The Dark Side: The Truth About Solar Power In Winter – SolarQuotes TV Ep. 6

[Music] on this episode of solar quotes tv the dark side of solar the truth about solar systems in winter and how they perform in your city plus can a tesla powerwall cook a human being we find out in our battery-powered sauna battle plus solar where the sun doesn't shine making solar work in tasmania all that and a little bit of shrinkage in this winter edition of solar quotes tv hello and welcome to solar quotes tv where we ask a fundamental question is solar worth it in winter well the average three person home in hobart uses about 31 kilowatt hours per day of electricity in midwinter to generate that much solar in june on average they'll need a 20 kilowatt system and a huge roof to put it on clearly for many people in the colder parts of australia solar alone even with a battery is not enough to get them through winter so how can solar lovers get through winter using as little grid electricity as possible well first of course you don't skimp on the size fill your roof with those panels to maximize your winter generation but that solar must be combined with efficiency as a half finish half bomby immigrant i can tell you most aussie homes are horribly inefficient and miserably cold over winter they're drafty with cheap crap aluminium framed windows and insufficient insulation my mum lives in this house in finland where it gets to minus 40 degrees celsius or worse outside she lives there very comfortably and she gets reasonable power bills without any solar on her roof how it's really simple she gets four things right gaps glazing insulation and a heat pump gaps my mum's house is well sealed they're two doors on all the exits to make an air gap and great ceiling around all the windows and doors it's simple it's rubber seals windows she's got triple glazing on every window with insulated wooden frames insulation she simply uses shredded newspaper blows that into the walls and that makes a great insulator for those cold finished winters and finally she uses a heat pump to heat the home which is four times more efficient than resistive heaters the heat pump operates happily in winter because it's sunk underground it's called a ground source heat pump we're lucky in australia the air never really gets that cold and a good heat pump will happily work down to -10 degrees c and that's really the secret to a happy healthy warm home that costs very little to run you do this in hobart and you can get your 31 kilowatt hours per day down to closer to 11 kilowatt hours which on an average winter day in hobart can actually be covered by around 6.6 kilowatts of solar but money saving shouldn't be the main reason to have an efficient home you should do it for the hoogia is a scandinavian word it simply means cosy a cozy home is a wonderful place to be in winter and studies have shown that people in warm homes are happier and yes they actually live longer you can't put a price on so i hope you're watching this in a happy hood home now keeping the scandinavian theme going we're going to go to our most dangerous field test yet it's musk versus man we see which cooks first a tesla power wall or a brave but very stupid volunteer thanks finn so here we are in downtown brighton on what is a horrible day for solar but a beautiful day for a sauna and the question we're going to answer today is if we run a full-on finish sauna off nothing but a tesla power wall and six kilowatts of solar then what's gonna die first the wall or the poor bloke inside the sauna which is going to be me now this is quite a test for this power wall because my sauna pulls six to seven kilowatts it's as i've said a horrible day for solar so my solar is pumping out about 700 watts at the moment and the pow wall can only pump out five kilowatts maximum continuously we're going to be running the power wall at full whack for two two and a half hours solar's going to be putting everything it's got into the sauna and we're going to be topping up you know maybe a couple of hundred watts from the grid sometimes so i've never done that before i've never run this full whack for hours and hours i'm not sure what a good idea it is we'll find out but i'm gonna sit in the sauna it's gonna get up to oh probably 110 120 degrees celsius yes celsius and we're gonna see if i can outlast the power walls drain if i can sit in the sauna for longer than the power wall can last before it gets to zero percent i've won if the power's got plenty of charge left and i have to give up because i'm dying then the power wall's won it's time for me to go and slip into something a bit more saunery monitoring is on well i've been in here 30 minutes now and it's up to let's have a look at the temperature on the thermometer a nice balmy 76 degrees very very pleasant so i bet that power was struggling take that power wolf people ask me so what could you possibly do in a sauna well it's simple you can do what we call vasa in finland flagellate yourself like to read a book no sauna is complete without your sauna sausage chuck it on the stones 20 minutes it's cooked i've got to use lolu put some water on the stones and while you're waiting for it to cook of course you have sauna olives sauna beer cheers oh well been in here about 40 minutes i bet that power wall