Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

New to renewable energy? Have questions? Here's a great place to ask them and view information about wind and solar power basics.

Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Salty Dog » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:39 am

Hi All,

New to the forum & completely uninitiated in all things solar.

We have a two storey house in Baulkham Hills, originally a 3 bedroom brick house but a large wooden clad lounge room has been added downstairs & another 3 wooden clad bedrooms on the top storey.

The house gets quite cold in winter. If the temperature gets above 40 degrees C at any stage in summer, the top floor seems to radiate heat into the whole house for the entire night.

The house came with a large ducted air conditioning system that we have found too expensive to use. The lady of the house hides up in a small room in the house running a little electric radiant heater in winter. The kid I tend to huddle up under sleeping bags in the lounge room.

We'd like to be able to make our house a bit more livable & hopefully cut down on the electricty bills as well.

My best guess at our average daily electricity consumption is aproximately 24kWh with about two thirds of it being peak.

Our latest peak daily rates in c/kWh
24.244 for the first 10.9589
23.397 for the next 8.2192
22.22 for the balance.

I like the idea of getting some well engineered high quality panels that will last & have high efficiency. I also like the idea of having an expandable system that is compatible with battery storage if the costs of solar &/or battery storage drop significantly in the future. I have to try & sell the lady of the house on whatever the up front costs are too though.

I haven't got any quotes yet as I'd prefer to know what I should be looking for & what to avoid prior to getting any pricing.

Any recommendations that you have for a solar system or how to determine how worthwhile a solar system might be for us, (short of climbing up on the roof) would be greatly appreciated.

If there are any pitfalls that I should be aware of, it would be great to find out about those too.

At the moment, I am close to a blank slate. ;)

My apologies for such a long first post. I just figured that I am best off starting to talk to people who have been there & done that.
Salty Dog
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:49 am

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:34 am

Welcome to the Energy Matters Forums Salty Dog :)

How well insulated is the house? Better insulation means lower heating and cooling costs, and is perhaps best looked at first. The large ducted ACs are generally not very efficient- smaller reverse cycle inverter units in the 2-3kW capacity range are of significantly higher efficiency, great for heating and cooling. Small radiators are not very good, unless you happen to be sitting right in front of them, and even then only the side facing it stays warm, or hot if you are too close! A 2kW reverse cycle inverter AC will heat (and cool) a large well insulated room for much less cost and greater compfort levels than a radiator or gas heater.
Lithium batteries for grid-connected systems are still expensive, but have come down significantly in recent times, particularly since Tesla announced their entry into the market, although their product wont be in Australia until next year sometime. Others such as LG are compatible with some inverters now, and are competitively priced, and available now.
Are you looking to purchase a solar system outright, or lease? Leasing puts you ahead financially immediately, due to zero up front cost. However, in the long term purchasing upfront will put you ahead, assuming you don't have any major system failures (which are covered in the SunEdison lease, as are replacement inverters for the full term of the lease). You'd be up for a new inverter every now and then if purchasing a system.

What about your hot water? Evacuated tube solar or a heat pump are the most efficient means of providing hot water. Heating water can be a significant part of any household's energy bill, particularly if anyone takes very long showers!

An article published today that might make you think some more about battery storage!
http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/nsw-sla ... rage-64361
http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5763
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:07 pm

http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5763
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Salty Dog » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:20 pm

Hey Gordon,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

The article about consumers moving to battery storage was interesting. I was sort of anticipating that it would come about at some stage but still thought it was a way off being affordable yet. Hopefully the market will get flooded with good low cost batteries sooner rather than later.

Thanks for the link to the site with solar energy information for Baulkham Hills too.

The roof of the second floor is well insulated. As for the rest of the house, that's a bit dubious. I would have to say that most likely it is not.

We had worked out that the ducted air conditioning that was already installed when we bought the house was too expensive to use.

We don't have solar hot water, just an off peak electric system. There are two adults & one kid in the house. None of us take particularly long showers. We only just replaced the water tank not long ago with a stainless steel tank. Do you think that solar hot water is still worth looking at?

I forgot to mention that gas is not available to us, so we are entirely reliant on electricity.

We use the clothes drier a lot unfortunately. I try & hang the clothes on the line where possible but the lady of the house uses the drier every time she washes clothes. She won't change as she tends to work long hours & we have a dog. She thinks that the drier gets all of the dog hair off our clothes, (as well as being convenient for her) ;)

We replaced our stove top recently from an old style one with the cast iron plates to a good induction one, so shouldn't use too much energy with that. We upgraded the oven too. It has quadruple glazing on the front glass but is pyrolytic cleaning, so don't know if that ends up more efficient overall.

Our house doesn't face true north either. I got approximate measurements of the top roof & it's approximate solar capacity if it were facing true north from this web site: http://www.solarroofcalculator.appspot.com/

Roof area and approximate solar output.JPG


Does this look like it will be a problem?

Thanks again for the answers & the patience with the uninitiated.
Salty Dog
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:49 am

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Salty Dog » Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:24 pm

Whoops, sorry, forgot to say that I was originally thinking of purchasing a system outright, had not really considered leasing options. :oops:

I'll have a bit of a look at the SunEdison option too.
Salty Dog
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:49 am

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:47 pm

Once the Gross FiT scheme ends next year, there will probably be a rush of people wanting to install batteries- get in now and beat the rush! ;)

It is probably worth looking at installing a 30 evacuated tube manifold and pump connected to the existing hot water tank, so that solar does most of the work, and you'd only need the electric boost during extended cloudy weather. Solar can reduce the amount of the energy required to heat hot water by upwards of 80%, which could be a large saving on your electricity bill.

