Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #97

1 June 2006

Copper Prices

These are continuing to skyrocket which means cable prices are increasing dramatically. As this occurs, it makes sense to consider higher battery voltages - e.g. 24 and 48V rather than 12V. It also tends to favour 230V house wiring for your lights, etc! Between 13th April and 13th May the world price went from about US$6200 to $8800/tonne.

Solar Cookers

We still have good supplies of solar cookers available. [edit: discontinued in 2019]

During one day, the sun sends 10.000 to 15.000 times more energy onto the earth than we use. Each year, some 2 billion tons of wood are "energetically utilised", which means burned, mainly for cooking purposes. Fuel wood accounts for 15-18% of global primary energy consumption, more than nuclear energy and hydro power combined. Today, over 2 billion people in the world suffer from a firewood shortage. Based on a one-year long field test, an average family in Southern Africa can save 30 litres of kerosene, 30 kg of LPG (Liquid Paraffin Gas) and almost a ton of firewood per year. This means an estimated CO2 reduction of 1 ton/year per solar stove (average, 40% solar stove use p.a.)

Reprinted with permission from

New Range of Distribution Boxes

We have added a few more inexpensive distribution boxes to our range:

  • BO-050 is a simple two-pole box
  • BO-052 is a four-pole box with a smoked hinged lid;
  • BO-057 is a six-pole box with a smoked hinged lid
  • BO-051 is an eight-pole box with a smoked hinged lid
  • BO-053 is a twelve-pole box with a blue tinge hinged lid
  • BO-040 is a 150mm x 100mm IP55 waterproof enclosure

We feel these are a terrific compliment to our range of circuit breakers.

Some Uses for Timers

One of our readers, Karl Auer, suggested some uses for timers.

"...laptops are better than desktops for power consumption, plus they can be run on their own batteries for hours at a time. If left plugged in, they can be plugged into a timer, so they aren't drawing power the whole time. If they are set to suspend after a few minutes of inactivity without power, you can safely drop the power all night, and they will "wake up" fully charged in the morning.

If you have a home computer network or just an ADSL connection, put the ADSL modem/router and any ethernet switches or wireless access points on a timer to turn them all off at night or while everyone is away during the day. This has the added benefit of increasing security.

Computer users can spool all their print jobs (onto a server or locally) and use a timer to switch the printer(s) on for half and hour or so each day, maybe once in the morning and once in the evening. All the printouts get done in one or two hits, and your printer isn't chewing power idly. And you can always override the timer for the odd urgent print job.

A timer put on a house pressure pump can turn the pump off overnight and while everyone is away. Don't waste power on leaky taps :-)

Things like electric toothbrushes, mobile phone chargers and portable telephone cradles (not base stations!) only need an hour or so a day, so put them on timers too.

Timer switches (not pre-programmed timers) on toilet, laundry, and bathroom lights make sense too, as people are rarely in there for more than a few minutes to a quarter of an hour. Set the toilet light switch to a few minutes, the bathroom/laundry light switch to a quarter hour. Especially useful if light and fan go on at once.

Most outside lights (porches, verandas etc) are mostly used only a few minutes at a time. A timer switch will save a lot of waste and again, you can always override them if you are having an evening barbecue..."

We sell 12V and 24V timer.

Solar Courses

Our last weekend Living with Solar workshop was sold out and regrettably we had to turn down some applicants. So, book early for the next one, which is on August 5th, and 6th.

There are still a few spots open on the 5-day Designers Course to be held on 8-12th June. If interested, register today so you can obtain the course notes before the course starts!

Washing Machine Power Consumption

Modern washing machines are surprisingly energy efficient. If you are on a solar system and are shopping around for a new one, here are a few points to consider:

1) Buy one with hot and cold water connection and with a program whereby you can provide your own hot water rather than a unit that will heat the water with it´s own element!

2) The Star Label is a bit misleading if you are only considering power consumption and water usage is not a big issue with you. This is because the Star Label assumes that you are using electricity to heat the water. This means that washing machines which use a fair bit of water show a low star rating (due to all the water they are theoretically heating up).

3) Even though most washing machines only use 50-150 Wh/load (from our measurements of a few models), it still might need quite a large inverter, say 1200W, to power it for the few minutes while it is in spin dry mode, etc.

4) The Fischer & Paykel Smart Drive range use a DC type of motor which soft starts. They will normally work off a 600W inverter.

5) Most modern washing machines have a lot of electronics and need a sine wave inverter to operate. Don´t run them on cheap dodgy generators!

Some power consumptions that we have recently tested:

A) Simpson Ezi Wash 6.5kg used 106Wh on one full load. It has an AAAAA water rating.

B) Fischer & Paykel Smart Drive Excellence 7.5kg. This machine for our staff used 140Wh for a big load of one of our installers work clothes. It used 80Wh for a smaller load. It uses 240 litres of water on the lowest water setting.

C) LG 5kg. Model Fuzzy Logic WF-T502TH: This machine only used 36Wh on a small load and 54 Wh on a large load. It was observed to use 17-22W while filling; pulses of 160W while agitating; 35-60W to pump out; 23-54W while rising and 440W while in spin mode. My Energy Monitor 3000 showed a peak/surge wattage of 1443W.

A few measurements on older model units include:

D) Fischer & Paykel Smart Drive 600 Series 107 Wh/load.

E) Hoover Gemini 4kg: Used 110Wh/load and works off a 500W inverter

F) Hitachi 5kg - 10-year-old model - only used 50Wh per load and 150 litres of water

To summarize the results of all loads on all washing machines, the overall average was 85Wh/load.

If you would like to measure some power consumptions, buy one of our Energy Monitors!

Lismore Business Awards

Last Saturday, Rainbow Power Company received an award for the 'Most Environmentally Friendly Business' in the Lismore region. Not bad, eh?

New Sundaya Brochure

Are you a bit confused by the large range of Sundaya Lighting kits, lights and fittings? We now have a 4-page A4 size brochure on the way to the printer. Thanks to Sarjono and Maurice at Sundaya for their help. Give us your address if you would like us to mail you a copy.

New Photo Gallery

We've recently added Grid Feed and Sundaya Products sections to our Installations Gallery. Have a look at them!

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.