wow that's probably got five percent left what a piece of crap finn i'm actually concerned about these five people died doing this in finland things i do for saul jesus christ it's actually pretty hot in here we're about to hit the tongue 100 degrees c i'm starting to get a bit delirious oh ma matt calaban he's quite a good bloke actually yeah talks a lot of sense yeah cole is the future man it's the future how's that power wall doing you know i'm about 20 i've hit the hour and i've hit the 100 degrees celsius to give you an idea of quite how hot it is in 100 degrees celsius air i've been collecting my sweat in this little boat oh i hate solo and elon musk and batteries even more than wrong [Music] so there we have it i'm on zero percent the battery's still got 48 left elon musk you win again okay so don't try that at home i won't be again as it took another hour and a quarter for elon to finally run out of steam now speaking of saunas there's a pretty sweet sweat box set up down south of adelaide in mclaren vale it's all part of an innovative solar-powered off-grid retreat that's proving to be a really popular winter getaway if you're looking for a sweet off-grid winter retreat it doesn't get much better than this hidden away on the edge of one of south australia's premium wine regions are these two new solar powered holiday cabins the cabins themselves run off of a solar bank and that runs into a lithium battery system we've you know calculated on what we estimate the daily usage to be of the cabins and that's how we you know sort of work out what system we need these premium tiny homes in mclaren flat the latest creation from south australian company cabin which first started making off-grid accommodation in 2017 with the aim of getting people off their devices and back outdoors it's really important for us for people to reconnect with nature one another and disconnect from the day-to-day and their devices so we don't have wi-fi we don't have tvs these homes known as william and giles are powered by a five kilowatt solar system using a victron quattro inverter that has been coupled with a pylontek 10.2 kilowatt hour battery as a backup there is also a gas fired generator which is needed particularly in the winter months the total cost just over 30 thousand dollars we build the systems to over cater for use and um hopefully that's the case with these creator michael lamprell has now built nine cabins in two states with other regions coming online shortly these are the first premium cabin x's they're a little bigger than the originals with extra mod cons including a pretty amazing wood-fired sauna we're just super proud of what we're creating these off-grid luxury cabins will set you back 595 a night with a minimum two night stay not that the price seems to be putting anyone off i think it's resonating with a lot of people now if you're talking winter in australia there's really only one place you should go to find the ultimate test for solar and that's our southernmost capital hobart we're joined now by mark richardson from forefront services mark thanks for joining us mate thank you sir now hobart probably has the worst winters in australia so how do you design a solar system for maximum benefit in winter down there well depends what you mean by worse winter i think our winter is absolutely glorious we have some nice crisp days but you're right that does make for lower solar gain the best way that we've found is to increase the overall size of the system oversize the inverter and then that gives you your maximum potential solar gain during the winter months so going big essentially yeah so what are the what are the biggest winter loads down there in hobart biggest winter loads would be heating and hot water for sure what's the best way to heat your home and heat your hot water if you've got a you know nice big solar system the most common ways for tasmanians to heat their homes is electric the most efficient way to do it we is with a reverse cycle air conditioner or what we call down here a heat pump they come in obviously the split system type or also the ducted type that's the most efficient way as far as hot water goes the most common type is the electric element type system obviously the least efficient type of electric you can get what we do is we tend to tie the solar systems in with upgrading of heating systems upgrading of hot water systems to the more efficient heat pump hot water systems as well so when you're doing a solar install in hobart it's normal is it to also upgrade the efficiency aspects of the home look we've got the capability to be able to do a range of things so we can go into a home and do a bit of an energy audit look at the lighting look at the heating look at the hot water scenario and provide an overall solution to get the maximum benefit out of the solar system now in terms of panel brands different types of panels are there any types of panels that work better in the low light winter conditions or is it much of a muchness now look the premium panels definitely work better earlier in the day so you've got that lower light level earlier in the day the premium panels are giving a more efficient output at that point in the day that said some of the more common panels they perform quite well and it's for us when we talk