Is Residential solar power still too expensive?

Discussion in 'Energy' started by Mark, Jun 7, 2013.

?

Is Residential Solar Power Still Too Expensive?

Poll closed Aug 7, 2013.
  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Not Sure

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    With fossil fuels having such a bad name lately as unclean energy and the ever increasing cost of electricity, do you think solar power for the average home is still too expensive?
     
  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    628
    Location:
    Clontarf, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    it seems relatively cheap if you use lots of electricity. I'm pretty sceptical about ... just about everything, All this home solar stuff is fairly new and changing rapidly, so i think we wont really know what's cheap until we have more information, and years of experience behind us, maybe 20 years from now? Prices have come down huge amounts in the last 20/10/5 years. The rebates are much less now, but you are paying half the price for the system now too. In 20 years we might look back and think "what a waste of time that solar stuff was, these new flux capacitors available on the new governement scheme is all the rage now" :)
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Interesting perspective and I've never quite thought of it like that (new tech evolving and making solar redundant in 20) - I guess it's possible for sure.

    We got our system in Dec 12 and my sums seem to make us breaking even until the next 3 years and than saving 75% each year after (if we didn't install our system). However, those figures are loose and we DO use lots of electricity so (as you say) if you're a big user than solar still might be the go if you can get an installation at the right price. On the other hand, small users could still optimize their own homes etc and then sit it out as technology improves and prices come down even further.
     
  4. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    628
    Location:
    Clontarf, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    oops i forgot to vote, i voted no. I think the panels will improve and prices will come down still. I haven't checked lately, but when you compare buying an ongrid system to buying your own offgrid system, even without batteries, it seems the ongrid stuff is heaps cheaper. For the ongrid solar systems now, I think it'd be great if people had the option to plug in a bank of batteries, flick a switch and swap between ongrid and batteries.
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Yeah I voted yes because I still think the prices could be better especially for pensioners or retirees.

    At the moment I don't think it's legal to have a hybrid system grid + own battery storage (in residential centers anyway). However, the guy who installed my system (a friend I play tennis with and also state manager of his solar coy) reckons hybrid and off grid installations for residential areas could happen sooner than later. He's suggesting the rules may change in Queensland.

    With the rebate offered by the govt reduced, it seems hardly fair some QLD solar owners are sending electricity to the grid at 8c/kW then buying it back at 23c during the evening. A battery bank would help rectify that issue.
     
  6. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    628
    Location:
    Clontarf, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    some interesting news....

    ====================
    The Australian Solar Council – Australia’s largest renewable energy industry association – has condemned the WA Government’s retrospective cut to the solar feed-in tariff.

    The Barnett Government today announced it would retrospectively cut the government-agreed contract with solar households from 40 cents per kilowatt hour to 20 cents per kilowatt hour.
    “This is a gross breach of faith with WA families”, said John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council. “Families signed a contract with the State Government in good faith, in which the Government guaranteed a rate of return, and now that contract has been ripped up by the Government.”
    “Some 75,000 households signed a solar contract with the State Government. They invested their own hard-earned money and expected a return on their investment, which has now been blown away.”
    “Today’s decision by the Barnett Government represents a significant sovereign risk if it is allowed to proceed. If this government contract can be ripped up without compensation, no WA Government contract is worth the paper it is written on. This move would set a very dangerous precedent.”
    “The Australian Solar Council calls on the Barnett Government to urgently reconsider today’s decision and will seek an urgent meeting with them.”
    =============

    http://solar.org.au/blog/news-2/aus...condemns-retrospective-hit-to-solar-families/
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Crikey! This is bad bad bad... Not just for solar but as said it's a very bad precedence to be set because people will end up distrusting the government in the future when new schemes are trying to be introduced and promoted to kick start floundering economies (like housing incentives etc). Once bitten...

    I can't see 75000 households letting this go without a backlash of some sort. Barnett may just find himself up :censored: creek!

    On a related matter, I saw an interview with Tim Flannery yesterday where he stated the CSIRO are developing much improved batteries specifically for the capture/storage of solar energy which he reckons will revolutionise domestic solar within 2-3 years allowing households to easily store energy for night use. If this comes in, who cares about the crappy rebates from State governments when we can simply store excess electricity to use after hours and pay even less anyway!;)
     
  8. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    628
    Location:
    Clontarf, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    The way i see it, we'll still get screwed over, because we have to be connected to the grid by law and pay the minimum connection and service costs. So some people will be able to supply all their own power and not use any on-grid power, yet still have to pay.

    and remember the crazy man on the Gold Coast with the solar farm? What a bad investment that will be when the government and power companies say " what contract?, we'll just change the law"
     
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    So true :eek:

    Soon we'll be paying $1000 per quarter just to be connected to the grid and we won't even be using any power from the state! We live in a corrupt world where government and big business leach off small people because they can...
     
