[clug] OT: Solar power recommendations and advice

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Mon Apr 19 05:11:34 MDT 2010

Hash: SHA1

On 18/04/10 19:09, Paul wrote:
> sorry not Linux related but I have heard some people have some knowledge
> on Solar Power (PV) , so looking to jump into this and would like some
> advice and recommendations for installers etc..
> PS I really would like to monitor it on my Linux box , but first up how
> do I go about choosing who to start getting quotes from in Canberra

Kate and I went with Armada Solar (http://armadasolar.com).  We got three
quotes, whittled it down to two, and Armada matched the cheaper quote.  We
decided on Armada because they were local, they were the first people to ask
the all-important question "will the number of solar panels you want actually
fit on your roof?" and they stocked the high-power panels we wanted.

I chose a Fronius inverter, but most of them seem to have some extra kit that
you can use to interface with a PC.  It often costs, and be prepared for the
manufacturers to have little or no idea about Linux.  I'd bet it's all fairly
simple RS-232 signalling anyway, so a pleasant afternoon's worth of decoding
should have the protocol in your hands to do with as you will.  Most of them
have little or no control over the inverter from the computer (which is
unsurprising really, as they're pretty much set-and-forget devices).

My observation is that there are essentially two directions to go in buying a
solar panel setup.  One is to minimise the cost to just what you can sneak
into the budget (with the rebate if it still exists and applies to you), and
the other is to go all out and buy the largest system you can afford.  Both of
these plans are the quickest to 'pay off' - in the middle the per-panel cost
is the driving factor, the rebate has minimal impact and the amount of power
you generate doesn't pay off quickly.  But in my view one should not look at
the 'pay off' time as a deciding factor, because really it's never short enough.

We have a 2.15KW system (all we could fit on the sunny bit of roof - curse our
inconveniently-shaped house) and I'd guess it generates around $200 or so per
year (and saves us paying for about $1500 worth of electricity per year).
That's a rough guide and your wattage may vary :-)

Have fun,

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