Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

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Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Fri Jun 17, 2022 8:02 am

This column is archived at:

Don't you hate those situations where two parties are involved in creating a solution and, when it doesn't work, each party blames the other and, on the face of it, they're both right?

This voltage-drop situation might be an important issue for a small number of people who decide to add some solar capacity to their house in an attempt to reduce their power bull while living in the country.

Areas which have seen an increase in the number of "lifestyle" blocks are even more likely to be affected as power companies try to squeeze the maximum numbers of consumers onto the minimum numbers of transformers as a way of saving costs.

In this case I suggested that the guy go totally off-grid rather than spend $40K to have his connection to the grid upgraded.

What do you think?

Have any readers had similar issues?
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby Hiro Protagonist » Fri Jun 17, 2022 10:51 am

Why not just stop trying to back-feed to the grid?
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby aardvark_admin » Fri Jun 17, 2022 10:54 am

Yeah, I think the way it's configured there isn't an option. I also suggested that he simply manually switch between grid power and solar power depending on demand/supply.
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby hagfish » Fri Jun 17, 2022 11:48 am

'No back-feed' may make it 'feel' cheaper to charge, say, and EV. Instead of being $0.08/KWhr, any (excess) energy going into the car is worth $0.00.
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby Kiwiiano » Fri Jun 17, 2022 4:44 pm

A friend of a friend had a similar problem. He lives up in Marlborough, well off the grid & was initially dependent on a diesel gene. Until he noted that a small stream the crossed his property had a very reliable year-round flow. He made discrete enquiries with the powers-that-be & sure enough there were all sorts of problems if he dammed the stream & installed a hydro gene. You'd think he was building another Clyde dam!
Some time later, where the stream passed through a patch of bush there was a slip that cut off the stream for a few days until the flow topped the debris, which fortunately had mostly larger rocks across the top where the water flowed (ahem!) There had been a long length of polythene meandering down the hill from the previous owner's activities & they found water pouring out the lower end, the upper end must have been in the pond that formed behind the slip. The lower end was very close to back of the workshop where by amazing coincidence a Pelton wheel was located. Long story short, the wheel was connected to the flow with a drain returning the water to the stream to maintain flow for the stream ecosystem.
It all worked very well except that when the washing machine went into a spin cycle the TV went bizonkers. The governor on the wheel took too long to adjust the rpm. Thinks.... More thinks......... Light bulb moment!! A large hot water cylinder was acquired and a household dimmer modified slightly so the surplus energy from the gene went to heat water and because it all happens within 1 AC 50Hz cycle, the TV didn't notice.The Pelton gene runs continuously at its optimum rpm and the other big plus is that the household never runs out of hot water. They do have to manage their total load but it's a small price to pay for the pleasures of living in the outer Sounds.
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby gregmcc » Fri Jun 17, 2022 5:22 pm

the power companies are required to provide power at +/- 6% of the standard voltage (by law the Electrical regulations), this been 230V for single phase and 400V for 3 phase.
So for single phase this would be 216V to 244V

There may be a number of reasons for the too low/high voltage, any thing outside of the property is the power companies problem to fix, inside the property is the property owners problem to fix, seems like it's time to get your electrician involved on checking out where the problem is.
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Re: Rural solar has a gotcha (17 Jun, 2022)

Postby roygbiv » Sat Jun 18, 2022 12:56 pm

I would agree that $40k would be best spent going off grid by enhancing what is already there and in place.

It is a fascinating area as I am seriously looking at solar power for my house in Northland, this US site is very useful in explaining what is what with solar panels and everything that is involved. It also explains the term 'peak sun hours' which is a number - higher the better and summarises for each US state. It is an indication of how much sun energy you will get depending where you live.

Back to NZ and NIWA does a link which will calculate peak sun hours to your house with Solarview and throws in some weather or cloud factoring too. So it is possible from your armchair to work out how many panels needed and battery storage to go off grid. Along with your power bill which would give consumption in KW/h each month.

My intention is that when I go to my solar panel provider I will be armed with the knowledge of what is out there and make an informed decision, not necessarily going for the best 'deal' but one that suits me.
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