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James Martin II

Air conditioning terror in the heat (Solartopia #8)

December 14, 2017
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Welcome to the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures in Newcastle soaring to 34 degrees around the middle of the day. Because my life is full of excitement, two of the most noteworthy moments from my day at home were a) spotting a gigantic blue tongue in the back yard hiding behind […]

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Battery Storage Price Index – December 2017

December 13, 2017
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Welcome to the second edition of Solar Choice’s Battery Storage Price Index – the companion to our Solar PV Price Index, which covers solar system installation prices around Australia. The aim of the Battery Storage Price Index is to assist you in determining whether batteries are right for your home. Average battery system prices for […]

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Commercial Solar PV Price Index for December 2017

December 12, 2017
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This month’s Commercial Solar PV Price Index sees the introduction of 70kW solar systems for the first time (a long overdue addition). The average cost of installing a commercial solar system in Australia currently sits at around $1.19 per watt ($1.19/W) – nominally less than last month‘s figure of $1.20/W and a modest improvement over […]

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Residential Solar PV Price Index – December 2017

December 12, 2017
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The average price per watt ($/W) for primary offerings was $1.30 this month – down slightly from November and a new low since we began tracking prices in 2012. The average for a premium system was $1.54/W, while the average for a microinverter system was $1.86/W. December marks the second month using our new Solar […]

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Solar system size limits: How much does your local network allow? [UPDATED]

November 28, 2017
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What’s the upper limit to the amount of solar panel capacity that you can put on your roof? This is actually a multi-layered question that involves your roof area, your energy saving goals and any applicable restrictions imposed by your local electricity network company. This article touches on all these factors, but focuses mainly on […]

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Sizing residential solar & battery systems: A quick guide

November 27, 2017
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What size solar panel array do you need for your home? And if you’re considering battery storage, what size battery bank would be most appropriate? This article includes tables that provide an at-a-glance guide, as well as links to more comprehensive calculators. [Note that this article was originally published in April 2017.] Solar system sizing […]

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Electricity meter board complications & partial monitoring success (Solartopia #7)

November 23, 2017
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It’s been more than a few weeks since I last posted an update about the progress of my own personal solar project. In addition to just being generally busy, I was also back in my native United States officiating my brother’s wedding and shooting off guns (really). In episode #4, I excitedly announced that I’d […]

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Solar power in Lismore, NSW: Compare prices & installers

November 20, 2017
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If you haven’t already realised it, Lismore NSW is a great spot for solar power. As with the rest of the state, solar power is affordable and electricity prices are high, making solar panels a ‘no brainer’ investment for anyone who has the budget and some unshaded roof space. This article covers the main things […]

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Introducing Solar Choice’s Battery Storage Price Index (and a major overhaul of our Solar PV Price Index)

November 16, 2017
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Since the beginning of 2017, there have been over half a million views of battery storage-related pages on the Solar Choice website and well over 3,000 customer enquiries about batteries. These offer a fairly clear indication that people looking into solar are also interested in battery storage. A lot of this is thanks to coverage […]

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Battery Storage Price Index – November 2017

November 14, 2017
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We’re excited to announce that we have at long last published our first Battery Storage Price Index – a generalised view of what it costs to have a battery storage system installed in Australia. If you’ve done any research into the battery storage market at all, you’ve probably already worked out that batteries are complicated. […]

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How much money can you save with Enphase’s AC Battery?

November 9, 2017
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We recently published an article on the topic of how much money a household could save with a Tesla Powerwall 2. Soon thereafter, we received two separate requests to do a similar analysis for Enphase’s AC Battery – also one of the most popular battery storage offerings available in Australia, but without as much media […]

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Residential Solar PV Price Index – November 2017

November 7, 2017
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We’ve introduced some major improvements to this month’s Solar PV Price Index. Namely: We’ve added 7kW solar systems to all tables We’ve included in new tables & data for ‘premium’ and ‘microinverter’ system offerings We’ve drawn clearer distinctions between ‘primary’, ‘premium’ and ‘microinverter’ pricing We’ve dropped 1.5kW systems from our data tracking (because so few […]

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The National Energy Guarantee: What it means if you’re thinking about going solar

October 19, 2017
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There’s been no shortage of media coverage regarding the Turnbull government’s recently proposed plan to tackle Australia’s rising electricity bills (see here, here, here and here). But what does the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) mean for homes & businesses thinking about going solar? We’ve been receiving a huge amount of traffic to our site – […]

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Getting the upper hand on your electricity bills with energy monitoring & management

October 19, 2017
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Do you have a clear picture of what’s actually using electricity in your home and how much that costs? If you’re like most Australians, you almost certainly don’t. Historically, this hasn’t been an issue because electricity bills weren’t a major concern for most households – and in any case, the number of devices was probably […]

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Do I really need that? Also: Solar power takes many forms (Solartopia #6)

October 16, 2017
Skylights

As I write this, I am running the dryer for the first time since moving into the house; it’s only the second time we’re had rain (and even, it’s just a sprinkle). It’s interesting to note that at times like this – when it would be handy to have solar power to feed this clunky, […]

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What if you sent all of your solar into the grid? Is it worth it?

