and we're delighted with the end result. But most importantly, what an addition for guests. A sustainable Cottage powered by Solar with dedicated unlimited and free Electric Car charging on your doorstep.

We're already contemplating what next. As prices become more reasonable, battery storage is definitely on the list. We'd also like to revisit the heaters in the house. After some initial positive experimentation with an infrared heater at our family home up the road that's also something we'd like to explore some more.

But first? A beer. It's been a busy old year!