Sunrise TV Gets It Wrong: Installing Batteries Will Lose Most Households Money

CH7 Sunrise Solar Power And Battery Segment

Mainstream media gets it wrong on batteries. In other shock news Pope declares he’s a Catholic.

If you told me two years ago you spent $46,000 on a solar and battery system and it saved you $4,000 a year, my reaction would be, “I’m sorry.  I’m so, so sorry.”

My heart would ache for you because you have been so, so very misguided.

That’s because the battery portion of your installation will have only lost you money.  In South Australia it is now possible — although difficult — for batteries to save households money, but that’s only because there is now a huge subsidy in that state and that was not available two years ago.  The only reason you’re saving any money at all is because of blended payback where the good return from solar power hides the poor or negative return from batteries.

You may think I’m being harsh, but if your goal is to save money and you are faced with two options:

  1. Spend $15,000 on a large solar power system that rapidly pays for itself, or…
  2. Spend $15,000 on a large solar system that rapidly pays for itself and also spend $31,000 on a battery system that will never pay for itself.

If you choose option 2, I have no problem at all calling that decision stupid.  The problem is not everyone is aware option 1 is a much better choice, so they’re not so much stupid as ignorant.

One reason there is so much ignorance around is because the media enjoys shoveling out steaming piles of misleading information.  For example, yesterday Channel 7’s  Sunrise TV ran a segment where they suggested spending money on home batteries in Sydney — where they will never pay for themselves for any normal family — is a good idea.  What they should have done instead is raise consumer awareness and warned people not to make the same mistake the family they featured in their segment did.

Sunrise Gets It Wrong

At 7:54 yesterday morning, Australian Eastern Standard Time, Sunrise TV presenter David Koch1, said, and I quote:

“How would you like to dramatically slash your energy bill?  A growing number of Aussie families are getting smarter with their power and their turning to not only solar panels to reduce their costs but also to battery storage.”

I’m afraid he made a mistake there and said “smarter” when he should have said “dumber”.  I have pointed out…

.. and in plenty of other articles that batteries won’t save any normal household money unless they are in South Australia with that state’s huge subsidy — and even then the circumstances have to be right for a household to come out ahead.

I have also mentioned here home batteries don’t yet provide an environmental benefit, so unless there are special circumstances2 you are not being green by getting one.

Sunrise Case Study Is An Example Of What Not To Do

The Sunrise team showed us a family in Sydney that spent $46,000 for a solar and battery system with 40 solar panels and two batteries with 9.3 kilowatt-hours of usable energy storage each when new.  Actually, what they said was they bought two batteries with 10 kilowatts of energy storage, but I’ve gotten used to both TV announcers and battery salespeople saying kilowatts when they should say kilowatt-hours.3

2 x 10kWh LG solar batteries

Two years ago a 40 panel solar system probably would have been around 10 kilowatts.  Back then, a good quality system that size could have been bought for around $15,000.  Tragically, this is the only part of the family’s system that has saved them money. The rest of the money they spent — which may have been $31,000 —  was wasted.4  Once the full cost of batteries are accounted for, including:

  • Round trip efficiency losses
  • Foregone solar feed-in tariff
  • Battery capacity deterioration
  • Limited lifespan
  • Realistic household capacity utilization, and…
  • Capital costs

.. it is impossible for a normal Sydney household to save money from the battery side of a solar and battery system.  This includes households with time-of-use tariffs.  This is true now as well as two years ago.  If batteries fall in price and/or Virtual Power Plants5 start providing battery households with significant payments this can change, but these are things that may happen in the future.  It makes no economic sense to get batteries before they pay for themselves.

Solar Can Pay For Itself In 5 Years — But Not Batteries

At the end of their segment, after showcasing the Sydney family that paid $46,000 to save $4,000 a year, a member of the the Sunrise TV team then pointed out that a different guy (who sells smart battery management systems) told him his own solar and battery system will have:

“…a payoff rate of about 5 years.”

What the hell?  Why the bait and switch?  Why give the payoff rate6 for a totally different bloke instead of using the numbers for the Sydney home they featured?  That family spent $46,000 for a system that saves $4,000 a year so it’s obvious it’s not going to pay for itself in five years.  The simple payback time is 11.5 years and accounting for capital costs and the potential need to replace out of warranty batteries7 will make it far worse.

Ronald watching 7's Sunrise

I know Sunrise doesn’t have much time to get these segments ready, but they really should be capable of dividing one number by another and call shenanigans on the claim of a 5 year payback period.  If they can’t manage this basic level of journalism they may as well go off the air and show something useful instead, such as three hours of Mr Squiggle reruns.

Sunrise TV is doing the families of Australia a disservice by suggesting they can save money by buying batteries rather than warning they are only likely to lose money buying them at this time.

You can view the segment for yourself here:


  1. I wonder if his last name is pronounced the German way?
  2. For example, if your solar system is export limited then it is possible for a battery system to provide an environmental benefit if it stores clean solar energy that otherwise would have gone to waste.
  3. Actually, what I wanted to say was, “I am sick and tired of all these monkey fighting kilowatts on this Monday through Friday kilowatt-hour plane!” but Finn said I couldn’t use that kind of language.
  4. If they bought the battery for non-economic reasons and didn’t care whether or not it saved them money, that’s fine, but this is not what the Sunrise segment was about.
  5. The household’s installation included a Reposit system, which is a smart battery management system.  I hesitate to mention Reposit, as I am sure they must be terribly upset they have been associated with this misinformation.
  6. I assume by payoff rate they mean the simple payback time for the system.
  7. The LG Chem RESU10H batteries they were using have a maximum warranty of 10 years, but depending on how they are used the warranty can end in 7 years.
About Ronald Brakels

Joining SolarQuotes in 2015, Ronald has a knack for reading those tediously long documents put out by solar manufacturers and translating their contents into something consumers might find interesting. Master of heavily researched deep-dive blog posts, his relentless consumer advocacy has ruffled more than a few manufacturer's feathers over the years. Read Ronald's full bio.


  1. Reposit would have paid for this they are probably thrilled.

  2. If it’s on TV then it has to be fact especially if it’s commercial TV, no amount of education from other quarters is going make the Public see sense.

    Have you or Finn approached the stations to refute the claims? Maybe you have but why would they want to tell it as it really is? Don’t want to kill off these relentless stories they can pedal out and have it watched and see the money coming in from the advertising.

    Nothing will change. Just have a look at the Governments we endure. What have they done about lowering Deeming rates? – NOTHING, What have they done about following up on the Banking royal commission – NOTHING. What’s happened since Ita visited Scomo about freedom of the press? – NOTHING. What’s happened to fixing the NDIS? – NOTHING.

    What’s being done about all the innocent families being killed by Moron’s that drive and text on their Mobile phones? No amount of TV education seems to make any difference. Technology could be forced on the Mobile phone manufacturers to fix this but instead they are more concerned about Huawei and 5G. If you can’t solve innocent people being killed for no reason then forget about Solar miss information.

    End of Rant.

  3. Good Blog Guyz,
    More Dr Who is always appreciated,
    Dose that mean that Batteries are timey wimey?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Only dates given by Tesla on when batteries will be available are timey wimey.

      • Scott Hudman says

        Disclaimer: I am no sort of electrician. And this may be a bit tedious for some who are. But my experience with standalone and back-up battery systems in daily use may be of some interest. This experience has led me to wonder what all the fuss is about and the fascination with these incredibly expensive solar systems using Tesla Power walls.
        My wife and I have just spent 15 years living on an 24m barge in Europe that was completely 230v electric throughout. She was powered by a domestic bank of 8 x 6 volt Trojan T105 225Ah batteries and a 3kw Victron Quattro inverter/charger.
        The vessel was a 60 ton ex commercial riveted iron vessel, 100 years old and fitted out like an apartment with 6 seat eat-in kitchen, large lounge and 2 en-suite state rooms. In total about 80sq metres of internal living space.
        The electric equipment on the vessel was all domestic 230v appliances including 4 burner induction stove, combi-microwave oven, full household fridge freezer, dish washer (used occasionally with guests), a 3kw split A/C system (hardly ever used), 2x230v macerator toilets, 100litre 230v household water heater and 2kw on demand water heater under the sink, 230v demand water pump about 35 halogen down lights, big stereo system and plasma TV and numerous other minor bits and pieces including vacuum cleaners, radios, computers, navigation gear etc. together with an electric powered diesel fired central heating system and 10hp 24v electric bowthruster. This will give you some idea of the electrical load from the total system.
        Now, we could not use all that stuff at the same time obviously, and we only cruised in the spring summer and autumn before the canals froze and we were moored up and connected to shore power through the winter. But when cruising, all the battery banks (3 banks totalling 16 T105 batteries) would get charged up in about 4 hours off the main engine alternator. After that the household bank would last for approximately 24 hours from full charge down to 50% capacity with no assistance from the generator. There were no PV panels on the boat because I thought they were very ugly but the Victron inverter/charger had the capacity to utilise them if they had been fitted.
        This experience on the barge taught me the value of having a reliable self sufficient power system. Now that I have come ashore I am looking to set up a low energy house that runs as much as possible on solar power, but I am also looking at battery backup to possibly power the house at night or in black/brown-outs which I foresee in Australia’s near future if the pollies don’t sharpen their game. But I cannot for the life of me understand the costs of these power wall batteries or why anyone would buy them.
        Referring to the TV program about the people who may have spent $31,000 on 2 x 10kwh batteries. This was a complete shock and sent me back to costing a similar lead acid system as I had on the barge. My Trojan T105s are considered the Rolls Royce of deep-cycle lead acid batteries and at 225Ah x 6 volt an electrical internet site I found calculated that I would need 16 batteries to give me just over 21kwh at a cost of about $5600 for the batteries and about $6500 for a Victron Quattro Inverter/charger 10kva continuous and 20kva peak output. Total $12,000 plus install. That’s a 4-5 year payback at the TV articles $4,000 per year.
        For information, the Trojan batteries on my boat were almost 10 years old when I sold the boat last year and were still going strong. They were set up in a series-parallel 24v system and were still charging up to about 27v. In $/kwh/yr. terms you cannot beat the tried and tested lead acid battery. It’s been around in one form or another for about 5,000 years.
        I am quite open to correction of my data if my figures are wildly wrong. As I said I am no electrician, but I believe that a lead acid back-up system may be economically feasible in a PV equipped house.

