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Thread: My rooftop solar stats

  1. #1
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    My rooftop solar stats

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Some years ago I crunched a lot of numbers and concluded that financially it was not worth installing rooftop solar. It would never pay for itself.

    Then the prices began dropping rapidly, the systems got larger, and the Victorian government added its own $2500 rebate on top of the Federal government's.

    So a 6.6KW system started to look attractive and in October last year we had one installed.

    Cost installed including 5 KW inverter: $4690
    Less $2500 rebate $2190.

    So out of pocket for me $2190.

    From now until around May next year our daily solar output will exceed our draw from the grid, and the surplus will be sold at 12 cents a kw.

    Some figures:

    In the last 36 days, we have sold 570 KW to the grid for $68.
    We have bought 369 KW from the grid for $107.
    The 570 KW we sold was surplus -- there would have been hundreds of other KW we generated and used ourselves.

    January 2019 our biggest summer electricity use month, we bought 160.3KW, but sold 750 KWs.
    January 2018 without solar, we bought 592KW.

    August 2018 (pre- solar)
    Bought 876KW
    Sold 0
    Net 876
    August 2019 (with solar)
    bought 665 KW
    sold 218 KW
    net buy 447KW (so a little over half as much as without solar)

    We generate much more than we sell, but the figures I have are for what is sold as surplus to our own needs.

    Our biggest user is the reverse cycle air conditioner. Yesterday where in Melbourne we froze around 12, it was on from around 8 am to 10.30 pm, consuming 19 KW of power. We generated about 18 Kw, most of that was used by the air con, tv, etc, and a surplus 4 KW sold into the grid.

    The Solax inverter sends a wifi signal to my router for access anywhere in the world through a portal, giving real-time statistics on electricity being generated, panel volts, grid voltage... We love looking at all that nerdy stuff.

    Is it green?

    In the last 12 months, we have saved 8.6 tons of carbon emissions.
    We have "planted" 23.2 trees
    It has yielded 8.6 megawatts of electricity.

    The proliferation of daytime solar has given incompetent governments who have failed to give us the power we need by building power stations, a breathing space -- tiny but maybe enough.

    However, this proliferation is providing headaches for power suppliers. All that unused electricity being fed into the grid is not under their control, causing irregular voltage. They can turn street transformers up or down somewhat, but in the future it will be an alarming problem with almost catastrophic technical consequences.

    Our inverter will switch off if the grid voltage reaches 260 -- and we come close very often.
    At 10.24 this morning grid voltage was 253.4 -- just 7 volts off.

    Power bills: We hate the way power companies keep changing plans. A year ago we could have sold power at 20 cents a KW. Now, after government meddling, it is a flat 12 cents. The price we pay for a KW though is three times that much.

    Our bills have reduced dramatically. One quarter we were $3 in credit.

    Personal future problems will be the slowly declining panel output, the inverters are a weak link, and replacement costs are very high. Without the inverter, output is cut to zero. When grid power is cut for maintenance, our inverter shuts down and we have zero power. (we do have petrol generators on standby).

    Battery storage: too costly to be worth considering now.

    For all that, we love our panels. Even though they are extremely inefficient. For every 100 watts of sunshine power that falls on every square meter of panels, just 17% or so is generated as electricity. They are improving, but very slowly.

    Hope these figures prove helpful.
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  2. #2
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    I've just ordered ours here in Perth. Our feed in tariff is only 7c per unit here. Speaking of units... you're using 'KW' for 'kWh'. kW is a measure of power, ie the rate at which work is being done. kWh is a measure of work done, ie using a power of one kW for one hour, also called "a unit". Your panels have generated 8.6mWh of electricity.

    Other annoying things about power here in WA (in addition to the measly 7c/unit FIT)
    Maximum 5kW inverter (with max 6.65kW panels attached) for single phase
    If you have three phase power you're allowed more capacity... but only as approved by Western Power, so they can avoid suburbs going too voltage-high. That's reasonable, although I would prefer to see a system that encourages all the solar you want and solves the over-voltage in a different way. The unreasonable part is that Synergy (the monopolistic power seller in Perth) will not pay you for any of you exported power if you have more than 5kW of inverter capacity. They'll just steal it. This was probably signed into law by a government that wants to maximise profits for the power selling utility before privatising it in a few years.

