From the category archives:

James’ Solartopia Project

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

October 16, 2017

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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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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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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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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