From the category archives:

Living with solar & batteries

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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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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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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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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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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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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I’m (finally) going to live in a solar-powered home

August 15, 2017
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After nearly a decade working in Australia’s solar industry, I’m finally getting in on the action on a personal level. From next week I’m moving to Newcastle and will be living in a home with solar panels on the roof. Moving into a house that’s already got solar is something that must happen a lot. […]

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