        • HERETIC!! boo!hiss!
          Geez Scott, don’t you realise you just CAN’T say sacreligious stuff like this?!
          Particularly since it’s TRUE and accurate.
          Other than thinking you spent rather more than strictly necessary, I’d wonder whether you’d plagiarized comments I’ve been making (also backed up by verifiable pricing) since day dot. Us ‘power-wall’ non-believers are on our way to taking over the world!
          That other ostracised crackpot, Thomas Edison, WOULD be pleased!
          When the grid goes down OUR christjmas-trees will sparkle merrily.

          • Ian Thompson says


            So he charged batteries with a diesel engine – so what?
            So room heating was done by burning diesel fuel – so what?
            So they linked in shore power when they could – probably mostly Natural Gas sourced?

            So he lives on a diesel-powered boat, not a small high-rise rented flat where they either cannot, or are not allowed to run a diesel engine for power & charging batteries?

            I thought our objectives are to reduce carbon pollution, through deployment of renewable sources of power?

            Give me a break!

          • “Give me a break!”
            This from a man who, by his own admission, can’t even run a fridge overnight using 1KWh of electricity, and who has so far refused to address questions about what HE has achieved in pursuit of his lofty ideals (perhaps because those lofty ideals keep shifting ground depending upon whom he’s currently knocking.
            Another Olde Saying: them that can, do. Them that can’t, educate.

  4. Koch got it wrong? OMG! I’m amazed… .

    • David Koch was/and is? as a financial expert!

      • Koch? Financial expert?!

        His expert opinion on Australian property, quoted in nearly all the Australian rags, July 2012:

        “Prices will continue to move sideways or slowly deflate and won’t keep pace with inflation in the short to medium term.

        “Prices will continue to move sideways or slowly deflate and won’t keep pace with inflation in the short to medium term.”

        • I’m no fan of ‘experts’ (ex=hasbeen; spurt=a drip under pressure) but Kochie deserves a bit of leeway here. Don’t forget he was dealing with/trying to predict the Great Unwashed: that brainless conglomerated blob which, thick as two Irishmen, actually votes for politicians, and then hand over ‘taxes’, ‘fees’ and ‘charges’ on demand to feed the bloody things! (at least Ned Kelly had the decency to show you his gun!)

          So do take it easy on Kochie. He is, after all, a bona-fide Irishman.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      So he wasn’t just hired for his looks and has no excuse for not ripping claim that batteries will save typical families money apart.

      • tsk tsk tsk Ron.
        I suggest you read Scott Hudman’s comment above.
        (and please don’t try to cover your indecencies with fig-leaf waffles about “typical” families.)
        While ‘average’ users may exist (though remain undefined), one might suggest there’s no such thing as the ‘typical’ family.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          I use the word “typical” because typical and average are not the same. But if you want me to be more precise I would say about 99% or perhaps more of on-grid households outside of South Australia won’t save money on their electricity bills in practice once all costs are accounted for. And in South Australia it is still difficult to come out ahead despite high electricity prices and a large battery subsidy. But this situation could change rapidly.

          • They certainly WILL if they don’t stuff around with predetermined prohibitions such as not using lead-acid deep-cycle/agm battery-banks: CHEAP AND EFFICIENT AND PROVEN: and instead fall prey to those (self) interests pushing the EXPENSIVE, DUBIOUS-EFFICIENCY and UNPROVEN ‘power-wall’ rip-offs.
            (Compare the cost of under ONE HUNDRED dollars to store a kWh with the THOUSANDS of dollars being touted by the ‘in-crowd’.)

            You know, the HUGHLY overpriced dependence-creating crap that also requires ~ one way or another ~ that one must stay on-grid as well. …. at a cost of hundreds of dollars per year for the ‘service charge ‘alone, before one even uses ANY power at all. This was a feasible option when the FIT was 66 cents; it’s NOT now. (except for those smarties with enough foresight to lock in the 66-cents until 2024 🙂 )
            Finally, if you re-read my comment you’ll see that the whole point of it was to draw the difference between ‘average’ and ‘typical’. You had no need to reiterate the point.
            …… and please keep in mind that there would be NO ” high electricity prices” in South Australia if people weren’t connected to the grid ~ and spent a fraction of the money saved to install more (dirt-cheap) panels and appropriate batteries on a more or less one-off capital basis.

            The economics of such a move have been demonstrated time and again.

  5. Wonder which grand poobah in the station hierarchy is getting a significant discount on their own residential system?????? I’ll just have to keep grinding my teeth every time these guys use the term ‘journalistic integrity’ or ‘free press’…

  6. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Ron

    Saw the first run here in the West – picked the BS right away – and immediately thought of you!

    The poor guy said his bills dropped from about $400 / month, to $70 / month – thought, that’s just little shy of $4,000 per year. $46,000 / $4,000 = 5 years?

    However – I also tend to think these advertisments (sorry, important journalistic newsworthy presentations!) are usually paid for by someone.
    Even Kochie should have seen through the 46/4 >> 5 figure.

    A while ago, Today Tonight ran a clip about a guy who had worked out he could generate power for free. He had fitted a small solar panel partly under his bathroom light, and demonstrated he both had enough light to see, but could also generate enough “free” power to run his electric razor! Started looking around to see if it was April 1, but no. Ok, it may have been a “skit”, but I’ve found a lot of folks believe these things. Like, hanging a fan outside the vehicle, to charge the battery for free. Such is our level of general education – sad.
    A friend had a restaurant business, with the corporate name “No Free Lunches Pty Ltd”.

    • “Even Kochie should have seen through the 46/4 >> 5 figure.”

      Equally, one might’ve expected a smart cookie to have seen through ‘Y’gotta get a powerwall’ mantra.

      And while it’s true (as even our ex-PM saw) that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, the quibbles above about regards innovative ideas were probably minted by Mr Thompson’s early ancestors as they watched a hairy neighbour climb down from the tree and experiment with the see-through idiocy of walking around on the ground on only TWO feet.
      That lonely ape might well have been Kochie’s early

      Point is that EVERY person whom we laud for advancing evolutionary potential is one who has stepped outside the square ~ aka to Suck It and See.

    • Also not April 1st:- “
      Jan 10, 2018 – A solar cell can charge a battery from natural sunlight or from artificial lighting like an incandescent light bulb. A solar cell responds in much the same way to either kind of light; you can use incandescent light with a solar cell to charge a watch or calculator battery, provided the light is bright enough.

      ……AND THAT’S NOT ALL. (check Google; ANY source of light ~ not necessarily incandescent will work to some degree. Even ~ moonlight to a small degree.)

      May one suggest you get your facts right before you shitcan other, more adventurous, people?

      • Ian Thompson says

        Jeesus Jackson – grab a brain…

        Of COURSE a solar cell will generate power by being placed under a bathroom light – but why would you want to go about things in such a wasteful, inefficient way?
        If you don’t need the amount of light, simply replace the bulb and immediately make energy savings proportional to the decreased wattage. Charge or run the razor using a plupack – probably 80 or 90% efficient, rather than < 15% efficient by solar by the time you take the bulb conversion to light, solar cell, and regulation circuit losses into account.
        Same goes for the fan-out-the-car-window trick – the car alternator is far, far more efficient than the extra fuel cost to overcome increasef air drag on the car.
        If you cannot understand these most fundamental laws of thermodynamics, this calls into question your whole understanding and notion of battery efficiencies – certainly I had doubted your undetstanding of DoD impacts on battery life (drop DoD in a given application from 100% to 10%, by buying 10 times as many batteries upfront – really?), but have been giving you the benefit of the doubt all along.
        And, you are seriously barking up the wrong tree – I've spent my entire working life thinking "outside-of-the-box" for R&D, successfully, in numerous disciplines, with several organisations (and my own), that actively encouraged lateral thinking.

        • Hmm. I’m no Newton. But neither, I’d suggest, are you. Please refrain from giving me the benefit of YOUR doubts. I’ve been using solar power since 1980, helped set up a lot of other systems, and have no doubt about what works at the best price and what doesn’t.
          For example, I certainly wouldn’t be stupid enough to —>” Charge or run the razor using a plupack” let alone BUY the bloody thing in any case, because I refused to utilise the EXCESS power emitted by my light-globe. THAT’S the epitome of ‘wasteful and inefficient’. And we won’t even mention that the power for the razor ~ regardless of ‘efficiency/circuit-losses’ ~ comes gratis. The cost is negligible because it hasn’t contributed to the price of the solar-system. (Unless you bought said system specifically to run your razor.)
          Your flaw in simple logic re. the light-globe thing demonstrates that you lack any such sense, no matter how ‘successful’ you might be in the working’s of the ‘normal/industrial’ world.(or whatever field you waddle around in.Are you famous for anything? Nobel Prize, perhaps? Made a few $billion from discovering that water runs downhill? (mostly, anyway.)
          eg. No matter WHAT wattage you use in your light-globe, you’ll still use energy/create light NOT required for reading –> If you can find some use for that light rather than just illuminating the dunny walls you’ll not only get ‘more bang for your buck’, but also demonstrate that you do, in reality, have the ability to think laterally. Twiddling around the edges doesn’t qualify.
          The same consideration applies to the ‘fan out the window’ thing. It’s not something I would do, (I haven’t shaved in 50 years ~ so charging a razor WOULD be a waste… matter how efficiently it was done). BUT there are several dozen varibles that should be taken into account if you’re going to make an issue out of the physics/economics of the proposition, rather than just blather on in generalities. You considered NONE of them. (and yes, I am aware there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That doesn’t mean you should throw away what you don’t eat. quote “Why would you want to go about things in such a wasteful, inefficient way?” unquote
          However, I DO have a (DEMONSTRATED) knack for SAVING, among other things, energy that would otherwise be wasted. (also use lateral-thinking to take a lot of money out of the stock-market AND off the bookies: so I don’t have time for an ‘entire working life’.)
          I built a hydraulic ram pump once from bits I had laying around the shed. Total cost was half-an-hour’s work, and it worked successfully for 16 years at a constantly-varying rate,depending on a range of factors. The fact that I was able to utilise the effects of gravity on water to achieve a desired end was the issue….And the extent to which I fiddled the input (globe -wattage) was irrelevant. The rate wasn’t an issue, but as the tanks were filling I also used the water in them to for other things.
          There’s nothing wasteful in achieving what you need at the smallest cost possible. That’s also the very definition of efficiency. And that includes the more batteries=smaller DOD claim. And, whether you understand life’s realities or not, a lesser DOD has the effect of prolonging battery life. That’s called efficiency….. and non-wastefulness. The costing is a different question ~ and depends upon what you pay for the batteries.
          And that immediately excludes umpteen-thousand-dollar ‘power-wall’ type set-ups.