Salty Dog wrote:I forgot to mention that gas is not available to us, so we are entirely reliant on electricity.


lucky you :) gas is a lot more expensive and polluting than solar powered efficient air conditioners.

If the clothes dryer usage is unavoidable, solar power can greatly reduce the cost to run it.
Induction cooktops are great, I've been using one myself (off-grid) for a few years now.

Our house doesn't face true north either.


Not a problem, have a read through this thread:
solar-wind-gear/topic5064.html

Face some NE and some NW- these days the aim is to minimise imports and exports, and maximise your usage of the available solar generation, and the Virtual Tracker arrangement helps you do that.
http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5763
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Salty Dog » Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:55 pm

Induction cooktops are great


I am very happy with mine. Bought a good quality German one, (Siemens) as a grey import at half the price it would cost to buy locally. I was surprised that I actually like it better than gas for cooking.

Face some NE and some NW- these days the aim is to minimise imports and exports, and maximise your usage of the available solar generation, and the Virtual Tracker arrangement helps you do that.



I totally get the minimise imports & exports idea seeing as you pay a high price to the electricity supplier & they pay you next to nothing. I had a read of the virtual tracker thread. I understood the part where you would try & get a more constant supply throughout the day rather than a very peaky one around the middle of the day.

I wasn't too sure if that meant I would have to angle the panels at a pitch different to my roof or not if I was to face some panels NE & some NW. I didn't quite get whether I would be at risk of overloading the inverter or if there was an easy way to automatically protect against that either.

Sorry for so many questions, just trying to get a bit of an understanding of what I should be looking at.

P.S. Don't know that I'll be beating the rush on the battery front. Although I love the idea of being off the grid sooner rather than later, don't know that the hip pocket can support it...baby steps. ;)
Salty Dog
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:49 am

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Sep 01, 2015 4:45 pm

Salty Dog wrote: [Induction] I was surprised that I actually like it better than gas for cooking.


I wrote up on the forum an energy usage test I did quite a few years ago- induction, electric jug or immersion element are all way ahead of gas for speed and efficiency, and I too much prefer induction over gas for cooking. This is especially the case in summer when I am preserving cherries and have many hours of cooking in a day- gas heats the house up a lot, induction doesn't heat it up anywhere near as much, as it only heats the pot. Even my little flat surface induction cooktop heats the curved wok very nicely, despite the claims that you need a curved induction surface.


I wasn't too sure if that meant I would have to angle the panels at a pitch different to my roof or not if I was to face some panels NE & some NW.


To get a flat output all day you'd have to have tilt frames on both sides of the roof, but in your case I'd put them against the NW roof (what slope is it?), and use tilt frames on the SE side to face a couple of rows of them NE in portrait mounting, at perhaps 20degrees from the roof, so you get some production in winter.

My tests show that I can go to nearly twice the (off-grid) charge controller rating and not risk overload, but there are rules saying you cant just pile lots of panels on to a grid connected inverter anymore- although they probably have not taken into consideration the Virtual Tracker geometry. From memory it is 20% more than the inverter rating, although some inverters are now state that they can take a lot more than that in an E-W split array... despite the regulations here.

I'm sure most people will initially get batteries just to avoid grid imports and exports as much as possible, or for blackout protection, rather than going off-grid.
http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5763
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Salty Dog » Tue Sep 01, 2015 5:43 pm

To get a flat output all day you'd have to have tilt frames on both sides of the roof, but in your case I'd put them against the NW roof (what slope is it?), and use tilt frames on the SE side to face a couple of rows of them NE in portrait mounting, at perhaps 20degrees from the roof, so you get some production in winter.


My guess at roof slope is around 30 degrees. That's just by eyeballing it though.

My tests show that I can go to nearly twice the (off-grid) charge controller rating and not risk overload, but there are rules saying you cant just pile lots of panels on to a grid connected inverter anymore- although they probably have not taken into consideration the Virtual Tracker geometry. From memory it is 20% more than the inverter rating, although some inverters are now state that they can take a lot more than that in an E-W split array... despite the regulations here.


I'll be sure to make a point of asking any installer/s that may give me a quote what I can legally connect.

I'm sure most people will initially get batteries just to avoid grid imports and exports as much as possible, or for blackout protection, rather than going off-grid.


The idea made a lot of sense to me.I just thought that it would be out of reach financially at the moment. Hmm, now you've got me thinking...
Salty Dog
Solar Supporter
Solar Supporter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:49 am

Re: Complete Newbie looking to install solar in Sydney

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:26 pm

You could lease the system, and buy the battery - a variety of ways to set up a system. Storage also has the benefit of powering through blackouts after storms, and some are buying them mainly for that reason.
http://gunagulla.com Loomberah weather and astronomy including live solar radiation intensity and UV + Gunagulla aquaponics, organic eggs and cherries
User avatar
Gordon-Loomberah
Community Moderator
 
Posts: 5763
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:41 pm
Location: Loomberah NSW Australia


Return to Q&A - wind and solar power basics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

new solar power specials