Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #33

10 July 2000

Fluoro inverters and lights

We are pleased to announce that our 20 & 40W fluoro inverters are now Australian made! The 2D fluoro inverter is still made overseas and the 24V unit has been discontinued.

Your Own Power

by Peter Pedals

Your OWN Power Versus Being Powerless with Grid Power
If you are connected to the grid, you are totally at the mercy of the powers that be.

You do not own the power poles, power lines, transformers etc even if they are on your land. What's more, there is precious little you can do, short of organising a mass protest (and then they may still choose not to take any notice), if you don't agree with them commissioning another coal fired power station, or commissioning a high voltage power line with all of its associated electromagnetic radiation over your local preschool.

The power utilities will have the "experts" and the finances to win the case.

Concerning environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, mankind desperately needs to clean up his act in order to have a future for our children and grandchildren.

The present Federal Government of Australia is certainly not going to lead the way when it comes to environmental policy. At the recent Kyoto Greenhouse Convention Australia argued for a 2% increase in greenhouse gas emissions when almost every other country was arguing in favour of an across the board decrease.

Doesn't that make you feel embarrassed to be Australian, particularly when we have some of the best solar radiation and wind sites in the world? We also happen to have excellent subterranean hot rock deposits; enough to power the whole continent without producing greenhouse gases.

Is it worthwhile to generate your own power?

From the environmental point of view there can be no doubt that generating your own renewable based power is a worthwhile exercise. Every household that provides its own power from renewable resources is making a political statement.

To make more of an impact, the selfless act of organising 'open days' for others to come and see that it is not only possible, but desirable without compromising lifestyle to let one or more facets of the weather generate power for the home via solar, wind and/or hydro power.

You can argue environmental consequences of our actions till the cows come home, but what invariably wins or loses the argument is how it affects the hip pocket (sad but true). One aspect of having a stand alone power system that is often overlooked is that you may own it in its entirety, once owned you have no ongoing power bills to pay and you can resell it if you want.

So when you do a cost comparison between stand-alone and grid-connected, don't forget to include the fact that you can have sole ownership of it; nobody has the right to disconnect your power, they can't increase your power bills at the drop of a hat and it remains an asset that must always retain some value.

You may make the claim that being connected to the grid may increase property value, which seems strange as it incurs ongoing debt and you don't own it. As renewable power systems become more acceptable and the power utilities become privatised and lose sight of the common good and become more profit motivated, this situation is bound to change.

The economic argument swings very much in favour of stand-alone power systems once you are several kilometres away from the existing grid. In this situation, going by today's prices, the stand-alone power system will most likely be the most economically viable. In terms of reliability of power supply, again the stand-alone power system wins hands down, with well designed power systems incorporating the latest whizz-bang electronic features can take away a lot of the hum-drum of maintaining a system and never miss a beat (or hardly ever).

What's more, what the neighbour does with his power is not going to cause power glitches for you.

A modern stand-alone power system with a smart regulator will stop your battery bank from overcharging and know when and for how long to give your battery bank a boost charge.

A computerised sine wave inverter can be programmed to turn individual appliances on and off, start and stop the backup generator to guarantee that you don't run the batteries flat. It will also ensure that the generator is never started when everyone is asleep and even sell your surplus power to the grid, if the grid happens to be there.

The most exciting thing is that this technology is within our grasp and getting more sophisticated and more affordable as time goes on.

One unfortunate aspect of relying on weather for your power, is that weather is most unpredictable. Even the most over-designed system can come unstuck because of a record spell of overcast weather coinciding with little wind and no water flow for your micro-hydro. This is why having a backup generator is a must, even though it may not be used very often.

The other, less palatable alternative is to start using candles instead of electric lights and drastically reduce your other loads until the weather changes. One thing is a certainty, and that is that sooner or later the weather will change.

Fuel cells that can convert your fuel into electricity with little noise and at 90+% conversion efficiency and very low pollution levels is on the horizon, coming down in price rapidly, and bound to turn the present day noisy, polluting and inefficient petrol and diesel gensets into dinosaurs.

Contact our Consultancy Service please don't hesitate to contact Rainbow Power Company for a comprehensive system design, incorporating the latest technology and placing great emphasis on energy efficiency to reduce the cost of the system without impairing lifestyle.

Our system designs are done with the use of a computer program that takes away the tedious monotony of thousands of calculations and allows us to experiment with 'what-if' scenarios to customise the power system to the end-user and taking into account such things as the latitude and average weather conditions of the location in question.

We have up-to-date solar radiation and other climatic data for all of Australia. We also keep abreast of changes in renewable energy technology such as grid connected solar power. Let us give you a quote and a long term cost analysis, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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.