Self Sufficiency Simple Living Exercise Tips Save Money Growing Food Preserving Recipes & Cooking

Self Sufficiency Simple Living Exercise Tips Save Money Growing Food Preserving Recipes & Cooking

So my previous solar article onWhy I finally got a solar system answered why I finally did end up getting a solar system, and this article is dedicated to explain my whole solar install experience.

Even though I was very happy with my final price and overall solar package, theres no doubt that a solar investment is still a lot of money (offset against electricity savings or not) and its a big decision for most people.

My 5kW PV System installed on shed roof (image above)

This is why the hunt for solar took me so long, because I wanted to be convinced beyond doubt that not only was it the right decision, price, and time to get a PV system, but I also had the right solar company for the job. I needed to be confident the equipment used in my solar system (like the panels and inverter) was high quality and the installation crew were professional and not fly by the night con men.

Deciding on who to install your solar system

It goes without saying (but Ill say it anyway), make sure the solar installation company you commission for your PV system is trustworthy and professional. Youre making a substantial investment that costs a lot of money and needs to be done right. You can check the credibility of a solar company through many different means and some are:

Checking the credibility of your solar installer is definitely homework you need to do to ensure you sort out the flowers from the weeds and get the best PV system possible.

This next part of the article deals with the installation and practical costs associated with my solar system. Of course, my situation will be different from other solar installations but this information may be used as a guide to roughly compare fees and charges for anyone considering buying their own PV system.

I decided to get the maximum size PV system allowed by our state regulations here in QLD which is 5kW (for a residential property) this includes 27 German made PV panels. If I was going to install solar, I wanted to make a real dent in my power bill not just wipe off a few dollars so I went as big as I could. On a good day my system could produce up to 26 kW hours of electricity, on average about 20 — 22 kW hours per day. The inverter has a 5kWcapacity (naturally) and is a Chinese made Samil Power SolarRiver series model, with an LCD screen showing power output accumulatively and in real time. Also, it has wireless capability so I can monitor the systems performance via my PC or mobile phone cool hey.

Brett (from Green and Gold Solar) had a good idea for people wanting a 5kW system but couldnt afford the cost he suggested getting a smaller system but installing a larger 5kW inverter. By doing this a person can still buy into solar and then add panels in stages as they can afford them. Personally, I decided just to get the full 5kW system; although, the staggered grow your system as you can afford it is a good option for those who dont want to outlay that much money at once.

Here are the frames and brackets required for panels when the roof pitch/angle is not appropriate (image above)

However, its one thing to want a big system and another to have the roof capacity to support it. My house has an East/West aspect so the pitch of my roof doesnt face North (which is the optimal direction panels should face to get the best sun benefit); therefore, if I installed solar panels on my house roof my panels wouldnt work to the best capacity. Also, roof space for such a sized system would be an issue anyway.

My shed happened to be the best location for my solar panels. However, due to the pitch of my shed roof being only slight, brackets/frames had to be installed to hold the solar panels at the right angle and facing north. These brackets/frames work out to be about $40 each or around $700-$1000 extra onto the overall installation cost for a 5kW system.

How long did the installation take?

With three guys on site, they arrived at my place at 7:00 AM and worked steadily with plenty of short breaks (due to the extremely hot weather conditions). The job was complete and handed over to me by 4:00PM that afternoon, thereby taking 9 hours to complete the install from start to finish.

Who installed my system?

If you have read my previous solar articles you would guess which company I got to install my system Green and Gold Solar . naturally. Obviously, I am very happy with how the whole process went from the site inspection and explanation, to the quote, the install, and follow-up.

The install team were sub-contractors organised by Green and Gold Solar called NEXTGEN (Next Generation Electrical and Data) and were highly professional and qualified. On site for my install, they had three members two of whom were qualified master electricians. The wiring and overall workmanship was neat, they constantly communicated with me to ensure I knew what was going on, and they ensured I understood the workings of the system they were installing.

  • ensuring the panels were angled correctly to take advantage of the sun;
  • spacing the panels out across the roof so they wouldnt shade each other;
  • Self Sufficiency Simple Living Exercise Tips Save Money Growing Food Preserving Recipes & Cooking
  • securing the frames to my wooden shed framework;
  • wiring between all the panels;
  • placement of the panels on the roof to avoid shading from large trees; and
  • positioning the inverter on the inside door of the shed and making the electrical wiring job neat.

Solar PV system complete including conduit to run electrical wire between all panels (image above)

Apart from that, I had a medium sized gum tree right next to my shed on the western side which started to cast a shadow over the building at around 2:00PM. This would have had an effect on my PV systems output plus I was worried about branches and debris falling on the panels so I dropped the tree on the day before the install.

My costs and finance plan

I talked about feed in tariffs in my last solar article and they should be kept in mind when talking about total costs overall because if you do buy solar with a feed in tariff scheme attached, your rebates are an important feature.

So too are small scale technology certificates (STCs). STCs are government issued green energy points for installing a green energy system and can be kept or used as a discount on your system. Its another incentive to encourage people to install green energy in businesses and homes alike. My system received 134 STCs, which I used as a discount off my PV system. STCs will vary depending on market conditions, government regulations, where a person lives (where the solar system is installed), the size of the system, and other variables.

Also, my solar purchase was helped by a State Government lump sum rebate of $1000. which was removed from the total overall cost and claimed back by the installer rather than me having to pay the extra grand and then claim it back myself from the Government.

I didnt want to pay cash outright for my solar system so I decided to opt for a finance plan offered by my solar company. Finance approval for my loan took 24 hours and wasnt invasive at all, although, I did have to cough-up $1000 for a deposit. And, due to the interest on the loan being calculated upfront, it was added to the overall cost and a monthly payment plan calculated. The whole finance deal was completely see-through.

Computer modelling was done on my specific situation using our average quarterly power bill, likely power generation, and feed in tariff. After these variables were entered into the computer,the program showed my repayments for the loan to install my solar system would be cancelled out by the savings I make through generating my own electricity. In other words, I would have been paying the same money (or more) over the next 12 months on electricity anyway. if I didnt get a PV system.

Everyones situation is different so Im not going to detail the exact figures of my repayments to money saved as an offset for my finance plan; suffice to say, if you cant or prefer not to pay for the system outright then working out a finance plan with your solar installer or financial company is a really good way to get your PV system sooner. Unlike borrowing for a car or other depreciating asset, a solar system actually adds value to your property immediately and starts making/saving you money once it is paid out and in some cases its possible to make money whilst still paying the system off think about that

Here is the actual Cost breakdown of my PV system fully installed and covering everything including changing the metre box from dial to digital:

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