Ruffian

Going solar

77 posts in this topic

We're considering forking out for a solar power system.

Not hot water - a 1.5 kW PV power system that could feed back into the grid. (Maybe. On hot days. With the wind from a favourable quarter and all the usual benevolent signs and portents.)

This house is angled in such a way as to be an inferno on even mild days, might as well get something back from it.

The research indicates it would probably a decent investment, but it would be good to hear from any one who has done it, or has seen it done at reasonably close quarters.

All tips, hints and scurrilous hearsay welcome...

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My parents have had one for 15 odd years. They don't get electricity bills. But it is NOT a 1.5 system, it is much much bigger. 1.5 won't do much of anything - check your bills to see how much you use (we use about 3). A 2.8 or bigger system is the ideal long-term investment, my parent's one is probably about that size.

You do want to do it in conjunction with getting a solar HWS and a bunch of other electricity-reducing stuff if you really want to see the benefits. Depends on your climate, really. We use a lot of power where we live because it is cold here, my parents live in a much milder climate.

BTW, compare 1.5KW to, say, a 2000W heater/vacuum/toaster/kettle. You'd need those panels at full capacity and they wouldn't even offset your kettle ...

My parents are scrooges and only vacuum the house when the sun is shining lol

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Ruffian,

Good on you for giving this a go!! We have lived using stand alone solar for 7 years and it was fantastic. Now that we have cashed in and sold our property we are stuck using the demon coal powered stuff and paying huge bills again. Words cant describe how satisfying it is when you have a good set up and dont have to pay power bills. The bitter pill (set up costs) soon fades away and then it just all good lovin from there on. While we were (and are) on farms i see no reason not to be off the grid in the city as well. We had one power failure in seven years which i fixed in an hour as opposed to the numerous grids failures we get these days, especially on hot days. Two bits of advice. Source the components yourself (eg ebay, second hand etc) and contract someone to assist you with setting it up rather than getting someone to do the whole job for you. You will save literally thousands. For 15k i could set up a nice 4-5 kva stand alone system, solar and wind, so with the size of power bills these days it is well worth it.

I am very envious of you as this is one of the main reasons i hate renting and waiting out the bubble (not being able to set up another system). Although i'm sure the landlord wouldn't mind if i plowed that sort of money into their property. Which ever way you go i'm sure you won't regret it. Just dont expect the power companies to play fair when it comes to grid interactive (such as buying your power for .04c a kwh, but selling you power at .23c a kwh when you need it (at night/ cloudyday)). There's rebates to look into, solar credits and other schemes so make sure you do your research first. Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

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My mother has done it on her property. Not sure of the panel rating, but it is plenty for just the one occupant. It feeds more back into the grid overall than she uses, so her power bill is only a connection fee. Good longer term investment., and with the cost of panels coming down, it's just getting better.

As soon as they come up with reasonably priced, very long life storage batteries, disconnecting from the grid will become an increasingly viable option. It probably already is in remote areas. Perhaps selling off our power utilities might be a good idea, as long term I think solar presents a real competitor to them. Maybe the push to get us all living in apartments is a conspiracy to keep us dependant on them :);)

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All tips, hints and scurrilous hearsay welcome...

I've been told that in my area the distributor charges households a commercial (high) rate once they've got the more complex connection, and that they don't pay for the electricity they gain. <_<

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I've been told that in my area the distributor charges households a commercial (high) rate once they've got the more complex connection, and that they don't pay for the electricity they gain. dry.gif

It definitely sounds like they are trying to discourage their customers from going solar. All the more reason to disconnect from the grid if you can.

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My mother has done it on her property. Not sure of the panel rating, but it is plenty for just the one occupant. It feeds more back into the grid overall than she uses, so her power bill is only a connection fee. Good longer term investment., and with the cost of panels coming down, it's just getting better.

As soon as they come up with reasonably priced, very long life storage batteries, disconnecting from the grid will become an increasingly viable option. It probably already is in remote areas. Perhaps selling off our power utilities might be a good idea, as long term I think solar presents a real competitor to them. Maybe the push to get us all living in apartments is a conspiracy to keep us dependant on them :);)

You are right about batteries being uneconomic. Being in the burbs, we will probably aim to feed back into the grid rather than cutting ourselves free entirely.

There are various deals around (some with the evil power companies themselves, who in our area pay handsomely for power put back into the grid) which make solar power pretty economical, and not just over the longer term.

We've worked out at least one option which would pay for itself in around two years, which is good in anyone's language - except as RE pointed out, you need a lot of panels to do the job right and I suspect there are no economies of scale at all, as many of the incentives cut out above 1.5kw.

There are a LOT of variables to take into account, it will take us a while to work the angles.

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It just so happens that a 1.5 system is around the same cost/specs as the maximum rebates will cover, that's why they are so popular. You go above that you need a larger inverter, and inverters don't scale the same way as panels. Eg panels are $600 each, a 1.5 inverter is $2000 but a 2-10kW inverter is $8000 or something (I'm pulling numbers out of a hat from memory when we seriously looked into this a few years ago).