  7. joe lihou says

    As someone abovd sdaid Sunrise like the current fed Govt are all about the donator (advertiser) money not the truth

  8. Contact ABC’s Media Watch!

  9. Also, contact ACMA about the misleading story.

  10. Robert Cutcher says

    If you can use all you can store by charging your car with what you don’t use in your home, how much does this change the financials?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      If an electric car is usually parked at home during the day and can charge off solar energy that would normally be sent into the grid it will improve the economics of solar but not batteries by increasing self consumption of solar electricity. But it is possible it could be cheaper to charge the car late at night/early in the morning with an off-peak rate depending on where you are and what deals are available.

    • DO,puhleese, keep in mind that ‘charging the car’ is in reality employing a battery-bank. One case, note, where ALL the arguments against battery-banks fall by the wayside.
      The waffle that you’re depriving yourself of the benefits of feeding the grid and/or saving money by using off-peak grid-power is torpedoed by the reality that your battery-bank LOCATED IN THE VEHICLE can just as easily ~ and MUCH more cheaply ~ be charged by putting up a few more dirt-cheap solar panels separately from the grid. ie. It validates the use of battery-storage.

      Hippies and other not-rich people were using their cars to charge their batteries long ago, in the days when only people too poor to get access to the grid had ever heard of solar panels. (and paid horrendous prices for them ~ yet STILL considered solar/battery a good investment.)

      • Ian Thompson says

        Fairly misleading and argumentative nonsense, Jackson.
        Just because Hippies chose inefficient or not-cost-justified means to charge batteries, does not prove anything useful.
        Yes, electric car batteries can be used to store and recover solar energy – but this does not prove this approach is necessarily cost-efficient – for a start, cycling electric car batteries this way will certainly reduce their useful lifespan – and they will almost certainly be more expensive to replace that alteratives (why not use your favoured lead-acid types – at least the weight factor is less of an issue).
        However – I do agree charging your car battery using excess solar power, then using this to drive the car, IS cost effective.
        I think it comes down to 2 questions:
        1. Do you want to save money?, or
        2. Do you want to save the planet?

        • OMG – the need to save the planet (instead of saving a buck) has finally risen it’s head above the coal generated pollution. Amazing!

          Who will beat it down?

        • “Hippies chose inefficient or not-cost-justified means to charge batteries,”
          Efficiency and cost-effectiveness can only be measured in drawing comparisons between options.
          The aforementioned Hippies had no such options. Their only option was to have electricity available or not to have electricity available.
          So many (most?) of them chose to havr electricity available, and to find the most efficient ways of using it.
          Some of those methodologies were exceedingly innovative; and although components were expensive, usage was kept minimal.

  11. Finn Peacock says

    $50,000 per household on a smart battery system would only cost half a trillion. Problem solved!

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Half a trillion? That’s only one quarter of GDP. Easy shmeasy!

    • Quite so Finn. But how about $5000 on a not-real-smart L/A battery-bank? That would ost an even Easy shmeasier! 2.5 of GDP., wouldn’t it?

  12. I recently got a solar system installed and my quarterly average bill dropped from $400 to $50! And that’s with no battery, why would you bother?
    As I said in another thread, if your in SE Qld where thankfully we have some choice of electricity retailer (I would assume Sydney would be the same) its just simple maths:
    (these are my actual rates (rounded) with Origin in Brisbane)
    Grid price (with discount) 20c/Kwh
    Solar Feedin Price 16c/Kwh
    Assume 10Kwh Battery system, depleted every night.
    Cost to charge battery via solar each day 16c x 10Kwh = $1.60
    Normal cost to consume 10Kwh at night 20c x 10Kwh = $2.00
    Saving per day 40c, per year $146
    If your LG Chem 10Kwh battery install – QLD battery rebate cost you about $8500 (my quote), then it will take you 58 YEARS!!!! to pay off! Do those numbers Kochy!
    If your in North QLD where the QLD runs a monopoly on electricity supply then it looks better because they are charging you too much to start with ,giving you stuff all as feedin, then giving you a little bit back as a battery subsidy that they want you to feel good about (but thats another discussion…)

    • Ian Thompson says

      Actually even worse than your simple maths Mark.
      Try including the “round trip” efficiency of the battery – say about 85%…!

      • How about the argument that “round trip efficiency” is simply another irrelevant waffle, since it’s merely a variation of the DOD calculations, and the system is topped up ~ for free! ~ the next time the sun shines, the wind blows or the creek runs.? (or, at a pinch, run an extension cord over to your neighbour’s house 😉

        I’ve heard no argument challenging my assertions about the FACTUAL validity/cost-effectiveness of battery-banks. Isn’t it about time to quit while you’re behind?

    • Just cancelled my QLD gov battery grant…
      Good news though, my new solar system that I installed a few months ago is currently running at a daily credit.
      Gotta love that!

  13. Lawrence Coomber says

    You have always been candid about this subject Ron and that means a lot about your open honest and objective analytical ways. Bravo Ron.

    On the same subject, to the best of your knowledge though Ron, does the CEC, CER, Sol.Quotes, Approved Retailers you know, and any other practitioner you are in regular contact with, share your open honest and objective views? Or is there an acceptable alternative view on the subject (in your opinion) for others (like those above) to actively promote to RE systems end users?

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Anyone selling a battery system — or anything else for that matter — should only tell the truth about it. Australian consumer law requires them to do so. If a person says they want a battery to save money and it’s not suitable for that purpose they must, by law, be told it won’t do that. But there is a difference between not breaking the law and not being an arsehole. Because of all the misinformation out there, I say battery sellers are ethically obligated to check their customers understand that batteries won’t save them money or, in South Australia, will only save money if conditions are right. I have no problem telling off anyone who doesn’t do that. Any installer we associate with will act ethically. (If they don’t, we stop associating with them.) Unfortunately, not all Approved Retailers are honest the return from batteries.

      But if a person understands that:

      1. A battery won’t save them money.
      2. Back up power can generally be obtained at lower cost and higher reliability from a generator.

      And still wants a battery it is fine to sell them one. It’s not something I would buy personally (unless I was collecting consumer information) but people spend money all the time on things that make no sense to me and I don’t have the inclination or the energy to stop them.

  14. You’ve got my attention. How is “Koch” pronounced in the German way?

  15. Margi Cruickshank says

    Thanks for the great Article. I rely on you guys to tell it like it is!

  16. I never get tired of you destroying those who push Batteries as having “5 year ROIs.”

    Keep it up!

    • Me too, Ben, —> “I never get tired of you destroying those who push Batteries as having “5 year ROIs.”

      Properly done the ROI can be as little as a year. (Maybe less if one is pernicketty.

  17. It is not rocket science. Before investment on your battery storage pays back battery life will end and you need to pay again for replacement batteries. Channel 7 is right! People should talk about battery life and not about shooting channel 7, the messenger.

    • false assumption:- “. Before investment on your battery storage pays back battery life will end”.
      Unless of course you ENJOY wasting money and other resources. One eg:- the savings made on three years of NOT paying the ‘service-to-property-charge’ will easily pay for a useful 10kwh L/A deep-cycle agm battery bank with a three-year warranty.
      What’s more, experience shows that a 3-year warranted battery will (properly looked after) generally last FIVE years… or sometimes even more. On that basis you’re well ahead of the ball-game, before you even calculate the savings made from having ZERO repeating and increasing electricity bills.

      Experience and arithmetic also shows that a useful 10-kwh system can be set up for $5000, give-or-take, at today’s prices.

      • ps… That $5000 INCLUDES the panels, batteries and other bits-n-pieces. (I’ve posted the actual numbers often enough; and a bit of innovative fiddling will reduce the costs even further.

  18. Patrick Patrick says

    Yes a good call out , how about looking at the lead acid battery. LA batteries can be revitalized to a near new performance level by simple descaling chemistry. But we keep throwing them away. The cost and pollution this causes is world changing,

    • Lawrence Coomber says

      Patrick as an OEM manufacturer of VRLA Storage stacks for over 10 years, i can say that your well intentioned comments whether meaningful or not technically, are at odds with the much more important concept of commercial viability moving forward.

      Yes extending VRLA Battery life is very much in focus and a key consideration for storage design engineers for all chemistries not just LA.

      The best strategy though is a “zero maintenance” one rather than a high labour cost manual solution (such as plate de-sulphation that you have described); by redesigning LA battery stacks to higher voltage / lower current configurations.

      It is current magnitude that ages LA cells, in both modes (charging and discharging). There are other factors that contribute also but by far the most significant factor is current.

      By designing 480 VDC LA battery stacks, current is ratiometrically reduced over the more common ELV < 50 VDC stacks, resulting in a significant extension in the operating lifespan of the battery storage system.

      Modern energy systems design engineers are firmly focussed on reducing ongoing labour intensive costs in managing battery storage technology.

      Lawrence Coomber

      • Ian Thompson says

        Hi Lawrence

        Re- your “current magnitude” comments:

        Are you saying that 20 x 24v 5Ah VRLA batteries in series (480v stack) will have a significantly better life than one 24v 100Ah battery – both options 2.4kWh?

        I’m surprised – both options would be working at the same “C” rating for a given power level (charging or discharging) – and I have always thought this was the basis for current intensity.
        Also, statistically the rate of any one of the batteries in the stack failing would be the square root of “n” (in the case 20) times the MTBF of the single battery – over four times the rate (assuming the MTBF of the smaller batteries is the same)?

        What am I missing?

    • A year ago bought a 25-amp battery-charger for under $100 from one of the major retailers.It has a built-in function that does just that (‘rejuvenates/desulphates the battery-bank) on a regular basis; automatically.

      Been keeping a casual eye on it, and so far it appears to be working as advertised.
      Depending on which circuitry I’m using at the time it also regulates the output from the solar panels and the alternator.

  19. Lawrence Coomber says

    Thanks Ron that is a pretty fair response from you and one I fully endorse.

    Importantly it also puts all RE practitiones including Approved Suppliers, CEC, CER, etc on notice that there will always be people in the industry who value objective technical analysis above commercial only strategies, and market driven fantasies.

    And you are one of those objective analysts.

    Lawrence Coomber

  20. Ron

    Yet another ‘Your Crazy to Buy a Battery’ blog that is predicated on the traditional neoclassical economic rationalist theory (now widely discredited) that argues that consumers only make purchasing decisions in order to maximize their own wealth.

    Instead of constantly rehashing this somewhat tired (and defunct) argument, how about a more contemporary bog that looks at batteries from a behavioural economics viewpoint (including for example the psychology and other motivators to support the acquisition of a battery).

    Maybe your sick of powering your house at night from coal generated power.

    Maybe your frustrated with successive governments inability to act to address climate change and realise that, although batteries may not currently justified on a cost benefit basis / green angle, this is because we don’t yet have the economies of scale to reduce the cost of batteries and the only way these economies of scale are going to be generated is if people buy batteries.

