GOING SOLAR by Joy Barrow


My husband and I have recently installed solar.  It took us a long time to make this decision although we have had solar hot water and solar heating to our swimming pool for many years.

Why did it take so long?  One excuse after another; too expensive, to many options, technology is changing rapidly, do we want to have battery storage or sell our unused power back to the energy company?  Finally, I said, okay let’s just do it.

David spent hours on the computer looking at the best ways to achieve our needs.  We have a flat roof and that means the panels won’t be seen.  We have the perfect northerly (southern hemisphere) aspect to maximise our solar power collection and we have ample room on the roof to locate the solar panels . 

Our solar system will generate 6.4kW and the goal is to offset  the household running costs.  We have  two reverse cycle air conditioners, a washing machine, oven, dishwasher, lighting, pool and hot water pumps, and the usual appliances and gadgets.

Then came the more difficult exercise of getting prices and recommendations.  We knew from ‘Choice Magazine’ the right panels to install or at least the ones to give a wide berth to.  Like any product quality can be highly variable and their is a plethora of choices for solar panels and inverters.

The difference in quotes for the same quality of panels and the installation was mind boggling.  They ranged from $16,500 down to $5,500.  (These prices are after the government’s solar rebate).

After extensive research, phone calls, choosing an installer and a bit of haggling over prices we signed a contract.  The demand for solar is so great we had to wait for six weeks for our team of three to put the panels on the roof and make changes to our power board.  This was completed in a day and then the fun started!

The energy company take up to thirty days to change the power board over to solar.  They negotiate the rate they will pay for the power to be returned to the grid but of course this doesn’t happen until their technician makes the changes. We are still waiting and even though it is annoying I am happy we have taken the plunge.  I expect our electricity savings and credits from our electricity provider to pay for the work in three years.

I  try to be environmentally friendly and going solar has given me a feel-good moment.