View Full Version : Grid connect Solar system

13th May 2007, 11:13 PM
With the latest Federal Budget increasing the subsidy for domestic Solar systems to $8000, I thought it at least prudent to look into the issues of installing a system.

Can anyone provide a link to an Australian forum dealing with Solar Electrical systems? Does anyone have any experience or recommendations with a particular system, brand or company?

The $8000 rebate sounds impressive. Approximately how much would a grid connect system (ie house not totally solar, but solar to supplement grid supply, possibly to generate excess supply to feed back into grid) cost in total?

Tony From West Oz
14th May 2007, 12:41 AM
I had a 1500Wp grid connect solar system installed in June/July, 2000. For 6 years it provided approx 30% of our electrical power (and due to Time of Use metering) this represented 50% of out power costs. That system cost $20 000, to which a $8250 rebate was applied, with a net cost of 11 750 paid by me.

The examples used on the AGO website are for a 1KWp system, which would provide a proportionately lower % of household power costs.

You will achieve excellent results by performing an energy audit and turning off items which are not in use at the time -all of our items having clocks were turned off - except the VCR which SWMBO needed to record the soapies. -all phone chargers unplugged, etc) -clothes drier in winter no, use a line in the garage.
Switch to Time of Use power, for "off-peak" electric hot water and other heating needs. Use time clocks to have pool pumps and reticulation operate "off-peak"
Replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps.

I sold that house and took my sustem with me. I have decided to operate "stand alone" using the soalr panels to charge batteries and an inverter to supply power to our home.

[Soapbox=ON] I have a wind generator to install as soon as the local government Town Planner realises that his insistence that I plant tall trees around the wind gen is just $h!t. I do hope that he can understand that the point of installing a wind gen is to generate power and to do that requires that wind can blow across it. This is all in a Rural Living zoning. Even erecting a windmill for water pumping requires planning approval!!!
:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

W123 x 2
14th May 2007, 08:13 AM
Hi Gunner,

I was in the process of getting a system installed before the budget announcement. The increase in rebate is a bonus. A friend who is an accredited installer uses BP Solar panels, so I am locked in to that. This week we do our electrical energy audit on the farm and I'll post all figures and costings hear if that helps?

We are aiming to make the system supply our average usage. This means we should have a $0 power bill. If the state govt's introduce a feed in tariff, we will be in front. Vic and SA plan to do this in the near future. Also power costs are predicted to rise in my area by 14% this year due to the drought and decrease in hydro.

Initial indications are that my system will cost approx. $16,000 after rebate. My power bill is approx. $2,800 a year total for farm and home. The environmental benefits are a bonus (but the real reason we were doing it in the first place).

Cheers, Michael

14th May 2007, 08:27 AM
We (being my group at work) had Solar Online Australia put an off-grid system in a trailer for us, that's been running in the WA desert collecting RFI data for the last couple of years without a hitch.

It comprised ten 123W Sharp panels, an inverter/charger, and a bank of lead acid cells. The panels were mounted to a neat foldable frame. We were quite impressed with the quality of engineering.

A photo of it is at Solar Online Australia - Solar Trailers - Transportable Solar Power Systems (http://www.solaronline.com.au/page/solar_trailer_systems.html)

14th May 2007, 10:18 AM
While I think it is a great announcement, what about solar hot water? My impression is that it can be much more cost effective (and has a quicker ROI) and should be done first, before installing solar power. After all, what's the point in converting solar to electricity and then to heat, when you can do it directly?

Is there any mention of this in the budget? AFAIK the only rebates you can get for solar hot water currently are RECs, and one or two states that have small additional rebates.

W123 x 2
14th May 2007, 02:06 PM
It's a weak excuse Pangit, but the Govt's logic goes like this; due to solar hot waters efficiencies there is already a built in financial incentive to use it, so why should we subsidize it?