    Maybe you have studied behavioural economics and realise that Ron’s traditional economic rational model of decision making (that he keeps blogging about) also must assume:
    * The battery purchaser does not have full and perfect information on which to base a choice eg the future price of coal or gas generated power.
    * The battery purchaser does not have the cognitive ability, time, data and resources to evaluate each alternative against the others (but has enough common sense to understand that renewables are going to end up powering the planet sooner or later).

    Maybe Ron could blog about the ethical concerns consumers face that drives short term economically irrational behaviour and how this form of altruism actually has value (as it will lower battery prices in time).

    I guess I’m just saying that this stream of anti battery blogs fail to take into consideration behavioural economics, the long term benefits of batteries as the take- up increases and a range of other behavioural factors.


    1. If your decision to install solar and/or a battery flows directly from watching a segment on Sunrise ….it is always going to end badly and you deserve what you get.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Bit harsh Tony…

      Ron & Finn have only ever said:

      1. Incorporating batteries in you home PV system is almost certainly uneconomic.
      2. Promoting blended payback is misleading to those who don’t know the full story, and
      3. By all means include batteries if you are not concerned about the economics, or wish to do so for any other reason – such as the motivations you have outlined.

      • Yeah maybe I was a bit harsh.

        But there other valid reasons to have a battery (other than pure economics) and these have been largely ignored in these blogs.

        ps – Wales Ally has an excellent podcast on The Minefield (June 26) where he discusses with a panel why democracy is failing to address climate change because of a short term focus on economics.

        • Pardon my ignorance but has anyone worked out the enviroment cost of production of say a 10KW Battery plus the X number of panels needed to charge it (some assumptions could be used here I guess, 2KW of panels over 5hrs) versus the enviromental savings recouped over the usable life of this system?
          Seems the alternative arguement is always aimed at the enviromental benefits / conscience. I was under the presumption that Batterys and solar panels from the raw materials being dug out of the ground to the consumer is still far from clean and enviromentally friendly.

          • Yep. Ron doesn’t think much of the green production of batteries either.


          • I would be interested in seeing the data on this but to be honest I would be very surprised if we are at the stage of manufacturing that would result in a net environmental positive outcome over the usable life of a battery & solar system.
            It would be refreshing to hear that we are at that point but if not isn’t the whole environmental argument a bit hypocritical?
            Using the environmental argument in support of batteries being “Greener” when the pollution produced still outweighs that that is saved then I cant see the sense in the argument.
            If that is still the case, apart from off-grid systems that are a pure necessity for whatever reason (remote locations, etc) then for now, the financial benefits (or lack of) are the only real valid consideration for installing these systems.
            Interesting discussion though…

        • On a broader philosophic scale, “a short term focus on economics.” is the basis for all ‘progress’.
          Or, as it used to be said: “From Little Acorns Mighty Oaktrees Grow”.

          Closer to home, Australia’s (and the world’s) economies are built on foundations of debt. That’s where small periodic payments (a short-term focus on economics) eventually buy you a house in which to raise your kids, which are also the products of ‘a short-term focus on economics’. (unless of course the pregnancy occurred accidentally from sitting on a contaminated toilet-seat…. or kissing the boy next door on the mouth.
          As for the environmental impacts of energy production ~ a laudable concern~ we should again be reminded that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
          YOUR abjuring the consumption of more than, say, 5kWh of electricity per day would probably be more environmentally beneficial than using 20kWh per day regardless of where it was sourced.

          • On a broader philosophic scale, “a short term focus on economics.” is the basis for all ‘progress’.“. Really? Tell that to NASA who landed men on the moon.

            Your analogy re acorns and oaktrees is confusing at best. It could be used to argue for the introduction of batteries notwithstanding the economics…..or the rise of Tesla or Space X.

            The free lunch comment in relation to environmental concerns ignores the $ cost of doing nothing. You must cost out both alternatives.

            The pregnancy / toilet seat reference is just weird.

            “Abjuring” ….really? Sesquipedalian tendencies.

          • On a broader philosophic scale, “a short term focus on economics.” is the basis for all ‘progress’.“. Really? Tell that to NASA who landed men on the moon.
            1a……. “one SMALL step for man” you mean” –> ie a short-term focus on the economics of locomotion (akin to your ancestor: the first ape who tried walking on the ground. presumably you no longer drag your knuckles.)

            1b……..EVERY step in NASA’s ‘progress’ has been determined by “short-term foucus on economics”….. The other term for that is ‘ongoing budgetary considerations’. (NOTE that such ‘short term focus on economics’ has virtually hamstrung NASA…or at least forced further such focus to budget for further ‘progress’)
            1c…..It’s yet to be demonstrated that landing on the moon has any relationship to ‘progress’ in any meaningful sense.

            2……”Your analogy re acorns and oaktrees is confusing at best.”. Speak for yourself. Not everyone is so easily confused.

            3……..” It could be used to argue for the introduction of batteries notwithstanding the economics…..or the rise of Tesla or Space X.”. –>Only a dill would suggest the rise of Tesla etal DOESN’T depend on the focus upon economics ~ even down to day-to-day balance sheets/invoices.

            4…..”The free lunch comment in relation to environmental concerns ignores the $ cost of doing nothing. You must cost out both alternatives.” My point exactly. Particularly since constantly-changing factors reequire “a short term focus on economics.”

            5…….”The pregnancy / toilet seat reference is just weird.” Again, speak for yourself.

            6…….“Abjuring” ….really? Sesquipedalian tendencies.”
            Sorry, I didn’t realise you’d have difficulties with 3-syllable words.

    • The point of the blog item was to point out the false claim made by the TV show that adding a battery will save you money.

      That there might be other reasonable reasons for purchase of a battery, or that purchasing decisions are not all made on a financially rational basis isn’t the point.

      It’s purely and simply pointing out a false claim was made, is highly misleading and does the viewing public a disservice.

      • Yes I understand this and of course it’s good to ‘call out’ Sunrise.

        I suspect anyone familiar with this blog will be all to aware of the economic argument surrounding batteries because it has been discussed on a number of occasions.

        Sooner or later however we will have to move to renewables and batteries will play a key role in this transition. Even today, not everyone is motivated by money alone in their decision whether or not to purchase a battery. This ultimately is good as it’s the main driver to lower battery prices.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Yes, I agree with both you and Alex – Finn’s position is that he does not want people to be “snowed” by false advertising into making a purchase decision they might not have otherwise made.
          Perhaps like the solar start-up, there should be incentives for us to acquire batteries at a cost to us that wiill ensure the purchase IS economic. Solar had a 46c/kWhr FiT, and a near 50% cost subsidy here in the West – now, rooftop PV prices have come down so much that they are usually economic even without subsidy – maybe Victoria could learn from this, and do away with their present “drip-feed” strategy altogether – obviously most purchasers are willing to wait for the subsidy, if this means they will receive a $2000-odd bonus.
          Unfortunately, batteries have been around for a long, long time – so I’d think their prices will not drop as exponentially as solar – but the economics of scale should still help.

  21. Lawrence Coomber says

    Hi Ian Thompson
    Thanks for your interest, and to expand a bit on my earlier brief comments about battery aging.

    My earlier comments related mainly to Off Grid RE Generation design solutions which is my industry as a power systems engineer (DC and AC); manufacturer; system integrator and installer; but the key point made about battery aging applies equally to On Grid and BESS systems.

    Best practice RE generation systems design requires much more than focussing only on first principles at the theoretical level. You skirted around an important design theorem (Joules Law: P=IE) that design engineers fully subscribe to for all power system designs.

    Joules Law: P=IE
    Calc. Power (W) E.Batt (V) I.Batt (A)
    1 2400 480 5
    2 2400 24 100

    But that was as far as you went? You failed to introduce the critical system performance variables of T (Time) and AUT (Autonomy) to the system discussion.

    Theoretical calculations alone, does not make the system! There are many more factors to consider in order to satisfy all of the key attributes that a reliable; fully functional and enduring semi intelligent RE Generation System must exhibit to be useful and fit for purpose.

    AC Theory at the fundamental level is important in design, but it is up to experienced design engineers to develop useful and fit for purpose systems.

    So back to your question Ian: What am I missing?

    Well here are some of the key words/phrases for you to think about at your system design level, in addition to the full suite of Electrical Theory first principles, naturally enough:-

    System: Functionality, Reliability, Endurance, Autonomy, Fit for Purpose, Commercial Viability, Cost Effectiveness, Semi Intelligence, Low Maintenance, Safety.

    And the subject of how a modern system design engineer approaches Battery Storage Aging relates directly to every one of these key system attributes noted above.

    So to summarise: The higher the battery storage design voltage, the lower the battery storage charging and discharging current, and the longer the effective battery storage life before maintenance or replacement. The other significant system design benefits include, smaller DC wiring conductor CSA; safer lower rated DC current control and protection devices required.

    It should not surprise you Ian that it is also ELV (< 50 VDC) high current that ages inverter components on the DC side, rather than voltage.

    And the limitations of electrical component design including battery technologies as we know them and must work within as designers, are simply representative of the current standard of modern-day molecular science as it applies to all things but advancing rapidly moving forward as we know.

    Lawrence Coomber

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hm-mm, Thanks Lawrence

      I do agree with (almost) all you say, but am feeling not much the wiser.

      Yes, car batteries went from 6v systems (e.g. VW Beetle), to commonly 12v systems, and 24v systems in trucks (now thinking of 48v) – but this was mostly to do with lower wiring CSA, more compact starter motors & alternators, and the concommitant weight savings thereof as the electrical demands for vehicles increased as features were added – I’m not sure it had much to do with battery life?

      I guess my question was on the basis of Physics, all other things being equal. If a 24volt 100 Ah battery of a given design can achieve say 800 full discharge cycle equivalents – to achieve a given total WH throughput – before being deemed due for replacement, why should a 480volt 5 Ah battery – which could be made up of 20 x 24volt 5 Ah batteries anyway – last for more than 800 full DOD cycle equivalents, and provide more total WH throughput?

      Certainly, my (practical) experience with LiPo batteries would suggest they all last about the same number of cycles anyway – whether they be 3.6 volt cells, or 21.6 volt batteries, over a broad range of Ah capacities.

      However, I do agree that in a SYSTEM, other factors come into play – including the MTBF of inverters, reduced conductor CSA, etc., but these are SYSTEM life, cost, and safety factor issues – not battery aging issues per se?

      I’d have thought battery cycle life is the predominant issue for the battery component of a system? I still can’t understand why the life of each of the 5Ah batteries in a 480v stack, should behave any differently or more reliably because they are located within a stack (how would they “know”?)?

