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Reviews From Solar Power System Owners

We have asked people that brought a solar power system after getting 3 quotes through My Solar Quotes how their solar power systems are going!:  We asked:
What size system did you install?
How long has your solar power system been running for?
How did you find the solar installation?
How have you found the performance of the solar power system?
Do you have any other comments that you would like to share with New Zealanders thinking about going solar?


Andy, Kapiti Coast, Wellington

Review Date: 13/09/2019

Size: 4kW

Running for: 3 months

Expected return on investment: Not yet determined

Expected pay back period: Not yet determined

Comments on the installation: "Installers were good. The whole process took a bit longer than expected but was up and running in a couple of weeks."

Comments on the system performance: "The solar system is producing about the amount of power I expected. However, as we've a 3 phase system, the process set up by Electricity Authority provides that each phase is treated separately and there isn't a netting of imports and exports. This results in net power exported on each phase being compensated for separately and net power consumed on each phase being charged separately. If you have a 3 phase power installation the best way to take advantage of all solar power generated is to install a 3 phase battery, which costs more than the rest of the solar installation. "

Advice: "If you've a 3 phase system the only ways you can take advantage of the majority of your solar generated power are: 1. have a 3 phase inverter and a 3 phase battery 2. only have the inverter on the phase that has the greatest load. You may need to shift the load around the phases. A 3 phase battery would have cost us around $14k, which is $2k greater than the cost of the solar array and inverter. In most parts of Australia in 3 phase domestic systems all the power generated is netted off from that used providing much greater savings to the owner. As the NZ system is set up now it is a real bonus for the power companies as, with 3 phase systems, they're getting quite a lot more solar generated power that is difficult for the person generating to use. Also, I've found I need to be more organised to take advantage of solar power doing things like running the dishwasher during the day and running as many other items that use considerable power also during daylight hours. If some items are on the same phase then you might look to stagger when they're operating."

John, North Shore City, Auckland

Review Date: 23/08/2019

Size: 3kW, 10 panels, no batteries

Running for: 11 weeks

Expected return on investment: 5% ? Not an investment but better use of my money as a one-off than going into ever increasing power costs.

Expected pay back period: 5-6 years

Comments on the installation: "No hassles, great job and went quickly and well, taking half a day. Water heater iBoost clamp meter fitted to wrong cable so no saving shown on hot water until rectified by Engineer when queried weeks later. The company Solar Engineer has been very helpful and was fixed day after complaint. Estimated compensation provided so no real loss. Some weeks delay from panel installation and fast inspection (on the next Saturday) to activation because power company did not advise that the new import/export meter had been fitted. The supplier was the middle cost of the three quotes and all otherwise extra charges (new meter supply and installation, iBoost hot water controller, web-site monitoring, and best buy-back commercial rate?) were included. It is also one of the large retail power companies so is likely to still be around for any future maintenance or issues."

Comments on the system performance: "Performance okay but less saving than expected, though it presently is autumn/winter so expecting improvements. It is fortunate that we are home during daylight hours to get max benefit. Handy analytic website shows about 200kW savings per month so far. It is hard to estimate dollar saving yet as the new power prices had just kicked in at the same time with a new contract so can't easily compare before and after. This was the main reason for looking into solar to reduce future price hikes. Winter has early afternoon panel shading that drastically reduces output (as expected)."

Advice: "Not much benefit without battery backup in a working household where power is not used much during daylight generating hours except for water heating. Would need to setup a battery charging system to provide night power. Daytime solar would go the water heating and battery charging. Would recommend fitting an 'iBoost' or similar hot water controller that only diverts power to the cylinder when in excess, but can also provide programmed or manual grid supply top-up if needed."