    I went for an expensive system, with 25 years parts/labour/performance on panels because I detest the idea wasting time doing it all again in 10 years, also I don't like the idea of putting all those panels in to landfill. So I got 20.4% efficiency panels, which may help with roof space down the track if I decide to double or triple my capacity.

    My payback is 3.4 years... in theory. Estimates by solar installers vary wildly, and the online solar calculator I used is clearly oversimplified.

    Hopefully in 5 years or so it will be viable to add a battery and save the 'other half' of my power bill. My usage is high from too many computers and aquariums and ponds.

    But today in pretty much every state it's a no-brainer to install solar, for most people it's a 20% to 40% yield on investment.

    I could even install battery right now and still have a 7 year pay back... mainly due to my too-high usage. But it's not a good enough return to tempt me, especially when everyone thinks battery technology/scale will improve within 5 years or so.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    Cost installed including 5 KW inverter: $4690
    As a side note as much complaining as is heard over the high prices paid in AUS as compared to the US here is a case for people to jump up and down and celebrate. The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    As a side note as much complaining as is heard over the high prices paid in AUS as compared to the US here is a case for people to jump up and down and celebrate. The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000.


    Java "The great rip-off" phile
    More like half that... 12.5kUSD
    https://news.energysage.com/how-much...st-in-the-u-s/

  5. #5
    OCD
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    A question that probably highlights my ignorance, but why can't excess electricity, generated by the proliferation of solar panels, be used to pump water back up into dams for night use?

  6. #6
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    If I recall correctly, without Federal and state government subsidies our 6.6kw system would have cost around $11,000 instead of $2190.

  7. #7
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    OCD, not every dam is equipped for hydro would be one reason. And we haven't yet reached that critical overload stage, especially in Victoria where 1600 MW which Hazelwood generated, suddenly disappeared with so little of it replaced.

    Even with so much rooftop solar, this summer will again be touch and go for supply to meet demand. No doubt polluting, costly diesel generators have been hired to be on standby.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonetruepath View Post
    That price is after tax credits, which depending on your tax situation you may or may not receive. Per that site the pre-tax credit price is $USD17,940 which at the current exchange rate* is $AUS26,066

    If you want to talk after tax credits/rebates Robusto's 6.6kW system w/ 5kW inverter ended up costing him $AUS2,190. Per the site you linked to (There are others who state higher average prices such as the one I used.) the quoted $USD12,588 after tax credits for a 6kW system converts to $AUS18,246, over 800% more than Robusto's cost. So the ratio is showing an even better price for Oz than when comparing the before tax credit/refund prices.


    Java "Apples to apples" phile



    *Note the exchange rate used is the bank rate which none of us get so the actual price paid would be higher.
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    A word of caution to look at green tech on Whirlpool. Many happy posters with solar but some have found their supplier has crashed by the time the first inverter dies and the expected warranty claim can't be made.
    I suggest the status of the supplier is just as important as a good price.
    Have fun.

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    I paid $3700 for a Huawei 5kW inverter with 6.6kW of panels split NW/NE.

    They have been in for going on 18 months and are great. The inverter is lovely and only 10kg, fanless with great software to analyse everything. I can also log on and do firmware updates myself.

    Nice.

    In Perth the payback would be between 2 and 3 years for that.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Jackster's Avatar
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    Half my power bill is the service charge. Half of my usage is the fridge keeping my ice blocks frozen at about 50c per day.
    Im thinking of disconnecting the power and using a lng converted generator and a battery.

    Although, most of my lng bill is probably service charge too... Maybe I need to convert everything to lpg salvaged from wrecked cars...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    That price is after tax credits, which depending on your tax situation you may or may not receive. Per that site the pre-tax credit price is $USD17,940 which at the current exchange rate* is $AUS26,066

    If you want to talk after tax credits/rebates Robusto's 6.6kW system w/ 5kW inverter ended up costing him $AUS2,190. Per the site you linked to (There are others who state higher average prices such as the one I used.) the quoted $USD12,588 after tax credits for a 6kW system converts to $AUS18,246, over 800% more than Robusto's cost. So the ratio is showing an even better price for Oz than when comparing the before tax credit/refund prices.


