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  1. #1
    Senior Member garfield's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Default Help!

    Hi all,

    We had a solar system installed on the house last year, off the top of my head I'm not sure what size system it is but the is 36 panels on the roof, one side of the roof has 18 or maybe a few more and the other side has the same so in the morning one is getting more sun than the other and vise versa, right now together we are pulling in 28.0 kwh.

    Well since we have had the system I feel we are being robbed! The first quarter they were in we got messed around in getting our smart meter, then when we got it they said it was malfunctioning and they estimated we owed them money for power and we were charged a bill. The next quarter it seemed to be good we didn't have to pay anything and we also were in $350 credit. Now I understand the weather with all of the rain hasn't been too good for solar panels but my uncle with the same system and same size has not once paid a bill and he is something like $1000 in credit. There are 3 adults at his home and 2 children, now he and his wife are retired and home every day, they only have electricity and no gas, so it runs their stove, hot water service and the like. My wife and I work so usually no one home during the day so other than the 2 fridges and things like a TV is on standby we are not home to use power.

    We have discovered after talking with my uncle that we are on a 14kw capped return, where once we have put 14kw's into the gird we are not being paid for anything after that.

    All in all pretty bloody disgraceful I think, we are getting a pittance for what we are generating and they charge a premium for it!

    If anyone could please advise how we can get a better deal or how to look for it I'd really appreciate it.


  2. #2
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Country NSW


    This is going to sound very obvious, but why not see who your uncle is going through and talk to them?
    Never argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

  3. #3
    Senior Member garfield's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by Whitey66 View Post
    This is going to sound very obvious, but why not see who your uncle is going through and talk to them?
    Have done, and believe it or not he is with the same company as us. He told then to go shove it with the capping and hung up, they called him back to negotiate not capping it my wife did the same today and they wouldn't budge.

    I cannot understand how they keep getting a credit and we are paying, and from what my Uncle said the amount we are producing no way we should be paying a bill.

  4. #4
    Golden Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Melbourne - Yarra Ranges


    It varies from state to state and distribution area. In VIC, they have set a min which from memory is 6c.
    Its a changing market.
    I managed to get one at AGL that pay 10c but capped at ~14kwh.....which is to be expected in the current environment with lots of excess solar power in the peak of the day for the network to handle.

    Expectations of should you be paying a bill????...So many variables come into an answer including how much electricity you use/what appliances etc after the sun goes down.
    It won't be the same outcome for everyone and the feedin tariff really is a very miniscule component of the final outcome these days.
    You need to move as much usage to when the sun is shining otherwise there is zero savings.
    - Do you have a pool filter that runs at night?...change it to the day.
    - Do you have hot water boost that comes on whenever or heats up during the night, then change it to the day use only
    - Your cooking at night, so only option is to consider having cooking appliances run during the day eg: Slow cooker
    - Run dishwashers, washing machines during the day
    - Depending on the load, don't have them all coming on at the same time of day as you may be using more electricity than you're generating at that point in time
    - Potentially run your heaters (split system) during the day on say 20 degrees to heat for free (on sunny days) to preheat your house for when you get home
    - Look at the appliances you run at night. Ive a granny flat and in the winter its cold with someone staying in it they run a portable floor heater. Our daily network electricity import skyrockets from 5kw to 15/20kw with just that one item. Would install a small split system that would be cheaper to run if it was used more frequently.

    So if you have a usage/generation app, have a look at when you are using more electricity than generation to identify whats causing the usage and can its usage be mover to daytime use when we are generating power, turned off or replaced with something more efficient.

    My Experience

    We put ours in last Nov not with the expectation of getting paid for our kwh generation excess's and are expecting there will be a time when it will be next to 0c as its simply not sustainable for electricity companies to pay for electricity they dont need and expect the non solar users to pick up the tab....just simple economics Just like you, there are others I work with getting better deals that I just cant (from the same electricity retail company)...yep a little frustrating but it is what it is. It did take a while (months) for the retailer to set things up correctly with a few phone calls to keep it moving.....not what I was expecting.

    So went into it with the expectation we will generate excess (its far more than I was expecting from our 13kW system during the summer and much less than I was expecting in the winter ), might get paid for a small amount but looking to self utilise as much as possible.
    We are all electric, no off peak household on a hobby farm with no town water, sewage, hot water house, Hot water shed, septic pump, septic sand filter pump, septic ground water pump, water tank pump on demand 24/7
    So, it was an eye opener and challenge in the beginning to identify where we could make the changes needed to maximise self-consumption.

