Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #73

8 July 2004

Solar Panels

Germany and the EU have commenced a program to double their renewable energy to 22% by the year 2010. This is expected to cost US$27.7 billion. They have done the 100,000 roofs; now they are going for 1,000,000 rooftop installations! Virtually the entire world’s production (700MW) has been ordered by Germany. All PV manufacturers are scrambling to meet the demand and hopefully to maintain supply to existing customers.

While Europe and most of the Western world are making great advances to increase the use of renewable energy, the Coalition Of The Willing – the USA, UK and Oz, are notable exceptions.

For the next 18 months, there could be a shortage of panels, particularly if existing suppliers need more than their usual requirements. At the moment, we have a good supply of KC80s in stock.

There is also world pressure on the PV price. We expect an initial price rise of around 3% in the near future.

While this all sounds like bad news, I think in the long term there will be positive results. World production, competition and economics of scale will eventually help to maintain or lower prices in the long run.

Website Upgrade

We continue to upgrade our website so as to provide more and more information online. There is now a link on the Home Page that will take you to the forum [edit: discontinued], where there is a blog type list of changes to the site.

We have revamped our FAQ/Information page. Some large sections have been added, including a large book on windpower by Dr Gary Johnson, and a 177-page report titled 'A Clean Energy Future for Australia'; courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund.

Prices Online

Australian customers can now download our Price List in PDF format from the Products Page. This is in Aussie dollars and includes GST (a tax applying only to Australian residents).

Overseas customers should email us their complete contact details to receive an overseas Price List.

LCD Televisions

There are a wide variety of televisions on the market now. The conventional television is usually referred to as a CRT (cathode ray tube). Plasma and LCD televisions are now the 'new kid on the block'!

LCD televisions have the advantage of taking up a lot less space. They are only 50-75 mm thick. Another advantage is that they use about one third less power than the same size CRT television.

A 34 cm (14") Sony CRT television was measured to use 58 Watts. I recently checked the power consumption of a 43cm (17") LCD wide screen television (NEC brand), and found that it used 53 Watts when measured on the AC side.

Interestingly, a lot of LCD televisions (including the NEC model above), work on an input of 12 Volts. One brand, Majestic, is advertised as such, and the specifications advise that it will work between 10.9 and 15.5 Volts. However, I would not advise that you attempt to run any other brand direct off the battery unless the distributor/service centre for that brand television advises that it is okay. The battery voltage on a solar system can typically range from 10.5 to 15 Volts (for a so-called 12V system). It could even operate outside of this range under certain fault conditions (eg a flat battery or say the television is running direct off the panels if the battery is disconnected.) Given the cost of an LCD television, I'd suggest it is better to be safe than sorry.

The power pack for the NEC television is rated a 5 Amps 12 Volts DC. I am not certain whether or not it would work off a modified square wave inverter as opposed to a battery quality sine wave inverter.

Colour Laser Printer

We recently ran some power tests on our Minolta QMS Magicolour Laser Printer. This is a full colour laser printer that retails for a little over AUD$1100. The compliance label suggests it uses 7 amps (1600 Watts). We’d suggest that this is really a surge rating. We recorded the following readings (measured on 230 Volt AC grid). The warm up took 800W for 30 seconds and then 580W for 1 minute. The printer then goes into a standby mode, using 14-15W (however, every minute or so it does a 1-2 second surge up to 750 Watts). While printing a full colour page, the power changed about every second from 15W to 800W for 30 seconds. After about 30 minutes of not using it, the printer goes into a Power Saving Mode using 6.3 to 7 Watts. To conclude, we’d suggest that the Printer tends to use less power than its label suggests. On a Renewable Energy system, we’d suggest you try and do all your printing at once, rather than leaving the Printer on standby for several hours.

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.