Sunday, 28 August 2011

Solar Panels

 image courtesy of

 In early June, 18 solar panels were installed on the roof of our house (a 3 kilowatt system).

Over the past few days I have noticed with much excitement that we are generating more electricity than we are using every day, and it's still late winter.  We currently have the old-fashioned type of meter with a dial that spins backwards when we produce more than we use - a fantastic sight!

In September, ETSA (our state's electricity infrastructure provider), will (finally, after more than 3 months) install a smart meter that will mean that we are paid extra for any electricity that we return to the grid.

From now on, in spring and autumn when the days are relatively long and almost always sunny, I am pretty sure we will have no electricity bills, and may even make a profit.  The same is true for summer, although I expect that during heatwaves the air conditioner will probably use up most of the solar power produced.

In the long term, with electricity prices rising exponentially, I believe the solar panels will prove to have been a very wise investment, especially as we were able to benefit from Government rebates that reduced the cost considerably.  The benefit for the environment will be significant too, of course, in a brown-coal dependent state like South Australia.

Since having solar panels installed, I have become much more aware of which appliances use a lot of power, and am trying to restrict their use.  I am much more conscious, for example, of only using the oven when several things are cooking, and not just to heat one item.

Do you have solar panels?  How have your electricity bills been affected?


Laurie Anne said...

I would love to install solar panels. You are lucky your government is so proactive by offering rebates. I just wonder if our lack of sunny days around here would be a concern.

Tracy said...

I would love solar panels. For us, the cost is prohibitive at the moment, even after rebates. Maybe that could be next year's project. This year it's a full refit of our ensuite due to water damage and rot :(

Millie said...

I have a man coming on wednesday to measure up our roof for solar panels. I live in the UK though so our benefits will be different to yours! First off, our weather is crap most of the time, and in the winter we probably won't be able to generate much electricity at all! Also, our houses are generally smaller than those abroad, so there's less roof space for solar panels. I think we'll probably get 6 panels on, maybe 8 if we do it asymmetrically around the chimneys.

The government don't subsidise solar panel installation over here (even though they totally should because they claim to be the greenest government ever). Once installed though, we can get paid for 50% of the electricity we produce by selling back to the grid.

I'm very excited to see what happens! I agree with you that no matter the start up costs (and ours will be considerable) - long term it's a good way to "future proof" (I love that term) against rising energy costs and the scarcity of fossil fuels.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Jane and I live in south australia too, I hope you dont mind I would love to know the whys and wherefores of your choice of solar panels and who you went with to install your solar panels and how big a system you got? I really want to get solar panels installed and I understand that we need to have them installed before the end of Sept to get the benefits of the rebates? Any information about this regarding your personal experience would be fantastic. Thanks

Our Red House said...

Hi Jane,

We went with Mannix in Norwood, the main reason being that they were able to install before the June 30 deadline when the Government rebates were reduced. We found them to be very professional and easy to deal with.

We chose a 3KW system because we felt that it would cover our usage through most of the year (apart from winter). We have a long stretch of north-east facing roof that had room for 18 panels.

Regarding our type of house, we have a double brick 1915 villa with an electric oven but gas cooktop. We have (inefficient) reverse cycle air-conditioning which we set at 16 degrees in winter and 30 in summer, so we don't use it much. We dry our washing outdoors. Our water heater is gas.

If you have any further questions, I would be happy to answer them by email.