to our clients it's about getting the mix of performance and cost and return on investment correct so what do you say to people that say i'm not putting solar on in tasmania because the winters are too long and too cold and it's just not worth it the simple math says that it is worth it the return on investment may be a bit longer than it is on the mainland but because of our heavy consumption here in tasmania and that is due mainly to the fact that we don't have much reticulated gas for example so most of our heating most of our cooking most of our hot water is running through electricity so it's pretty hard to to deny that the return on investment is there and it's not a bad one well that's really great to hear mark because if you can make solar work in hobart you can make it work anywhere in australia i reckon yeah indeed great thanks a lot mark it's great to speak to you mate and enjoy your glorious winter hobart day we'll do thank you all right all you solar nerds in the hopefully warm house it's time for your favorite segment two minutes of solar tech well this time i'm gonna be trying to make two minutes talking about heat pumps interesting ready with that timer boys let's go heat pumps in australia they're really efficient way to make stuff hot or cold they can be three four four and a bit times more efficient at heating than a resistive element heater which is pretty much any other kind of electrical heater now in australia you use heat pumps to either heat your water or heat your home or cool your home let's talk about heating water first heat pumps have a really bad wrap in australia with a lot of plumbers and if you ask a plumber to bang a heat pump on your house a lot of them are going to say no no no no they're rubbish they're noisy they're unreliable they don't work when it's cold all of this is rubbish but they say it for a good reason because there's been a lot of really crappy heat pumps in australia over the last 10 20 years what you want to do when you buy a heat pump is pay a bit more it's gonna cost you about four thousand dollars for a really good heat pump good brands include sandin and reclaim they have a refrigerant at co2 and they typically work down to -10 degrees c outside you see it doesn't have to be hotter than the air outside for the heat pump to work the air outside just has to be hotter than the refrigerant which can get really really cold in the coil so heat pumps for hot water absolutely brilliant don't listen to what your plumber might tell you that they're rubbish this is 20 21 and they work really well they're very quiet quite as quiet as your air conditioner they're really efficient and they're pretty damn reliable the good ones now heat pumps for your home a really cool development in australia over the last i think six months is that we've got new energy efficiency labels for air conditioners how exciting is that i think it's awesome because did you know an air conditioner a reverse cycle air conditioner which can cool and heat can have a great energy rating when it's cooling and a house energy label when it's heating now howard can be vice versa so depending on where you live in australia it's actually going to have a different energy rating because in some parts of australia you're going to heat more than you cool and other parts of australia going to cool more than your heat and we're running out of time have a look at these energy labels depending on where you live in australia it tells you the best air conditioner for you well i thought was exciting heat pumps in two minutes what's not to like if you're as obsessed about solar tech as i am you can read for hours on our blog at and click on the blog link and now it's time for our roving reviewer the man that reads every review that comes into solar quotes it's ned ned ned where are you hello everybody remember me it's ned i'm here for another review of the month now last episode eagle-eyed viewers might remember i was drinking a bit of wine at lambert estate this time i'm in the winter village having a bit of a whine about a solar company i got a negative review unfortunately it goes something like this it's from gilby in new south wales aptly titled rubbish they left rubbish on site smashed tiles on the roof they threw them off and they smashed all through our gardens and down into our paddocks even smashed our outdoor stairs they left drink bottles and rubbish on our roof i had to pick up their lunch from our yard mother energy cans sandwich bags all that kind of stuff i asked for a 200 discount to hire a cleaner as you would and they refused to discount the bill it was so disgusting how they left our property they couldn't even take the cardboard boxes and electrical cords away they left everything spread out in their paddock so i'm sorry you guys had to hear that a negative review hopefully next month it'll be a bit sunnier we'll see what we can do see you then now it's time for ask finn where you get to ask me your winter solar questions so let's see what's coming this month david through email asks i want better solar panel performance in winter i'm in victoria should i increase tilt back towards 38 degrees to get better winter performance well first of all it's really unusual that you're able to change your solar panel tilt but if you can yeah