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Hybrid Solar Systems Part 3: Costs and Payback

solar panels and a dollar sign

What’s the payback?

Note: This post was written in 2012 and is way out of date. For the latest payback figures  please read this page which is kept up to date >>> Are Solar Batteries Worth It


In my previous 2 posts I looked at the concept and design of Hybrid Solar systems.

The main conclusion of those 2 articles was that

a) Hybrid solar rocks!

b) But you gotta pay for it!

So the question this post will try to answer is:

How Much Extra Does Hybrid Solar Cost?

and bearing in mind the extra costs:

What is the payback of Hybrid Solar Compared To Regular Grid Connect Solar?

So let’s look at the cost of a quality 5kW system and then see what it costs to upgrade it to “Hybrid”. [Read more…]

Hybrid Solar Part 2: How To Future Proof Your Solar System

Hybrid badge

Hybrid Solar Too?

Please note: this post was written in 2012 and is way out of date.

>>> Please visit this page on solar batteries, which is constantly updated. <<<


In my previous blog post on hybrid solar systems (aka grid connect with battery backup) I promised to follow up with a post that went into more detail on the costs and give examples of inverter hardware that can be used to make such a beast.

I’ve realised that if I go into the costs and paybacks then this blog post may be longer than War and Peace. So in this post I’ll cover the hardware and I’ll save the financials for next time.

As I said in the previous post, your motivation for spending more on a hybrid solar system will likely be either: [Read more…]

The inflated STC Price Scam : The Solar Cowboy’s Favourite Trick?

a cowboy

Don’t fall for it!

I’m angry.

I get a lot of emails asking for me to look over quotes. I try to answer every one. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to reply, but generally I manage to reply.

Tonight I got 3 emails in a row with quotes from 3 separate companies which all appeared to be trying the same trick. They appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.

I love the solar industry, and to see these guys operating like this makes me so freaking angry I want to scream! [Read more…]

Dubbo: Solar Power Capital of Australia!

Well done Dubbo solar power installers!

dubbo library clock tower without solar panels

Sunny in Dubbo

If you read the mainstream press in Australia,  you’d think the towns and suburbs with the biggest average take up of solar panels would be the well-to-do inner city suburbs of our major cities. Perhaps Vaucluse, Toorak or the leafy eastern suburbs of Adelaide?

Obviously they’d be more likely where wealth is concentrated right?

Wrong (as you may have guessed by the headline!). In a sign that solar energy is becoming more accessible to mainstream Aussie folk, a recent survey by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) found the central-west NSW city of Dubbo to have the highest average percentage of houses with solar panels.

[Read more…]

Grid Connected Solar Panels with Battery Backup (aka Hybrid Solar)

A solar panel charging a battery

Batteries + Solar?

Note: This post was written in 2012 and is way out of date.

>>> Please read this post on solar batteries for the latest information. <<<


A few weeks ago I blogged about my mate who really hates his electricity company. In fact he hates them so much he wanted his new house to have an expensive off grid solar system with battery backup, diesel genset, the works.

I blogged how the cost of going off grid with solar would be over $50,000 compared to about $12,000 for a standard, grid connect 5kW system and that it would be economically barmy to go completely off grid if your home already has a connection to the grid which you can use.

[Read more…]

kW, kWh and kilowatt/hour : What do they stand for?

An electricity meter reading kWh

Don’t confuse kW and kWh. It matters!

One of the most common sources of confusion I encounter when talking to non-electrical people about solar power is related to the terms kW and kWh. What do they stand for? What do they mean? And what’s the difference between the two? Watch the video, or read below to find out…

Folks who are really confused also throw the term “kilowatt/hour” into the mix. I’ll deal with that doozy in this footnote1.

Starting with the absolute basics

Please excuse this post if you think I am explaining the bleeding obvious! But I think it is vital to write a post that describes these key units of electricity in a way that requires zero prior knowledge of anything electricity-related.

So here is my humble attempt to answer the question:

What is the difference between a kW and kWh?

[Read more…]

New generation of super thin solar cells promise half price solar power

twin creeks technologies logo

Twin creeks technologies are claiming a cost reduction breakthrough for solar PV

Last week’s column brought you the latest, world-record-breaking achievements of the University of NSW. This week, just to balance the books a little, we thought we’d bring you news of the latest incredible overseas advance in PV cells from overseas — just to prove that solar research is pushing back the boundaries the world over.

The name of the firm is Twin Creeks, which may or may not be a nod to the superb David Lynch-produced TV series of the early nineties (or am I showing my age here?), and the breakthrough is that photovoltaic cells are created using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator. [Read more…]

Samil Inverter Review: German magazine gives top marks

Samil Power Solar River Inverter

The Samil Inverter got a great review in the German Photon Magazine in August 2011

Samil Inverters are very popular in Australia. They are great value, and have great specifications on paper. However I get a lot of emails asking me if this Chinese made solar inverter is any good.

It is a fair question. The inverters are a lot cheaper than their German made competition (like SMA), and are a relatively new player in the market. Plus there are a lot of solar salespeople out there that are peddling the (somewhat xenophobic) line that all Chinese made solar components are crap.

So what’s the truth? Are Samil Inverters any good? [Read more…]

Interview with Paul O’Reilly of the Rainbow Power Company

Rainbow Power Company Logo

Rainbow Power Company – one of Australia’s oldest solar companies

In this, the first in what we hope will be a number of interviews with solar opinion leaders, business people and experts in the solar industry we chat with Paul O’Reilly, director of the Nimbin-based Rainbow Power Company. Sit back and enjoy as Paul talks feed-in tariffs, the almost constant boom and bust cycles in the Australian solar industry and his optimism for the future.

The solar industry must have changed a lot since Rainbow Power Company first set up? Do you think this has been for better or worse?

[Read more…]

How Does Temperature Affect Your Solar Inverter Power?

Inverter positioned badly

Don’t mount your inverter where the sun can cook it!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you are probably already aware of how high ambient temperatures negatively affect solar panel performance.

But did you know that when it gets hot outside, those scorching Aussie temperatures can also cause the efficiency of your solar inverter to drop? [Read more…]

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