So something to bear in mind, once you have the inverter that can handle a larger load it is trivial to add extra panels, but if you start with a 1.5 system you actually won't be able to add extra panels, wind turbines etc without coughing up the cost of a bigger inverter.

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It just so happens that a 1.5 system is around the same cost/specs as the maximum rebates will cover, that's why they are so popular. You go above that you need a larger inverter, and inverters don't scale the same way as panels. Eg panels are $600 each, a 1.5 inverter is $2000 but a 2-10kW inverter is $8000 or something (I'm pulling numbers out of a hat from memory when we seriously looked into this a few years ago).

So something to bear in mind, once you have the inverter that can handle a larger load it is trivial to add extra panels, but if you start with a 1.5 system you actually won't be able to add extra panels, wind turbines etc without coughing up the cost of a bigger inverter.

people connecting solar now are early adaptors, paying the big bucks. give it a few years and you'll be able to get electricity to power the family home for 5k, take any govt grants from that and it will be free and money generating.

wait till china really ramps up production (&decreases prices) of solar systems. Aussie trades will always be the most expensive component.

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This is old news - Dec 09, but http://www.physorg.com/news180778009.html , but is exactly the sort of battery storage needed to go off grid. They mention 2011 release date, but no price, will have to keep an eye out for further news.

Panasonic plans home-use storage cell

Panasonic Corp., which recently made a successful takeover bid for Sanyo Electric Co., plans to market a lithium-ion storage cell for home use around fiscal 2011.

"We'll be the first to bring to the market a storage battery for home use, which can store sufficient electricity for about one week of use," said Fumio Otsubo, president of Panasonic, in a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.

On Monday, Panasonic announced it has officially acquired a more than 50 percent stake in Sanyo.

It has become Japan's second-largest electronics giant, next to Hitachi, Ltd., with anticipated combined sales of 8.66 trillion yen for the business year ending in March.

Stressing that Panasonic and Sanyo have already test-manufactured a storage battery for home use, Otsubo said, "We're positioned closest [among firms] to realizing CO2 emission-free daily life."

By making Sanyo its subsidiary, Panasonic plans to accelerate the development of the storage battery, while planning to sell it together with a system that will enable households to check electricity usage on a home-based TV display.

Solar batteries for home use and fuel cells can generate power but cannot store electricity, making the development of a storage battery an urgent task for related businesses.

"As we now have such power-generating products as solar power and fuel cells, there'll be an opportunity to create a bigger business...In the area of automobile cells, we can deal with all kinds of eco-friendly cars such as hybrid cars or electric vehicles," Otsubo said, emphasizing the synergistic effect of tying-up with Sanyo.

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We are in the process of installing a 10kw system on the roof of a nursing home in NSW, that I'm involved with.

Around $40,000 set up costs.

Takes up about 56 sq mtres of roof space, but thankfully we have a large area of roof available.

Total overall weight is around 1 ton spread across that surface area, but no additional structural requirements.

We will have to install the frames needed to lift the cells to face the 28 parallel (I think that's correct), to get the most efficent sun surface.

This system will feed into the grid, and under the present NSW govt scheme we receive 60cents for every kw generated. The figure we have been quoted is between $10k - $11k per year, based on 4 to 5 hrs sunshine per day.

If this figure is correct, (proof of the pudding is in the eating) it effectively neutralises our power bill, and providing us with sufficient surplus to pay off the system in 4 years, with the government subsidy actually supplying a profit for the 2 years until the end of the scheme in 2016.

According to the manufacturer, the cells have a working life of 25 years, and can apparently withstand hailstone and storm damage, within reason.

The way, we are required to proceed is to lodge an application with the company. The company then lodge it with the NSW government. If our scheme is approved then the installation goes ahead, and we receive payment based upon a metered supply back to the grid. We can still receive our same bill, or have the amount produced offset from the bill, depending upon our choice.

Here's the basis of the scheme in NSW -

New South Wales gross feed in tariff

The New South Wales Government originally announced details of the state's feed in tariff incentive (called the Solar Bonus Scheme) on June 23, 2009, but on November 9 2009, made a decision to switch from a net feed in tariff to the gross model; a much more generous arrangement.

• Pays 60 c/KWh on a gross basis

• Maximum system size 10 kW

• Commences 1 January 2010

• Review triggered at 50MW installed capacity

This website has an appraisal of all the current schemes in operation around the country.

link

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This website has an appraisal of all the current schemes in operation around the country.

link

Gold! Thanks Sol.

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I realise that this thread is twelve months old, but it is of interest to me as we have just installed a 3.0KWh Grid Tied Solar system.