Robert & Sarah, Hastings, Hawkes Bay

Review Date: 07/08/2019

Size: 3.4kw

Running for: 4 weeks

Expected return on investment: 11.6

Expected pay back period: 7.8

Comments on the installation: "1 day, but over 2 days due to weather. Very good and careful installers. Neat and tidy work with a very good attitude. Issue with wifi dropping out resolved quickly "

Comments on the system performance: "Too early to say, as I don’t have accurate bills yet, but have seen a significant drop in consumption"

Advice: "Do your homework on being able to shift your consumption to during daylight hours, use timers on water heaters, dishwashers washing machines and pool pumps. If you can, battery not needed."

Sue, Hastings, Hawkes Bay

Review Date: 27/07/2019

Size: 2.68kw

Running for: 2 months

Expected return on investment: This did not feature in our decision.

Expected pay back period: This did not feature in our decision

Comments on the installation: "On line. They were very respectful of the property.. It took half a day."

Comments on the system performance: "20% versus my interest in the bank 3 %. No brainer. Roughly $100 a power bill. "

Advice: "If you are a person over 65 with only the bank to put excess funds in, this is a great option. Monthly bills are halved for us, and it’s winter."

John, Tauranga, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 23/07/2019

Size: 5KW

Running for: 10 months

Expected return on investment: 8% to 10%

Expected pay back period: 10 years. Including battery storage unit.

Comments on the installation: "The installers were great to deal with and communicated well."

Comments on the system performance: "We are nearly energy independent.That is also running a pure EV car."

Advice: "You need to have long term glasses on to commit to the outlay.My main motivation was to reduce the need to made on going power payments when retired."

Alison, Western Bay of Plenty, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 10/07/2019

Size: 5v battery. 12 solar panels.

Running for: 3 months

Expected return on investment: no idea - it was money I had in the bank and the savings in power bills will be greater than the interest I would get on the outlay.

Expected pay back period: 10

Comments on the installation: "The installers were brilliant - polite, helpful and went out of their way to not disrupt the household (at the time I had visitors staying0."

Comments on the system performance: "The first power bill I had was higher than I expected (ie much the same as the previous one) and I queried this - the hot water setting had been put so that it was heating from the battery/grid so once that was changed my next bill was $56 instead of $86. Now that the buyback rate has gone up slightly, I would expect to keep the bills lower than that and really reap the benefits as we go into longer days and summer."

Advice: "I can only recommend it if people can afford the outlay. It's way better than keeping the money in the bank. I'm fortunate that I could have the money ready but that was after many years of work, frugal living and saving. I look forward to being able to run the air conditioner in my new (to me) house whereas last summer I was too scared of the power bills to do this when it was really hot. I can keep track of how much power I'm using and make sure that I use as much from the roof as possible - i.e. use the oven during the day when the sun is high etc. It takes a little bit of getting used to but is not a problem."

Ian, Timaru, Canterbury

Review Date: 24/05/2019

Size: 3 kw

Running for: Two months

Expected return on investment: 100

Expected pay back period: 6 years

Comments on the installation: "Took three occasions to finally finish took over two months ,two months to pay back meter cost "

Comments on the system performance: "A bit late in the season ask next year "

Advice: "Solar I feel is the way to go along with solar water heater "

Sandamali, Waitakere City, Auckland

Review Date: 19/05/2019

Size: 3kw

Running for: 6 weeks

Expected return on investment: 10%

Expected pay back period: 11 years

Comments on the installation: "It took them a few tries to get everything right and deliver what had been agreed on. Wish it had been more streamlined and didn't require so much toing and froing. "

Comments on the system performance: "System is not producing more than 2.6kw at any given time even when it is at the most sunniest. I know it is autumn, so waiting to get a full years worth of data before deciding something is wrong. I am saving about $40 per month of my $150 power bill. It requires a lot of thinking and planning to maximise day time usage. "

Advice: "Do you research and don't believe what the solar companies tell you. A consumption monitoring system is a must and try to go for a good brand of panel and inverter. Get quotes from different companies and figure out the differences in what they recommend and learn from it. I ended up combining the best of all the systems recommended and finding a company that would deliver it. It did mean that my installer didn't have much experience in the brand of inverter I wanted, so I had to figure out how to make things work on my own from where they left. off. The installers aren't used to being challenged, but do it anyway. The more you learn about solar, the better off you would be. Solar is not worth getting if you are not on electric for everything in your home, including heating and hot water. A hot water diverter instead of a timer is a worthwhile investment. "

Frank, Invercargill, Southland

Review Date: 25/04/2019

Size: 5.695kW with 13.5kWh battery

Running for: Panels 5 Mar 2019 and Battery 17 App 2019

Expected return on investment: Break even

Expected pay back period: 20 years because of battery

Comments on the installation: "Harrison's Southland were fantastic, excellent to deal with, prompt, responsive to questions and left property tidy."

