Going solar: please share your experiences! Like to install solar HWS, heating etc. Live in Victoria Australia?

Filed under: Self Reliance |

solar power home
Image by bark
My new solar powered earring.
A little fun with the sun as I was getting into the car to drive the long way home.

Question by Gemma: Going solar: please share your experiences! Like to install solar HWS, heating etc. Live in Victoria Australia?
We’re about to move to a 5 acre bush block outside Daylesford. The house is rendered brick double storey. It has an electric HWS and wood heater. We’d like to install solar panels on the roof to power everything but cannot afford this at all now. We thought we could start off with a solar combined hydronic heating and HWS but don’t know much about it. If anyone has experiences with this, or in general about solar power it would really help us decide the best way to make our new home more sustainable. Thanks for any help offered!

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4 Responses to Going solar: please share your experiences! Like to install solar HWS, heating etc. Live in Victoria Australia?

  1. Solar Hot Water would be worth having (and not too expensive), solar panels probably aren’t worth it.

    You should ignore those who suggest paying extra for electricity from the grid as that is pretty much just a fraud (it has been known to sell more power from ‘renewables’ than was actually generated) leaving aside the whole problem of wind not being able to actually replace coal.

    May 15, 2014 at 7:10 am

  2. Hi Gemma. Welcome to the bush! I’m also in country Victoria (not in the central highlands though, I’m down on the coast.)

    You’re lucky in that you have some great community sustainability groups in your area, such as the Hepburn renewable energy association (hrea) and Breaze in Ballarat who would be happy to help you out.

    But in a nutshell getting a SHWS is a VERY good idea, especially if you have an electric HWS now, as the CO2 reductions are huge (more effective in terms of CO2 than a Solar PV electric system) and the government is so keen to have electric systems replaced that they’re all but free! So do that pronto.

    When it comes to heating via solar, things aren’t so easy and/or cheap. You can get a 1KW system fitted for about $ 3,000 which will power a portion of your energy use (usually about a quarter), but to fully cover appliances, heating and lighting, you’d (probably) need to spend at LEAST $ 30,000. The BEST to use solar to heat a house is to use passive solar by designing the house to take advantage. Of course it’s very hard (and expensive) to retro-fit for passive solar (I’m a builder by the way), and as said above creating solar electricity for heating is also all but impossible from a cost point (even if it’s used in conjunction with a hydronic system). But there’s lots of other things you can do to improve the house and make it more thermally efficient, starting with a box of no-more-gaps tubes! Kill those cracks and holes. Then have a good look at your insulation levels, and if you can, double them (especially the roof). The Fed government insulation rebates that are coming soon will help here so perhaps wait for that. Also don’t forget to make sure your grid electricity is 100% wind, which will be probably credited to the Ararat wind farm.

    Of course there’s heaps more. But the single best thing you can do to help and be more sustainable is to join either HREA and Breaze (or both!)

    Hope that helps, and have fun. :O)

    Peter Reefman
    May 15, 2014 at 7:48 am

  3. Your best bet is a thermosiphon solar hot water system. No pumps and no moving parts and no need electricity. The only thing you must remember is having your panel lower than your tank.

    I would suggest a wind generator so you would get some electricity after the sun goes down.

    May 15, 2014 at 8:10 am

  4. If your are thinking about solar…Build It And Install Yourself!! You’ll save thousands and thousands of dollars. I did it and it is way easier than it sounds.

    Check out this article:


    The manual was only fifty bucks US and I spent about $ 250 buying material and built two panels in a weekend – they are providing about 1/3 of my homes power.

    Good luck!

    May 15, 2014 at 8:57 am

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