We're going solar on our house

When we moved into the new house we built three years ago, I was pretty keen on getting solar panels on the roof and using solar power as much as possible. I knew we could make good use of it, but the cost was pretty high for the potential benefits.

Kate was reluctant, partly because of the impact of the panels on the appearance of the roofline. She was also concerned about the cost and wasn't sure they would pay for themselves.

However, she recently had a good conversation with our sister-in-law who had gone the whole hog when she renovated — panels and battery — and was very enthusiastic. Kate has now changed her mind, and we've signed up for some panels and the inverter to go with them.

We're also getting a small addition that will allow us to run some appliances and equipment, such as computers, directly from the panels if there is a power cut (the inverter needs an external power supply to operate in full mode). However, we won't be able to access the internet in a power cut because the digital box is in the next-door house, unless we have a very long extension cord!

We can't afford a battery as it would more than double (close to triple) the cost of the system. However, I've looked at the usage over the past couple of months and compared early winter with summer and there would be few times (broken down by hour) when we would exceed the amount the system can generate, forcing us to buy power from the electricity company during the day. Most of the day, we could sell power to them (at a third of the price we pay them for power). Nightime would be all power from the grid.

So, it looks like a good deal on a cash flow basis. We were fortunate (!) that I was able to cash in my KiwiSaver savings on retirement and we will use that for the installation. It will take a few years before the system is paid off by savings, but from them on, it's all win-win.

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