    Java "Apples to apples" phile



    *Note the exchange rate used is the bank rate which none of us get so the actual price paid would be higher.
    You said "The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000"
    The average price for 6kW which of course includes tax credits is 12.5kUSD. If not everyone gets the credits then that bumps the average up a bit, ie to 12.5k. It's already factored in. That's 18kAUD which is closer to half of "over $AUD30,000"
    Not sure what web site you can point to that gives a figure over 30 000AUD. The site I gave specifies prices for systems using individual panel manufacturers, only one that I could see charges as much as that for a 6kW system. They charge like champions though, at 30kUSD for a 6kW system.

  13. #13
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Smile

    Jackster....I presume you don't live in a suburb with neighbours just an arm's length away then

  14. #14
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonetruepath View Post
    You said "The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000"
    The average price for 6kW which of course includes tax credits is 12.5kUSD. If not everyone gets the credits then that bumps the average up a bit, ie to 12.5k. It's already factored in. That's 18kAUD which is closer to half of "over $AUD30,000"
    I provided a comparative price that was the same as the price I quoted from Robusto's post:

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    Cost installed including 5 KW inverter: $4690
    i.e. the installed price,which was not the price including the tax credit/rebate:

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    Less $2500 rebate $2190.
    I used the same pricing format as Robusto/the quoted post did.

    An Installed Price is not the same thing as a Final Price/Price After Rebate unless the rebate is an instant one given at the time of purchase. Given Robusto's wording it was a fair assumption that the rebate was similar to the Tax Credit in the US which is filed for as part of ones Federal Tax Return in the following year.

    Quote Originally Posted by theonetruepath View Post
    Not sure what web site you can point to that gives a figure over 30 000AUD. The site I gave specifies prices for systems using individual panel manufacturers, only one that I could see charges as much as that for a 6kW system. They charge like champions though, at 30kUSD for a 6kW system.
    Did you not read my 2nd post which you quoted in the above post? I gave you the link to the web site I got my figure from:

    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    (There are others who state higher average prices such as the one I used.)
    Which if you go to and tell it to display the average cost before tax credit for the 6kW system you will see a price of $20,331 which is of course in USD. Using the exchange rate at the time of my posting ($AUD1=$USD0.68824) that converts to $AUS29,540.57. As noted at the bottom of my 2nd post that's the bank rate not the rate you or I get. If you add on those extra points that you and I pay that puts the price over $AUS30,000.


    Java "Wording matters" phile
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  15. #15
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    State government subsidies in Australia vary among the 6 states and can be in the form of direct cash to the household (in my case here in Victoria) to interest-free loans or subsidised battery.

    In practice, the Federal government subsidy is usually paid to solar installers who then quote an after-subsidy installation price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    I provided a comparative price that was the same as the price I quoted from Robusto's post:



    i.e. the installed price,which was not the price including the tax credit/rebate:



    I used the same pricing format as Robusto/the quoted post did.

    An Installed Price is not the same thing as a Final Price/Price After Rebate unless the rebate is an instant one given at the time of purchase. Given Robusto's wording it was a fair assumption that the rebate was similar to the Tax Credit in the US which is filed for as part of ones Federal Tax Return in the following year.



    Did you not read my 2nd post which you quoted in the above post? I gave you the link to the web site I got my figure from:



    Which if you go to and tell it to display the average cost before tax credit for the 6kW system you will see a price of $20,331 which is of course in USD. Using the exchange rate at the time of my posting ($AUD1=$USD0.68824) that converts to $AUS29,540.57. As noted at the bottom of my 2nd post that's the bank rate not the rate you or I get. If you add on those extra points that you and I pay that puts the price over $AUS30,000.


    Java "Wording matters" phile
    Wording does indeed matter.
    1. You and I don't buy US solar systems so when we compare USD to AUD we simply use the bank rate. They earn USD and they spend USD, they are not penalised by shonky banks exchanging at unfavourable rates. The equivalent AUD is that given by the prevailing bank rate. Likewise when we buy solar systems we earn AUD and spend AUD. There's symmetry here, you can't introduce an asymmetric exchange rate for no good reason.
    2. US citizens when buying a solar system with 6kW capacity spend an average of 12550USD. This is around 18000AUD. Sure you can jump through hoops to try and find inaccurate non-official websites or monkey with dodgy exchange rates or try to take away the solar rebates they get, but at the end of the day "wording matters" and US citizens pay the equivalent of an average of 18000AUD not 'over 30000AUD'. 18000AUD is much closer to half of what you said.
    3. Why do you keep bringing up what Robusto paid... it's hardly relevant to your claim "The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000" or my refutation thereof. Wording matters.

