Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #18

9 April 1999


Unfortunately, all Woods Chargers have gone up by 10% to meet the manufacturers cost of C-Tick compliance (which relates to Australian standards for electromagnetic compatibility). Most wind generators have also gone up in the last month. The other big ticket items have remained stable in price - (e.g. panels, inverters, batteries and wire).

New Regulator

The accessories for the PL20 regulator and the PL40 regulator are now due for release in about 2 - 4 weeks.


I've received some feedback about running Austar satellite TV. The decoder draws about 15 - 20 Watts and they have been run successfully on modified square wave inverters. Apparently however, they do not like running on generators which do not have very good voltage and frequency control. In this situation, we'd suggest the decoder to be run through an inverter using a battery charger on the generator. Some AC/DC television seem to be re-appearing on the market. In Australia, Tandy and Chandlers are selling a 34cm Orian brand for $499. Nominal rating on the compliance plate suggests 60W. Has anyone tried them out?


For those of you in NSW, be aware that the SEDA rebate decreases from $2.40 to $2.10 per Watt for systems installed after 30th June 1999.


The article we ran two months ago about Y2K issues brought some interesting comments and concerns. If you would like more information about Y2K issues contact Sue Bryce at She publishes a newsletter for a small subscription fee which is very informative and good value.


BP (Oil) bought out Amoco Oil a few months ago which gave them 50% ownership of Solarex. BP Solar has just announced that it has successfully completed negotiations to purchase the remaining 50% of Solarex (giving them 100% ownership). The two solar companies will become one unit as of 1 July. The integrated company will be called BP Solarex and will build on the current business activities of Solarex and BP Solar. It will have annual revenues of more than $150 million, representing a 20 per cent share of the global market. It will have manufacturing operations in four countries - the USA, Spain, Australia and India, producing around 30 megawatts of solar products each year. BP Solarex will have prime positions in leading-edge solar technology, most notably the new generation of thin films, as well as offering the world's broadest product range in crystalline silicon.

BP Amoco chief executive Sir John Browne said: "BP Amoco already has a strong track record in solar, with leadership technology in key areas. This acquisition is another significant step towards our target of building a $1 billion solar business over the next decade. "Our investment is part of BP Amoco's wider aim of making solar an increasingly larger contributor to the energy mix of 21st century, inline with our determination to offer our customers progressively cleaner fuels with a diminishing impact on the natural environment" Browne said. BP Amoco recently unveiled plans to make cleaner, greener fuels available in more than 40 of the world's major cities most troubled by pollution and smog. It has also targeted a 10 per cent reduction from a 1990 baseline in greenhouse gas emissions from BP Amoco's own operations by the year 2010. The integrated BP Solarex company will be head-quartered in Frederick, Maryland, USA.

Grid Connect Systems

Due to the popularity of the Y2K article, I have appended a copy of a letter which I recently sent to someone about options for using renewable energy on grid connected homes:

If you'd like to use Renewable Energy in your grid connected home the first step would be to save energy using a solar hot water system and energy efficient light bulbs. Thereafter, it starts getting more complicated with several options:

  1. Grid feed inverters send the power from solar PV panels direct to the grid. They do not use a battery bank and therefore they do not give you any power back-up in the event of a grid power failure, however, you need to contact your local electricity distributor for their consent and to work out any special meter and billing arrangements. They might also insist on special fusing or other protection devices. You could buy a large 1200W grid feed inverter which allows you to sell to the grid.
    These inverters start at AUD$2250. This inverter is being used at the 700 sites in the Olympic Athletes Village and can handle up to fourteen 80W solar panels. You can then add solar panels ($670 for 80W) according to your budget. You would need about 4 such panels to generate 1 kWh/day. So solar panels are expensive, however, they come with a 20 year warranty. You can now buy small (120W) mini grid feed inverters for about AUD$500 which will allow you to send the power from two 60W panels to the grid.
  2. Grid interactive inverters perform the same function as grid feed inverters, however they allow power to flow 'both ways'. They also incorporate a battery bank and have an automatic built in charger. This type of system gives you back-up power in the event that the grid fails or goes out of tolerance in terms of its voltage and frequency. These inverters start at 2600W and retail for about AUD$4600.
  3. The last main option is to obtain a system (panels, battery, regulator and possibly inverter) and transfer some or all of your loads to this system.
  4. Another option, implemented by some people concerned about the liability of their grid powered domestic pressure pump, is to place a 12V pressure pump alongside their existing pump.

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.

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

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

We also have sales agents in
Grafton:contact Andy Wilkinson directly on 0409 508 144, and
Tenterfield:contact Diamond J Legend directly on 0425 769 444.