Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #121

Dec 19, 2008

Rebates

The Federal gov't has announced that the present $8000 rebate will end on 30 th June 2009. This rebate was a generous one and current applications are running at 1000 (Australia wide) applications a week!

From 1 st July 09 a new type of rebate will be offered. This will offer a maximum of $7,500 for a 1.5kW system but there will be no income test and business will be able to apply. (So if you qualify now for the $8,000 rebate, we suggest you apply within the next 6 months)

The 50% rebate for Stand Alone Power systems is not effected.

Feed-In Tariffs

For those of us in New South Wales (Aus) the news is that the NSW gov't has announced they will implement a 'Feed In Tariff' for all Grid Feed installations, the details of which are to be announced in January.

Inverters on Standby

Most good quality inverters, such as those from Selectronics and Latronics, have a standby mode, whereby they save on power by only starting up when needed - eg when you pull on the trigger of a hand drill. Unfortunately some modern appliances need to have the inverter energized all the time by having it is Run Mode. This uses more power when the inverter is not powering any loads. For example a Selectronic 24V 700W unit uses 0.03A on standby but 0.25A on Run Mode. This amounts to 6Ah/day at 24V. Actually, it is not really this much of an increase because an inverter would be typically on for perhaps several hours a day so no extra power is consumed in this period. Potential items needing an inverter in run mode include: washing machine, fridges, phone chargers, bread ovens, smoke alarms and gas stoves and water heaters (if they need power to ignite them).

Brad from Latronics pointed out that:

All of the modern fridges have an electronics module in them that performs all the timing functions for run time and cyclic defrost and delay times etc. This module needs power constantly for the fridge to operate. The module will only draw around 1W in power which is why it can be difficult for the inverter to sense it as a load. But because it needs power 24 hours a day, you can adjust autostart sensitivity to make the inverter run continuously. If the inverter goes into standby mode the timers in the electronics module simply stops and the fridge effectively stops because it can't continue with the rest of its cycle.

Considering the fridge compressor is running approx 50% of the time, there would be approx 12 hours a day where the inverter could go into standby. During these 12 hours there is good chance other appliances would be operating anyway. So therefore with a fridge in the system there is probably only 5-6 hours a day when the inverter could go into standby anyway, so the extra power draw would be almost negligible.

Note: Most of the cheap bar fridges, still have the old style mechanical thermostat, whereas all larger household fridges have the electronic module that needs constant power.

Peter B, a service technician also pointed out in a forum that he has seen the electronics in fridges and washing machines being damaged by the standby pulses from an inverter that is in standby mode.

LP Gas Fridges

We received the following from Warren H - thanks Warren for both the article and the kind words!

Great newsletter and I was most interested in reading about the fridges and their respective power usages. You may be interested in knowing why we replaced our gas fridge with an electric one some go, even though our power requirements are obtained totally through our solar system. We even run an additional electric freezer at times through the year, when our veggie garden over-produces.

It was simply the cost overall as perceived by us at the time, and also importantly, convenience.

The figures may not stack up when the smallest details are taken into account but hey, in this world of ours where oil is becoming scarce and fuel / gas is forever increasing, time is money, and the sun still shines -this is how we worked it out.

Firstly the cost of a new gas fridge (sometimes even a second hand gas fridge)is prohibitively expensive, (double the price of electric one and often, a lot more than that) and you'd need to save really substantially on gas supplies to justify this cost when compared to installing more solar power equipment to run an electric fridge. We no longer see gas as the alternative for refrigeration because of the increasing cost of gas over the last five years or so, and it just continues to increase!

Secondly, we found that repairs to a gas fridge are extremely costly - probably due to the fact that there aren't to many gas fridge repairmen about. Living out in the sticks a bit, we found that no-one would come and repair the gas fridge because it was too awkward for them and we had to deliver the fridge to the service centre. The closest service centre to us is approximately two and a half hours away from where we live - and we're one of the lucky ones! Then you wait for weeks until the repairs are completed. Another black mark against a gas fridge.

There doesn't seem to be such a problem for repairs to an electric fridge; repairmen are all over the place and repairs are often carried out in the home without having to send them back to a service centre and the cost for such is very reasonable. Repairs usually completed within a few days.

Thirdly, gas fridges are heavy damn things!! We aren't getting any younger so it was a pretty big job to move our gas fridge about in any case, and to place it onto a trailer was a real pain. We generally had to enlist outside help to do so.

Fourthly, we found our gas fridge needed continual maintenance if it was to run properly: Cleaning out soot if the gas burner failed to work correctly, connecting a new gas bottle every few months, going through the motions of firing it up again. Not a lot of work but it seemed to need constant attention.

The big difference is, should our electric fridge ever need replacing, we just call into the local white goods depot and bargain for one at a relatively cheap price which is a lot better than travelling to the only gas fridge supplier in the vicinity and pay the price asked for it!

Have I done my homework or am I deluded? Love to hear a better argument because I can't help thinking I've missed something!! Cheers.... Warren H.

I agree that a solar powered electric fridge is the way to go - more environmentally friendly; no regular maintenance and better temperature control (especially in tropical climates where a gas fridge can struggle a bit. Dave

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.


QLD:
Gold Coast (from Coolangatta to Southport), Nerang and Hinterland (Beaudesert) and out West (Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney)


NSW:
Northern NSW (Tweed Heads to Yamba, including Evans Head, Byron Bay and Ballina); the Far North Coast Hinterland (Grafton via Lismore to Murwillumbah) and out West (Casino to Tenterfield, including Drake and Tabulam, as well as Woodenbong and Bonalbo)

For larger system we also go up to Brisbane or down to Coffs Harbour and even Glen Innes. Other places by arrangement.