Self-sufficient energy security
Couple tap into the power of the sun
Being without power is never good at the best of times, but trying to endure it during the heat of a Wimmera summer can be simply hard to bear.
But these days heavy machinery operator Tony Baker, 39, and wife Amanda don’t notice any power outages at their house at Haven on the outskirts of Horsham.
Their air-conditioner, like every other electrical appliance in the house, simply keeps going – all thanks to an all but self-sufficient solar-battery energy system.
Mr Baker, frustrated with regular power outages due to location technicalities, has long been keen to explore the idea of energy self-sufficiency.
Now, with the help of Wade’s in Horsham and a Redback Technologies renewable energy and battery system, he no longer has concerns about power availability.
“During the Black Saturday fire our power was out for nearly three days. I was prepared and had a generator.
“But a generator is noisy and you have to keep filling it with fuel,” he said.
“Now I don’t even know if we’ve had a power outage in our area. Everything just keeps going.”
Tony called on Wade’s to come up with an answer to his power problems and after six months of installation he could not be happier with results.
“I always wanted to capture solar energy but I was in a situation where I couldn’t export it so I went down the battery-storage avenue,” he said.
“The Redback system works a charm and while I’m still on grid and have it as a back-up system, I’m thinking about eventually going fully off the grid.
Mr Baker said he was also impressed by the simplicity of system installation and operation.
“Much of it is one compact unit. I have five and a half kilowatts of solar panels and 9.6kw of battery storage and it won’t take much to increase storage capacity to eventually go off the grid altogether,” he said.
“With only two of us we’re using on average about 1kw a day – that’s 17 cents worth of power. The payback is what we save in the power we don’t actually have to buy.
“And what’s great about it is that it is all very easy to operate and understand how it’s working. You can bring everything up on an app on your mobile phone.”
Mr Baker said the prime motivation to make the financial commitment to install the solar-battery system was self-sufficiency and convenience.
But he added there was also a major environmental case that supported his decision.
“We won’t be able to use fossil fuels forever and tapping into renewable energy is something everyone is going to have to do in the long run,” he said.
“You know, I even look forward to the day when I will be able to plug an electric car into the system. Power from the sun to provide energy for your house and also your car – now that’s self-sufficiency.
“I also like the idea that what I’ve installed is an Australian-engineered system. I’m always keen to support Australian businesses.”
Redback Technologies, established in 2015, is based in Queensland and supported by Microsoft Innovation Centre. It has also established alliances with partners including Sonepar and The University of Queensland.
Mr Baker said dealing with Wade’s Solar in Horsham made the project relatively seamless.
“I would certainly recommend them, they were very easy to deal with, easy to talk to and they obviously knew what they were doing,” he said.
He summed up his thoughts with: “Of course it’s a significant investment, but it is an investment for the future and will ultimately pay for itself.”
“The only power bill I get at the moment is a grid service charge and my last bill was $36.”
Tony and Amanda Baker are very happy with their renewable energy and battery system.