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theonetruepath View Post
    Wording does indeed matter.
    1. You and I don't buy US solar systems so when we compare USD to AUD we simply use the bank rate. They earn USD and they spend USD, they are not penalised by shonky banks exchanging at unfavourable rates. The equivalent AUD is that given by the prevailing bank rate. Likewise when we buy solar systems we earn AUD and spend AUD. There's symmetry here, you can't introduce an asymmetric exchange rate for no good reason.
    2. US citizens when buying a solar system with 6kW capacity spend an average of 12550USD. This is around 18000AUD. Sure you can jump through hoops to try and find inaccurate non-official websites or monkey with dodgy exchange rates or try to take away the solar rebates they get, but at the end of the day "wording matters" and US citizens pay the equivalent of an average of 18000AUD not 'over 30000AUD'. 18000AUD is much closer to half of what you said.
    3. Why do you keep bringing up what Robusto paid... it's hardly relevant to your claim "The average 6kW system installed in the US costs over $AUD30,000" or my refutation thereof. Wording matters.
    Yes, wording matters, and you have made many incorrect assumptions in your wording. Let me help you correct some.

    First off rather than assume that for some strange unknown reason I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about and ignoring what I say try taking what I say at face value.

    Now, taking your post point by point.

    1.WRONG. While you may not buy US solar systems I do. Just as while you may not do any foreign currency exchange I and many other people in the US do and all of us are indeed affected by the shonky bank exchange rates.

    2.WRONG. Not everyone in the US is a US citizen. Yup, words matter. Additionally, speaking of words matter, read what those sites say. They don't claim that the final cost of a 6kW system is $xx,xxx. They say the price with the tax credit is xx,xxx. That's a VERY big distinction. Plus if you read their 'fine print' you'll see they say that not everyone (Such as myself and many others that I know.) may be eligible and/or be able to collect the tax credit. Most people in the US can not collect the full tax credit. It is not a refund but a credit. It can only reduce your federal tax liability to zero. It can not get you a refund.

    The site you choose is no more official than the one I choose. It is not a government site but one owned and operated by a private enterprise, just as the one I linked to is. Yours however only operates in/deals with 35 states while mine deals with all 50. When I choose that site a couple years ago it had the highest rating among the solar sites.

    3. Apparently you missed the whole point of my first post. i.e. A comparison of the price in AUS vs the US.


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  18. #18
    OCD
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    Come on fellas. This is starting to get out of hand. There is no 'one true path'. Even if you're religious there about 2,000 of them.
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Seems the one true path is quite a narrow track.
    One true path..jpg
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  20. #20
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OCD View Post
    Come on fellas. This is starting to get out of hand. There is no 'one true path'. Even if you're religious there about 2,000 of them.
    Sounds like my old GPS ...led me down many a garden path. Directing me to make turns into farm gates, into the middle of nowhere, across the Tasman bridge into the wrong side of Hobart... and silly me would obey her command.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarrenK View Post
    A word of caution to look at green tech on Whirlpool. Many happy posters with solar but some have found their supplier has crashed by the time the first inverter dies and the expected warranty claim can't be made.
    I suggest the status of the supplier is just as important as a good price.
    Have fun.
    Yes, it happens. I think that there are few businesses where you have customers thinking that their system will last decades. The panels generally will but isolator boxes can give trouble and inverters may last 10 to 15 years (and can be repaired).

    How many businesses really last decades and can be expected to do so?

    The end result is people go for panels such as LG that are likely to be around for a long time but then they pay much much more.

    Likewise if you pay double the cost for an installation then you are really paying insurance for the long term so I guess you pay your money and make your choices.

    Finally changes to government rules and subsidies mean sudden changes can adversely affect installation businesses and force some out of business.

    It is complicated. I certainly would look into who your installer is. The minimum warranty on an inverter is 5 years and some offer more.
    Last edited by wattgn; 1 Week Ago at 12:10 PM.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    You are very right Glen. The seductiveness of the warranties unfortunately mean nothing when installers are going out of business all the time, irrespective of their size. (Some then reinvent themselves under another name).

