Category Archives: INVESTING

Was installing solar worth it? Hells yeah


I find it hilarious that our energy company is now PAYING US for ENERGY.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA – what delicious irony.  How the mighty have fallen! See the mouse dance gaily over the muzzled nose of the cat! etc.

Enough gloating.  Here are the numbers:

We got a 3KW system installed December 2013.  It cost around $10,000.

It took most of a day to install, not too much disruption.  You can’t even really see the panels on the roof unless you decide to look for them from the driveway.

There is also a control panel which sits in the garage and shows, minute by minute, how much energy is being generated.  On an overcast day it might be generating 500 out of a possible 3000, on a beating hot day it can go up to 2700 and beyond.  The only catch was that we apparently need to clean the panels on a semi regular basis which so far remains in the must do that (never) category of jobs.

The best way to take advantage of the power we create (er – the sun creates) during the day is to do as much appliance use heavy lifting as possible in the daytime.  For people who work from home and/or have small children this is ideal.  We can shower mid morning, throw on the dishwasher AND the washing machine at the same time just to be extravagant after lunch. Alternatively you can get timers to set things going during the day while you aren’t at home.

We recently billed Contact for $376.64 for feeding 2179 Kilowatt hours to the grid since installation, at a rate of 17.5 cents per kilowatt hour.*

This bill was just for 7 months of use so far. Over a full year I’d expect to bill a total of $653.70 (assuming we end up feeding around 3735 Kilowatt hours per year to the grid.)

In addition we have saved on average $89 on each months’ electricity bill this year, based on a month by month comparison of the previous year’s bill.  Which comes to about $1,072 SLASHED off our annual electricity bill each year.

So adding them together – $1,072 + $653.70 = $1,726.20 of electricity savings each year.

At this rate, it’ll take 5.7 years to pay for the solar panels, then the rest is sweet electricity icing.

That’s an overall net payback (assuming the system lasts 25 years at a conservative guess) of $33,150 for the original cost of $10,000

It’s also good to know that this set up gives some immunity against seemingly endlessly rising energy costs. Who knows what will happen in 1, 5, 10 years time?

Solar energy is only going to get bigger and cheaper as a source of energy on this planet. The more demand there is, the more production can ramp up, and the cheaper it will be to buy and install.  Which will help drive up demand, etc etc.

Aside from anything else, using the sun to create energy using your roof real estate? Pure Magic!

For help with financing solar:  

  • You can get a cheap loan for solar energy if you take out a housing loan with Kiwibank.
  • New Zealand Home loans offer a sustainable energy loan here 

*At time of writing Meridian energy offer 25 cents per Kilowatt hour for the first 5kWh (per billing day), and 10 cents after that.  I’m not sure if that represents a better offer than Contact? But it might be worth switching for a year to see.  The other companies don’t offer much in the way of competition.