  10. Scott Mac

    Scott Mac Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    South Coast, NSW, Australia
    There's a lot of stuff here that I've had to work out for individuals in dayly running of my job as an electrician.

    suburban house to have batteries doesn't work as well as the grid fed system.
    reasons
    - the battery bank is expensive and recovery of costs and on going maintenance and replacement costs after 10-12 year life span of the batteries. Batteries will however drastically improve soon as mentioned above. Led acid batteries means maintenance of water levels, gel cel no water, yet you still have to watch their cycling and energy levels for a long life.
    - you'll need an inverter, preferably true sign wave, to take the 12,24 or 48V dc into 240V ac. Another cost

    Grid fed - a 2KW system for example produces 12Kw's/day with 6-7 hrs of sun on panels. Grid fed system means you can use that 12Kw's at any time of day and night and break even. I've heard people say I don't use much power at night because the system is asleep due to no sun. This has affected peoples life style due to not being informed properly. Another one is, I wash during the day to use the suns energy to power the machine. You get a flat amount from the sun each day, when ever you use the power, it doesn't matter until you are off grid. If you are away on holiday and turn every thing off, you'll have 12Kw's being accredited to your account for use when you get back, then have a big party and use that energy. Cos they don't pay you much for your surplus.

    Off grid - if your batteries are floating charge, very little power is being stored, rather the batteries are being maintained in a healthy full charge state. Mine in summer do this by 1pm each day in summer with good sunny days. Now it's getting hot inside the house, even well insulated houses warm up. Why not turn on an ac to cool down the living are for 1/2hr at 1pm and shut down for the rest of the day and the sun can top the batteries up again before it goes down for the day. Does that make the difference clear? Also if you use 5Kw's of power and you have a potential 12Kw's per day with the number of panels, then your only able to store and 5 of the potential 12Kw's cos that's all you use. Maybe find a way of using something to make use of the free energy during this time of year. Process all your turkeys and turn on a massive chest freezer that may use 1Kw/day bringing you up to 6 Kw's per day.

    Please, if you think i'm being condescending, i'm not. It's an attempt to make things clear without using correct terminology only a sparky would understand and is the problem in the first place. We need to stop being proud of the correct terminology, and help people understand how it works. So many times people stop me in the street for a half hour free advice and ask "me how do I save money, i'm going broke". Government is feeding us cr@p info.

    ok, i'll take a quick break.

    in relation to it being cheaper or more expensive, it depends largely on each house holds situation. for me to connect to the grid on a rural property, they wanted $100K to supply a transformer and run the extra high voltage line to it from the gid. My soalr system work ok and cost me $30K so I've saved $70,000. I'd say yes, it's cheap for me. Grid fed system, if you have a good aspect to the north with plenty over off grid sytems and it'll of clear sky in view and a large roof to install panels, then yes, it's a good investment and will pay for it's self in 3 - 10 years. Don't sell your house tp quick though, you may not get extra just because of the panels.

    In relation to grid verses stand a lone for suburban, heaps cheaper and more efficient 90% of the time to go grid fed sytem rather than trying to store in batteries.

    in relation to the energy providers only paying you less than they sell the power for your excess if you do have excess. They will go backwords financially if the product they sell is cheaper than what they buy it for. If I paid more for material to the wholesale supplier to wire up your house than what I could charge you for it, then i'd be broke. The 60c scheme was never going to work long term and those banking on that as an investment to make money were dreaming. Never trust a government scam, woops I mean scheme.

    When solar hot water came into vogue, energy companies were losing money to lower usage from their customers. so to combat this, they increase a quarterly fee for just being connected to the grid to offset the lower usage. And again, when solar grid fed systems came in, they loose money again, so what do they do, increase the fee again and up the cost of electricity. It's like an on going battle to try and save money and getting no where. So I say this is a great argument in regards stand alone being free from the pack of mongrels, the energy providers.

    ok, my fingers are cramping, hope this blurb has helped.
    Regards
    Scott
     
    • Well Written! Well Written! x 1
  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Lots of good info and food for thought there :thumbsup:

    I like how you have given examples of both on and off grid without real bias (until the end) and I totally agree with your sentiment of those tricky energy providers as a pack of mongrels. It was their greed and a false sense of economic entitlement to start yearly price rises (set at around 10 - 20%) in the early 2000's which began the rot and made electricity unfairly expensive. Then, they got trumped by the solar industry and as you say - we start using less generated power so the buggers compensate by jacking prices up even more!

