How to use this book

Introduction | The Good Solar Guide Contents | Step 1 – Essential Knowledge

I promise on the cover, in big letters, that I’ll give you seven steps to tiny bills. This book is divided into seven sections – one for each step of the process.

STEP 1: Essential knowledge

This section goes over the solar basics that I think you need to know to understand what you are getting into with solar power, and how it can best work to get your bills down. I don’t take you any deeper than necessary – but if I do pique your interest and you want to get deep down and technical, I’ve provided links where you can join me online for an optional in-depth techno geek-fest. Go to Step 1 – Essential Knowledge.

STEP 2: Measuring your energy use

This section shows you how to measure your home’s energy consumption so you can do your own energy audit. Buying solar panels without first performing an energy audit is like buying shoes without knowing your shoe size. In this section, you’ll learn how to quickly measure your energy-use profile over 24 hours using nothing more than a pencil, paper and a clock. This is an important first step to working out whether solar power would be a good investment for your home. Go to Step 2 – Measuring Your Energy Use.

STEP 3: Heating your water

This section shines the spotlight on the (undeservedly) poor cousin of solar electricity: solar hot water. Most people give almost no thought to their water heating, despite the fact it is one of the largest energy users in most homes, second only to heating and cooling spaces. In this section, we’ll work out how you currently heat your water, and decide whether to upgrade to heating it with the sun instead of grid electricity or gas. Go to Step 3 – Heating Your Water.

STEP 4: Show me the money!

This section shows you how to accurately estimate the financial return of a solar power system on your roof and goes through the economics of batteries. For most of us, money is a scarce resource. Only the most committed greenie will add solar to their home if the financial return is not there. Here, you get to understand in full the financial implications of solar (and batteries) without the pressure of a salesman in your home. And because you’re using data you collected from your meter in Step 2, you can be confident you will get close to this return when your first post-solar electricity bill arrives.

If, after Step 4, you decide the payback is good enough, then in Steps 5 and 6, I will walk you through specifying and buying a solar power system that will make good on that return on investment by providing the energy you need for decades to come. Go To Step 4 – Show Me The Money!

STEP 5: Choosing your hardware

A big part of buying a solar system is choosing what hardware to use. Most people think that the most important decision is about the solar panel brand. But there is an even more critical choice to make, and this concerns the box of power electronics called the ‘solar inverter’. This section walks you through choosing an inverter that will have the reliability and features that you need, then moves on to the wonderful world of solar panel brands. There are heaps of brands available in Australia, many of them cheap and nasty. I’ll show you the two dozen or so that you should consider if you want a safe, reliable and well-supported system on your roof. To round things off, I’ll dive into a long-neglected piece of the solar puzzle – third-party monitoring – and explain why I consider it an essential addition to any solar power system. Go to Step 5 – Choosing Your Hardware.

STEP 6: Getting quotes

Once you understand your hardware choices, you can get quotes safe in the knowledge that you can have an intelligent conversation with the potential installers. This section shows you how to find three reputable solar installers, engage them for quotes and then pick the best quote for you. Having been through Step 5, you’ll understand that getting the cheapest system on the market is a really bad idea, but you’ll still want a system that’s good value. This section shows you how to navigate the Australian solar market to get high-quality, good-value solar fitted by conscientious installers. It also shows you what information your quote should include. I’ll share my insider secrets with you from ten years in the industry. Go To Step 6 – Getting Quotes.

STEP 7: After the install

Any law-abiding installer will fit your system to the current standards and guidelines. A good installer will go over and above the guidelines and give you bulletproof confidence in your new solar power system. Here, we go through a post-install checklist of small but important things that are not necessarily in the standard but should still be done to ensure your system has a long and hassle-free life. 

Before parting, I’m also going to show you how to live with your new solar power system so you keep your bills as small as possible. But fear not, you don’t need to live like a hermit. By the time you get to this section, you’ll have a high-quality power station on your roof that will provide the security of low bills for decades to come. And we’ll have fun getting there, because living the good life with tiny bills feels pretty damn fine from my experience. My last summer power bill for a family of five and a small office was a $128 credit for the quarter. Let’s see how low we can get your bills! Go to Step 7 – After The Install.

Sounds like a lot of work? It’s not, really – plus, it’s worth it when you consider this: over the next 30 years, a typical Aussie household like yours is likely to save over $40,000 in today’s money by filling the roof with panels. This book will take you about an hour to read. I reckon even Donald Trump could be persuaded to sit down with a book for an hour in return for forty grand…

Motivated? Good. Let’s get started.

Introduction | The Good Solar Guide Contents | Step 1 – Essential Knowledge

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