Aug 23rd, 2019: Solar System Ordered and Other Notable Stuff

As mentioned in last week’s Newsletter, we’ve now moved into the main house next to the Greeny Flat in order to complete the interior renovations. Long-time readers will know that we’ve been working on all the exterior energy retrofit work for nearly three years now in between other projects. Here’s a link to a series of videos we made of that process. I still have a few to add but these cover most of it. The next step will be to install a solar power system on the roof.

Computer rendering of the completed house showing solar panels on the East roof.

Computer rendering of the completed house showing solar panels on the East roof.

For a couple of reasons we’ve decided to go with an ‘Enphase’ micro-inverter system. Due to a ruling by Council’s heritage advisor we were unable to put the panels on the North-facing roof. So we’re putting them on the East and West sides instead. This is a good way to get more generation in the early morning and late afternoon and micro-inverters help to maximise the panel production at low sun angles. They are also essential if you have partial shading of the roof which is not an issue for us. More importantly, however, the Enphase system provides excellent monitoring of the system including keeping track of the production from each panel individually. This means that if there is ever a problem with the system we will know exactly which panel is the culprit. Personally, I think good monitoring is the most important part of any solar power system. Also, with micro-inverters, if one panel has a problem, e.g. has a big bird poo on it or is really dirty, it won’t take down the production of all the other panels as it would in a ‘string’ inverter system. Finally, microinverters convert the DC power from the panels straight into 240V AC which is much safer. They are quite a bit more expensive but I believe they will more than pay for themselves over the life of the system.

I’ll post some photos once the system is installed. Meanwhile here are a couple of articles about solar power systems that you might find useful and/or interesting.

What’s The Best Energy Retailer For Solar Owners?

According to this article from Solar Quotes, currently the cheapest energy retailer for solar owners in NSW is Origin Energy. But does that make them the best choice? Personally I think there are other considerations, at least as important as cost, to take into account when making the decision. I like and use Energy Locals because of their stated goals of ‘Cheaper Energy, Great Service, Carbon Offsets and Zero Hassle’. I have been with them for a couple of years now and I have found them to be great to deal with, fairly priced and they supply 100% carbon offsets (Green Power). So for me they tick all three of the triple-bottom-line boxes… they are ethically, economically and environmentally friendly. They might not be the very cheapest but they suit me just fine and I highly recommend them. I would much rather pay my hard-earned money to them than to one of Australia’s biggest polluters (e.g. Origin or AGL).

Batteries Still Don’t Pay For Themselves

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… a solar power system is a great investment for any homeowner but batteries are not. In case you’ve been caught up in the hype around home batteries, here’s another article for you to read that confirms that solar is great, solar + batteries is not.

Battery Electric Vehicles Are Coming… Fast!…

Image source:

Image source:

Batteries might not be the best addition to a home just yet but they are proving to be perfect for cars. Sales of BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) are ramping up quickly, in fact according to this article the Tesla Model 3 is already outselling all of its petrol-powered equivalents combined! That’s pretty impressive given that it’s only been on the market for two years. But then, according to this other article from, the Model 3 is ‘the Ultimate Driving Machine’.  Here’s a quote…

‘It’s hard to comprehend that a single car can excel in so many ways. It’s the ultimate driving machine, it’s the safest car you can buy, it has the best infotainment tech, and it has a total cost of ownership more similar to a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry than a BMW 3 Series. But that’s the story.’

… and Driverless!

The driverless RACQ Smart Shuttle... coming to an island near us.

The driverless, electric RACQ Smart Shuttle… coming to an island near us.

I was surprised to read this week that the first trial of a driverless electric bus in Queensland will be running for six months starting in November on Karragarra Island. Karragarra is right next to Russell Island where we have been building our house. In many ways it’s the perfect place to test a driverless bus. It only has a few roads, not many cars or pedestrians and no public transport apart from the ferry to get you to and from the mainland. I hope we get a chance to try it out next time we’re up that way.

I expect it won’t be too long before we’re all so used to riding in driverless electric vehicles it will be as normal as using a smart phone.

Thanks for reading.

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