    One day we'll have super efficient appliances and awesome stand alone systems and I'll for one will be dancing on the grave of electricity companies. :mad:

    Having said that - my last quarter bill was reduced from almost $1000 same time last year to just $85 thanks to my 5kW solar system and I'd rather pay pay my system off than pay the electricity providers. :dance:
     
  12. Scott Mac

    Scott Mac Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    South Coast, NSW, Australia
    Wow, killer savings. It will pay for itself very quickly. Even though I like stand alone, I think if you've got good conditions to run a grid fed, you'd be mad not too.
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Yeah getting a great feed in tariff ATM was lucky to get in before they dropped it.
     
  14. armysnail

    armysnail Active Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    22
    I had about four companies turn up to quote solar but the price difference was about seven thousand dollars and not one could explain why I would be better off with the reduced subsidies. Two sounded like snake oil salesmen and tried the 'I'll ring the boss and what a surprise he will give a discount if you sign up tonight routine.' They all said you would save x but with the cost of the system I was losing money. No one could explain what the cost was when the subsidies run out or get reduced again. Most systems have a finite life so can anyone give me a definitive answer on 'is it worth it?'
     
  15. Scott Mac

    Scott Mac Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    South Coast, NSW, Australia
    Are you planning to stay in your house for many years? Mark has reduced his bill from $1000 to $85 per quarter. That's well over $3000 a year. How much were the quotes?

    It sounds like its hard to find a honest sales rep. The sign now to get a reduced rate sounds bad to me too
     
  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    My reduction last quarter compared to same time last year was amazing but it probably won't be as good through summer - we'll see...

    The key is to get a good quality system for the right price then the sums add up for the better in the longer term.

    Prices for solar installs have reduced significantly over the past 5 years.
     
  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Also, I'm on a 50 cent feed in (got in before it was removed) however just because you can only get 8 cent now doesn't necessarily mean solar can't still save a lot of money. My brother in-law is wrapped with his 4 kw system under the New feed in scheme.

    I guess it comes down to maths in the end when getting solar unless you're really green or don't have access to the grid.
     
  18. armysnail

    armysnail Active Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    22
    What's your feedback now it's 12 months old Mark? Was it worth getting solar because of your feed in tariff and would it be worth it at current rates?
     
  19. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,469
    Likes Received:
    1,013
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    I really need to get my backside into gear and do a proper evaluation but I haven't really had a true 12 months of billing TBH because my provider did an audit on my account after we changed meters and claimed we owed them several hundred due to our account being undercharged over several years (don't ask me why - I just gave up fighting in the end).

    Anyway, here's the figures from our last quarter keeping in mind we use much more over summer and this bill was autumn/spring and also we are now using solar power first before sending the excess to the grid:

    New Charges
    Other charges & adjustments - $21
    Total electricity charges - $481
    Total solar contribution - $415
    GST - $46
    Total amount due - $87

    This is a pretty simplistic example but they are the raw figures from my bill. Due to summer coming our power use will increase and kids will be home on holidays etc; however, the sun will be in a better position also and solar generation should be better (I'm already seeing regular high 30's and low 40 kWs).

    Yes and maybe/probably... is the short answer. I was lucky to get the 50c solar feed in tariff because my mate (Brett) is in the industry and is the State manager for Green & Gold Solar - he urged me to sign-up (no fee or obligation) when he heard the scheme was going to be withdrawn so I could have 12 months grace to think about it before committing and still keep my rebate if I went ahead. During my 6 - 8 months "thinking time" the price of a 5 kW install (at my place) reduced from about 13k down to 8k and with the feed-in tariff it was a no-brainer for me.

    However, at a lower feed-in tariff the figures aren't as generous if you are comparing them to 50c but remember people were buying solar BEFORE a rebate scheme was introduced and the reason why people are still buying solar now after the scheme has been reduced to an 8c rebate (or whatever) is because it is still viable. Only 12 months later and my 5 kW system is probably heaps cheaper again so my point is if you get the right price for your own system then the figures could very well add up favourably regardless of the smaller feed-in tariff. Especially, if you limit the electricity used at night and run most appliances through the day like washing machines, driers, dishwashers, etc to make use of the solar generated power through the day - if you know what I mean?

    I'm seeing Brett tonight so I'll ask him if he could do us a favour and join this thread because he knows much more about it then I do - I'm sure, he can give us an educated opinion and an impartial update on the latest solar developments - oh, and this forum isn't sponsored by Green and Gold solar either by the way... :)
     
  20. armysnail

    armysnail Active Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    22
    Thanks Mark.I've had a few different companies turn up and there was about a $5,000 difference in the quotes. Most just talked about the rebate and free energy so sign here. When I queried their figures they got out of the house in a hurry or tried the 'I'll ring the boss and here is a deal but only for the next 15 minutes line.' I fi am going to spend money I don't have to buy solar I want to make a decision on facts not emotions.
     
Loading...

Share This Page