Comments on the system performance: "About as expected. Yes saved money and once battery was in had three days of no power from the grid. To early to determine savings because of period of time but 3 Mar to 4 April we used 376kWh from grid and returned 476kWh to the grid (of course low buy back tariff means it is not equal). Still have changes to make, remove spare fridge and change light bulbs to LED plus change to low user plan, perhaps a time based plan where different rates for off peak (Tesla battery can manage when to store and draw from grid too maximise this)."

Philippa , Tauranga, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 19/03/2019

Size: 6 kW

Running for: 3 months

Expected return on investment: not sure

Expected pay back period: not sure

Comments on the installation: "installer was very good neat and tidy "

Comments on the system performance: "yes performaning well "

Advice: "it was a very easy process and so far so good "

Wim, Tasman, Nelson/Tasman

Review Date: 24/02/2019

Size: 3.5KWh

Running for: months

Expected return on investment: ?

Expected pay back period: 6

Comments on the installation: "very professional"

Comments on the system performance: "about 70% savings so far (but will be less in winter)"

Advice: "Awaiting developments of electric car batteries that can power the house during night time."

Janine, Lower Hutt, Wellington

Review Date: 19/02/2019

Size: 6.7kw solar with 10.24kw lithium batteries

Running for: a month

Expected return on investment: N/A - not in the equation (I don't expect a return on the investment of my car so why should I with solar?)

Expected pay back period: N/A - again, more interested in independence and peace of mind

Comments on the installation: "The installer was great but we had our share (and more) of teething problems and delays with the installation and getting the system to run as it should. There were a few communication problems initially, but overall we are very happy with our solar team."

Comments on the system performance: "It produces more than we can use, but we are still having problems in that the battery is currently only charging to 77%. However, we expect that to be adjusted soon. Even with that restriction, we have been totally self sufficient for the past month, which is great as we generally use around 1,000kw a month this time of year."

Advice: "It is a big up front cost, but having the security of knowing we are not dependent on power companies for our power in these uncertain times is also big. Being able to see how much power individual appliances use and how much energy is produced by the panels throughout the day is also helping us to use power much more effectively - so we win both ways. "

Shirley, Manukau City, Auckland

Review Date: 29/01/2019

Size: 5kw

Running for: 4 months

Expected pay back period: 8-9 yrs

Comments on the installation: "Very well organised, very careful, very courteous and all up and running in 2 days."

Comments on the system performance: "Better than expected. Power bill more than halved despite having an electric car."

Advice: "Many houses get plenty of sun and folk think nothing of spending thousands on refurbishing, holidays or vehicles. why not solar power?"

Bruce, Far North, Northland

Review Date: 15/01/2019

Size: 2.7

Running for: 46 days

Expected return on investment: 8%

Expected payback period: 7

Comments on the installation: "One day and the installers were excellent"

Comments on the system performance: "Hard to judge after such a limited time, our first bill was $55 less, just under a 3rd of the account. As yet our meter has not been adjusted to feed excess back to grid so no credit, which I estimate would have been about $15."

Advice: "While we are happy with the result to date it's a shame that a battery storage system is so expensive, as we produced 360 kw and used 400kw, with storage our bill would have been approx $12.80."

Trevor, Franklin, Auckland

Review Date: 08/01/2019

Size: 4.4kw

Running for: As a 2.2kw for 2 years. 4.4kw since 10/10/2018

Expected return on investment: About 10% per year.

