Sunday, July 01, 2018

Solar panels and batteries

A couple of weeks ago we dined with our Late Friend's partner and his brother and sister in law, and our Hair Dresser Friend, and two other friends at a hotel. It was a lovely catch up, but we were all missing our friend/partner/relative. The Black Widow from Fiji showed us an app on his phone. He and our Late Friend bought a new home together in Caulfield. They quickly added lots of solar panels and never paid much for electricity and often received credits.

Some dirty old coal fired power stations have been shut down in Australia. Not a bad thing in my opinion. A smarter system will take over. But our Late Friend had been spooked by tabloid newspaper warnings of blackouts, rather like some Americans bought up big on tinned food and water when Obama was elected. The end is nigh.

Unwell as he was and from his hospital bed, he bought a $10,000 home battery. The Black Widow didn't think it was a good idea but did not stop it, and so, the day after our Late Friend's funeral, the battery was installed.

The Black Widow showed us an app on his phone. It monitors the system and was really interesting. The solar panels generate electricity and now charge the battery. Once the battery is fully charged, the system switches over to putting power into the public private grid, which gives a modest power credit for future use. We looked at the app, and it showed 0.1%. Then it changed to - 1.5%, which meant the battery was flat and his home was now drawing power from the grid. It had been a cold and overcast midwinter day and he had been home all day with the air con heating on.

The system will be brilliant in warmer weather, with aside from feeding into the grid, there will not be any drawing of power. The battery will fully charge during the day and partly discharge in the evening.

Still, I am not sure that I agree with this widespread decentralisation of the generation of electricity, especially in Australia where there is plenty of sun and wind that could be harnessed by power companies, if only the government would cut loose from its love of coal (big local and overseas business profits).

29 comments:

  1. Solar panels are very common in Poland

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    1. Gosia, I am sure they are common. I think Germany leads the world with solar panels on homes.

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  2. Coal and oil are hard to break from, because of all the rich people and their money involved.

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    1. Strayer, precisely. Not too many profits to be generated by solar energy.

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    1. EC, it is being pushed by the people and business ahead of government policy.

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  4. My folks installed solar panels at their place in Canberra. It was largely motivated by cost savings rather than for environmental reasons. Regardless, they are happy with the outcome.

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    1. Ad Rad, even though it may have been done for economic reasons, I bet at times they think they are saving the environment.

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  5. With all the privet tree branches over the roof of my cabin sun would have a battle being of any use to solar panels.

    My landlords put some solar panels on the roof of their house a few years ago. This property is not solely dependent on the panels.

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    1. Lee, so like us, you can't generate your own solar power. If it was cost competitive, should we buy power in some way from someone who does generate an excess of power. But I still think the generation of power should be centralised.

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  6. I agree with you, power in Australia could be a lot cheaper if only the Government used solar or wind power which is plentiful!!

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    1. Sami, I had not thought about it, but how much solar power could your state generate? How much tidal power with tides in the north of your state the biggest in the world?

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  7. At one time I live off the grid. Around here most people heat there home either by nature gas or wood products.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, is that like radiators heated by boilers fired by natural gas and wood, or something else?

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  8. We have panels just for water heating, at the barn. Plenty of farmers here now have their big barns covered in electricity producing panels. Usually they were installed and paid for by the state, and will only start producing income for the farmers themselves after 15 years. I just hope the panels last that long.

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    1. Really interesting Cro. I expect the panels of today will be very redundant in 15 years.

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  9. Solar panels are in my homes future.

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    1. Mark, given where you live, you could probably go off grid for power with the alternative of panels and a big battery.

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  10. Solar is the way to go, if in winter you have enough sun.
    Wind power is a great idea trouble is some people get rather cross because the new windfarms if any are in the way of certain birds - fair enough in one way, but on the other hand!

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    1. Margaret, the bird kill thing is used by people who are against wind farms. I don't doubt a few young and inexperienced birds are killed, but not one has found a heap of birds under any wind tower.

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  11. You want the government to cut loose from all the big profits?? Ha Ha. You are such a joker Andrew.

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    1. Well River, if you are talking about our old public utilities, they used to generate profits for the government. That would be us. I do think we can reduce the government's relying on big business by keeping on talking and protesting at times.

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  12. We certainly do need to utilise solar and wind way more than we do. We installed solar on our farm workshop a few years ago and it works a treat to run our house and workshop. It feeds back into the main grid. Would be great to add a battery, as the price for these keep falling we may be able to afford to do that too soon.

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    1. CM, like most technology, there is no right time to buy a battery. The development of batteries and the falling price has been exponential over the past few years, but at some point, the bullet has to be bitten.

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    2. Oh yes, I have great respect for your farm and your farming, using technology to make it better and hopefully more profitable. Australia can succeed in this area.

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  13. Surely it has to be the way of the future Andrew, as you say we have to keep the conversation going strong and loud! We've had solar water heating for many years next step is panels!

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    1. Grace, that is good that you have solar water heating. Solar water heating doesn't get the press coverage it should.

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  14. Here here the state power should be generated by sun, wind or water not coal. We have solar panels but no battery. We had a credit on the last two bills.

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    1. Diane, so I think you would be in credit for all your electric bills except for perhaps the midwinter bill.

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