How I’m installing solar power to 3 units

Ken Lambert owns three residential units in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. It’s a brick veneer residence built in the 1960s.

Ken is installing solar power to supply each of the units. Here is Ken’s summary of his project.


Hi Michael,

The front garden has indigenous native plants.

The garden has been built with the assistance of Lachie Storie of TreeFrog Permaculture and a landscaper, Jack, who is part of the local Permaculture Hunter group.

The electrical supply is set up as follows.

• New pole installed by owner at own cost

New pole installed by owner at own cost

I paid for and had a new private pole installed to supply 3 phase power to the 2 flats and my own.

Two of the meter connections to Ausgrid have been deleted and there is now just the one connection for all three units.

All electrical power is now monitored in real time by the hardware pictured in the meter box.

The property is due to have a 7kW capacity solar system installed soon by Zac from Logical Energy Solutions.

After the solar installation a smart meter will replace the current one and I will have monitoring software supplied by Daniel Ricardo of 'Bonza Energy'.

This will allow real time monitoring of the supply to all the units. The feeds to each unit will be available for monitoring on the internet by each of the units.

Daniel suggested that I price the power supplied to the units by creating a cheaper fixed connection charge that would be, say, 50% of the charge I pay for the one incoming line, which is presently close to 100c per day, and that the supply of any solar power be sold at a reduced rate to the units. Any supply direct from the grid to the other units would be supplied at a cost neutral rate from my retailer.

My goal is to reduce electricity costs to both my unit and the other two units, as well this will help pay down the capital cost of the solar panels.

Daniel will do the software install after the panels go up and the meter is upgraded.

I will be getting an inverter chosen to be capable of upgrading so that the house will be 'battery ready' when I move to the next step of installing batteries.

For hot water to my own unit I have an evacuated tube solar hot water system, Apricus 315 litres. Currently it is on off peak for boosting but I have only recently switched this on in June as it’s winter.

The two units on the ground floor each have electrical hot water storage systems with manual timers which I might adjust to be active during the day but outside the peak to use the solar panels when they are installed.

I am hoping that the software will become smarter to help with energy management in the future.

I am aware that this is a new venture and there are things to sort out like issues related to the on-selling of power to a tenant.  They will be saving on their energy costs but our current tenant (who has been very supportive of what we are doing) is moving on but real estate agents give us worried looks.  I don’t know of anybody who is currently going down this path.

Costs:

We were doing very significant extensions and upgrades to our 50 year old building.  The private pole and and new meter box were required anyway.

Prices are:

  • Solar panels 7kW and inverter $13 000 (includes STC discount)
  • Pole and meter box upgrade $ 5000
  • Metering and software $ 3 000

All the best!

I will update you further,

Ken