you might as well because in winter the sun's lower in the sky and the steeper your panel angle generally the better they're going to perform now let me just crunch the numbers hang on a minute david the optimal angle for you in victoria for maximum winter energy generation is 54 degrees from horizontal so go all the way up to 54 degrees mate beautiful second question that's coming through email michael asks i use 20 kilowatt hours per day in summer and 40 kilowatt hours per day in winter what size would i need to get payback in five years well first of all she probably sort your house thermal envelope out i don't know what you're using that on but i'm guessing it's heating so i'd rarely have a look at the thermal envelope of your home but let's talk about solar to answer that question honestly the best thing you can do is go to solar quotes then click on the link for the solar calculator now you live in a house i'm assuming you're going to put the panels on your roof so the first option you want to try is filling your roof with solar so however many kilowatts that is you put it into the calculator you put your postcode in it's that simple you hit calculate and then what you'll see is this you'll see a beautiful graph of the summer generation all the way through to the winter generation so you can see how much energy you're generating through the year for every month and then it will also give you the payback so i'll bet my bottom dollar that filling your roof with solar will give you the best returns but do the math for yourself using the solar calculator on the solar quotes website it'll take two minutes i'm biased but i reckon it's the best solar calculator on the internet and you can add batteries as well to see what that does final question is from johnny t in adelaide he says finn where do you get all these numbers from about solar panel angles and the optimum ones are you just a genius or is there some kind of book well obviously there's a book solar electricity handbook 2011 edition it has literally got tables in the back for almost any point in the world and it gives you the optimum winter tilt the optimum summer tilt for every month of the year it's absolutely nuts it's the solar nerds bible i think they update it every year but i haven't bought it since 2011 because i'm pretty confident the sun's relative position in the sky isn't going to change that's your answer now it's time to give a warm welcome to our rugged up ronald brachles ronald how are you oh i'm pretty good thank you except i'm upset what i'm upset at the internet did you know there are things on the internet that aren't true you're me no it's true i have had people tell me straight to my internet face that solar doesn't work in winter so how do you respond reynolds well that's complete rubbish i mean uh it's not as if i don't have plenty of evidence but solar works in winter showers ronald show us oh i came prepared look this is a graph of a 10.5 kilowatt solar system in adelaide this is its daily production for the last three calendar months how's it going some days are better than others but as you can see it works every day there's always solar energy being produced if you look carefully you'll see yeah there are some lousy days but they are not very common i have another graph more grass now uh what do you think the worst month for solar is in australia mid-winter june yeah that's correct june the winter solstice is in june yeah that's the 21st this year the shortest day of the year least sunshine so you'd expect that to be the worst day for solar everywhere but of course not what are you talking about well i'm talking about darwin oh northern territory northern territory there's no rain in the middle of winter there's no clouds it's the uh big dry and as a result uh in june they produce more solar average solar energy on an average day than in uh the rest of the year on average well everything in the northern territory is weird well yeah that's true so talk us through this graph renault blue is your daily average solar output average throughout the year but the orange is your average daily average for june so let me understand this in darwin averaged over a year yep a 6.6 kilowatt north facing system will give you 28.4 kilowatt hours per day average over the year that's right but if you just average it every day of june yep it'll give you 31.7 yeah more so you're better off getting producing more energy in winter more solar in the middle of winter in darwin that's right mental no yeah but i'm from queensland and you'll see that brisbane does pretty well okay 27.2 averaged over the year yep and it averages 20.5 in june uh perth much the same as brisbane but you know as you can see not quite as much winter output compared to summer sydney okay you get for further south you go it gets worse in uh melbourne it's looking pretty bad but hobarts are worse you're getting less than half your energy in the middle of june as you are on average for the year so that's why hobart's the toughest place to make solar work yeah exactly and also don't forget that in hobart solar systems are quite expensive because the tyranny of distance yes tyranny of distance and but they're also quite high quality so that's the best quality installs in australia yeah i saw a recent report that said