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Latest Forum Posts

Author Post

73 posts
Posted Yesterday, 8:55 PM
Is it just me that feels that Meridian are doing their best to get rid of pesky grid tied PV customers?

23 posts
Posted 2 Mar 15 2:36 PM

That's good to hear you've had a good experience with EV imports! Awesome news for NZers wanting to go electric!

I've been talking to a few solar installers. I'm hearing that currently, even with full house Off gird designs many solar installers don’t even allow for electric heaters at all because they draw so much power that the batteries can’t keep up.

A small battery bank set up is still $10k and this is just for little loads like TV, lights , vaccum cleaner, radio etc.

If your underfloor heater is powered by your hot water cylinder then having a gadget like the Immersun would be highly recommended - costs $1200. I'm not sure how much to get it installed. It basically makes sure the solar power your system generates goes to topping up your hot water when your are generating solar power and avoids using power at night if possible. There isn't much energy loss in good cylinders these days, so your hot water cylinder can be thought of as a battery.

As for the portable electric heater - changing to heat pump might be a better option - or maybe cranking up the underfloor heating if the Immersun is compatible.

I am really interested to see what changes you make to increase your solar self-consumption. It would be a great story for my website - My Solar Quotes. If you could keep in touch I would really appreciate it -

10 posts
Posted 28 Feb 15 3:28 PM
Hello Kirsty,

At the moment we're using a portable electric heater and underfloor heater. We have insulation, but not double glazing. Looking at a graph of our electric bills we currently spend about $800 heating ourselves. However I'm looking at getting reverse cycle a heat pump. From what I can gather "today" there are no battery systems that are practical unless the user changes their lifestyle.

73 posts
Posted 28 Feb 15 8:44 AM

We can thoroughly recommend EV Imports', and an 'upside' to Meridian's 7c summer rate is that when our excess summer generation is diverted to the LEAF we get to drive it for as little as 1.2c/km energy ('fuel') cost, with no ICE or drive train maintenance costs!

23 posts
Posted 28 Feb 15 8:27 AM

Sure I could let you know a rough price. What kind of heating system do you use?

10 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 5:59 PM
Hello Kirsty,

Would be interested to know your figures for a practical battery system to go with our 8kw PV, how many years to pay it off and what battery.... We like our family room and dining area to be warm at night only. We are I guess an average family.....
I certainly wouldn't bet on Elon Musk just yet.

23 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 3:23 PM
Good point Harm Less Solution - charging electric vehicles is a great option.

Second hand Nissan leafs are now pretty easy to get in NZ -

23 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 3:20 PM
If you want a small battery bank they are often known as 'battery backup systems' in the solar world. Because they have been so expensive in the past, people only brought them if they had medical equipment that needed to run in a blackout of for people who commonly experienced blackouts.

But now these same small battery banks are in demand by people who don't want to export their valuable solar power to the grid and to paid bugger all for it.

The majority of systems being installed use lead acid batteries - which do require ventilation and maintenance.

It seems these new battery systems - Telsa, Enphase will be superior. They will be smaller, lighter and almost maintenance free compared to what's available now.

Also they will be smarter... connecting with energy monitoring systems.

It will be a tough call what expat Meridian customers should do. If you have a system 3kW or smaller, the Immersun would probably be a good option / the cheapest option.

If you have a 8kW system and you were relying on 'selling' back to the grid the batteries would be the way to go.

73 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 3:14 PM
We charge a LEAF as much from our PV generation as possible so while we are maximising our 'self consumption' this also rules out most battery options. At around 20kWh per charge this is probably well beyond the capability of most storage units (if off grid) and the cost of 'islanding' the battery portion of our partial consumption is probably uneconomic. A "car to home" set up does interest us but not viable as yet.

Maximising our self consumption while taking the most agreeable export rate deal seems like the best approach for us.

3 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:52 PM
I am interested to learn more details about your idea.

23 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:44 PM
That's a bit of blow that Meridian have done that.

I agree switching to Trust Power would be a good option, plus as far as I know you'd still get the tect cheque.

The other two things to think about are appliance controllers and battery storage to increase your self-consumption.

Immersun and the Feed-in Fighter are really good appliance controllers, I have a write up about them here -

If you can wait a bit longer there are some really good home battery storage solutions coming out soon. SMA have one called the Sunny Boy Smart Energy, a lithium-ion battery pack that is mounted right next to the inverter. Tesla are going to start producing their Home Energy Storage system in 6 months. Enphase have their 'AC Battery' Systems coming out in about a year.

73 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:34 PM
Trustpower might be worth applying some pressure to in regard to attracting disenchanted Meridian, and Contact for that matter, customers. If they could squeeze out another 1c/kWh that would make them competitive with both. Even more so for Tauranga residents who qualify for Trustpower's TECT 'cashback' scheme.

Having been a Trustpower customer in both TGA and here in Taranaki they were great to deal with and I only left them due to Meridian's 1:1 export rate, but that's now long gone. Time for more of us PV owners to approach them?

5 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:30 PM
I'm looking forward to the Tesla house battery they are hoping to be ready in the next few months. Then it will be good bye power companies. I put 5 kW system up at the end of October and Meridian hasn't produced a correct bill or should I say credit since.

3 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:23 PM
Just got the same letter from Meridicon.

I assume that there are no other companies offering a higher rate? If so, it seems ripe for a new company to enter the market as a not-for-profit that has the aim of buying electricity from pv exporters at a fair rate and then selling to consumers.