One of the more interesting outcomes of getting our system is, that it made me start a spreadsheet charting our power usage. As a result of which my attention drawn to our excessive "J" Tariff (Off peak hot water) consumption, I was aware that our tank had been dripping water for about 12 months, but I had been hanging on, trying to squeeze every last minute of use out of it before having to renew it. (Yes I'm miserable with my money)

Once I started taking my meter readings every morning it immediately became very clear that we were using a huge amount of off peak power, much more than would have been necessary to heat the litre or two of water leaking from the tank. Obviously the water had compromised the insulation and the tank was leaking the heat away at a terrific rate, the only answer was to order another new tank. I rang three local electricians and plumbers and found only one who was willing to supply a tank and allow me to fit it, which I wanted to do because it would save me about $600 (a third of the total cost). The tank was ordered and arrived next day.

Below you can see the effect it's installation had on our bottom line figures for our power consumption. (Purple Line)

65089bfb.gif

The names are not necessarily self explanatory, The Daily Solar Output is the daily output of our inverter in KWh, the Daily Surplus is the Output less our combined power usage and the Total Surplus is our "Profit or Loss" also in KWh. as can be clearly seen our system was not managing to keep up with our consumption until day 14 which was the day after I fitted the new hot water tank and reheated the 250 litres of water in it.

We hope to be in the black in about a week, after which our solar System will be earning a small profit.We have been told that our excess will earn us 52c/KWh made up of, the current State supported 44c/KWh + a further 8c/KWh from our supplier (AGL).

Edited by Popeye

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the whole system of solar is just nuts, so unproductive. anyway i might get some of the action myself.

what's a good company in Brisbane???

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the whole system of solar is just nuts, so unproductive. anyway i might get some of the action myself.

what's a good company in Brisbane???

Sorry, I can't help you there, I live in Australia. :rolleyes: Edited by Popeye

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I can see panic in the board room at ETSA this morning, as news is broken to the shareholders that profits from our power fed into the grid has zoomed to the staggering sum of $3.54 :rolleyes:

[sarcasm]This might be a fair warning to you power scheme investors to get your money out now,... [/sarcasm]

Edited by Popeye

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Our smart meter has been installed for a month now, here is a copy of the daily graph.

1d063923.png

008e0a85.png

It's been a pretty flakey month as far as sunshine is concerned with a lot of overcast days as con be seen by the yellow trace. The $ value is over and above our consumption valued at 52c per KWh.

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For those people among us who perhaps think, that the hotter the weather, the more power you will make,... a bit of disappointing news. :-[

Today is about 38 degrees outside with a perfectly clear sky, and at the time I took my reading the sun was almost perfectly overhead. The solar output was only 2.2 KW of power, whereas on much cooler days last month it often topped 2.7 KW even later in the day.

It appears that the efficiency drops off with temperature, I'm not sure whether it is in the panels themselves or the inverter, maybe both?

It will be interesting to follow this throughout the year.

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For those people among us who perhaps think, that the hotter the weather, the more power you will make,... a bit of disappointing news. :-[

Today is about 38 degrees outside with a perfectly clear sky, and at the time I took my reading the sun was almost perfectly overhead. The solar output was only 2.2 KW of power, whereas on much cooler days last month it often topped 2.7 KW even later in the day.

It appears that the efficiency drops off with temperature, I'm not sure whether it is in the panels themselves or the inverter, maybe both?

It will be interesting to follow this throughout the year.

how big's your system?

I've heard about ones that run the pool pump with an dc or ac pump, whatever is the opposite of a normal pump so you don't need an inverter? anyone heard of them?

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how big's your system?

I've heard about ones that run the pool pump with an dc or ac pump, whatever is the opposite of a normal pump so you don't need an inverter? anyone heard of them?

My system is 3KW capacity, which in practical terms is little more than 2.8, I've seem it producing 2.75, usually more like 2.4. The daily meter reading gives a better idea of what you are actually making.

There are all manner of systems available, the main difference being between the plain DC, DC/AC (battery) systems and the Grid Tied AC. Several farmers around here have Solar pumps installed in bores, but I don't know much about them.

There are a number of videos on YouTube, but they tend not to be very technical.

Edited by Popeye

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It appears that the efficiency drops off with temperature, I'm not sure whether it is in the panels themselves or the inverter, maybe both?

Interesting. What type of panels do you have (and inverter)?

Edited by Mr Medved

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Interesting. What type of panels do you have (and inverter)?

I have 16 x 190W AstroEnergy panels rated at 190W per panel (3.04KW), the Inverter is a Fronius 300D.

Below is the graph of the daily solar power output (yellow).

78666e31.png

Notice the steady decrease over the last three days. All of which have been very hot and clear.

Edited by Popeye

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I just stumbled across this website... may be handy to some.

http://www.solardesi....com/index.html

Yes, I had a look, and tried to enter the details for my own system, there was a direct equivalent for my panels but I was stymied by the fact that they never had my inverter listed, even among the "older models".

Also, I'm not keen on entering too many personal details, so I gave it away. I must agree though it could be handy for someone who wanted to know what sized system would best suit them.

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Oh, Happy, happy,...

We received our first Power bill yesterday and even though we have only had our bi-directional meter for 70 of the 90 day billing period we averaged a nett credit of $3.37 per day.

It's interesting to note the difference in Power imported from the grid, in the graph below.

aef8bd80.jpg

Edited by Popeye

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