Does your hybrid solar system really need backup?

Did you know that adding batteries to your solar does not automatically mean it is blackout proof?

The holy grail of affordable on-grid energy storage has finally arrived! Well, it’s almost arrived. Actually, it might be a couple of years before it really arrives and most Australians can get their hands on low cost energy storage systems such as the Tesla Powerwall, but they are coming and they will eventually be here. Adding batteries to your home solar (AKA a hybrid solar system) means that you will no longer be forced to sell electricity for 6-8c and buy it back, at night for 30c. Hurrah!

But when the holy grail does arrive you will have a choice, so take care that you do not choose poorly.

While a bad choice is unlikely to cause you to crumble into dust like the Nazi villain at the end of the second worst Indiana Jones movie*, if you what you decide is wrong for your particular circumstances you may live to regret it. Actually, I can almost guarantee that you will live to regret it, as it is really not a life and death decision. Unless you go about it in an astoundingly bad way, such as cutting power cables with an axe and then licking them to see if they are live, I can pretty much guarantee you will still be around to either rue or feel chuffed about your choice. [Read more…]

Microinverters Vs. Dc Optimisers: Which option is best?

optimisers and microinverters

If you’ve decided on panel-level optimisation, which is the better choice, microinverters or optimisers?

Good grief this article is going to get me into trouble with some solar installers.  Why? Because by the end of it I will give my humble opinion on whether microinverters (e.g. Enphase) are better than DC optimisers (e.g. SolarEdge or Tigo). [Read more…]

Solar Battery Storage Explained [Infographic]

I’ve written about hybrid solar and off grid solar systems before, but Tesla’s latest announcement about its new PowerWall battery is a real game changer for solar battery storage affordability – Morgan Stanley has a report that attests to this in greater detail. For those of you that don’t feel like slogging through an in-depth report, I’ve summarised the important distinctions between Hybrid and Off-Grid solar systems below. Enjoy!

infographic explaining solar battery storage

Powerwall Vs. Lead Acid Batteries. Which is best for off grid?

powerwall and a lead acid battery

Does the Powerwall make sense for off grid applications?

I recently wrote about how my parents could save money by going off-grid in sub-tropical Queensland under close to best case conditions, and how it made no sense at all for them to do this as the return from having grid connected rooftop solar is so much better.

The recently announced Tesla Powerwall doesn’t change this. However, it will still be a very useful option for people who have no choice other than to live off grid, and for those who want to go off grid for non-economic reasons. It has a number of advantages over currently used lead-acid batteries, and in my opinion, for many applications the Powerwall knocks lead-acid batteries into a cocked hat, which will soon be squashed very flat, as lead-acid batteries are really heavy. [Read more…]

An Off Grid Solar System Can Pay For Itself But Can’t Beat On Grid Solar

Ronald's parents

Lot’s of folks are wondering if it is time to leave the grid.

Home energy storage has gained a lot of attention recently and there are many people who think  making homes independent from the grid by using batteries to store electricity from rooftop solar is an idea whose time has finally come.

So will home energy storage soon be like rooftop solar in that it will pay for itself and be used in homes across the nation, or is it like a porn star?  Always coming, but probably not something you would actually want in your house.

To gauge its prospects I decided to investigate whether or not a household that is well suited for energy storage could save money right now by installing an off grid solar system.  And entirely through good fortune and not at all because I am too lazy to bother doing real research, my parents just happen to fit into this category.  If they can’t save money by going off grid then probably no one can. [Read more…]

Looking for a Tier 1 Solar Inverter? Sorry, no such beast!

sma inverter

A good inverter is essential in the Australian sun.

Picking great inverters; Tier 1, 2 or 3?

Savvy solar customers are quickly realising that there is a very real difference between the quality of products and services you can find in the solar industry.

As a general rule, the old adage “you get what you pay for” generally holds true but the plethora of offers and solar companies can make selection tricky. Here at SolarQuotes I’ve helped make this choice a little easier by developing its own ranking system for installation companies.

But how do you choose a great inverter? [Read more…]

How To Divert Your Excess Solar PV to a Hot Water Cylinder.

a diversion sign

Is it worth investing in a system that will divert your excess solar electricity away from the grid and into your hot water system?

This guest blog post has been written by experienced solar installer, electrician, solar company owner and all round good guy, Mark Cavanagh from MC Electrical in Brisbane.

Mark answers a really common question we are getting here at SolarQuotes: “Can I divert my excess solar energy into my hot water cylinder instead of selling it to the grid for a pittance?”

Take it away Mark:

With the reduction of the solar feed in tariff across Australia, and battery storage not economically viable yet, there has been an ever-increasing interest in developing ways to use the electricity you produce rather than feeding it back to the grid for 8c per kWh. [Read more…]

Fairfax Article Beating Up The Solar Industry is Scaremongering (but Greg Hunt still fell for it)

article screenshot

The Fairfax article published on 22 Feb 2015

The Fairfax papers’ coverage of the solar industry is usually spot on. But I think the latest article by Political Reporter Heath Aston is way off mark.

Greg Hunt must have salivated all over his iPad as he read the article yesterday morning. I can see him dribbling with delight at the rampant tales of rorted rebates and shonky solar systems.  And surprise, surprise: within a few hours of the article going live, Hunt announced:

“The poor installation of solar PV or installation of substandard solar PV has the potential to lead to fires with risks to property and human life. I’m sure you would agree that it is absolutely imperative that all panels installed must be of high quality and pose absolutely no threat to safety.”

I would like to ask Hunt how he thinks that it is possible to mandate that a piece of electrical equipment must “pose absolutely no threat to safety”. [Read more…]

How I got a $33 power bill with solar – even with a crappy 8c buy back rate

Update: This post was written in 2015. It is still worth a read to understand how solar affects your bill – but if you want to browse all my recent bills you can do so here.

I got my quarterly electricity bill last week. It was $33. I was so happy that I tweeted AGL.

AGL’s reply is priceless:

I’m guessing AGL don’t get a lot of compliments on Twitter! I also posted a scan of my bill on SolarQuotes’ Facebook page:
[Read more…]

3 Phase Solar Wars : The Menace of Phantom Imports.

soalr wars

May the (electromotive) force be with you!

 

I’m thinking of writing a screenplay. The movie’s name is “3-Phase Solar Wars : The Phantom Imports”. Here’s the opening scene:

“Quite soon in the future, in a suburb not very far away….

 

It is a period of civil war. Solar owners, striking from over a million rooftops, have won their first victory against the evil Electricity Empire.

 

During the battle, these plucky rebel homeowners managed to get their electricity bills down so low that they are on the cusp of destroying an entire electricity retail industry.

 

But now the Empire’s sinister agents have a plan:

 

[Read more…]

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