      Certainly, if the charging and inversion systems can operate more efficiently with the higher voltage, I can see that this would reduce the net DOD, and this would in turn increase lifespan by the amount of the efficiency increase – but I’d have though this would be measured in relatively small percentage terms – e.g. going from 85% round trip efficiency, to say 90% or so – only a 5% improvement in battery life? Worthwhile, if this is the case.

      Not trying to have an arguement here, Lawrence, it is just that my aging professional engineering mind is having difficulty understanding the physical principles involved – and one way or another it always comes down to physical principles.

  22. Karl Foger says

    If we all waited until technologies are profitable we would never get any new technology into the market place. Solar panels were the same some 10+ years ago, and other technologies are similar. I find it disgusting that a site like solar quotes (why promoting renewables at all) classifies people as stupid if they invest into batteries. Eventually renewables will not work without storage. I decided DELIBERATELY to invest in a battery as I wanted to see how storage could work to optimise in-house usage of solar electricity. I am fully aware that the pay-back is not there at this stage, but I can afford to loose a few dollars. Pioneers are stupid, their contribution ensures that technologies are affordable and provide a pay-back in the future. Without them no new technology would make it into the market place.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Good for you. You are standing by your convictions.
      And I am standing by my conviction that people should not be misled in order to prevent grannies losing money on something that won’t pay for itself.

      • Quite right! People shouldn’t be misled. Even by claims that a battery-bank won’t pay for itself.
        I’m happy to send you the arithmetic that shows your claim is misleading.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Just send me a link to whoever is professionally installing home battery systems at a price where they might pay for themselves and I’ll do the maths myself.

          • SA Uni Have released today – endorsing getting a battery in SA (now financially viable)
            have a read


          • Ronald Brakels says

            I have that paper in the cupboard behind me. The Adelaide Advertiser asked Finn his opinion on it and reported about it here:


          • Finn Peacock says

            In particular please note this quote: “The main problem is that battery sales people are likely to now say ‘batteries pay for themselves and there’s a PhD paper that proves it!’,” he said.

          • I don’t know of any such link. Least of all referencing ‘professionals’ ~ whose main consideration, definitively, is their own ‘short-term economy’.

            But I CAN direct you to the components (which any half-witted chimp could ‘plug-and-play’ ) that provides storage for $1250 per 10kWh (or another $1250 for a back-up 10kWh bank to allow for the juggling of DOD) ~ which batteries are warranted for three years. (which GUARANTEES 36 months of storage at that price ~ and probably provides more)

            Tell me if you want the details of the kid who sold me mine.(I see them advertised elsewhere, too, just lately, at just a few cents over $1 per ah.)

            Compare that $1250 with the $640 pa I was paying Origin for the ‘Service-to-Property’ charge the last time I was on-grid ~ a few years ago, it’s probably gone up since.
            AND NOTE THE “pa”: which needs to be multiplied by 3…. the minimum warranted life of the batteries. ie: $1920 service-charge vs $1250 for a battery-bank holding 10kWh. over the same period.

            And that’s BEFORE ANY ELECTRICITY IS USED ( and PAID-FOR)….and not factoring in the not-real-cheap capital outlay (ie zero ROI) demanded by “professional” installers.
            …….. and there are a dozen ways one can extend the useful life of the battery-bank by reducing the DOD to 10% or less.
            All simple, practical stuff that the hippies were creating/using before (I suspect) you’d ever heard of solar power.

            I can go into as much detail as you like; and obviously one can be as extravagantly profligate (‘wasteful’ to you) as one chooses to be. But the FACT remains that a SUITABLE (non-power-wall) battery-bank can, demonstrably, pay for itself fairly quickly.

            nb…. anyone who needs more than about 10kwh per day will be paying electricity companies easily as much (more, judging from complaints about power-bills in the media) as they’d pay for extra batteries. (and getting a DISCOUNT for buying in bulk.

        • Ian Thompson says

          Hi Jackson

          To me, you seem to be playing “secret squirrels”.

          Rather than blather on about how we can save money, why won’t you put your money where your mouth is, and explain how we do this – in detail?

          I’m for one, very interested – I to would like to go “off-grid”, but every time I do the numbers, I find the payback exceeds the battery life- and not by a little.
          Yes, eliminating my service fee would save ~$1,000 every three years – but our energy use if quite modest, and I’d still have to buy a stand-alone inverter, a battery charger, a control system, and also toss out the existing grid-tied inverter which has not yet paid for itself.

          So, please identify the system architecture, the specifications of the batteries, where you bought then, for how much, etc., and also for all of the other system components (inverter power, brand, and cost, cost of a petrol generator, etc.).

          For the average “punter”, I’d think for things to be legal and to maintain insurance requirements, they would also have to contract an electrician to wire the 240Vac circuits, and even fit a Transition Switch if they wish to stay grid-tied as an initial fall-back.

          So, puhleese Jackson – cough up, as Ron has also requested, or shut up.

          • Watch this space (when time permits).

            But DO share your trick for reducing your ‘service-to-property’ charge to an unvarying $333.33 pa. (that’s 91 cents per day!) I’m sure others would change their provider’s immediately.

          • Ian Thompson says

            No trick Jackson

            Here in the West we have only one provider, Synegy, so our only other option is to go off-grid.

            Yes, they just put the price up 1.75% to $0.93933 / day.

          • Gave some serious thought to taking the time to accommodate your request for information/suggestions on how to set up a cheap and efficient solar system (including methodologies).
            However I decided such details would be beyond anyone too stupid to even be able to spell ~correctly ~ the name of their power provider….’way out west thar, podnar..yeehaw!’.

          • Ian Thompson says

            Well, there is a subtle difference between being unable to spell, and a simple typo – but there you go.

            Yes, I’m not worried at all that you are unable to provide details to any of us – I can fully appreciate why you are so reticent to be subject to peer-review – and doubt any of us would derive any benefit anyway. After all, most of us are too stupid anyway according to several of your rants!

            Whilst I can appreciate that good second-hand LA batteries can work out useful in certain limited and special circumstances, I have seen no evidence from you that you know what you are talking about. Nothing.
            Yes, Telstra used very high quality VRLA with PV many years ago to run their remote mobile base stations – even when PV was very expensive – but that was purely an economic decision – trucking diesel fuel to site, and mechanics for maintenance of the gensets was even more expensive.

            And now you stoop to criticising where I place my “commas”? How puerile!

  23. Honestly, I’d probably start watching TV again if it meant I got three hours of Mr Squiggle every morning! It’s good stuff, the kid and I watch it together all the time.

  24. Ron- we are going to need solar and batteries to transition to a low carbon environment. You’d be mad not to assist in this critical transition.

    Tony- So I should buy a battery?

    Ron- No, definitely not, you should wait to buy a battery until they drop in price. You would be mad to buy now.

    Tony – So, when should I buy a battery?

    Ron – When they drop in price. Not until then.

    Tony- But scientists say we have only12 years to make this transition…

    Ron- You underestimate the power of Sunrise and Kochie. Their viewers are mad and don’t read my blog. Battery prices will come down.

  25. I didn’t see the program.the ch
    However, if the argument was about “ADDING” a battery to a grid-connected system then that would indeed be a stupid ~ and expensive ~ move.

    If, however, the argument was about battery-storage (eg a stand-alone system) will certainly save you money.

    Elucidation would be useful.

  26. Incidentally, although there are number of claims ~attributed to me ~ that my “comment is awaiting moderation” I hereby absolutely deny that I made any such statement ~ and that such claims are outright lies. Perhaps telling porkies is a media thing.?

  27. I see Media watch on the ABC has covered this story tonight and quoted this blog. Well done Solarquotes 🙂

  28. Ian Thompson says


    You continue to miss the point.

    Why don’t you turn the light OFF when you leave the bathroom? Then you will have zero, none, nada “excess light” available to waste energy. Why not use a much smaller wattage bulb, with a reflector if necessary, so you do not have ANY excess light to waste power?
    Sorry, your arguements on this are totally specious, as was the media “news” report.

    Yes, lowering the DOD will extend the life of a battery pack – but why buy 10 times the number of batteries at TODAY’s prices, to extend the pack life by 10 times (or less, if time also degrades batteries)? Because the “real” life of batteries will lower as manufacturing automation impoves with increased numbers, surely it will prove more efficient and cost-effective to change-out a lesser number of batteries, more often?
    Ok, lead-acid batteries have a vastly degraded “round trip” efficiency as current draw increases than other chemistries – the harder you drive them, the worse their efficiency – but this is more due to their Peukert’s law characteristic, than DOD explicitly – you should look this up.
    Jackson, using the effect of gravity on water is nothing new – it’s called “potential energy”, and has been in use for millennia – in many forms. Maybe you have simply re-invented the wheel?

    • You really ARE an expert!
      Kettles and Pots? Nah: kettles and mugs.

      -You DON’T turn the light off because the argument is predicated upon the fact that you can READ ~ AND plausibly use the excess light for other purposes.
      I challenge you to demonstrate that you can ~ at ANY wattage ~ create light BY WHICH TO READ without producing ‘spillover’ (for want of a better word).

      And, in the stupid terms you’ve chosen to introduce, you’d be obliged to count the light illuminating the spaces BETWEEN the letters you’re reading as wasted.

      Your unsubstantiated/unexplained assumptions about the future cost of batteries, etc. etc. are equally fallacious. You’ve based those assertions on NOTHING.
      The SIMPLE equation asserts that the lower the DOD the longer a battery will last: the larger the battery(bank) used in any particular application the lower the DOD. Last time I looked 1+1 STILL =2.
      And ongoing solar/wind/water recharging means that the energy stored costs

      The PRICE of batteries is a separate and different issue. There are plenty of offers online of deep-cycle/agm/etc. batteries WITH A 3-YEAR (sometimes 5YEAR) WARRANTY for a little over $1 per AH of storage. ie:eg. well under $100 per kWh.
      And that’s the commercial price. For 20-odd years I was getting used 1140AH batteries for free. (and found some practical uses for the empty cases after they died ~ a similar 2nd-use proposition as using the aforementioned EXCESS of light produced for reading. How would you factor such issues in terms of cost-effective and efficiency?
      Then there is a friend of mine ( a well-known off-gridder/environmentalist of 40 years standing) who dumped her (frugally-used) SEC ‘recycled’ batteries after they died 28 (sic) years down the line. She’d paid $15 (sic) for each of them. Again: calculate (on any basis, including environmental!) the cost-effectiveness/efficiency of her UNNECESSARILY-OVERSIZED battery bank which ~ as an educated guess had a daily DOD (“EXPLICLY”) of less than 5%.