Solar hot water without subsides has a 5 to 7 year payback period, after that your hot water is free. Grid connect electrickery without subsidies has approx. three to four times the payback period. Given that the average Australian house changes hands every 7 years, you would have to be like Tony and take your system with you. Most peoples versions of long term planning extends to their next annual holiday, so 20 year planning just doesn't figure.

Such is life,

14th May 2007, 11:29 PM
That's really my point Michael. Currently only a tiny fraction of houses in Australia have solar hot water installed. Therefore the average person clearly doesn't even think a 5-7 year payback period is enough of an incentive. So if you made it close to or cheaper than electric hot water (with subsidies) then everyone would do it.

To me it would make more sense to do this first until a large proportion of houses have solar hot water, before subsidising solar power.

Mind you, when you look at the figures it's still only a token gesture anyway. $150 million over five years to give people up to $8,000 subsidy. i.e around 20,000 households. It's a start, but it certainly isn't going to save the planet.

I would go for it myself, but only after I've done solar hot water.

15th May 2007, 05:46 AM
I am planning to get solar power installed in my new place too - once I have moved in!

As far as hot water goes the house has electric hot water currently and so in the first instance I will be looking to install a solar boosting system for what I have and then look at changing over a little further down the track - once the pain of the initial house purchase has passed!


15th May 2007, 07:08 PM
A photo of it is at Solar Online Australia - Solar Trailers - Transportable Solar Power Systems (http://www.solaronline.com.au/page/solar_trailer_systems.html)

The woman in the first photograph is what really does it for me. I'd take her home to show mum. ;)

15th May 2007, 11:00 PM
I looked at doing my place, quotes were in the $20K

To get any rebate required "licensed" and "accredited" installers of the system and there weren't many choices about the setups _ I had access to a different type of panel but this was not an option I could take.

Local power company was asked about buying back any excess, I thought this is pretty straightforward, meter would run backwards. No a new and additional super duper meter was needed. Initially the power would be bought back at 8c, I was paying between 13 and 15c. After a few weeks the rule changed and I would be paid what I was being charged (but no commitment)

From what I could see on prices, if there was more flexibility on approval and material use the price would drop by about 30%

It appears to me that there is a premium built into the programme which defeats the purpose that equates to the rebate amount.

I should be able to buy panels as I see fit, an inverter as I see fit and get an electrician to approve and install the system. This would drive prices down a bit and demand up.

The sooner electricity generation by alternative methods is mandated buy back the better. I understand that Germany has such a programme and if they can do it no reason we can't.

Off the box now.

I did not get the system.

17th May 2007, 07:37 PM
Welcome to dealing with a feral industry. The problems associated with it are so many and varied that I would both bore you and inflict the wrath for getting off topic. Something to keep in mind is that the installers you will meet are usually good guys who at least on some small level have the same environmental concerns as the customer they are working for and most will try and source the best deals around to win your business in what is a very cut throat industry. Having said that, get more than one quote, get five if necessary. The prices and specs will vary hugely. As a rough guide you can expect to pay between $18K and $30K (before the rebate)for a 1.5kW system installed ready to go.
The best piece of advice I can you is do your research, get the quotes, ask questions, lots of them, search the net to find out what equipment they are trying to sell you and that it will perform in the manner you expect. If you get stuck, PM me, I can probably help decipher things.

As for selling of the excess you generate, shop around, it is possible to sell your excess to the grid for the same as what you pay for it. Although you may need to change suppliers to do so.

Just to get a little off topic for a sec, along the same lines of Tony's wind Gen. I applied to put a big rainwater tank into my back yard. Council says no. Why? Because it puts too much of my backyard 'under roof' and the runoff (from having so much of my yard 'under roof') will create drainage problems in the street!

