Monday, 31 May 2010

Solar Power

I figured that this is a post worthy of stopping a drought (at least relating to MG posts). Solar power was installed this month and the system has been doing its thing, and that means it is generating power for us.

The solar panels are not very visible (at least when I tried to get them in a picture). Driving up to the shed and walking around, you would have no idea that they are installed. However moving to the north of the shed, soon reveals their presence. A number of neighbours have commented on the panels, with one in indicating that they too want to go down this route. Nothing like flying the flag. :)

We went with Local Power for the installation. They are a Brisbane based solar power buying group. I chose them as they are price competitive and I knew I could trust their choice of solar panels and the associated inverter.

I had a 1.5 kW system installed and upgraded from the inverter to a Xantrex 2.8. This will allow me to add up to another 1.5 kW of panels in the future with no additional wiring required (other than hooking the panels in). On installation day, the Local Power mob turned up with a small army and installed the system in about 2 hours, despite the rainy weather.

The system was operational at the beginning of May which turned out to be quite fortunate as the REC price I received was $42. It has since fallen. If you are curious about the current retail REC pricing reference There is also wholesale information available ( which provides a graph with the historical REC price.

I did not change electricity retailers as AGL currently provides the best feed-in rate for Queensland. If you want to find out about the best feed-in tariff for your state, reference the Australian Feed-in Tariffs wiki.

The new Energex electricity meter was installed a couple of weeks after the solar panels went in. It is completely digital and allows different tariffs to be recorded using the one meter. At the time of this post, the amount of energy put into the grid was 33 kWh and the amount used was 109 kWh . Ideally I want to get a 1 to 3 ratio or better, so things are going fairly well. Given that we use power to pump water and treat sewage and our hot water system is electric, we are using very little power relative to our basic needs. We plan to install solar hot water in the near future, so this should assure that we hit the 1 to 3 ratio.