Solar

On Thursday last week I got to realise a very long-term dream of mine. Since I first heard about them I have wanted solar panels on my house. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been quite a process to get here, a process that first stepped into the realms of reality back when foodnstuff installed her panels. ๐Ÿ™‚

After a long journey obtaining quotes, emailing back and forward and finally sitting down to discuss the finances and which provider to go through, we gave the go ahead to Advance Solar Electrical. ASE has been fantastic from the start, coming out and sitting down with me to run through what everything involved in a quote that took 2 hours! I actually felt like I understood what was happening with the panels after that quote. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not bad since I have precious little understanding of anything electrical or electronic.

We gave the go ahead to ASE who kept us well up to date with when we were looking to see the panels installed. I received a call on Tuesday to explain that the weather had delayed their current project and that we were looking to see our panels go up on either Thursday or Friday pending weather.

Well, Thursday I woke at 6am to hear the drumming of rain on the roof. My heart sank as I knew our panels could notย goย on today. As soon as the time reached a somewhat reasonable time I fired off an sms to advise of the rain. The weather took pity and cleared, then changed its mind again. Talk about Melbourne weather with 4 seasons in 1 day! By the time we headed out at 11:30 I figured they weren’t coming as the weather was really all over the place. No issues. I knew Friday was goingย to be better. ๐Ÿ™‚

The frames are up on the roof.

The frames are up on the roof.

Imagine my surprise when we came home around 1:30 to find a ute and trailer in the drive way and 3 wet guys who had just been caught in the latest shower!

As you can see, there are 9 rows of panels.

As you can see, there are 2ย rows of panels, 9 on top then 4 underneath.

With our solar hot water unit in place there wasn't room for a single row.

With our solar hot water unit in place there wasn’t room for a single row.

Now to back track a little, before installing the panels we had decided to get our roof painted. Burgundy is a dark colour and hence absorbs a lot of heat in summer. We opted for a very light grey which actually looks like unpainted corrugated iron now. It’s VERY light and hence very reflective of the sun’s heat (we hope). You can still see a little of the burgundy on the posts on the deck although these will soon be covered in weatherboard. The house is now cream, light grey and dark grey trims. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I got home the guys had the framework up and in place, the inverter and pipes going on and the panels stacked up against the edge of the house, waiting. Within 3 hours I had a knock at the door to say “come and see”. Talk about working fast! We lost theย power for all of 10 minutes I think, not even long enough to interrupt anything. ๐Ÿ™‚

A very exciting stack of...

A very exciting stack of…

SQUEEE! Solar panels!

Squeee! Solar panels!

ASE were most impressive and I would recommend them to anyone around Bendigo and surrounds. No mess was left behind, the guys were all extremely polite and aside from the odd footfall on the roof you wouldn’t even know they were here. If you are looking to install panels and you choose ASE then mention Martin and Jessie. ๐Ÿ˜‰

13 solar panels that after a very brief period of no power, started generating power from the sun for us.

13 solar panels that after a very brief period of no power, started generating power from the sun for us.

Aren't they sleek!

Looking fabulous except for those grey skies.

Now for those who know far more about panels than I do, we have 13 Jinko panels and a Growatt inverter. Our system is a 3.5kw. We are lucky to have such a small system as we have LED lights throughout and either solar or wood heater heated hot water. With an electric hot water system it would need to be a much larger solar system. I will be looking closely at our appliances now to see which ones are causing us to need a system as large as we have. I am sure we can reduce our usage even further. ๐Ÿ™‚


 

As funny as it may seem for someone who has just got panels on the roof, Iย do notย believe panels are the long-term way of the future. Solar panels still use a lot of fossil fuels and rare earth minerals in their construction. They also have a lower Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) than other forms of power and hence I don’t believe we will be able to continue life as we know it just by replacing coal electricity with solar or wind turbines. I watched this video, shared by Damn the Matrix the day after giving approval to go ahead with our solar panel system. Talk about give me the guilts! The video is embedded below.

I recommend watching this if you are considering installing solar panels, so you can make a fully educated decision. I’m not saying panels aren’t a good thing but I wish I’d watched this before we agreed to panels. I wonder how we would have done things differently.

At the end of the day I don’t regret installing solarย panels. They will offer my family a large slice of security over the coming years as the “matrix” starts to come apart at the seams. I feel great that we are no longer reliant on ongoing fossil fuel usage (we also changed our electricity provider over to Powershop who provide 100% green power) and I feel like we are one step closer to a truly sustainable lifestyle. ๐Ÿ™‚

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17 thoughts on “Solar

  1. foodnstuff says:

    Yay!!!! I’m so happy for you. Jumping up and down, in fact! You will love your panels. You’ll be constantly reading the inverter and the smart meter, in fact the darn things will take over your life. Don’t worry, the mania eventually passes….I’m only reading mine once a day now ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s only as a check on the power company who are still stuffing up my bills. The main thing is, after 10 months, I haven’t paid any money for power and don’t expect to for the next two, so hopefully, a whole year without a bill and maybe no more power bills. Ever. (After a year is up, I’ll only read once a week…can’t trust that power company).

    What FIT are you getting? What was your approx daily usage before solar? Your system is slightly smaller than mine, but I have winter shade from trees, so you’ll do much better year round.

