Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #130

2 November 2009

Taking Advantage of Net Feed in Tariffs

Most States now offer a Feed in Tariff (FiT) for solar power fed into the grid. As with many laws in Australia , the States could not agree on a uniform system so every State has a different offer. ACT and some customers in Qld have a gross FiT whereby they get paid a premium for all solar power that they generate. Most States have what is known as a net FiT. In NSW the net FiT of $0.60/kWh is due to commence on 1st January 2010.

In simple terms a net FiT can be described best by an example - e.g. if your solar system is producing 1200 watts and your only appliance that is on is your 200 Watt fridge, you will have a net export of 1000 Watts/hour - 1kW/hr worth $0.60 in NSW.

Read more about how this works including how to read your Country Energy Smart Meter.

A net FiT greatly advantages those who use very little power during the day - e.g. in NSW you get paid $0.60/kWh for daytime production and get charged $0.196 for what you use in the evening.

A household, with both adults working and the children at school, should export a substantial amount of power.

A typical solar system in Nth NSW will generate about 80% of its power in the summer between 8.30 am and 3.30pm. So to maximise your exported power, you should try and minimize your loads during this peak period. Fortunately, your breakfast and dinner will normally be outside these hours.

If possible, try and schedule tasks like vacuum cleaning, clothes washing, drying and ironing etc in the early morning or evening.

If you have a pool pump, investigate putting it on a timer. If you have a choice between a lap top and a desk top computer try and use the lap top during the day as they use about 1/7 th the power of the desktop. If you have a small and large television, consider limiting the use of the large one until after dinner. Watering the garden is always best done early in the early morning or evening - water pumps can use quite a lot of power. If you use a dishwasher, wait for a complete load and run it after dark.

When I come across customers with a high power bill, the three most common culprits are:

• pool filter pumps

• large, old and/or multiple refrigeration units.

One large fridge freezer is more efficient than separate fridge and freezer or a second 'beer fridge'. A modern fridge is likely to be about twice as efficient as one that is several years old. View the power consumption of all fridges.

• halogen lights - these are inefficient and give off a lot of heat.

One interesting outcome of generous net FiT is that a larger system will often have a shorter pay back period than a smaller one, even though there is no rebate or solar credits available for the extra portion. This is because larger systems will export more power and receive the generous FiT. Please contact our office if you might be interested to expand your system.

Power Used by the new LG Washing Machines

Our FAQ section already has a few articles about the power consumption of washing machines used on inverter (solar) systems.

To re-cap, you need to select a washing machine that has:

  1. one or more programs where the unit is not heating the water with an element
  2. a low start up current
  3. a low peak power (especially on spin cycle)

Until now, the Fisher and Paykel Smart Drive units have been recommended.

One of our customers, John has brought to my attention that LG have recently released a new range of front opening Direct Drive washing machines. He bought a 7.5kg model which uses 64 litres of water per wash.

It runs very well off his Latronics 600W inverter and draws a maximum 450W (18A on a 24V battery bank) when in spin dry mode. In total it draws 4 - 5Ah (100-125Wh per load).

It features 11 wash programs, Load and Suds detection. It can be programmed to wash up to 3 - 19 hours later. If you are on a Stand Alone system you might want to have it come on after lunch while your batteries are at full charge. Alternatively if you are on a grid feed system it would be advantageous to have it come on outside of the peak sunshine hours (in order to export as much power at the higher Feed in Tariff rates)

Company Improvements

It has been very busy and exciting at our premises lately. There are continuing earthworks on our approach road for a new housing development next door. As a result we will have a sealed entrance road into our premises leading to our own recently sealed staff parking and our dispatch and delivery area. We are looking forward to the end of the dust.

The other exciting development is the expansion of our storage and workshop areas. This allows our workshop to be contained in one efficient area, while allowing a larger and more workable storage area for our expanded range of solar panels, plus under cover parking for our Company vehicles, plus our after hours table-tennis tournaments! All round we are very happy with this new area.

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.