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Product: Household (Energy Efficiency Products)
Advertiser: Solar Electric
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10
The advertisement stated:
“Want to cut your electricity bill by 50%?
12 Panel 3.2kWp Solar System is sufficient to cut most household electricity bills by 50% - €500 at today’s prices.
√ 12 Panel 3.2kWp Solar PV system installed for €5,195
(using German made Conenergy modules, SMA inverters and mounting systems)”.
The advertisement included additional information on costing, installation requirements and financing.
The complainant said the company was claiming that their solar panels could save 50% off an electricity bill. He considered they had no calculations to back up this claim nor had they carried out a study or experiment.
He said solar panels could save money but currently had a payback period of about eight years so there would be no saving for that time. He said their system did not incorporate a battery and so relied on a water heater to store the energy.
The advertisers stated that the nature of the article promoted was a micro generation unit capable of replacing incoming energy from the grid.
The advertisers stated that it was a matter of fact that a Solar PV system of 3.18kWp, if mounted in a suitable location, would produce 3000 kWh of electricity. They said the average household used 5300 kWh a year in Ireland (1). The advertisers stated that to save 50% off electricity bills, the consumer would need to reach 88% self-consumption which was possible if the consumer used appliances in the daytime and the diverter, which they included within the package, was used to limit spill to the grid.
The advertisers provided the following information in relation to the usage of a Solar PV system (of 3.18kWp).
System Size kWp 3.18
Irradiance kWp / kWp per year 950
Output kWh per year 3021
Rounded down kWh per year 3000
Used consumption % 88
Savings kWh per year 2640
Typical home use kWh 5300
In relation to the reference in the advertisement to “most electricity bills” they said that bills varied across consumers, therefore, they had used the 5300 kWh SEAI figure for typical home use. For larger houses, however, that use more electricity, a larger Solar PV system may be needed.
In response to a query from the ASAI Executive, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said
• A 3.2kW Solar System would generate around 2720 kWh per year in Ireland.
• Without energy storage approximately 50% of this would be exported to the grid, with no benefit for the homeowner.
• A 3.2kW Solar System (without storage) would reduce the electricity consumption of the house around 1360 kWh or around 32% of 4200 kWh (average electrical consumption of home).
• With storage, depending on the storage capacity, it is feasible that this reduction would be higher, even as high as 50%
(1) The Commission for Regulation of Utilities Water and Energy and the Sustainable Energy Authority for Ireland report the average household usage as 4,2000kWh.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisers stated that the potential for savings was related to electricity bills only and that the savings were dependant on the solar system size and on usage restrictions.
The Committee also noted that the advertisement’s claim of achieving a specific percentage reduction in the cost of electricity was an unqualified and absolute claim. Accordingly, they considered that consumers were likely to believe that the savings advertised were achievable without restriction. They noted the savings claim had been based on consumers using 88% of the power supplied. However, without storage, the SEAI considered approximately 50% of the energy provided from the solar panels would be exported to the electricity grid. Consequently, the Committee considered the advertising had exaggerated the achievable savings and found it to be in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10.
The advertisement should not reappear in its current form.