    • foodnstuff says:

      Forgot to say….getting them up is only a first step…to going off grid. If you’re getting a good FIT and exporting to the grid, it’s worth letting the power company pay them off for you, while saving up for the ultimate.

      Did you go to the open day at Emma’s at Little River yesterday? I would love to have gone, but the huge distance put me off.

      • No, no open day visits. We’ve been pouring all our time and energy into garden beds and tree planting here. Spring is a mix of excitement and energy vs scrabbling to catch up with what needs to be done. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        And the FIT is nothing to write home about. Still, I think the cost will be paid off in about 4 years or so and we will be watching the solar battery market closely. Martin has already built us a small solar kit with battery which we can charge phones from, or run a light off or even the laptops. Emergency back up. ๐Ÿ™‚ He is far more excited about the panels than even I am. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • The fellow just turned up to do the inspection to make sure all is well and he told me that there are 2 metres which instead of subtracting the solar generated power from the power meter, add it to the total so, until our meter is sorted out, the panles are turned off. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
      Still, a few days or even 2 weeks until we get the right meter is a small price to pay and we are with Powershop so at least our power is all green generated.
      Our FIT will be about 8c I think so nothing superb but our power use if very small and I am sure we can reduce it a LOT further. This is a work in progress now ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I am so jealous! I want solar so badly, but alas the budget does not have any room to save up for them. Enjoy!
    (to give you a little laugh, I am studying a subject called environmental health at the moment, and my lecturer has warned me [jokingly] against too many items that allow me to live off the grid as the zombies will spot my house a mile away when the apocalypse comes)

    • Ha ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ Zombie apocalypse. ๐Ÿ˜€ In all seriousness though, if ever you watched the James Cameron tv series Dark Angel, there is an episode that tells of the looters and violent mobs who assault the owners of an off grid house as they are the only people with power after the Electro Magnetic Pulse wipes out all the other power.
      The most important thing is to reduce consumption but yeah, I’m rather excited about our panels and I can’t wait to see how the bills play out once we start exporting properly to the grid. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lynda D says:

    Whoooo Hoooo !!!!! How sexy do they look on your newly painted roof. 8 cents!!! Goodness, no wonder Gav is smiling.

  4. Kami says:

    Excited for you since we also just got solar panels installed. Will look forward to hearing updates as you go along.

  5. narf77 says:

    How glad I am that Advance Solar Electrical isn’t Advance Retrofitted Solar Electrical! ;). You are going to have to change your name to Rabbid little Glow in the Dark Hippy now ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. How wonderful! We would love them here but it’s so expensive and because we are in a supply area we are only allowe d up to 40% of our power by solar. I haven’t watched the film and yes, I expect there are downsides to this long term but I personally feel it’s a great option and if we had the money we would do it.

  7. Linne says:

    What great news! No chance of solar in a rented condo, unfortunately . . . so I will just have to continue to live vicariously . . . and thanks to you and all the other villagers for that! Your panels look wonderful. I know next to nothing about solar panels, so even FIT is out of my grasp . . . more learning in store for me, eh? I’ll watch that video soon and let you know what I think. One thing I think I can do is look at the appliances I do use and maybe give some up. We’ll see . . . I love that your roof is so attractive; I always wondered if panels would look good or not. Yours sure do. ~ Linne

    • FIT – Feed in Tarriff. How much the leccy companies pay us for the power we export to the grid. It’s a princely sum… $0.08 per kilowatt hour. Not a get rich quick scheme there particularly since the price we pay to buy it from them is over triple that price. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  8. Michael says:

    An interesting, reasonably accurate but very strongly biased view of things. It’s not so much what he said as the way he said it.

    All of us who have been in this area for a while understand that saving energy is better and usually cheaper than making energy. We also understand the importance of good house design and construction.

    I used to tell my clients, when I was advising them about solar power to focus their dollars on energy efficiency and upgrading the house, windows, curtains, drafts etc. first, and then use the savings to buy solar hot water and solar electricity. Basically do your homework and collect the low hanging fruit first.

    Given the way you have been improving your home and setting up you sustainable lifestyle so far, solar is a very timely decision.

    And, if it makes you feel good just knowing they there, that is an extra bonus. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • I agree that the efficiency needs to come first. I think we’ve done a reasonable job of that although there is always room to improve. I’m now keeping a very close eye on my fridge and freezer and I can hear them quaking in their boots. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hermy the Thermy quivvers in fear too although I’d say he’s safe. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still, the greenhouse gases emitted in the creation of the panels don’t make me feel good but I hope to be able to repay some of that damage with tree planting and carbon sequestering in hugels. Maybe it will balance out.
      I still think solar is a wonderful thing but I don’t see us (global) being able to replace all our current fossil fuels with renewables. Not in the time remaining and not to continue life as normal.

  9. Chris says:

    Congratulations. I know the excitement. I’ve had ours for a “quarter” in bill speak. I’ve yet to do an update on my blog. A lot of things surprised me. I will be coming clean about our electricity usage, and how living on acreage can (in some ways) be expensive.

    It’s the usage which can be the biggest cost at the end of the day. One step at a time though.

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