Installer insights with John Wood from Volts Waggon Ltd 

With REI back in print and reaching more people than ever, coinciding with the increase of interest in renewables, we want to get to know you – our community of installers, on the front line of this huge transition. 

John Wood, founder and director of the Hampshire-based Volts Waggon Ltd joins us for our new installer insights feature.

That’s why we’re delighted to introduce our new regular feature, Installer Insights. 

With this series, we’ll give you the chance to read about the industry through the eyes of other installers.  First up, we have John Wood, founder and director of the Hampshire-based Volts Waggon Ltd. 

Want to get involved? Read to the bottom of this interview to find out how. 

Tell us about your career as an installer to date 

I have been in the sector as a prosumer (producer and consumer of electrical energy) for over 10 years. I worked as an electrician on installations in the industry over the years and formed Volts Waggon as an installer in November 2022.  

I manage a small local family business, and I love to provide general consultation to help people reach informed decisions on a renewable energy solution that meets their needs. Our certifications include MCS (battery as well as solar), RECC, Trustmark, NAPIT, CPS, TSI. 

How has the last year been for you in terms of business? Have you noticed any trends in demand? 

2023 was enjoyably busy, with 29 local installations that involved various combinations of solar, battery storage, EV chargers and general support and maintenance. 

There is an increase in demand for: (i) battery storage, (ii) replacement of parts of older systems that have started to fail. 

Are there any new technologies, tips or tricks of the trade that are working for you right now? 

Lots! There has never been a better time to invest in battery storage, whether that is as a standalone system without any solar, added to an existing solar system, or installed in conjunction with solar. Technology has become safer and more affordable. There are sometimes opportunities to get paid to use electricity to charge your batteries. Microinverters and optimisers can offer significant benefits compared with low-cost string inverters such as greater safety, more longevity, better performance, superior monitoring and better support and maintenance. 

What are the biggest opportunities for renewable energy installers right now? Is there anything you’re excited about?

 Some properties have limited options to cater for solar panel installations, and battery storage alone can sometimes offer a shorter payback period than solar. This all depends on tariff, and there continues to be exciting opportunities to explore as tariffs evolve: not just for installers but also for consumers to save on electricity bills. 

There are systems available for as little as £2 a month which can automate the process of charging and discharging batteries in accordance with fluctuating market rates and achieve even greater savings than default settings. 

Solar panels have halved in price over the last 6 months, it is significantly cheaper to get solar installed than it was back in 2011 when the Government provided a Feed In Tariff (FIT) subsidy in the form of 43.3p per kWh payment.  

Add to this the fact that solar panels generate twice as much power as they did 10 years ago. A modest solar only install can start under £5,000. 

Battery storage is a more recent addition to the renewable energy story that has huge potential and, whilst this is currently the most expensive part of a solar and battery installation, the EV industry anticipates a 50% reduction in the same battery storage technology. It would be very exciting if this technology becomes accessible on a significantly lower budget to enable more people to reduce their electricity bills. 

The current level of dependency on coal and gas in the UK need not be the case moving forward. As of 2023: for the first time, global investment in solar was greater than that of oil. 

For the first time in history, everything about putting solar panels into space to meet the planet’s energy needs in future is entirely doable not just from a technology point of view but also economically. 

What are the biggest frustrations or concerns you have as a renewables installer at the moment? 

Here’s a list. 

  • Fuel Poverty – defined as households where more than 10% of disposable income is spent on fuel. The number of households this applies to is estimated at 6.3 million in the UK. There are significant savings to be made from battery storage, with or without solar, (which can cost significantly less than heat pumps) but without support or incentives such investments are out of reach for those who would benefit most. 
  • Misinformation published in tabloids and social media sites, especially surrounding EVs and Lithium batteries. 
  • The Government feigned interest in, and evidenced apathy of, meaningful targets towards Net Zero. 
  • The market flooded with “lead generation” services, some of which do more harm than good. 
  • Too much choice in the form of several dozen manufacturers of inverters, batteries and EV chargers with varying specifications, functionality and proprietary ways of working, all of which make it difficult for consumers to make comparisons. 
John Wood of Volts Waggon Ltd

What’s the one piece of advice you give to people getting into renewable installing? 

You are a pioneer; enjoy the journey; join a good team that rewards you well. 

Find out more about John and his work at: 

If you’re an installer with insights to share then we’d love to hear from you! 

Email with a little about your organisation, and you could find yourself on these pages. 

Image credit: Volts Waggon Ltd