September 29, 2017
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If you’ve got solar, the way to maximise your electricity bill savings these days is to use your solar energy directly within your home (or business). From an investment point of view, the conventional wisdom is that the worst thing you could do with the solar energy that your roof produces is to send it […]

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4 interesting alternatives to the ‘Big 3’ electricity retailers

September 26, 2017
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If you want to reduce your electricity bills, the first place you should look is your choice of electricity retailer, which is the company that sells you electricity. Although some people are unaware of it, in most parts of Australia you’re not stuck with a monopolistic ‘utility’ – you can pick and choose from a […]

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Shiftable energy loads: What can you move into the ‘solar window’? (Solartopia #5)

September 21, 2017
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We here at Solar Choice harp on a lot about solar self-consumption – the idea that you need to put your solar energy to direct use within your home to maximise its value. Let’s take a look at what types of energy consumption can actually be ‘shifted around’ to other times of day – versus […]

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Our presentation to Ryde City Council (NSW) about solar & batteries

September 21, 2017
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A couple of months ago I was invited by the local council of Ryde, NSW to give a presentation about the state of the market for solar & batteries in Australia. Ryde City Council has some great sustainability initiatives, including a free Home Waste & Sustainability Advisory Service, which includes a home audit for people […]

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Looking beyond solar feed-in tariffs: How to pick an electricity retailer

September 18, 2017
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When solar system owners shop around for an electricity retailer, the first thing they tend to look at is the solar feed-in tariff rate that the retailer offers. The fact is, however, that solar feed-in tariffs are no longer as important as they once were – so what else should solar system owners look for in […]

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Can I add more panels to my existing solar system?

September 18, 2017
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Some of the most common questions we receive at Solar Choice are about adding solar panels to an existing solar PV system. This article takes a look at the situations in which you might want to add panels, and what you need to bear in mind before making a decision. Possible reasons for adding more panels […]

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Thoughts about solar feed-in tariffs (Solartopia #4)

September 13, 2017
Checking the solar panels

Spring is here, and it finally feels like it with two consecutive warm days yesterday (high of 28C) and today (high of 32C). The main implication of this is that for the first time since moving in, we haven’t been tempted to switch on the ducted AC (or wear socks) in the morning or evening […]

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Backup power with home solar battery storage: What are your options?

September 12, 2017
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Home battery storage is becoming increasingly popular in Australia, and one of the most in-demand features is backup power, which provides electricity to a home even when the grid is down. In this article we take a look at the main approaches to battery storage that you’ll come across as you shop around for a […]

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An overview of battery storage system specifications: How to read a battery spec sheet

September 11, 2017
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Talking about home battery storage can be confusing, and if you’re confused you’re unlikely to feel confident about making a big investment like a home battery bank. There are quite a few different terms & specifications that you’ll hear when shopping around for battery products. We’ve gathered them all here in attempt to bring some clarity to […]

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Queensland regional solar feed-in tariff now available to systems up to 30kW

September 8, 2017
Ergon network in Queensland

In a stroke of very good news for solar power in the Sunshine State, the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) has announced that the solar feed-in tariff available to solar system owners in regional parts of the state will apply for systems up to 30 kilowatts (30kW) in capacity. Until the QCA’s decision, the limit was […]

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Energy blindness: The anxiety of not knowing (Solartopia #3)

September 7, 2017
Electricity bill

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the ‘Energy Awareness Factor‘ in household energy savings. This was prompted in part by having just moved into a house with solar panels, ducted AC, a dishwasher, time of use billing and hot water on a controlled load – things that will have a significant […]

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Solar panel reliability testing: More relevant than tier ranking for solar homes & businesses?

September 6, 2017
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Deciding whether you’re happy with a solar installers’ panel offering can be tricky business in a market flooded with different options (as is the case in Australia). Fortunately, DNV GL puts together an annual report based on physical stress testing of a wide range of popular panels brands & models that is probably a better […]

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First week in a solar house: Why do we keep running out of hot water? And other fun questions. [Solartopia #2]

August 31, 2017
Newcastle coal

It’s been just over a week since I moved into my solar-powered house in suburbs of the beautiful Newcastle, the largest coal port in the world. (You can almost taste it in the air!) Newcastle, NSW. Can you spot the coal from space? I’ve spent most of it huddled indoors hiding from the cold with […]

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Time of use vs flat rate electricity tariffs with solar & batteries

August 30, 2017
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If you’re connected to the grid and own your home, you pay for electricity. In most places, in Australia, there are basically two types of tariffs: Flat rate tariffs (aka ‘peak only’ tariffs), where you pay a fixed amount for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy that your home draws from the grid, or Time of use […]

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Retrofitting battery storage in Brisbane: Some example case studies

August 29, 2017
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We recently published an article containing a number of example case studies about retrofitting solar battery storage in Sydney. This time around we’ll be taking a look at the case for retrofitting batteries in sunny Brisbane. In addition to the fact that Brisbane gets more sun, the circumstances around retrofitting batteries in Brisbane – and […]

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The ‘energy awareness factor’ and how it helps households save money

August 17, 2017
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For most of us, for most of our lives, electricity bills and our consumption have both been something of a black box. We know that we get a bill every 1-3 months and get charged for the electricity that we use, but we don’t generally have access to data that would provide us with the […]

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