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France Expat Forum for Expats Living in France Welcome to the France Expat forum. This is the place to meet like minded people who have made France their new home. This forum is ideal for those who have moved to France and those thinking about making France their new home.

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Old 17th July 2019, 12:01 PM
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Hi All,

Im new to this and weighing up the pros and cons of moving to France. I am interested in knowing the pros and cons of solar PV. I have an idea of how much I want to spend on a property, it will be cheap and basic to suit my wife and my own needs. We have a caravan we plan to tow down and live in if required to live in for a minor renovation project.

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Richard

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Old 17th July 2019, 01:10 PM
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Hi, and welcome to the forum. On the solar pv issue, if you read French you might be interested in this information from Engie https://particuliers.engie.fr/electr...-solaire.html? (Engie is an energy provider in France. Admittedly this is an ad for them and their services, but gives you some information about costs and installation.)

As far as the pros and cons of moving to France, brace yourselves. Our forum members do tend to get rather "vigorous" in some of the advice they dole out. Key things involve your "motivation" for making the move (i.e. are you planning on working? are you retired? IOW, how are you planning on support yourselves), do you already speak French? and where in France are you thinking of moving? (The "where" may influence the feasibility of your solar PV project.)

Just remember, you don't have to respond to any question you don't want to answer "in public" here and all replies should be taken with a good handful of salt. <g>
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Old 17th July 2019, 02:04 PM
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Welcome to our forum. As Bev our dear and learned mod says, you may get some "interesting" replies.

From nearly 20 years experience in France and talking to many expats, both those who are happy here, and those that have moved back, here are a few points.

1. Be crystal clear WHY? There's no right answer, but be honest with yourselves.

2. It is very much better to have reasons for moving "TO" rather than "FROM".

3. There is a small but important list of show stoppers that need to be sorted out before you go far. This includes visas, health care and source of income. You are from the UK? Don't ask about Brexit, we don't know and some people here go purple in the face at the mention of the word.

4. I admire you interest in solar power, there's a lot of it here in the sunny south. However , why did you mention in your initial post? Careful and critical thinking needed!

Anyway good luck, and ask questions here, we can always help.

DejW
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Old 17th July 2019, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RICHY BURKE View Post
Hi All,

Im new to this and weighing up the pros and cons of moving to France. I am interested in knowing the pros and cons of solar PV. I have an idea of how much I want to spend on a property, it will be cheap and basic to suit my wife and my own needs. We have a caravan we plan to tow down and live in if required to live in for a minor renovation project.

Regards
Richard
Hi Richard, welcome.

For a couple of years I worked in the solar industry in California and I am an avid advocate of putting pv on your house. The pros are easy, no electric biils; possible money back from the electric company; inflation proof; guaranteed output for 25 years; and peace of mind knowing you are helping the environment.

The cons are that the initial outlay can be expensive and that when you come to sell the property there may be issues with surveys and mortgages (especially if you go for a solar leasing option).

Initial outlay and payback; to give you an idea - bearing in mind these prices are 10 years old - I paid a net (after rebates) $25,000 for 5.5kw system on a large house with a pool and air conditioning. This eliminated an electricity bill of about $2750 per year, simple maths tells you I got a full payback in 9 years. I challenge anyone to come up with an investment strategy that will match those numbers. After year 9 it was all profit.

So I say, go for it but make sure you use a company that is registered, qualified and been around a while.

You should also look at solar hot water systems, they'll save a ton of money on gas/oil/electricity etc and they are not expensive.

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Old 17th July 2019, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RICHY BURKE View Post
We have a caravan we plan to tow down and live in if required to live in for a minor renovation project.
You don't say what area you have in mind, but I would check with your mairie upfront before you tow a caravan the length of France on the assumption you'll be allowed to live in it. France has rules about where caravans can and can't be sited and how long you can live in them, and you need permission even if it's your own land. Most maires are OK but a few are hardline, there are some communes in Brittany for example that are notoriously difficult about this. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the commune
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Old 17th July 2019, 05:50 PM
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Very good point dear ET.


