Energy Grow solar greenhouses September 2011
Energy Grow solar greenhouses first look
If you’d like to generate your own electricity from solar power, but don’t want to put the panels on the house, a solar greenhouse might be a good alternative. Which? Gardening takes a first look at Energy Grow Solar PV Greenhouses from New Horizons Solar.
This new concept from New Horizons Solar is designed to enable you to generate your own green electricity from solar power without having to put panels on your roof. The greenhouses are made from sustainable red cedar wood and cost from £9,030 (price includes delivery and full installation, too) and, it is claimed, provide between 30% and 50% of the average household electricity per year; plus, of course, you can use it for growing plants.
Buying an Energy Grow solar greenhouse
A 3.2 x 3m solar greenhouse is the smallest one New Horizons Solar have available in the Energy Grow range, and it costs £9,030. This price includes delivery, erection of the greenhouse, installation of the solar PV panels and liaison with the Distribution Network Operator to get you up and running.
The only thing not included in the price is the cost of the base, as this depends on the base you choose and what’s suitable for your garden, but it’s usually a single course of bricks laid on a strip foundation. This typically costs an additional £500.
MCS scheme approved solar panels
The solar PV panels used for these greenhouses have been approved under the MCS scheme and are eligible for feed-in tariff (FiT) payments. This means you can earn money from the energy you make.
Exactly how much power the panels will make depends on how much daylight they receive, but, according to an MCS assessment, it could earn you up to £566 per year.
Generating electricity for your house
The small-sized greenhouse (3.2 x 3m) is estimated to provide about 30%-35% of your household electricity. However, this depends on how much electricity you use during the day, while it’s being supplied by the solar panels. The bigger the greenhouse, the more energy it will provide you with.
The greenhouse design
The Energy Grow greenhouses have been designed to provide the right light levels to your plants throughout the year.
When positioned with the large roof area facing south, the solar panels will shade your plants from the afternoon sun, and the manufacturers claim that in winter the design allows enough light in for your plants.
It comes with manual window ventilation on the font, back and sides, and can be fitted with automatic openings as an optional extra.
Free electrical heating for your greenhouse in winter
A 13amp electrical socket comes as part of the greenhouse design at no additional cost, with the idea of using some of the power you make to run an electrical heater in winter.
But, as you’re more likely to use a heater at night, we suggest that it might be more resourceful to stick to using energy from the grid for this, as it’s cheaper at night, and stick to using the electricity generated from the solar PV panels during the day in the house.
Our verdict on the Energy Grow solar greenhouses
The average cost of buying an ordinary greenhouse is £1,310; cheap compared with one of these, which start at £9,030. But this is around the average price you'd pay for solar panels.
Although they come with a hefty price tag, the electricity they generate can earn you money as well as saving on your electricity bill, and it’s a useful solution if you want solar panels but can’t, or don’t want to, put them on your roof.