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  1. #1
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    Default Solar Panels

    anyone got solar panels on their roof? how much did it cost you and how much did it reduce your bills to?

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    We paid money (1000's) upfront 3 years ago and it took until 6 weeks ago to actually get it connected, so it cost us money and made us none. It has been such a huge saga that I don't recommend them to anyone. It's horrendously complex as there are about 8 stages of getting it installed & connected to the grid and it seems there is a different department or company to do most of the stages and they don't talk to each other readily. Depending on the state you are in you get differing amounts of money for electricity you generate for the grid. It used to be 66c in Victoria, but was dropped to 25c about a year ago and I think it's now minimal (under 10c) or even nothing as of mid-September. So, money 'made' by solar power for people who were connected 2 years ago is different to what you would get now.

    I think it's a great concept, but the reality for us was less than ideal to put it mildly.

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    Subscribing. I am in qld and I think we still get some $ if we sell back to the grid. I'm not fussed on that really I'd just like our bills to be as close to $0 as possible. If we knew we were living in this house full time we'd be getting them now.

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    My dad and my parents in law have them in Victoria and love them. They get very very small bills - my dad made $600 over summer.
    They both had them put in last year with no problems, they were running in a couple of weeks.

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    I've just researched this. I hope I can explain it properly.

    We are in QLD.

    We are a family of 5, with a very large house and property and pool etc. We are estimating we would use 40kwh per day. There are people home all day, so we can estimate that half of our power is used in daylight hours and half during night time.

    The power that is generated by a solar panel system cannot be stored. It can only be used by the household, or fed into the network (for which you are payed for). There are also variances, ie. a 5kw solar system generates 20kwh on average, but that may be 30kwh in summer and 10kwh in winter due to increased sun hours and strength in summer.

    So we are getting a 5kw system (which will cost approximately $9000). That will generate enough power to supply our household during daylight hours. We will still have to pay for the power we use at night. So we expect that our bills will on average be halved. Any power that is generated that we don't use during daylight hours will get sold to the network.

    We wanted to get a 10kw system so that we could sell another 20kwh into the system during the day. We would be paid about half of what we would be paying for the electricity during the night, so would expect a 3/4 cut in our bill but unfortunately the government doesn't allow installation of a 10kw solar power system for some reason. A household with less power usage then us would probably be able to achieve that as they wouldn't need a 10kw system.

    I hope that made sense. I do apologise in advance if the actual kw numbers I have used aren't accurate, it was a couple of weeks ago and my mind is like a sieve lately. But the theory is still the same, the biggest point I was not aware of was you cannot store it to use for your night time usage, so either have to pay for that, or generate enough during the day to sell enough to compensate for your night time usage.
    Last edited by Pina Colada; 18-09-2012 at 08:03.

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    The cost depends on which state your in and if your local council is offering rebates too. For us we can go for a 5 kw system which is the max if we want to be eligible for rebates as above that cuts out altho 5kw would be the minimum for us to run our house. And the cost for that is anywhere between $7000 - $14000 from the quotes I have seen. There is also the brands of the panels to consider ,the German made ones are supposed to be the best as the china made ones don't last as long ( so I have been told) so that is a long term thing to consider.

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    You can get very good Chinese panels, it's not the panels you need to worry about.
    It's the inverters. And even then Chinese isn't all bad ( you get some dodgy company's)
    There are German panel/inverter company's closing down ever other day at the moment. But before that they drop quality in parts and manufacturing to try and stay afloat.

    Inverters have moving parts that panels do not not have.
    Upsized inverters - You don't need a 5kw inverter to go with 3kw's of panels, unless you are going to upgrade with in a year. (also most feed-in tariff's don't allow you to upgrade once you have agreed to the tariff/ you pass a certain size/past a certain date) In one/two years time you will be able to get a 2kw inverter at the current market value (cheaper and more efficient) and it's usually not easier to add the panels onto the over sized inverter compared to a new inverter with new array next to the old one.

    Make sure your installers don't install your inverter on the north facing wall. in summer they get hot with use and add the summer sun as well you'll cook your inverter and it destroy's your display screens.



    After you are installed your paperwork is created (inspections etc) it gets passed onto your retailer. It is then your responsibility to contact your retailer and organise your desired tariff. Tariffs are contracts, you need to read up on them, agree to them. Then you follow them up, even if you call your retailer once a week until you meter change.

    In vic i know that you don't usually get any documentation on your first bill after the solar meter is installed. It's the first FULL billing period after meter is installed that you see (xyz solar feed in) They still add it all together though. So we have a lot of cranky customers who get their first bill back and it's not what they thought it was going to be. Also YOU have to pay for any meter upgrades, this in an EXTRA out of pocket expense that gets put on your next bill. So you could have maybe $500 MORE than usual on your next bill.

    Some meters are not designed for solar (adds to you bill not subtracts) - some customers can not turn their system on until after they get their new SOLAR meter.
    Some distributors can take up to 2 months to get the meter on. At the moment with the tariff changes happening in Victorria Powercor are telling us they are 40 business days away from doing your meter - since they recived the paperwork from the retailer.

    People who have confusing address - lot numbers - Named properties etc will find it harder. What the distributor and your retailer go off is a database of addresses that usually doesn't get updated that often. Most cases you will need a Rates notice to sort this out. (distributors don't talk with your local council etc about changes)

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    A good installer will have option for you. Chinese and German etc.
    Don't settle for a company who don't give you the brand of panel or inverter when you are quoted (have it on your quote ) it usually means they get what ever stock they can get their hands on.
    We import our panels from China. takes time and money but we think it's better. Not a day goes by where i don't get 10 emails from some guy in Melbourne who bought a container load of panels from China (sometimes this stock could be a few years old) and he is trying to sell.


    Don't go with Origin to install, find a local installer dedicated to solar. Lots of electricians are getting into solar now but they aren't very experienced and they are sometime very over priced due to not many jobs booked up and not being able to get a better deal on their parts.

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    We have 9 panels that cost about $6000 I think, after the rebate.
    Our last 3-4 bills have been in the negative, so it's working for us.

    We also make use of the energy we make, by doing our washing/etc at nighttime and using up our energy, instead of during the daytime and getting charged for using energy from the grid.

    Anyway, blah blah, confusing. The best thing we did was find a company with an actual store - not online - and went there over and over again until we were satisfied.

    We had the panels installed in 1 day, and then it took Energex about a week to come around and connect it.

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    Sunnyskies what tariff are you on? PFit (60c)


 

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