    Just like every cheap coffee machine boasts it makes "the perfect" espresso, installers boast they use Tier ! panels -- so they must be top of the range, yes?

    No, Tier 1 is something Bloomberg made up and applies more like a Moody's credit rating for the manufacturer and has nothing to do with quality of panels. Misleading advertising I reckon.

    Leaving shoddy installations aside -- and I suppose you shouldn't--the number one complaint I've read about is premature inverter failure.
    Unless you monitor solar output throughout the day (like me--I love it) you won't be aware your supposedly cost-saving system is producing zero output and you've been buying from the grid for the last 3 months. Until you get your bill then check the dud inverter.

    Getting the inverter replaced even under warranty could be a time-consuming hassle.

    Panels tend to have a very long lifetime. I bought a used, $80, 40 watter to trickle charge my boat battery 25 years ago, and it's still producing near if not full output. It's anything up to 30-35 years old.

    But can the same be said for the 260 watts of recently added new Chinese panels?
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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Yup, the biggest scams around here seem to be the seller using lower quality components and selling them at the higher quality prices putting the warranty fully on the manufacturer and sub-contracting out the installation to a sub-standard 3rd party who per the contract is responsible for any warranty issues on the installation side of things. Just like the manufacturer of the cheapo poor quality components who is nowhere to be found when their part fails neither is the installer when their installation starts leaking and falling apart. Meanwhile the seller walks off scot-free with a big wad of cash in their pocket and no legal liability due to the fine print in the contract that the buyer signed but never bothered to read or didn't understand the consequences of if they did. All on top of not doing their due diligence.

    In some jurisdictions laws have been put into place making the seller ultimately responsible for all warranty claims. But...the scammers have figured out ways around that as well, typically setting up what is in essence a shell corporation that at the first sign of any problems disappears with a new one taking its place and continuing business sometimes in the same location, with the same employees, and all the old corporations records intact and still in place.

    All of this is of course not limited to the solar panel installation industry, it's the same old scam that has been going on forever.

    The take-away? Do your due diligence for all levels of people and companies involved in your project, seller, installer, and equipment manufacturer. The bigger the project the deeper you need to dig. And...Read the contract including all the fine print! If you don't understand it bring in someone you trust who can. Yes it can be a lot of work, but you'll thank yourself down the road.


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    OCD
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    It's way too easy for companies to escape their responsibilities by closing up shop and restarting with a cleared slate - if not a clear conscience. I'm of course assuming some of these bastards even have a conscience.
    And don't get me started on shonky products with multiple brand names. Sound familiar? 'If you find a competitor's lower price on the same stocked item we will beat it by 10%'. You can of course find the same item elsewhere, only it will have a different colour and brand name.

    Ps if I read the contracts (which are just escape loopholes from any possible liability) I probably wouldn't buy anything. You, pretty much, pays your money and takes your chances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    However, this proliferation is providing headaches for power suppliers. All that unused electricity being fed into the grid is not under their control, causing irregular voltage. They can turn street transformers up or down somewhat, but in the future it will be an alarming problem with almost catastrophic technical consequences.
    I think what's going to happen at some point, is that it will become mandatory for new installs of grid-connected solar to include a battery.

    The reason for this is that household batteries in conjunction with solar help smooth and stabilise the local grid.

    At present, when there's a lot of grid tied household solar capacity in an area, is there's heaps of power being fed into the system when the sun is out, but as soon as clouds come over, all of those houses that were exporting, almost instantaneously switch to importing, causing wild swings in the grid. There is no buffer. Basically all the houses start and stop feeding the grid at virtually the same time.

    Batteries address this in a few ways. Firstly, as the day starts, some houses will charge the battery first, then export. This nicely staggers the introduction of feed in power to the grid, and lines up better with the 2pm-8pm peak. Second is when the sunlight levels drop, the battery houses won't start drawing from the grid for many hours.

    Running solar + powerwall here and on a time of use energy plan. This means extremely cheap power from 10pm to 7am (12c). Expensive from 2pm-8pm on weekdays, but the battery means most no imports power during this peak period.
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  26. #26
    OCD
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Seems the one true path is quite a narrow track.
    One true path..jpg
    The dangerous guy, who thinks he knows the one true path, would be just another pathetic nutter if there weren't so many other gullible nutters looking for someone who knows the one true path.
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