From the category archives:

Living with solar & batteries

Solar Analytics energy monitoring system reviewed

May 17, 2018
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I’ve had Solar Analytics installed on my home now for about 3 months. Since that time I’ve referred to and shared screenshots of their app & web portal on numerous occasions – but it’s about time I wrote a proper review! How did I get Solar Analytics? I should note that Solar Analytics provided & […]

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

March 28, 2018
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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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Powershop, Diamond & Energy Locals top 2018 Green Electricity Guide

March 28, 2018
Green Electricity Guide

Who is the greenest electricity retailer of them all – and how do you know? Fortunately, every year the Total Environment Centre commissions a report on the topic, the results of which are documented in its handy Green Electricity Guide, which ranks the companies from most environmentally friendly to the least so. Part of the […]

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5 interesting alternatives to the ‘Big 3’ electricity retailers

March 27, 2018
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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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Solar-powered lawn care (Solartopia #13)

March 21, 2018
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And here’s a quick blog article to talk about a cool thing you can do with a solar system on your roof: Mow your grass (and trim your edges) with the sun. We recently upgraded our clunked-out push mower with a $20 second-hand plug-in electric Ozito mower (the lady who sold it to us on […]

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My house is net energy positive – for now (Solartopia #12)

March 20, 2018
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I’ve now had two energy monitoring systems fully functioning for a few weeks, and it’s fascinating to see what my 4.4kWh solar system is capable of. It’s also interesting to learn just how little energy my home uses (about 10-14kWh/day) compared to the 15-25kWh averages I always hear about. (Meanwhile EnergyMadeEasy tells me that the […]

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Solar Analytics is in! (Solartopia #11)

February 28, 2018
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Solar Analytics Santa (AKA Nigel Morris) arrived on his sleigh (AKA his all-electric Zero motorcycle) on Tuesday to install the Solar Analytics unit that’s been sitting on my desk for a few months now. All electric – so I didn’t even notice he had arrived til he knocked on the door. We set the stopwatch […]

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‘Reposit First’ monitoring system is here! (Solartopia #10)

February 15, 2018
Reposit First real time

I am very happy to announce that I’ve finally got the first of three energy management/monitoring systems for my home up and fully functioning. Reposit Power have sent one of their ‘Reposit First’ units my way; it was professionally installed in about 2 hours on Monday this week. (Although my carbonTRACK system is fully installed, […]

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Happiness is an electricity bill? A coda to 2017 (Solartopia #9)

December 21, 2017
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I never thought I’d find myself chasing up with my electricity company to ask for an electricity bill, but two weeks ago that’s exactly what I was doing. I’d been living in my new house for over three months and still hadn’t heard a peep out of Energy Locals about what I owed them. If […]

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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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Reduce vs. produce: When to invest in solar and when to invest in energy efficiency projects

December 7, 2017
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If you’re interested in saving money on your electric bill, there are two popular ways to do it. One way is to invest in a solar energy system. The other way is to reduce your energy consumption by making upgrades. Comparing solar vs. energy efficiency at a high level Investing in solar energy tends to […]

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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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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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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. New: Check out our decision-making helper […]

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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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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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