Solar Panels for Garden Rooms: Are They Worth It?

Solar panels are becoming more accessible and affordable by the day, which is why many homeowners are turning to them as a way of generating their own power. There are also solar panels for garden rooms which are great for those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.

We take a look at the details of solar powering your garden room in this article and weigh up the pros and cons.

Can solar panels be installed on a garden room?

Yes, you can install them in any location that has some unobstructed sunlight providing the structure can support the weight of them. If you have a converted shed structure, for instance, then the roof will probably not be strong enough.

Solar panels are best fitted to a south-facing roof with a pitch of 30-40%. Most garden rooms have a flat roof; if you intend to install solar panels, then the roof should be pitched; this could mean it exceeds the height limits to fit within permitted development rights and may require planning permission, so ensure you investigate this first.

If you intend to fit solar panels to your garden building, then this should be discussed with the company building it for you first so they can take this into consideration.

What are the benefits of installing solar panels 0n a garden room?

  • You’ll save money by not paying for electricity.
  • You’ll have an environmentally friendly garden room and will reduce your carbon footprint.
  • You’ll be powering your own building and reducing the need for coal-powered electricity.
  • The panels are made with high-quality materials that will last a long time without needing to be replaced, so you won’t see an increase in costs over time.

While prices have come down, solar panels are not cheap. While you will save money on electricity in the long term, the initial outlay will be something you need to carefully consider.

Can you get money back for returning unused power to the grid?

We are likely to use less power in our garden rooms than the main living accommodation. This means that there will potentially be surplus power generated by solar panels.

The Feed in Tariff Scheme used to pay people for returning unused energy to the grid, this closed to new applicants in November 2019, but it was replaced with a new scheme, the Smart Export Guarantee.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme?

This scheme takes effect on February 2020 and is a replacement for the Feed in Tariff scheme.

If you have solar panels installed on your home, it’s possible to sell back unused energy generated by them at a rate set by your supplier; this is usually between 2-5.6p per kWh. The same could be said for garden room solar panels.

This will only be possible if you have an electricity meter fitted that can measure this, which some people don’t have. Smart meters are advisable if you intend to join the scheme as they measure every 30 minutes or so.

Conclusion

It’s important to weigh up the reasons for wanting to install solar panels for a garden room. If you are installing them to save money, then the initial cost should be looked at alongside the potential monthly savings to help you make an informed decision. If you are wanting solar panels for your garden room for environmental reasons, then the initial outlay may not be such a large factor in your decision.

Weigh up the pros and cons for you as an individual and make sure you have conversations with the relevant people, such as the people who are building your garden room and the local authority, to ensure you know have all of the information and costs first.

 

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8 Tips If You Want To Continue Working From Home

Working from home can be a great alternative to the traditional 9-5 job. Many of us have experienced some form of working from home over the last year. This has been met with mixed reviews; some people love it while others found they were less productive.

For those that found it a better way of life and want to continue working from home in one way or another in the future, we’re going to discuss eight tips that can help you make the move and adjust to your new life.

Write a list of the reasons you want to work from home

Begin with a list of the benefits you feel working from home has brought to you personally and professionally. They may include some of the below; of course, this list will be unique to you:

  • Increased productivity and work quality.
  • Freedom to set my own schedule, coming in early or late as needed.
  • Taking care of sick children while still being able to get some work done.
  • Lessening the need for childcare to have a job that pays enough and left me financially secure.
  • The ability to spend more time with my family.
  • Working from home has brought balance in many aspects of my life that I wasn’t getting.

This list can be used to help you carry out the next tip.

Ask your boss if you can continue working from home

Making the move to working from home can be challenging; if you have decided it’s the right decision for you will need your boss on board. Make a request to the appropriate people. Ensure you have given them the reasons you feel this is the best option for you both personally and professionally.

They may agree to either full time working from home, part-time in the office and part-time from home, or decline altogether.

What is a hybrid working model?

The hybrid working model consists of some working from the office and some working from home. This is the best of both worlds and seems to be a popular choice for many, allowing them to enjoy the social aspects of work and the flexibility of home working.

Decide if a hybrid working model is for you or you would prefer full time working from home.

Some factors to think about are how much time you spend in the office and what kind of working environment suits you best. For example, if your commute is long or difficult, then it may be better for you to work entirely from home as commuting can take up a lot of valuable time. Whereas if you miss human interaction but enjoy the flexibility of home working, then a hybrid solution may be your best option.

Ensuring you stay productive

If your boss agrees to some form of home-working, you will need to ensure you stay productive in order to keep the perk. Make sure your output remains the same or is increased while working from home. Ensure you’re available to answer queries via email and phone and that all expectations have been set out beforehand clearly and are adhered to.

A dedicated workspace

This is important to maintain productivity, good mental health and a work-life balance. Having a dedicated workspace (e.g., an office or desk) is one way to ensure that you have the time and space to do your work without distractions from family members, pets, partners etc.

You may also want to consider having designated times when you can focus on tasks at hand – This can be tailored around you as long as management is OK with this. Parents may be able to fit in the school run and work a little later, for example.

A dedicated room to work from is the best way to avoid distractions. If you don’t have a spare room in your home to turn into an office, then a garden room could be the solution.

A Garden Office

A garden office provides the ideal space to work in peace, distraction-free. Garden rooms can be fully insulated, providing comfortable working conditions year-round. The view of the garden and nature is pleasant, internet and electricity connections mean you are all set.

A garden office can be furnished and decorated to suit you, with a space that works just for you. You could even get space for more than one person to work comfortably if needed and may be able to claim some expenses back.