    The enphase system has an app that I can see 30min consumption/generation/import electricity stats which was really handy in the beginning and still is to investigate any abnormal's

    Changes made to maximise usage:

    It was through the app that I'd identified the following:
    - FIXED the Solar hotwater panels had a leaking frost valve running at night when only 12 degrees, not 3 degrees causing the water pump to constantly kick in and causing the hot water to start heating
    - FIXED Leak in a pipe join at the pump causing the pump to constantly kick in. As it was 100m away wouldn't have picked it up without seeing the spikes of usage all through the night to find what was causing it.
    - INSTALLED timer & contactor on House hot water so it only heats during the day when we are generating electricity. Summer time is totally free but winter here there isn't enough sun for both the solar electricity AND the solar hot water panels and so usage goes up as expected. Also wired this up so during power outages, I can still run the solar hotwater panels circulation pump (very small current draw) from the genset to continue to get free hot water during sunny days.
    - INSTALLED timer and contactor on shed hot water so it only heats up during the day and generally only have on in Spring, Summer & Autum (depending on the weather) to utilise the excess solar for free hot water when required
    - INSTALLED timer and contactor on the circuit for the 3 septic pumps to operate ONLY during the day.

    The Hot water and septic pumps daylight operations has saved a bucket load and we still get the max credits paid from the plan (max 14kWh) $50 to $70 per month in peak sun season. Because of the amount of rain weve had the last few years, the sand filter pump was previously constantly going 24/7

    - CHANGED HOUSEHOLD HABITS to use power during the day where possible such as the washing machine, dishwasher and even some cooking (slow cooker)
    Wife is chuffed when she says its hot and I say, put the aircon on as we are generating stack of excess and therefore its free to operate!

    - WINTER required changes with many frosty mornings I was showering at 4am with cold water. The timer turned off the hotwater heating at 4pm and so there was a lot of heat loss during the cold nights. John on Kangaroo island (forum member) suggested a few changes - I wrapped the tank in batts which made a reasonable difference from tank heat loss and also kicked in the grid connection at 5am via the timer during the winter only for the family morning showers and strict instructions for nightly showers to be short so "I" don't run out of hot water in the frosty winter mornings (due to tank heat losses). Now we are back into the longer warmer days, no issues with heat loss so timer is reset to operate from 8am to 6pm.

    Future opportunities to reduce network usage

    1. Would love to improve the winter usage given there is a larger than expected reduction in solar generation. Still a couple of tweaks I could do (turn off the spare fridge when not in use) and a couple of major projects
    2. Water header tank on the 25m hill so the water pump is only operating during the day to the header tank (very small saving and 10+ years for return on investment but targeted for convenance during power outages)
    3. and some sort of DIY custom wetback hot water system to utilise the winter fire (it would easily halve the winter bills)

    4. Batteries are a future option when it makes more financial sense (for me) in particular I'd love to do a DIY separate component solution to capture some of the excess and rig it up (legally and correctly) so it still runs during power outages. I'm not willing to spend $16k+ on a Tesla Power Wall that would take more than 16 years to break even based on our new annual bill of $1,000 and likely to need replacement batteries at that time....essentially a zero gain (waste of effort and $).

    Bills before/after

    Now Bills in the summer are $0 to $50 a month. Bills in the winter are $200 to $300 per month....which is a big difference on pre solar bills of ~$600 to $700 ave per month every month
    With power outage credits, we essentially didnt receive a bill to pay for 4 months at the start of the year.

    Our previous annual electricity bill was ~$7,000 (yep, close to $2,000 per quarter!!!) but spending $12k on solar has reduced our annual bill to <$1,000.
    Have yet to do the sums for the full year but estimate a $5k to 6k saving with < 3 year payback including all the additional addons I've installed.
    ****wouldn't have got close to this result without changes in usage patterns****

    Hope that helps with expectations of a solar system or at the very least to offer some comparison.

  5. #5
    7K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010


    Here in VIC on Powercor (distributor) we can only export 5kw at any given time. Tell me again your troubles?

  6. #6
    1K Club Member havabeer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011


    not to sound weird but you really need to know what size your system is before you start complaining about the usage/bill. you're not pulling in 28Kwh... you've pulled in 28KwH for that period of time over the course of the day.

    as bart mentions you need to change your habits, feed in tariffs are pretty poor now (I remember when my mum was on the 60c one YEARS ago) so you really need to change your habbits. you're better off using the electicity during the day when its free from your panels then trying to take advantage of the feed in tarifs, things like setting timers for the washing machine and dishwasher to come on during the day.

    coming home at 4/5pm and cranking every appliance when you're in peak rate time isn't going to go well, which is part of the problems with smart meters you'll have 3 different rates and you're coming home and using 40 - 50c a KWh when during the day you've only pumped 7c a KWh back into the grid.
    Remember if you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing

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