I emailed Meridicon telling them their letter will increase small pv generators desire to adopt "disruptive" small scale energy storage solutions.

10 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 2:12 PM
I have an 8kw PV grid connected system. How can I help?

73 posts
Posted 27 Feb 15 1:24 PM
Meridian have just advised us (as existing grid tied PV generators) that their buy-back ('export') rates will reduce for existing customers to the same rates as for new customers, as announced late 2014. These are 7c/kWh in summer (1 Oct-30 Apr) and 10c/kWh in winter (1 May-30 Sep) as of 1 July 2015.

For us as Powerco supplied customers our network and 'Low User' rates will also change as of 1 April 2015.

Can a Contact customer/generator advise if that supplier has 'coincidentally' announced similar changes?

If so we will seriously look towards going back to Trustpower as their export rate of 7c/kWh is now looking competitive, and we would sooner 'donate' to a privately owned company than to a greedy SOE.

1 posts
Posted 17 Feb 15 1:53 PM
Hi, I am also looking to do this, i was wondering if you be willing to pass on the information about the nz standards to me? It would be of great help. Do you have any advice about getting compliance for solar heating modules?

6 posts
Posted 15 Feb 15 7:42 PM
Moderators, I imagine that DrMatt's information is enough to declare this topic as SOLVED. How is this done?

6 posts
Posted 15 Feb 15 7:39 PM
Thanks DrMatt. I'll give him a try.

5 posts
Posted 15 Feb 15 4:01 PM
Sorry I was late replying Snail, try Jim Steemson, has always been helpful to us.

52 posts
Posted 14 Feb 15 11:52 PM
Maybe take a look at Cornerstone building system as a 1st step to get the bones of the structure right, & nothing to stop insulation between joists.
With the wide eaves that should reduce summer sunshine therefore consider your home as a fridge in summer & don't leave the door open with good insulation it will stay cool.

7 posts
Posted 13 Feb 15 2:44 PM
We are almost there, finally having done the step and decisions.
We are now building an eco home on 2 acres, shared with horse and large organic gardens and permaculture principals for orchard and more.
We are also selling one extra acre, which has its own pond and magnificent views of the harbour. The Geo report is done, the plans are drawn; it is now in consenting phase and all should be finished by mid 2015, title available. We are looking for an interested party who likes to build in a sustainable way and maybe even likes to grow their own.
There are no covenants attached to the title, but a couple of easements regarding services. If you like to live in a vibrant community (we just had an opening of an amazing eco Early Childhood Center) let us know. Come and have a look for yourself. We are in walking distance from the ferry wharf and also school and other facilities.
The property lies in total sun, whole year round and gives us a micro climate to work with. (no frost in the slight hill) let us know if you are interested.

3 posts
Posted 13 Feb 15 9:58 AM
Thank you for the advice seeker. The picture here is not of our house, I don't have a picture of the window but the window does look like that and actually have a bigger pelmet. I was thinking of removing those as they seem old, but now after what you said I think I will keep them for the warmth!

Would LED lighting on the ceiling be an option if I want to have a whole blanket on the ceiling?

How much per window did it cost you to replace the sashes and keep the wooden frames? I definitely need to retain the character as the house is 2b zoned. Another question, does replacing windows need consent? I.e. do I have to do it all during renovation or I could do it afterwards in piecemeal?

The house only has 3 gas (mains) outlet downstairs. One where the chimney is, one by the stairs and one in the smaller living room which we've got the Rinnai gas heater connected to.

Welcome to follow my progress here

4 posts
Posted 13 Feb 15 6:45 AM
From the photo it looks like the house has hydronic heating installed. Why are you replacing it with / adding heat pumps?

347 posts
Posted 12 Feb 15 9:50 PM
Once you stop the drafts around windows and double the "R" value of them by double glazing, heat pumps may become a practical space heating option.

The windows in the picture have pelmets - try to retain these if possible. Without the pelmets, as the layer of air in the space between the window and any curtains cools and falls, warm air from the room is drawn into this gap from the room - cooling this air you have spent money warming, then drawing more air in the top again - a cooling cycle.

We double glazed an 1876 house - much earlier period than your house. All of the wooden window frame joinery was kept, but all the sashes were replaced with aluminium double glazed "inserts" (double hung in that instance). The appearance of the house was unchanged and all the character kept.

Is replacing the sashes an option for you?

We also renovated a house in Devonport which was newer - similar age to the home in this thread. We used a false lead-light window, utilising double glazed aluminium inside a wooden window frame, with false "strips" creating the cottage look for a particular window that is similar to the ones in the picture - this was driven by regulations, as the original lead light was unable to comply with the safety glass requirements for bathroom for that 2003 renovation - again it was difficult to see that the window was not a turn-of- century leadlight.

These options are possibly not the most economic - but the character of the house(s) was retained and quite likely a higher house value.

The question about ceiling fans was to see whether you can circulate any air sitting in a layer at ceiling height - this can be retrofitted so not a concern during the renovation. (The temperature difference between ceiling and table level can be significant: I have measured 19 deg C at table height and 30 deg C at ceiling height.)

Regarding insulation, ceiling insulation will help a lot - especially if by careful lighting selection you can remove the requirement for heat "chimneys" around the light fixtures (say if wall lighting is used) - a whole blanket insulation will then be able to be used.

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