Check out some garden office suggestions below.

compact working from home solutionOffice PodGarden Office
The OffPOD Compact by OffPOD is a compact garden office solution. Designed to last the test of time with a Titanium Magnesium alloy and composite materials.The Office Pod by Heart Pods is stylish and attractive. t has everything you could need already built-in including an optional tech package.The 4mx4m Bespoke Garden Room by Evergreen Garden Rooms is light and airy providing a great place to work from. Available within Essex.
self assembly shofficeworking from home garden officewfh office space
The Small Solis Self-Assembly by Under the Living Sun is a great option for anyone that’s handy. Build it yourself and save money!The Tranquil by Garden Room Cabins comes with overhanging flat roof, full electrics package and is decorated & finished with a choice of flooring.The Ashmere by Composite Garden Buildings is an attractive and very affordable garden office. It’s available in a range of sizes and colours.

Freedom to work anywhere

If you opted for full-time home-working and are missing human interaction, then try visiting a co-working space or coffee shop which has an internet connection. You can even work outdoors if the weather permits, taking your work to a beer garden, coffee shop or even travel in a campervan/caravan and work from anywhere there’s an internet connection.

What if your manager declined your wfh request?

If your manager declined your request to work from home and you really feel this is the best option for you moving forward, then you may need to appeal the decision or look for a job that allows remote working.

Many companies have seen the benefits of remote working with fewer overheads paying for large office space and utilities to power them. Another benefit is the wider recruitment pool, being able to source the best talent from anywhere in the world.

Some companies are now actively recruiting for remote roles and have no office space at all. If you’re interested in finding a job with flexible work hours, then there are many sites online where you can find positions with remote working.

Remember working from home is not a right, it’s an option that needs to be well thought out in the best interests of a business and its team. You may need to prove yourself with consistent productivity and results, but businesses are adapting and working out what the future of work will be. It’s still early days, and there will be plenty of red tape and obstacles to overcome, but we are living in exciting times.

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Bedrock; A Guide to Foundations for your Garden Room

When it comes to building a garden room, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. From the use, it will fulfil to the cladding. A factor that’s often overlooked is the foundations. We take a look at the different type of bases and foundations for your garden room below.

Concrete Pad

This is the most popular type of foundation for a garden room. It’s solid and durable, but it can be more expensive to install if you need professional help. With a concrete pad, you control how thick or thin each layer will be, meaning that there are fewer chances something could crack later on in the life span due to movement in the soil below ground level (which often happens).

Initially, a timber framework is constructed with a damp proof membrane (DPM) then the concrete is poured into it. For larger projects, steel reinforcement bars may be fitted over the DPM. The concrete is then left to set before the timber frame is removed and the DPM is trimmed down.

The Concrete slabs are typically made around 50mm larger than the garden rooms footprint to fully support it.

The downside? If the concrete pad isn’t constructed correctly, then cracks may occur when water seeps into them during heavy rainstorms. Hiring an expert who knows what they’re doing would definitely be recommended here.

Ground Screws

Another option is ground screws. Ground screws are a great option for those who want to avoid the expense of pouring a concrete foundation. They are much cheaper than poured foundations, and they can be installed on any type or depth of soil without the worry of cracking due to movement from below ground level.

As the name suggests, a large screw is machine-driven into the ground. The screw is then attached to the frame of your garden room. The screws are typically installed in a grid pattern, with each one spaced about two feet apart from its neighbour and at least six inches away from any other object (such as trees or walls).

Ground screws are great for levelling out uneven sites as they can be driven further into the soil where needed.

The downside? If you don’t know what you’re doing, then it’s possible that these could come loose over time. If done correctly by professionals, this is unlikely! They can also be difficult for some people to install because they are labour intensive.

Plinth foundations for your garden room

This involves laying out several wooden plinths; this method is perfect for uneven sites. They are much cheaper than some other options on our list and can be a good option for those who don’t want any digging or concrete work done! You can opt for reclaimed materials here, making them a sustainable option too.

The size of the garden room determines the number of plinths. Each plinth is spaced evenly to cover the floor space of the garden room. These plinths are comprised of a base pad and a top pad.

The downside? They’re not as resilient against subsidence – so if your site’s prone to this, it’s worth considering other options.

Concrete pile foundations for your garden room

Concrete pile foundations are a cross between the concrete pad and plinth foundations. This is a good option for those who want to add extra height and need something that’s going last. It can be more expensive though, so it might not suit everyone!

The ground is excavated either by hand or by machinery. The Timber frame or tubing is then inserted into the excavated area, hardcore is compacted, and then concrete is poured over this.

Make sure there are no gaps between each plinth, as this will lead to subsidence.

If you’re not sure about the ground, make a trench and fill it with concrete before laying your plinths on top of this – that way, they’ll be supported all around! You can also add extra reinforcement if needed by adding steel rods or mesh in between each layer as well for added strength against any movement.

Traditional Foundations

The traditional foundation involves digging out a trench and building up the walls with brick, stone or concrete. This is not an easy task as it requires digging out at least two metres below ground level to provide enough depth for foundations that will be strong against any movement from underneath (which often happens).

The downside? If you don’t know what you’re doing, then it’s possible these could come loose over time. So, while they are much stronger than other options on our list, they are labour intensive.

Before choosing which option you would like to go for, it’s essential to do your research. Ask around, get the opinion of professionals and those that have had this work carried out before. Remember, everyone’s needs differ here, and there’s no one size fits all approach.

You can shop around and contact different builders or garden room installers to ask about the types of foundation they use or recommend and why to get an idea of price and reasoning.

Some garden room installers may have developed their own custom foundations. By doing your research, you know what your options are and what the costs involved will be, helping you to choose the right foundations for your garden room.

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