31st May 2007, 01:49 PM

Did some research into installing Solar systems. You can get a list of acceredited installers from the business council for sustainable energy. It is quite a lengthy process to become & remain accredited so I'm guessing it is something they really want to put their heart into (like those who would like to buy the system).

bcse.org.au - Australian Business Council of Sustainable Energy (http://www.bcse.org.au/home.asp)

I have a house on the north coast of NSW in a strata title complex. Last year I put in a request to the strata manager to install both a Solar electric & a solar hot water system. (Thought I'd start with the simple strata part & tackle any council requirements afterwards). They knocked the proposal back on a vote of all owners. (How narrow minded are they). Have done a bit more research now & will sell it a bit harder at the next AGM.

This house is holiday rented with a total annual electricity requirement of ~3000kWh. A 1575kW system from Eco South (System Prices (http://www.ecosouth.com.au/system_prices.htm)) will cost under $14K after rebate & provide up to 2600kWh per year. With a solar hot water system this will go close to satisfying my requirements fully. If I achieve a surplus with a bigger system I will be providing much needed green power to the grid. It will also pay for itself in just over 10 years.

It's not a matter of IF it's a matter of when & how!

W123 x 2
28th June 2007, 10:02 AM
Just a quick update. I believe the ACT govt is about to announce a 4 to 1 feed in tariff for solar grid connect systems. So if you live in the ACT, get in quick as the demand for solar grid connect systems will go ballistic.
How long before the other states get their acts together??

28th June 2007, 05:12 PM
Andrew, that is one expensive 1.5KW system, go see Rainbow Power Company. (http://www.rpc.com.au) they are in that part of the world, Nimbin and are a lot cheaper.

I hope the Qld mob do 4 for 1, I will get my system up to 1800W then and love it :)


2nd July 2007, 08:24 PM
that is one expensive 1.5KW system

Depends on how the 1.5kW is derived. If its 1.5 peak solar collection then yep its a bit pricey. If its 1.5 continuous delivery from the inverter, then its actually quite cheap. Marketing of systems is starting to become a real issue in this industry for exactly this reason. There is a huge difference between peak solar collection and inverter delivery capacity (and a lot of dissappointed customers too). In this instance 1.5kW inverter delivery is going to need a lot more solar to supply it, hence cost goes up relative to the requirement for solar panels.
The quality of the inverter also has a lot to do with cost, there are "inverters" and there are inverters, although in this instance they must all meet a minimum spec to be able to be connected to the grid the difference between the good brands and the cheaper brands is huge despite the fact that they all meet that same spec.
It pays to do you homework on what you are being sold to avoid dissappointment.

14th December 2007, 10:53 AM
i got excited about the whole thing for a while until i did some maths
a 1.5 kw system was rated at produceing 1,300 kw/hrs/yr
@ 15 cent/kw/hr=$195 saving per yr
after rebate your cost is $8,000 so thats about 40 yrs to break even.
now if i just invested my 8,000 @ 8% i would get $600/yr
now unless im wrong 600 is more than 195
however elec, prices im sure will increase significantly and make it more attractive, i agree do the solar water thing first and turn a few things off
i can hear someone saying YEAH TURN YOU OFF TOO
ps if ive got my sums wrong let me know

Tony From West Oz
15th December 2007, 10:52 PM
It depends what you do with the $600 per year. If you use it to buy green power, you may have an effect similar to owning your own system.

Perhaps if you repeat the calculation with the cost of power increasing at say 5% & 10% PA, you may get a better understanding of the likely ROI time and how well your $600 PA (not reinvested) would serve you in buying Green Power.

Captain Echidna
16th December 2007, 03:12 PM
Financially I would be better off...
not buying solar panels for my house.
pimping wife (perhaps not much better off)
not buying a bigger rainwater tank.
selling my children for medical expirements rather than paying for their food, clothing etc.
selling drugs.