      She’s also using the first (2nd-hand) panels I put up at my place in 1980. They cost me $13.80 per Watt ~ a horrendous price, particularly in 1980-dollars ~ but they’re STILL producing at about 80% of their rated capacity. Calculated ‘cost-effectiveness/efficiency??? Go figure.

      But you REALLY shoot yourself in the foot ~ and, 2nd-use: shattered your credibility ~ with this lulu:-
      “ Jackson, using the effect of gravity on water is nothing new – it’s called “potential energy”, and has been in use for millennia – in many forms.”

      In FACT, it’s called KINETIC energy. ‘Potential energy’ is when you DON’T use the effect of gravity on water.

      • Ian Thompson says

        It’s not worth arguing with you Jackson, as you keep missing the point, and clearly don’t wish to learn anything.
        So a lady got nearly stuffed batteries for $15 each – probably 20 times more than she needed if they were good – so only effectively got 28/20 = 1.4 years of life per batch. And how is this relevant to anything – do you expect secretaries and primary school teachers to grovel around in tips for cheap batteries of unknown residual life and reliability? Do the electrical work themselves (illegally)?
        You’ve missed the boat if you think you can “outgun” me on the most fundamental principles of engineering Jackson – without the potential energy of gravity in your head of water, you CANNOT create the kinetic energy of mass flow of water – a pump such as you describe was operating near Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to pump water about 120 years ago – it is an extremely simple concept, and I understood its momentum principles when I was 8 years old.
        Jackson, you are off you tree if you think harvesting “free” solar energy from excess light in your bathroom is a reasonable, effective method for generating power – the conversion factors from original solar, to light output, to “excess” light harvesting in another solar panel, is absurdly inefficient – you might (if you’re lucky) generate a few milliwatts of power, which will take you maybe 200,000 hours to harvest 1 kWhr of energy. Thats about 25 years if you leave the bathroom light on for reading 24/7, to save 28 cents here in Perth, a little more for SA – one cent per year – you’ve got to be stuffed in the head if you think this is a useful application of technology – this won’t pay for your panel in 100 years of use – longer if you sometimes turn the light off.
        Jackson, everyone else on this post is interested in mainstream applications for the saving of the planet and the advancement of mankind – not the ravings of I presume a cave-dweller who quite clearly doesn’t even know enough, to know what he doesn’t know. I do, but most of your posts are just wishfull gjbberish – not at all relevant to the broader community.

        • I’m not missing the point. I’m AVOIDING the irrelevant ‘points’ you insist upon waffling on about in trying to convince us that you’re a clever-dick and/or trying to cover your arse for ABSOLUTE, FUNDAMENTAL BLUNDERS like “using the effect of gravity on water is nothing new – it’s called “potential energy”.
          IT IS NOT! YOU WERE WRONG!. And your bullshit ‘wotifs’ are as pointless as just about everything else you burble on about. (The same as the stupidity of asking why I wouldn’t “turn the light off” to save energy when the discussion was predicated upon ‘reading by the light’. (And just to set you straight on yet another …Ignorant ‘engineering’ comment: One does NOT “turn” a light off; one SWITCHES it off. That’s what light-SWITCHES are for.)
          But worse than your inaccuracies are the sneering, arrogant, and stupidly WRONG(again!) ASSUMPTIONS upon which you base your (irrelevant) attacks.
          EVERY single one of the comments you pronounce here as ‘truths’ are either arse-covering misconceptions/copouts or outright ignorance. And that includes your woeful ignorance of the English language.
          If Finn would let me post a thousand-word rebuttal, I’d detail my claims. But since that’s unlikely I’ll just touch on the few standouts.
          1….Jill’s no ‘lady’; and if you ever called her that she’d knock your block off.(engineering expert or not!)
          2…Ignorance:-The batteries in question were top-shelf (the SEC didn’t stint on anything) backup stand-by batteries that may never have been used, but were replaced every two years anyway. And her battery-bank consisted of eight (x200 AH) of them. NOT “20 times more than she needed”. 2a…..Ignorance demonstrated: batteries that last over 28 years are NOT “nearly stuffed”.
          3 …..Ignorance:and in fact there WERE a couple of primary-school teachers, an ‘executive’ secretary, a train-driver and a couple of engineers (!) among others I knew) who used them for years. ‘Going solar’ was popular among the trendies living around StKilda at the time
          4……Ignorance:- It’s not possible to “grovel” around in tips. And even if it were, it’s inapplicable here. To get batteries (or anything else on offer) one drove down to the SEC depot in Port Melbourne, had whatever one wanted loaded (including 3 or 4 ton Ironbark poles on which I built several muddies) , paid ( a VERY low price) at the gate and went home.
          5…..Ignorance:- back then it was quite legal to do electrical work yourself if you weren’t grid-connected. And that’s irrelevant anyway.
          6…D’OH..” without the potential energy of gravity in your head of water, you CANNOT create the kinetic energy of mass flow of water”… And without rainfall you wouldn’t have ‘potential’ energy, and..and … all the way back to the BigBang (which only happened because god didn’t have a creek to hand blah blah blah. ALL irrelevant to my claim that I built a hydraulic ram.
          6a…..Ignorant: strictly speaking, you cannot “create” energy anyway.
          7…..Ignorant:- Hydrulic ram pumps were around long before 120 years ago; and all the local farming families where I grew up used them regularly ~ even on the smallest of flows. The principle was that one teaspoon of cost-free pumped water was better that NO pumped water.
          The pump I put together pumped (on average) up to 800 or so litres a day, and was probably responsible for saving my house from the bushfires which even reduced a solid bluestone house (about 200 metres across the road) to dust.
          Let’s see you build one from on-hand scrap in under an hour.Y’WOULDN’T KNOW WHERE TO START. (let alone have the tools”. Why build when you can buy, right?)
          8…..”….useful applications of technology”: Gaining/saving something useful might be the basis for/purpose of technology.
          9……Perhaps your next pompous missive will explain who elected YOU as the arbiter of what “everyone else (particularly the “mainstream”) on this post is interested in”, “?? My guess, for example, is that Finn has, among other things’ a perfectly legitimate “interest” in making some money in the best way he knows how.
          10…… At least yon cave-dweller (“a cave-dweller who quite clearly doesn’t even know enough, to know what he doesn’t know.”) knows enough to not use commas where they don’t belong.
          11…. and if you want to talk about “saving the planet and the advancement of mankind” among other assorted “raving”, I suggest you take your thumb out of your arse ~ release the pent-up mind-bending pressure ~ and actually DO something to that end.
          WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED on that level? DO tell!

          • BUT WAIT!!!… THERE’S MORE!!!!!
            Anothwer time we’ll explore the pump we ‘invented’ at Jill’s.

          • ps. And while on the subject of energy conversion, I’ll bet yout can’t figure out what the muzzle-energy of .270 Weatherby magnum bullet is.

          • Ian Thompson says


            You said the 28 year battery life was achieved by limiting DOD to ~ 5%.
            5% of 8 x 200 Ah = 80 Ah. You didn’t mention the battery voltage, but if nominally 12v, that implies 0.96 kWh.
            That would not run my refridgerator overnight – so very frugal.

            Are you now saying the world’s entire population should front up to your local SEC depot to buy cheap batteries?

            Yes Jackson, I am perfectly capable of estimating the muzzle energy of a bullet – being ex-army, and an engineer. But, was that post meant to be a threat?
            Or, wouldn’t you waste a bullet on me?

          • Just FYI
            1…. the cited 5% DOD of the battery/bank was a from-memory guesstimate based on hydrometer readings at the time. But your arithmetic suggests the figure was close to the mark.
            I currently run a 55-litre fridge/freezer (and actually NEED much less volume) which does the job using an average of about 0.32kWh per 24 hours. My reading-light runs on 5 Watts, and I SWITCH it off when I’m watching my TV ~ which runs happily @ 6 Watts. ..and so on. (all @ a nominal 12VDC)
            I understand that ‘normal’ people ~ eg engineers ~ would freak out at the very idea of a ‘refridgerator’ less than about 10 times that size, but I currently live within a 10-minute walk of two shopping malls, and can’t see the point of re-refrigerating/freezing stuff that the supermarket has already frozen. My single energy extravagance is a small microwave ~ which is used for about 6 minutes a day. But that’s somewhat of a (convenient!) luxury (because I can’tcook for nuts) which I will either do without or run by installing another couple of panels.
            The point ~ overlooked by most ‘clever people’ ~ is that anyone who’s more concerned about the environment than merely paying lip-service to the concept will instantly realise that creating a small-as-possible ‘footprint’ is the first and most fundamental consideration. That translates into questioning EVERY ‘convention’ (and finding better alternatiives*), and reducing waste of any sort (including the evil of money) as near to zero as possible.
            The ‘evidence’ (eg including your wasteful use of refrigeration!….requiring more than a kWh of electricity to run your fridge overnight! ) demonstrates that you obviously don’t subscribe to that philosophy, despite your fervid declaration about ““saving the planet and the advancement of mankind” .
            It confirms my view (objected to by you in a previous complaint) that there’s nothing you can teach me.
            And apparently there’s not much Newton (Conservation of Energy) and Einstein can teach YOU. —> “Fission, for nuclear power generation, is a controlled nuclear reaction that takes place in a specially designed nuclear reactor. … In the fission process, a tiny amount of mass is “lost.” This mass has been CONVERTED to energy as described by Einstein’s E=mc2, where E = energy, m = mass and c = speed of light.
            (NOTE: “converted”; NOT “created”)

          • FYI 2:- Sarcasm: the lowest form of Twits.
            No, I am NOT “saying the world’s entire population should front up to your local SEC depot to buy cheap batteries?”
            If you were half as well-informed as you pretend to be you’d know the SEC was privatised and sold off 25 years ago.

  29. Mark Symonds says

    Has anyone looked at the reposit website?
    Im sure the people in here woudl have some comments about the claims made on their website…
    Im not sure what the Nun has to do with it???
    Maybe its not just the enviroment to consider, maybe there is a higher influence?