Welcome to la belle France!


DejW
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You don't say what area you have in mind, but I would check with your mairie upfront before you tow a caravan the length of France on the assumption you'll be allowed to live in it. France has rules about where caravans can and can't be sited and how long you can live in them, and you need permission even if it's your own land. Most maires are OK but a few are hardline, there are some communes in Brittany for example that are notoriously difficult about this. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot with the commune

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Old 17th July 2019, 07:43 PM
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First point, I am in Spain and not France - the reason isn't important, at least not for this thread. We have solar hot water and it is excellent. We have only one panel (1.5m x 60cm) and a tank of about 180 litres which sits in the attic very close to the panel. n.b. Be careful with those panels which have the tank as an integral part of the panel - they put a lot of weight on the roof and if your roof is old, you might regret it. The best time to install a panel is following re-roofing and any additional support can be incorporated.

We usually get enough very hot water for about 8 months of the year and usable i.e. not so hot) for about another 3 months. Any times when the output is insufficient we use a gas multi-point water heater.

Up until recently we had a right-wing government which removed all subsidies for PV and penalised anyone who wanted to sell their surplus electricity back to the electric companies. The Socialist government removed the penalties but their position is insecure so we may well get them back. Be aware that some electric companies are so powerful that they can wag the tail of the dog that is in parliament.

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Old 18th July 2019, 12:06 AM
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Well tanked up, as usual, eh Baldi?

DejW


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First point, I am in Spain and not France - the reason isn't important, at least not for this thread. We have solar hot water and it is excellent. We have only one panel (1.5m x 60cm) and a tank of about 180 litres which sits in the attic very close to the panel. n.b. Be careful with those panels which have the tank as an integral part of the panel - they put a lot of weight on the roof and if your roof is old, you might regret it. The best time to install a panel is following re-roofing and any additional support can be incorporated.

We usually get enough very hot water for about 8 months of the year and usable i.e. not so hot) for about another 3 months. Any times when the output is insufficient we use a gas multi-point water heater.

Up until recently we had a right-wing government which removed all subsidies for PV and penalised anyone who wanted to sell their surplus electricity back to the electric companies. The Socialist government removed the penalties but their position is insecure so we may well get them back. Be aware that some electric companies are so powerful that they can wag the tail of the dog that is in parliament.

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Old 18th July 2019, 06:02 AM
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Let me just add here that the rules and regulations for solar panels are quite a bit different from what is allowed in the US. Things are changing - but I don't believe you can sell back excess power generated to the power company. And I know of folks who wanted to install solar panels on their roof several years ago who could only get permission to install them on one side - the side that could not be seen from the street - due to local zoning restrictions.

I'm starting to see more solar panels appear on homes and buildings in the area, so perhaps things are changing for the better.

And just a word about solar water heating. We've got a "solar assisted" water heater and the solar part is NOT PV. It's a direct solar heating of the water, using tubes of water. Unlike solar panels, you need actual sunshine, not just daylight, for the system to work. But it's rather amazing in the dead of winter, on a sunny day, how well the water gets heated in the system (even if you still need electricity to maintain things at the proper level). We noticed an almost immediate drop in our electric bills after the system was up and running. (And we're not in the sunniest part of France by any means.)

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Old 18th July 2019, 06:23 AM
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Be careful with those panels which have the tank as an integral part of the panel - they put a lot of weight on the roof and if your roof is old, you might regret it.
Those panels are also prone to developing leaks due to the chemicals in the water and hard water areas have real problems.

For solar hot water go with the glycol filled panels which have a heat-exchanging coil in the (solar) hot water tank. You then feed to solar generated hot water into the regular house hot water tank so that in the event of there being no heat generated your 'normal' hot water heater kicks in; with a large enough solar tank that almost never happens. It sounds complicated but it really isn't, I've designed several such systems for customers.

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Last edited by Bevdeforges; 18th July 2019 at 09:14 AM. Reason: fix quote
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