Expected pay back period: 10 years

Comments on the installation: "Excellent. They were considerate and helpful."

Comments on the system performance: "As we had indicated by the installers. Power account currently in credit because of rebates. $50 - $100 less per month so far."

Advice: "If you have a north facing roof - go for it!"

Wally, Hamilton, Waikato

Review Date: 27/12/2018

Size: 3kw

Running for: 6 weeks

Expected return on investment: dont really know .just want savings on power as we expect it to keep on rising

Expected pay back period: i would like to say 5 years

Comments on the installation: "yes respected property as well as occupants and animals"

Comments on the system performance: "yes very satisfied with solar system and yes feel savings on power already within the 1st 6 weeks"

Advice: "we feel that the Government of New Zealand should help anyone building a new home install solar systems to help save . power can only increase in price as we have had in the last few years ."

Neville, Whakatane, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 04/12/2018

Size: Solax 5kw

Running for: 2 months

Expected pay back period: 10 years

Comments on the installation: "It took about 1 month to get here, the in installers are very busy. the actual job took one day and they were great."

Comments on the system performance: "The solar system is going great and producing heaps of power. old power bill was about $250.00 a month now $87.00 and that is with a Spa pool"

Advice: "The guys at Sky solar were great. I also use Power Genius who keep an eye on my hot water so that it only heats when suns up."

John, Waipa, Waikato

Review Date: 07/11/2018

Size: 6kW

Running for: Just over a month

Expected pay back period: 5-6 depending on those clouds

Comments on the installation: "The team that came were great, easy to deal with and did a great job."

Comments on the system performance: "Its doing what we hoped for, just need the weather to do its thing. The first bill more that covered the additional charges for installing the export metre and that was only half a month."

Advice: "More of us need to do this, but we also need to start more effectively lobbying government to support solar as they do in Australia and many parts of Europe "

Nitin, Tauranga, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 02/11/2018

Size: 3.6kW

Running for: 0 days

Expected pay back period: 6 years

Comments on the installation: "The vendor used contract solar installers who at times bypassed the new H&S Act. It also has taken longer than expected."

Comments on the system performance: "Still waiting for the solar inspector to approve the final install"

Advice: "It is a good option. Do not invest in diverters to your hot water cylinder. Install a dual element cylinder with the bottom element connected to be always on solar and the middle element on mains. Also sell your power through solar buddies rather than back to the grid"

Cedric, Opotiki, Bay Of Plenty

Review Date: 23/10/2018

Size: 5kw

Running for: 2 months

Expected return on investment: 10--11%

Expected pay back period: 5---6 years

Comments on the installation: "Solar Options from Whakatane were great in all respects"

Comments on the system performance: "Performance has been above expectation---more each day as the weather improves "

Advice: "Get 3 or 4 quotes and then go with your most qualified installer who you think will give the best panels and return"

Wayne, Christchurch City, Canterbury

Review Date: 24/09/2018

Size: 4.8kW

Running for: 3 months (from 3/7)

Expected return on investment: Not applicable

Expected pay back period: Not applicable

Comments on the installation: "Very smooth: I had exposed, strengthened and plywood-sheeted the area for the inverter/battery, and exposed an access panel into the roof void that the DC wiring was run through. Plus pre-drilled all the holes through studs, needed to fit the DC conduit through. Roof is Monier Centurion concrete tile, and the installers did not break one tile, for a 15 panel install."