So far I am only doing some of these (numbers 1 and 3 in case you were wondering) but hope to do none of these in the future. I know finacially they make sense, but there is more to the world than money. Thanks Tony for investigating not buying solar panels, but still having renewable power. (please no one PM me enquiring about #4)

16th December 2007, 05:02 PM
OK so if you are in Sydney and want a grid connect system a s**t load cheaper then PM me.

I am getting a 1kw system in Feb/March, installed by an accredited installer and everything above board and you will call me a liar if I told you how cheap I can get it done for.

So rather than put the info out there I am going to make you ask for it .... serious applicants only as I really can't be bothered talking to naysayers of any kind.

That being said if there are any enviromentally interested and active (licenced) electricians out there I would like to talk to you. I have work for you.


16th December 2007, 11:23 PM
I share your enthusiasm for renewable power, I mean that's what we are all here for really isn't it - WVO Bio etc... Anyway I thought I'd share my money saving solar installation with you guys that haven't seen it yet... hopefully to provide some inspiration for those who want to go solar, but can't afford a solar connected grid feed system.

I bought a 12V BP 80W Panel from solar online and used it with a 100Ah battery bank to run my household low voltage appliances that "used" to use plug packs. I managed to eliminate 31 (that's right!) plug packs (heat producing transformers) from my house and run the appliance from 12V using various methods. I save $55 every three months easily by doing this which will pay for the system in 3 years! see the story here... 12V Home Power Grid - BjBlaster.com (http://bjblaster.homedns.org/projects/renewable/12V_powergrid/index.html)

I then have a Waste Lard Genset that runs a 880Ah battery bank that runs my server (that serves the bjbjlaster.com site) and other 240V essential equipment. This saves me $65 a bill on electricity! that story is here.. SVO Genset - BjBlaster.com (http://bjblaster.homedns.org/projects/svo/genset/index.html)

I digress, anyway I thought I'd let you know that even a little 80W panel can save you money if you use it right!



17th December 2007, 08:32 AM
Well said Cameron, I agree with all the misinformatrion out there it is so easy for people to become naysayers.

A 1kW system can be purchased and installed in any city on Oz for approx $3K, good luck to you if you can get it better than that.


17th December 2007, 09:23 AM
Your inventiveness amazes me once again BJ!

One thing about your website, the project pages you linked to don't have links back to your home page. Might be an idea to add some so people who jump straight into your project pages can click back to the rest of your website.

18th December 2007, 11:58 AM
Your inventiveness amazes me once again BJ!

One thing about your website, the project pages you linked to don't have links back to your home page. Might be an idea to add some so people who jump straight into your project pages can click back to the rest of your website.

Good call, I'll patch it up after Christmas, the css needs a little "tweak"?!



19th December 2007, 06:57 PM
Hopefully BJ you will get some time over Christmas to update your SVO generator Page. I have been patiently waiting for the next installment on that for what seems like months! :D

Are you just going to use the engine to drive the 12V alternator or do you have any plans for coupling up a 240V Head?

I'm still looking for an engine at a reasonable price I can use to build a similar setup for myself.

I know it's been ages, but I will update it as soon as I can. I filled my current engine with water (the air cleaner snapped off going through a water crossing and in went the h20) so I've been busy sourcing a new donk for the SVO hilux. Besides that I've got the genny running nicely with just a 12V alternator at the moment which puts out 2.2kW peak into my 880Ah battery bank that feeds a 1Kw 240V inverter. I'm going to keep it like this for a while, as the engine needs to run faster to drive a 240 Gen head without gearing, but that's not the main reason I haven't done it. The problem is I want clean power - that is 240V at 50Hz not some variable messy 260V at 47.3Hz when the rev's drop. The way I've done it ensures the power is "clean" :)



19th December 2007, 07:27 PM
Hi Bj,
this is a bit off the track but a home made stainless snorkel solved my problems. Driving through the bush having the snorkel smashed by branches is now a thing of the past, looks cool too! I was asked about sun glare off it but I aligned it with windscreen pillar and cannot see it from the drivers seat,