  30. Ian Thompson says

    More, Jackson

    Like most people, I don’t have a huge amount of scrap lying around – nor a lot of “free” tools, lathes, mills, etc. Nor a lot of “free” discarded solar panels to decorate my inside walls with (nor would I want to).
    But, I reject your assertion that I “wouldn’t know where to start”. Às it happens, I wouldn’t have any problem at all building one your pumps – and have built numerous billy-carts in the past – and a lot more besides.
    BTW – you CAN create energy – it’s being done in 449 nuclear reactors worldwide every day.
    BTW – all hydro plants use the potential energy of water from gravity (you were correct with your first statement, but then screwed up your logic), which then converts to kinetic energy 1/2 mv2 = mgh through nozzles to exert force on turbine blades through a change in the velocity (direction, and speed), to produce torque on the rotating shaft, with torque × rotational speed equivalent to output power. It is very simple Jackson – yes, energy is not created, but it can be changed from one form to another – even wind turbines work similarly – extracting energy from the the kinetic energy of mass flow of air, originally generated from potential energy between air masses impacted upon by heating from the sun (another nuclear source of energy “creation”).
    BTW – my apologies for implying you may be a “cave-dweller” – by now, you probably understand I don’t suffer fools gladly. I have no problem with you doing what you do – good on you – but you have to recognise that the majority of people are either not capable, or not interested, in doing the same. Nor, would I think, is there enough “free” scrap and repairable functional rejects to go around. You have a niche.

  31. Lawrence Coomber says


    You can certainly drift off topic when you put your mind to it, but when it comes to discussing muzzle energy and muzzle velocity I will back Ian the ex army engineer against you any day.

    Myself I spent 20 years as an RAN weapons engineer 13 of them at sea on destroyers and aircraft carriers, in charge of all weapons and missile systems on the ship. There were no modern day computer gun fire control systems in my era (1965 – 1985) for the ships main armament 4.5″ MK6 Turrets therefore muzzle velocity, gun azimuth and inclination were important calculations to make and input to the fire control system director to resolve trigonometric firing solutions.

    The army gunnery guys had it a bit easier operating from a stable platform but essentially the same knowledge about ballistics was simply a part of the working day and absolutely critical knowledge to get the job properly.

    Looks like your history is more with “pop guns” though Jackson.

    Lawrence Coomber

  32. Ian Thompson says

    Hi Lawrence

    Firstly, I want to say I was initially a little “thrown” by the words in your earlier post:
    “Yes extending VRLA Battery life is very much in focus and a key consideration for storage design engineers for all chemistries not just LA.”
    Thought you were sunsequently implying that reducing the current ratiometrically was somehow going to change the fundamental battery characteristic.

    But of course you were talking from a more holistic point of view – and I missed that – my bad, and I apologise. Just a minor point, though, I have seen both higher voltage and 12Vdc inverters, all advertising the same MTBF figures. The MTBF is strongly related to how conservative the design and selection of components (e.g. pass elements) is. Knowing something about the operation of IGBTs and MOSFETs, I can appreciate the decision – for the same MTBF – probably comes down to cost. My 3-phase SMA grid-tied inverter is built like a battleship – massive heatsinks (heat is the enemy of component life) – but it was not cheap.

    As an aside, I wasn’t in Artillery, but as a Forward Observer (FO) during training was impressed how quickly we could bracket in for a bullseye on a 44-gallon drum target – using 25-pounders located out of sight several, maybe 6 kilometres away. The Field 8″ gun was also very impressive.
    Artillery were just starting to equip with Field Artillery Computing Equipment (FACE) towards the end of my time – about 1975 – with a nodding-head radar that with only part of the trajectory of a mortar round, could back-track to the location of the base-plate. Very useful, simple these days, not so easy then.

  33. Aha! –> “being ex-army” may explain much. You were TRAINED to not use your brain! (and yes, I’m aware it’s an unsubstantiated assumption that you HAVE a brain ~ since you ‘presumably’ ~ yes, I know! ~ deliberately enlisted in the first place.) …. AND an engineer! (is ‘stodgy’ still the standard definition for one of those?
    As it happens my brother also spent his life in the military as an engineer ~ got two degrees –> Computer Engineering and Computer Programming.was seconded to the CIA for a couple of years, and then spent another two at NORAD. Retired at 50 and lectured at some univerity, but then dropped out altogether when (embarrassingly!) a 5yo grandson started kicking his pants at computer games. I never bothered with such fripperies, but lived a volitile life with an IQ some 55 points higher than his. (NEVER got into computer games in the first place.
    Nice enough bloke, but if you’re cast in the same mould (in all senses of the word) you have my sympathy.

    Depending on time and mood ~ and Finn’s forbearing ~ I may get around to showing you the error of your ways in your later posts. But want to set your mind at ease about the Weatherby bullet ( and I only mentioned it specifically because I’ve used it for years and am familiar with it’s ballistics). Point of the exercise was to present you with yet another opportunity to make a pontificating fool of youself….. But, much as I’d like to be seen as considerate of your tender if confused sentiments, it occurred to me to me that you could create plenty of such opportunities without my assisstance.
    Besides, the last lot of ammo for it cost me $108 for 20 rounds, so you’re in no danger from me at that price!….(mind you, more recently my eyesight is failing, so I tend more towards the .30-30 and working closer………..)
    The point was that although it has the potential to achieve ME approaching 3500 ft/lb (depending on assorted factors) that figure is ONLY the bullet’s POTENTIAL. (are you beginning to hate that word?? :)). It has NO USEABLE, kinetic ENERGY until VELOCITY is applied.
    …… and if you want to persist in the absurd claim that “BTW – you CAN create energy”, I suggest you dig up Newton* and Einstein** (among others) and explain to them that they got it wrong.

    The ONLY time energy may have been ‘created”‘ was in Genesis 1:1 (though in the interests of accuracy it must be noted that god nowhere actually claimed the he ‘CREATED’ the heavens and the earth…. FROM NOTHING.).
    HE wasn’t about to challenge Newton/Einstein/etc.

    But you WERE nearest the mark when you said:- “energy is not created, but it can be changed from one form to another”.
    Stick with it! It may be the closest you’ll ever get to being correct.

    *The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.
    **E=mc^2 .

    • Again you invent a question not asked in order to show off your (low) level of sarcasm.
      eg. I don’t know where you get your information about how “huge an amount of scrap” ~ nor how many, “free” (or otherwise) “tools,lathes,mills etc. most people have ‘lying’ around”.
      But I DO know that you don’t understand the proposition of building an efficient hydraulic ram pump at a price that would make the exercise worthwhile ~ and rather doubt you’ve ever even seen one.
      No “huge” amount of scrap nor sophisticated (expensive) tools are required.
      The price-tag on a commercial pump (only one manufacturer in Oz ~Tasmania ~ at the time, so could set whatever price he liked) was about half that of a new car. A price I couldn’t afford nor would’ve paid on principle. They wouldn’t sell me the crucial parts, either.
      In a moment of 3am inspiration, after much lateral thinking, it all fell into place, and the “huge amount of scrap” could’ve fitted into a shopping bag.
      I’d love to hear your engineering treatise of how you’d construct such a thing. (eg: how would you ‘create’ a clack-valve) DO please keep it simple; not only am I not an engineer, (PTL!!) but I am, in a direct line, the more recent of a 2000+ year-long line of Balkan peasants: people who know how to live with the environment and waste (almost) nothing…. and who can recognise bullshit from a long range.
      Also of interest would be your ‘lateral-view-expertise’ about how you’d concrete the whole thing into a creek-bed in a gully with almost-vertical walls 50-foot high.
      If you can demonstrate any innovative thought-process/grasp-of-reality here I may even make the time to furnish the ‘details’ you’ve asked for several times. Unfortunately “peer-review” depends upon one having peers, of which I’ve seen little evidence on this site of big-spending/wanna-be environmentalists.

      • Ian Thompson says

        This might help your understanding, Jackson – if only you can shut your trap long enough to listen (carefully) and observe for once.
        And yes, I have build a ram pump myself – when I was about 12 years old, on the farm (we had a dam). Had an interest in physics back then – also built a valve radio from scratch not long after – using scrounged HV batteries.
        Looked something like this, although we didn’t have internet then:
        Many local farmers used ram pumps in the early days – which water was plentiful.
        You might notice both refer to, or show POTENTIAL energy as the original source of energy.
        Like they say – if you’ve dug a really deep hole for yourself, stop digging!

        But this is the extent of my correspondence with you – I had been interested that you may have had some useful ideas to present – but no you’ve only berated others as being stupid and wrong – with nothing useful to contribute on topic. Yes, you sure do seem like a peasant – if you think all contributors to this site don’t fit your “Weltbilt” like you say, why don’t you (please, please) leave it?
        I have so much better things to do with my time, goodbye

        • Oh dear!…. and I was SO looking forward to the details of your pump: what equipment/tools you used and where you sourced the bits. Not to be!
          Ah! the vagaries of life!
          The YouTube clips weremildly interesting if not informative: been there done that long ago. And did it for real: not because I had an interest in physics.
          However, you STILL demonstrate a proclivity for opening your mouth for no reason other than to change feet:-“You might notice both refer to, or show POTENTIAL energy as the original source of energy.”
          As Newton and later Einstein made clear the ‘original source of energy’ has (in theory anyway)ALWAYS existed. The CONSERVATION of ‘original’ energy is the rule by which everything operates, and that means that the only POTENTIAL offered by these pumps is the facilitation of CONVERTING gravitational energy into kinetic energy. The same applies to stored water. Neither of them ‘originate’ let alone “create” energy ~ (the original argument) ~ nor electricity, which is ‘generated’.
          I can but recommend you heed your own advice:- ‘-if you’ve dug a really deep hole for yourself, stop digging!”
          Incidentally, I got my (documented) 160 IQ (but diminishing lately) from my peasant father. (along with an instinct for conserving EVERYTHING.)
          My highly-educated professionally-trained mother was a German ~ and could be a real pain in the arse. Given your use of the non-existent/made-up but descriptive ‘Weltbilt’, I don’t suppose we’re related on my mother’s side?

  34. Before this starts sounding like a Grandpa Simpson class reunion, there are a couple of issues:—>

    1…… “DRIFTING OFF TOPIC”- I suggest you re-read your ‘Down Memory Lane’ post above. I never heard of destroyers and battleships hitting too many deer for dogfood. (Particularly a clean-kill headshot from perhaps 500 metres away.) Neithr did the navy hit too many VC in Vietnam, either, as I recall. (except for women and children, of course). That was left to the B52s, which only had one point of aim: straight down!

    2………The mention of the Weatherby rifle was simply an invitation to Ian to provide another burbling demonstration of his slef-determined ‘expertise’ before the poiint was made that the bullet had NO ME until AFTER velocity was added. Up until it was fired all it had was POTENTIAL. ~ harking back to his stupid claim re ram pumps operating on potential energy.
    I did relent, and sent off a letter to Finn explaining mysef, and later POSTED a comment here defusing the shit flowing around (including the perceived hint of a ‘threat’ of some kind.
    I may have a copy somewhere and will repost it hereunder.

