How To Use a Fronius Smart Meter To Solar Power Your Hot Water

fronius hot water diversion

Note to installers: Don’t wire directly in to bathtub or the duck will die.

Over the past week or so I’ve been politely prodded  by a plethora of people pushing me to provide information pertaining to solar hot water diverters.

A ‘hot water diverter’ is a box of power electronics that that sucks up your homes’ surplus solar electricity and diverts it to an electric hot water system instead of exporting it to the grid where it would earn a feed-in-tariff.  If the whole system is well designed and installed it will  greatly reduce or even eliminate using grid electricity for water heating. [Read more…]

What Does The Reduced STC Price Mean For Solar?

Solar salesperson

STC prices dropping means solar prices have risen. What has that done to solar payback times?

We were warned.

We all knew this was coming.

But who among us was prepared for the recent tumble in the price of STCs that lower the cost of rooftop solar?

Well, I was. [Read more…]

When Electricity Price Hikes Don’t Improve The Economics Of Batteries

batteries and bills

Do rising electricity prices always improve the economics of batteries? No. Read on to discover why. (And don’t stand on your roof without wearing an approved safety harness – especially if you are balancing giant golden scales on your head.)

I’ve already written on how electricity prices are set to rise substantially.

Because Australians will soon have to shell out like an evicted hermit crab when it comes to grid power, both the good and bad mainstream media are declaring that rising power costs make buying batteries more attractive.

Unfortunately for fans of shock boxes this is unlikely to be the case. Counter-intuitive I know. But bear with me. [Read more…]

NSW Feed In Tariff Changes – Channel 9 Adds To The Confusion

Last night Channel Nine News in Sydney ran a short segment on how NSW’s high gross solar feed-in tariffs are ending in a few days time.

Many of the details in this segment were not correct. [Read more…]

Standard Tariffs Vs Time Of Use Pricing. Which Goes Best With Solar?

time of use meter

What will give you the lowest bill, a standard or time of use tariff? What if you add solar? What about batteries?

Australians pay for grid electricity in two ways.  The most common way is a standard tariff. But you can also choose a time-of-use tariff.

What is a standard tariff?

This is where you pay a fixed rate for each kilowatt-hour used, plus a hefty supply charge.  Australians have been paying for electricity this way since the the electricity meter, invented in 1888, was developed into the ‘spinning dial’ type in 1914. So Australians have been using standard tariffs for over  a century. [Read more…]

How To Keep Your Bills Down When The NSW 60c Feed-In Tariff Ends

new gross meter

If you are on the 60c Feed In Tariff in NSW (AKA the Solar Bonus Scheme) you really need to get a new meter by January 1.

Across NSW there are 146,000 homes and businesses receiving a gross feed-in tariff for the electricity their rooftop solar generates.

This tariff ends on the 31st of December 2016.

If those 146,000 homes and businesses don’t get new import/export meters installed by the end of the year, their owners (or tenants) will be in the financially painful position of not just losing their generous 60-66c feed-in tariff, but also receiving nothing for the solar electricity they export into the grid.

At the start of this year there was a lot of confusion about just what people would have to do to get new meters installed. It became clear there were not enough specialist metering electricians in the state to get the job done – even if they worked on nothing else for the rest of the year.  Fortunately, the rules have been changed and the pool of people permitted to replace meters is expanding. [Read more…]

How To Find Solar Friendly Electricity Tariffs By Hacking Government Data

data hack

Learn how to hack the government’s electricity bill data for fun and profit…

If you own a solar system but haven’t shopped around the electricity retailers in a while, your bills are probably higher than they need to be.

The big gentailers, Origin, AGL and Energy Australia have made their disdain for solar very clear. They all lobbied to scrap government support for small scale solar during Tony Abbott’s RET review in 2014. And unsurprisingly their electricity tariff offers for solar owners are pretty ordinary.

Luckily there are lots of smaller retailers around these days that often beat the big names. And a handful of those offer solar Feed In Rates that are higher than the rates mandated by your state government. [Read more…]

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’re live, I can pretty much guarantee you will still be around to either rue or feel chuffed about your choice. [Read more…]

Will The Tesla PowerWall let you go off grid for $3500 ?

tesla powerwall

Will the Tesla Battery lead to a stampede of people leaving the grid? Photo: Tesla

[Update: Since I wrote this post (on the day the Powerwall was announced) Tesla have added some technical details that open up the possibility of installing the Powerwall for a much lower price than this blog post estimates. But – and it’s a big but – the cheaper installation will not allow you to go off grid. More details on the alternative install option here]

 

So Tesla has just announced a 10kWh home battery pack that costs US$3,500 (AUD$4,500) . The Tesla PowerWall will mount unobtrusively on the wall of your home and store your solar energy, so you can use it at night or when the grid goes down.

Lots of twitterers are proclaiming that Renewable Energy utopia has arrived. You’d be forgiven from thinking that, thanks to Tesla founder Elon Musk, all we have to do to divorce the grid is shell out three and a half grand.

Look – I don’t want to piss on anyone’s parade. This announcement is massive in lots of ways which I’ll get to soon. But you won’t be able to go off grid for that kind of money (yet).

Here’s what Aussie homeowners should know about the Telsa Powerwall [Read more…]

Why Are Solar Owners Charged GST On Money They Never Spent?

I have a 6kW (24 panel) solar system on my roof.

My last quarterly electricity bill is here. The good news is that it was for only $33.60.

electricity bill including GST

My latest electricity bill. Notice how the GST is way more than 10%

The interesting thing is the breakdown of the $33.60. If you look at the bottom of the bill, I paid $12.68 in electricity charges but a whopping $20.92 in GST (highlighted in blue on the bill).

You don’t have to be great at maths to know that 10% of $12.68 is $1.27 not $20.92 [Read more…]