Solar Purchase

The house belongs to Savvy Steve, why should I make effort to improve it, unless the additions are fixed assets that keep their values well and I will be able to take them along with me if I were to move again one day.

As usual, Savvy Steve had no objection on me installation a solar system on his roof. It seems like as long as I pay my dues, he'll pretty much leave me alone. After all, for Savvy Steve and his ilk, his profit is already made when the deal is sealed. He need not care about what happens in future. At worst, he can evict me from the house. Win-win situation for them. Anyway, the idea of installing a solar system on the roof has always been bugging me.

A solar system is supposed to be an investment. So, the earlier you start, the earlier you can recover your cost. Time is precious and remains a major factor if the investment turns out to be favourable or not. Until the cost of installing a battery comes down dramatically, the cost-effective option is to install solar panels on the roof connected to an inverter which supplies the energy the house requires. Since there is no battery involved, the system has to channel excess energy back to the grid for a small rebate. (i.e. selling energy to the government) As such, the only way to recover back the installation cost of such a system is to use the energy in the day when the solar system is generating more energy than the energy demand of the household.

I called the company that Singaporean Mum, M, signed up with. She is a meticulous person and would have vetted numerous contractors before deciding on one. I decided to save my energy and simply go for her choice. The chap turned up on Friday morning, we had a nice chat, asked our questions and signed up a 3.7 kW panel system with a 3 kW inverter for $3,100, inclusive of GST.

Meanwhile, I have asked the questions Micky wanted to know. So if anyone knows Micky, please let him know the answers. I don't have him on my FB and somehow cannot find his number on my phone.

1) Overclocking is possible.  He was right. The price of panels are low, the inverter is the heavy hitter. As such it is possible to maximise energy generation at a certain time of the day by adding a few more panels at the correct position.

2) There are plenty of inverters in the market that are battery compatible for a later addition, if required.

Back to the system, if our power bills come out to about $80 a month, how much of this are we able to reduce? The answer to this question is critical to the ROI of this expensive purchase. To maximise savings, we have to change our lifestyle such that we benefit from the "free energy" generated during the day. For example, we can run 2 slow cookers simultaneously to prepare for enough meals to last us 2-3 days. By dinner time, these cookers should be switched off. We will always have food and no energy or gas is being used for food preparation when the sun is set. Likewise, our hot water should be boiled and stocked during the day. Laptop and phone batteries should be charged during the day. If I were to write a blog post at night, it should be done on the laptop into of my PC. Heating during Winter should be done before last light and switched off after sunset. Cooling during Summer can be done during the entire day without using energy from the grid. So on and so forth. 

If we are able to shave $50 off the bill, it'll take us 5 years to recover the cost of the system. Perhaps 2 months earlier, if we include the 6 cents rebate from the government for every kW our system supplies to the grid. Meagre yes, but things like that add up. Since both the panels and inverter has a workmanship and replacement warranty of 10 years, we should have at least 5 years of "free energy" thereafter, longer if the system survives beyond 10 years. That should cover the "opportunity costs" Singaporeans like to talk about. We all like to think if we were to leave the $3,100 in the pocket, they will double in 5 years' time or something. Most of the time, they are converted to dust collecting handbags instead. Those do nothing but to fill empty souls.

Rod the solar guy told me the system will be up in a month's time. That should leave us enough time to look for a dryer. If anyone is giving one away, great. I'll take it. If not, I'll spend the money so that the wife will have a much easier time with the laundry during Winter. As long as we use the dryer in the day when the panels are generating enough energy, the additional power output of the household will be waived. That way, it keeps the wife happy. As my friend Lex said, "A happy wife is a happy family." 

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