  35. Ian Thompson says

    Wrong Jackson – National service – and I already had a Commercial Pilot’s Licence.
    Wrong Jackson – you quite obviously have a very low understanding of even schoolboy physics. I cut my teeth on a farm – with very much a “can do” capability.
    Wrong Jackson – E=mc2 describes how energy is created from MASS – mass is not energy per se. Your argument is only one of semantics
    Right (for once, at last) Jackson your hydraulic pump DOES work using the kinetic energy of water – but where do you think that kinetic energy comes from? What do you think penstocks are for?
    You did start (correctly) saying the energy started from the action of gravity on water (POTENTIAL energy), but somehow your understanding went pear-shaped from them.
    I reiterate my challenge – put up your proposed system for peer-review, or remain a very loud, ignorant, abusive voice with no substance.

    • ps. incidentally, the conversion of gravitational energy to the appliction of GENERATING (NOT “creating”) electrical energy does not depend upon penstocks. No matter how ‘energetically’ and/or long-windedly your exposition, even a falling raindrop is converting gravitational energy.

  36. WRONG …. “E=mc2 describes how energy is created from MASS – mass is not energy per se.”
    It describes how energy is CONVERTED from mass by the application of speed.. ie. The POTENTIAL of ‘energy’ locked up in mass depends upon it’s conversion into kinetic energy by speed.
    And ‘definition’ ~what you loosley and incorrectly call ‘semantics’ matter.

    Irrelevant warbling about penstocks aside, you should realise that stored water per se has NO potential ‘energy’; its ONLY use is as a medium in the CONVERSION of gravitational energy into kinetic energy.

    In physics and chemistry, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant; it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another.

    You fishpond can sit in your front garden forever (or even until hell freezes over) and will NEVER “create” even a milliamp of power.

  37. Just in passing:-
    I spent most of today immeasurably sad at the memories resurrected by the link contained in a comment above. I’d been fighting fires since 1960, but Black Saturday was horrendous beyond imagination. Whole houses exploding instantly as though they’d been napalmed; people screaming in terror and pain, dozens killed (including a mate ~ Len Posththelwaite), and probably MILLIONS of defenceless animals, domestic and native.
    I’ve had other overwhelming experiences over a longish life……….and if I seem contemptuous of ‘experts’ and the protective minions of The Regulations and the Social Conventions, it’s largely due the the inescapable knowledge that it’s usually those ‘systems’ that are responsible for the havoc.
    Black Saturday was the result of power-transmission-line errors/failures ~ every one of them caused by experts and institutions in the exercise of their expertise.
    Little wonder I’m reluctant to “learn anything” from them. Only a handful of ‘bushies’ got a sense of what was coming when the wind changed unexpectedly that morning ~ and warned people to be prepared, because the local brigades wouldn’t be able to help.

  38. Ian Thompson says

    I guess someone should respond – and I do so with some trepidation.

    Jackson, I think I can speak for many people on this site, and many who have been caught up in violent and extremely stressful situations – and am genuinely sorry for your distress, and offer condolences for your loss.

    Starting life as a “bushie” myself, I to have been caught up in several reasonably serious bushfires myself – mostly at a tender age – but not nearly as severe as you have experienced, luckily a couple of fires missed our house (a good thing too, as my mum was hosting a lot of neighbouring kids, while the dads were out fighting the fire) – but our pasture was destroyed as the fire roared past.

    Jackson – I do not consider myself an “expert”, just a guy who has been trained in engineering (and other things), and have some ability to improve the world in any number of diverse ways (direct, and indirect). I certainly, absolutely, and categorically have had no part in the cause, nor the outcome of the Black Friday fires – nor any other – nor would most people on this site either, nor any of my friends and colleagues. I think you are spreading your contempt (I read HATE) far, far too wide. We have had numerous fires here in the West, one recently caused by a lack of maintenance of a property owners power pole because they were not aware it was their responsibility – but others caused by controlled burns getting out of control, by grinding sparks made during a total fire ban, by lightning, and even deliberately lit.
    Even Black Friday, I would think, can not be put down solely to a single cause, either poor design, or inadequate maintenance. How about a lack of adequate fuel-reduction burns? An abnormal weather event? Poor planning of residential housing? Poor clearing around houses? A number of people here in the West feel that fuel-reduction burns are being hampered by certain “environmentally friendly” action groups – so part of the cause.

    In summary, Jackson, I had wondered why you were being so pernickety and irrational about things I was saying (who could ever really think that a degreed professional engineer would no know the difference between the potential energy of an unfired round, and the kinetic energy of a projectile?). Now I understand a little better – I had hoped over time, you could come to see that I am not the “bad guy”.
    But seriously, Jackson, you are behaving irrationally, venting you wrath far beyond those who might deserve it. Surely you should not hate the expert pilots of heli-tankers for example. Nor the engineers who designed the fire-fitting equipent, the trucks, the satellite early warning systems, etc. Without being anyway an expert in these matters, merely an observer, I think you might be one “sick puppy”. I have had friends come back from Vietnam with PTSD, and they exhibited quite similar characteristics and behaviour. I think you should be seeking professional help.
    But – what am I saying!

    I seriously wish you the very best Jackson – but I think your expressions of hate on this site are alienating others, and not helping you to overcome your own, personal issues.

    • Once again you’ve drawn conclusions on questions which haven’t been raised and and offered ‘solutions’ on subjects about which you clearly have little or no knowledge. A prime example of this is your arbitrary/self-serving “reading” of “hatred” for the perfectly accurate “contempt”. Where do you suppose you acquire the ‘authority’ to interchange the two ~ and draw quite false (and irelevant) conclusions in doing so?
      Well you might ask yourself:- ” But – what am I saying!?”
      When/if I find the time I may respond on a point-to-point basis.
      For the moment by advised the only thing I can muster a hatred of is bullies of any ilk, physical,emotional or intellectual.
      …. eg the murderous scum which helped slaughter 6 million people in Indo-China (and permanently poisoned a sustainable environment) whilst enforcing their ‘expert view’ on the merits of democracy via the latest thing in teaching aides: the B52s (which dumped more explosives into tiny Vietnam than all sides combined delivered in WWII). ~MOST of them into SOUTH Vietnam.)
      …And all on the orders of politicians, which you wouldn’t feed to a hungry dog because the RSPCA would come after you for animal-abuse.(These, incidentally, are politicians people like you vote for and grossly overfeed via the Pavlovian Taxes-By-Demand ‘system’.)
      I could tell you a funny story about all that if you’re interested, but for the moment will say only that I have NO sympathy for the brainless, heartless and gutless bastards who ‘suffered’ there or later. The best-known hero to emerge from Vietnam was Cassius Clay. (and let’s not forget the intelligent and courageous Jane Fonda!) They paid a huge price for standing in defiance of ‘The System’
      Will briefly as possible set you straight on just one other relevant issue shaping your comments. I may have my problems , but anything like the pussy-invention PTSD is not amongst them. (One might suggest that PTSD is a result of doing horrible things KNOWING them to be ‘wrong’ ~ like Crimes Against Humanity. People in that position deserve everything they get: for lack of the guts to refuse if nothing else.)
      And while I’ve been through many situations easily as ‘traumatic’ for most of my life the (documented) records show that there’s nothing ‘sick’ about this ‘puppy’.
      I was subjected to countless ‘expert’ procedures while ‘trained professionals’ tried to determine why someone with a few brains couldn’t “get with the program”. It never occurred to them to wonder why someone WOULDN’T. But that’s a different matter.
      Bottom line: I’m as ‘sane’ as any, ‘rational’ as most….but most ‘recalcitrant’.
      Thank god!

    • Anybody who hasn’t yet done so shouldmsee today’s Herald Sun for a clear example of the several levels of need, understanding and perspective arising out of these pages.
      See: the comic strips under ‘Snake Tales’.

  39. Off-topic, but a final for-the-record comment re. invalid-though-influential ‘Expert Views’.
    1….. The record shows the ‘Black Saturday fires were the responsibility of Ausnet: a $500,000,000 ‘settlement’ by them (before the matter even got to court) is a defacto admission of their culpability. This was confirmed by the Royal Commission. There were other factors that added to the destruction (wind-change etc.) but at last half of those can also be attributed to ‘expert error’. (Details if you want them: eg setting a backburn at the edge of a pine plantation on the very edge of Marysville expecting the wind not to change. It did, of course: the plantation went off like a bomb and the town was gone inside 90 minutes.) More….

    2…….Though ‘fuel-reduction’ burning in open grassland MAY be of use, it creates a ‘kill-zone’ in forested areas. The evidence is available and ample: tree-trunks serve to create wind-tunnels of incredible windspeeds ( and I’m guesstimating approaching perhaps 200 kmh; the ‘jumbo-jet’ howl often mentioned) on the bare forest-floor. I’ve actually seen clay on fire to a depth of inches. As well, the wind generates enormous heat vortexes that suck ever greater volumes of oxygen from the ground-level surrounds. I’ve seen flames perhaps 500 ft high even after the tree-canopy has gone.
    The same fires which caused the death and destruction traversed many miles of (untouched) National Park between Kinglake and Marysville, but the signs of it’s passing were scarcely visible just six weeks later. (there are a dozen reasons for that if you’re interested).
    Bottom line is that a lot of indisputable evidence exists that bushfires are many times more destructive and deadly in (expertly!) managed forests ~ and towns ~ than in ‘UNmanaged’ areas which have adapted to the threat over a few million years. (point: some plants, including Mountain Ash REQUIRE wildfire to procreate. The canopy usually remains intact because the fire at ground-level doesn’t get ferocious enough to light higher up.

    Did you see the TV coverage of the camera-carrying crew ON FOOT in the forest during the 2014 East Gippsland fires? Just over the hill, in ‘managed forest’ and farmland the fire-trucks and local 4-wheel drivers, going downhill and with a tailwind ~ were having trouble outrunning the flames.
    For all that, the ‘experts’ can’t….ummmm see the forest for the trees. Protocols and policies rule: evidence and common sense are subordinated to the ‘expertise’ (often with ~ political/financial motives) of fuckwits….most of whom have never been within rifle-shot of a fire…. nor seen the destruction, nor the unimaginable pain and suffering of helpless animals that goes on for weeks ~ and the loss of habitat for perhaps years. Here’s a note from a local who’s been intimately involved for years.
    I had some other stuff noted, but lost it to cyberspace; including some detail about my peasant-built recycled house that stood up to the worst of the fire outside of Marysville ~ and the accidental discovery about the fire-stopping (at least radiant-heat stopping) quality of kiwifruit. Other well-built houses blew up when the radiant heat smashed their windows (from as far as 70m away) and admitted the wind-driven flames.
    I understand the whole thread has withered, but facts remain facts. If you want more on the subject I’m

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