Monday, May 7, 2012

Solar powered

Last week we had solar panels installed. Not a day too soon it seems, with power prices set to rise again from July. The price of power in Tasmania has risen 23 percent over the past two years. It's not any better in other Australian states. I remember getting quite a shock opening our last bill in Sydney.

Even with rebates it's not cheap to install solar, but we think it will pay off in a reasonable period of time. We have neighbours who recently finished building their home and are totally off-grid with solar and wind power and a shipping container full of batteries. Very cool - or warm, as they choose! What's your power strategy?


  1. We have been solar for two years now and have never looked back. We also have solar hot water. Currently we are in Credit! with Aurora and have been for quite a while. Obviously, during winter down here it's not so much a huge difference but power bills Hah! Solar's the only way to go!

  2. It certainly seems the sensible way to go if you can afford to invest in it. I am so sick of EVERYTHING going up in price. Well done on your new addition.

  3. yes, not looking forward to the next bill, due this week. the cost of electricity in tasmania is ridiculous, especially when you consider the lower wages and high unemployment rates.

  4. Part of what annoys me about "power policy" in this country is that it is forcing people back to less "green" alternatives.
    We have a wood combustion heater now, partly due to 'lecy prices, partly because of aesthetics and noise.
    Is that good or bad?
    I am not sure, but with increases prices I don't care and THAT is the problem.
    We have solar, not because I think it is environmentally friendly, but because it will save us money.
    I am yet to be convinced that the power that goes into making solar panels, installing them etc. is not greater than what they generate over their life.
    We'll see :-)

  5. What size system do you have? Is it for HWS only?
    Wood combustion is mainly a problem with regards to population dynamics. A few wood heaters across a large area will emit CO2/methane etc but it is not generally a health issue issue unless you have LOTS of people doing it in a confined area. You are getting rid of waste wood that would otherwise rot and create methane emissions anyway. So overall I'd say wood heater=good. You can install technology to make those emissions cleaner also. The technology used to create solar or wind is intensive, but considering the intensive nature of coal/oil mining and then the associated emissions from production, you have made a good choice. For me it goes back to commonsense - of waste not want not and not shitting in your backyard. solar/wind is great because it is not wasting energy. The best thing is though, you are on your way to self sustainability. Congratulations! PS there is a product in development that is a solar powering "paint" - how awesome is that!

  6. That's very cool indeed. And Heather, sorry my dogs woofed at you this morning! Often they are inside and they miss the whole thing :-)

  7. Heather, we have a PV system hooked up to the grid. The objective is to offset our use and hopefully generate some credit with the electricity provider. So we'll still produce our own nigh time power...sort of :-)

    Our hot water is "instant gas". Gas also does our cooking. One 45kg bottle last us 3 to 4 months.

    I had figured the same thing with the wood heater. I collect a lot of wood just on our property. So far not all of it though.

    We looked into wind power and despite some promising technology "on the way" there's nothing right now that can cope with our huge variation in wind speeds and direction.

    P.S. I switched on our solar panels.
    A bit naughty without the right meter on board, but they were generating about 3 times more power than we are using right now.
    Can't wait for that to translate in to $ credits.

  8. wow your solar that is good! yeah, getting a credit from Aurora would be nice that's for sure.
    - sorry but what sort of kw system is it? I'm interested to know so I can get a better idea of what is working around our area. The info about wind is useful - we were also considering wind but the cost is a bit prohibitive right now ..unless of course we made a couple of small ones ourselves..don't know.
    PS your doggies barking at me is fine, - it is the neighbour's goats that sometimes freak me out!

  9. Hi all, I know nothing about solar but was under the assumption they worked on sun or is it light? How well does that work over the Tassie winter where the winters are colder, greyer & wetter than the places I am familiar with in WA? It would be great to know more. Thanks, Tracee

  10. Yes you are right, it does work on sun, so WA would be the ideal place for it. But we actually get quite a lot of sun in winter up here on the hill, because we are well above the fog line! It's cold but sunny most mornings. And this summer was much sunnier in Tassie than in Sydney and Brisbane :-) The installer came out with a special meter that checks where the sun will be coming from at different times of the year to ensure it is placed at the best location and angle.

  11. Heather, it is a 3.2kw system.
    In winter it will generate well under its capacity...of course.

    We'll see how it goes and may prune some trees for next winter if we think it worthwhile.

    The the gadget Susan mentions is a glass dome which is oriented north and, when viewed, shows reflections of trees and other obstacles that may impact on your solar system. Very clever. It also has lines on it which show summer vs winter impacts of the same objects. :-)

    So it isn't a guess as to the best place to put your panels.

    Quilt Kitty - direct sunlight is best of course, but they do work on indirect sunlight to a lesser degree e.g. through clouds, reflections etc. My neighbour even suspects they'll work to a small degree on moonlight (being sunlight reflected back from the moon). We'll see :-)