Comments on the system performance: "System has consistently produced power and from mid-August onwards is capable of getting the 9.8kWh battery up to 100%. The discharge of battery coasts us through till night rate time at 9pm, so the only peak-rate grid power used is early morning, and on very overcast days, some evening draw. As we run a spa pool and electric hot water, these two constitute the bulk of the residual power bill. Both are night rate draw. It is Very Important to choose a supplier who offers low off-peak rates, and those rates being applicable for the most time. E.g. 9pm to 7am. For the last three months, our grid consumption has averaged out at 16-17c/kWh, which includes daily charges, and is around half the usual peak-time rate. We expect that during summer, and perhaps with the addition of circuitry capable of switching mid-day power to the hot water, the residual grid bills will fall much further. But as there's a daily lines charge (another thing to shop around for: lowest daily rate...) the power bills will never be zero. We should mention that the inverter set-up is 'maximise self consumption' so there is little export back to the grid and any such export is in any case worth only around half the average import rate quoted above. In other words, it is not going to help the ROI much if any under these settings. A further refinement we will pursue once the consumption and generation mix has run through a whole season, is to have the 'maximise self consumption' profiule adjusted so that the battery will receive some charge off peak from the grid, and the early-morning peak-rate consumption could thereby be supplied from the battery rather than from the grid. This won't be an immediate change."

Advice: "We were unconcerned about ROI: the main attraction was that having our own small power station renders us less vulnerable to grid outages - there is an Essential Supply/backup capability built in - and the install cannot be subtracted in the way that bank deposit or KS funds conceivably could in a crunch. The system is a top-quality LG/SolarEdge/StorEdge mix, and it will require a battery replacement half-way through its 25-30 year life. The main point of the battery is quite simple: backup/essential supply, plus the time-shifting of consumption to off-peak rates. It isn't for everyone, as the investment needed is roughly double that of a conventional grid-tied panel plus small inverter deal. But the battery effects on the wider grid, given the way we utilise it, is actually positive: it reduces peak grid load during the day, and because the battery is mostly capable (given good insolation during the day) of supplying all household needs until off-peak time, and often beyond, the evening peak on the grid is thereby much reduced. Plus, as the evening consumption peak is coming from the battery, any residual call on the grid is both smaller and later than it would otherwise be, meaning that grid generation need not be capable of the very high ramp-up rates otherwise experienced if solar alone is used, no batteries, and when the sun sets the grid demand can be both high and sudden, hence high ramp-rate generation needed. So every battery-plus-solar install that happens is a net positive for this grid design aspect. "

Tim, Whangarei, Northland

Review Date: 02/06/2018

Size: we will be installing a 30Kw system

Running for: it hasnt yet

Expected return on investment: Huband's (the installer) estimates 19.6% per year over the 25 year warranty period of the system. This is a saving of $216k over that time assuming a 2.5% increase in power costs and also allowing to the savings paying back the cost of the system. They have also factored in depreciation values.

Expected pay back period: 4.5-5 years

Comments on the installation: "we are waiting to start"

Comments on the system performance: "I can answer that after it is installed"

Advice: "I really like the service you offer and the assistance you have given us. We have received a competitive price from a local supplier/installer and I feel you have be very helpful in obtaining that. We had received an offer from Super Charged Solar and have heard some terrible stories about them since. World Solar would have been or next choice but there was a degree of smooth salesmanship I found a little disappointing. They wanted to know "what price we have to beat" and did not offer a what we wanted."

Sascha, Upper Hutt, Wellington

Review Date: 15/05/2018

Size: 4kW

Running for: 3 months

Expected return on investment: 45%

Expected pay back period: 8 years

Comments on the installation: "Overall went well. Had to wait nearly 2 months for the wifi modules due to high demand"

Comments on the system performance: "Yes"

Advice: "I recommend doing it if people have the money available. If you need a credit then it's maybe not worth it financially. And remember you need change some of your behaviours wilt solar to make best use of it."

Anita, Far North, Northland

Review Date: 08/04/2018

Size: 4kw 14 panels

Running for: 6 weeks

Expected return on investment: Excellent

Expected pay back period: 10-12 as we have batteries too

Comments on the installation: "Hubands Energy in Whangarei was the first one to contact us when we did the 3 quote on website. Never heard from any one else, but totally happy we got a local company to install it!"

Comments on the system performance: "Far North, great sunshine hours, logic to try and make use of the sun.Power bill $24....... hoping for less next time!!!"

Advice: "Easy to do washing while the sun shines or power up your gadgets while the sun is out as you know it is not going to cost!!"