they had a zero defect rate that's pretty awesome what's this third graph you got for us reynolds okay so well this graph tells us that if you're in um darwin or brisbane you're likely to be producing more solar energy even in the worst month well from worst month for most places then uh your you'll be consuming but other places a 6.6 kilowatt system won't quite cut it so you know what my solution to this is tell me oh it's still 10 kilowatts 50 more now i can see one more graph there reynolds oh right okay now these who say oh solo doesn't work in winter there is a small corn kernel of truth hidden in that turd of a statement and that is every now and then you have a really bad day these are the worst days for the whole of this year i could find for the capitals based on real data based on real data real systems yes yeah i've just pulled this out of your beard no i no i haven't darwin 13 kilowatt hours still pretty good compared to your average concern worst solar day in dal in this year for a 6.6 kilowatt system was 30 kilowatt hours a day yeah it's not so bad but as you can see in some places it was pretty awful 1.8 kilowatt hours in sydney melbourne and also hobart that's yeah that's lousy but some people claim you have oh you can have weeks of bad weather but no weeks of bad weather is very rare we go back to this graph you see that um yeah you can have a few bad days but uh no weeks there so what would you say to someone that said i'm not going to buy solar because it doesn't work in winter uh you're wrong that's not a good reason you know if you don't want to get solar fine but have it do it for the don't be do it for a stupid reason you know thanks for coming into my house today ronald oh my pleasure sorry it's been a bit chilly in here oh you know that's normal in here you don't have a good heat pump dude we got a heat pump yeah it's just not very well insulated no big windows you know unlike another house in adelaide i'm gonna cover in the finale [Music] so for this month's finale i want to take you to the adelaide hills where earlier this year a 10 star home opened now what's impressive about a 10 star home well lots of things but the main thing is to get 10 stars on the navers home energy rating you need to have built a home that requires zero artificial heating or cooling and this home does just that now that's really impressive the adelaide hills can get very hot in summer and pretty chilly in winter for australia anyway as you can see this is an absolutely beautiful home it is pretty small just over 100 square meters so the benefits of this house obviously it uses bugger all energy it's got five kilowatts of solar on the roof it's got a pretty small well tiny four kilowatt hour battery and even with that it needs to import let's round it down to bugger all electricity from the grid the downsides of this home is it was really expensive to build the estimated cost of builds of four and a half thousand dollars per square meter now that's an expensive build to give you some context a bespoke architect designed high quality home in adelaide should cost about two and a half thousand dollars to build per square meter and that's an expensive house a project home you're looking at closer to a thousand dollars a square meter but i've got some really good news our federal government has actually got an amazing environmental and energy-saving initiative yes this federal government have actually come up with a really good initiative this year and what they've done is they've provided architect designed sustainable home designs for anyone to use and just take to their project builder it's called design for place and there's three levels of homes there's two bedroom three bedroom and four bedroom homes now these are nice homes they've done all the hard expensive architect design work for you all you have to do is find a good builder and you do have to find a good builder because the ship builders have said they're too complicated to build they're not they've been designed with simple construction methods great roofs for solar you find a good builder you take this design to them you drop it on your plot you orient it correctly and you've got a beautiful seven seven and a half star home that will be really pleasant to live in now estimated costs for building these are about fifteen hundred dollars a square meter and that is excellent value when you're going to have tiny energy bills if you've got a nice solar system on the roof hey finn ronald once they build one of these fancy energy efficient homes how are they going to find a good installer to put solar on the roof that's the most important part well ronald you just go to google and you attack cheap solar and you go for the cheapest system idiot don't do that go to and find a high quality solar installer buy once buy it right by high quality solar you can find great solar installers on our website solar just pop your postcode into the box hit the red button we'll take care of the rest thanks for watching that was episode six of solo quotes tv the dark side of solar and as we found out it's not as dark as some people make out tune in on the first tuesday of next month where you'll see ronald's riding a horse bareback probably [Music] [Music] you

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