Lucy's Green Energy Journey, Stage Two!

After sharing the first instalment last month, today I’m sharing the next phase in my Green Energy Journey!

Now it’s time to get a little more into the nitty gritty. Here, I compare quotes and pricing, and share the system I ultimately decided on. And, I’ve also detailed the solar installation process — which was, surprisingly, up and running in under a week.

Finally, after gaining a better understanding of my household energy usage, I explain my choice to switch to a more renewable energy company. Momentum Energy is owned by Hydro Tasmania (Australia’s largest renewable energy generator) and this means the vast majority of the energy they supply is renewable. So even when the sun’s not shining in Fitzroy, it feels good knowing my house is always powered by renewables!

Lucy Feagins
Drone photography
Supported by Momentum Energy

Carrying 13 solar panels up 3 levels to the roof!

Lucy selected Sunpower solar panels, for their all-black slimline appearance, their long lifespan and 25 year warranty.

Lucy getting acquainted with her new solar panels!

Each solar panel had to be carefully carried to its position on the roof.

The solar panels were installed on an angle to maximise exposure to the North sun.

Aerial view of the panels going on the roof.

Lucy loving her new solar array!

Lucy Feagins
Drone photography
6th of July 2023

When I first started researching solar, it felt like a big leap into the unknown. But after just a couple of conversations with a knowledgable solar provider, I quickly started to feel way more informed and confident about taking the leap.

Here’s where we left off last time; Luke from BREC (my solar provider) had asked for 12 months of our household electricity bills, in order to put together a recommendation for our very own solar system. Using this data, he presented me with his proposal.

The Proposal

Based on our average household electricity consumption of 11 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, Luke proposed a 5.33 kW solar system, achieved by installing 13 solar panels on the roof.

I’ve leapt into some nerdy language here, but stick with me. Kilowatt-hours is simply the unit of measurement for household electricity. (Despite the name, it doesn’t mean the number of kilowatts you use ‘per hour’!)

The ‘size’ of the system Luke proposed is called a ‘5.33 kW system’ because 5.33 kilowatt-hours is the amount of electricity this solar system can generate at any one time.

But in a typical day, taking into account sunlight hours in Melbourne, and position/orientation, this 5.33 kW system would generate an average of 22 kWh per day, on our rooftop in Fitzroy. The good news is, that is around double our actual household electricity consumption! The bad news, though, is that most of that electricity will be generated right in the middle of the day, when the sun is shining — but we aren’t home to use it! If I want to make use of that energy instead of just feeding it back into the grid, I would need a battery to store it until the evening hours when we would actually be home to use it. But as you will soon see… that gets expensive!

Here are the two options Luke put forward :

Option 1

A 5.33 kW solar system, without a battery.
Predicted percentage of household energy coming from solar: 36%
Grid electricity still needed: 64%

Cost – $12,300.00 (after rebate)

Option 2

A 5.33 kW solar system, with a battery.
Predicted percentage of household energy coming from the solar: 91%
Grid electricity still needed: 9%

Cost – $27,500.00 (after rebate)

It’s worth mentioning that there are cheaper solar systems than this available – this pricing is based on Sunpower solar panels, which we selected due to their all-black slimline appearance, their long lifespan and 25 years warranty. Depending which panels and inverter you choose, it is possible to get a similar sized solar system for around $5k-$6k after the rebate.

In a nutshell, both systems Luke recommended included the same type and quantity of solar panels, the same inverter, the same basic infrastructure — and both create the same amount of energy. The difference between the two, is that one proposal includes a battery and one doesn’t. And the battery (including installation) would add more than $15,000 to the bill.

Its another no-brainer for me. As much as I’d love to be generating 91 percent  of our household electricity needs from solar, and buying almost no electricity from the grid, I can’t afford that sort of investment at the moment.

So, that was an easy decision! I decide to go with the first option, and Luke assures me I can always invest in a battery later, if I want to.

On the upside, I know I’ll be generating more than a third of my household energy needs from our new solar system, and also, I’ll be feeding heaps of renewable energy back into the grid each week, which is a great feeling.

The Installation

Once I’ve made my decision and signed on the dotted line, it’s all systems go. Luke orders the panels, and just three weeks later, it’s installation time!

It took Luke and his team about four days to install the solar system. Since our place is a  three storey home, the first day was all about feeding metres and metres of electrical cable through all the walls of my house — essentially getting the power from the roof all the way down to the ground level, where the Smart Meter is.

Once the cabling was done, the team spent three more days on the roof, getting the panels installed. Most of the solar panels were installed on an angle to maximise their exposure to the sun, but a few had to be laid flat so they wouldn’t shade the other panels. The orientation of the panels is different for every roof, and every location.

After all the data, calculations, graphs and ‘hypothetical’ conversations, it was amazing to see the system come together so quickly. In under a week we went from being totally reliant on grid electricity, to having solar up and running!

Switching Provider

The final decision I made in this stage of the journey was another easy one. After seeing clearly that I would still need around 64 percent of my household energy to be purchased from the grid (at least until I invest in a battery), I wanted to reassess my energy provider. I figured, since I’m investing in solar, I might as well ensure that the electricity I buy from my energy retailer is as renewable as it can possibly be, too. So, I made the switch the Momentum Energy.

Momentum Energy are owned by Hydro Tasmania, aka Australia’s largest renewable energy generator (they own 30 hydropower stations and two major wind farms in Tasmania), and this means the vast majority of the energy they supply to the grid is renewable.

Inspired to join me on your own Green Energy Journey? If you’ve already followed my advice from last week, it’s time to take the leap! Simply get these tasks done over the next few weeks, and stay tuned for my final instalment, where I’ll assess my solar usage after a couple of months of actual use, compare electricity bills, and give you my final thoughts on the whole process.

Green Energy Journey, Stage 2 : To-Do List

1. Review the proposal/quote from your solar provider, and ask any questions
2. Sign off your quote (there is a short cooling off period)
3. Book in your install!

Not ready for solar? You can still play your part in building Australia’s renewable future, by choosing renewable energy, wherever you can.

Momentum Energy are owned by Australia’s largest renewable energy generator.  Sign up to one of Australia’s greenest power companies.

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