Powerman: solar PV, net metering and seeing the light in New Zealand

Grid tie solar power is becoming a no-brainer! Photovoltaic (PV) solar power generation has made enormous advances over just the last two years. The cost of panels and assorted gear has fallen dramatically so that in NZ grid tie solar systems in the 2KW peak power range can be purchased for under NZ$10,000 (including GST) from many outfits.

Grid tie PV systems, to make sure its clear what I mean here, are systems consisting of a set of solar panels, often 10 panels of 190W and 45 Volts each, and a grid tie inverter which feeds the solar power into the 240V mains system at your home.

Once installed the power that is generated by the rooftop panels feeds into the 240V mains system. Power required by the home is then derived from this source. If the requirements of the home exceed what’s generated, additional power flows in from the mains and your power meter runs forward as usual. But if your home requires less energy than the panels are generating, often the case on a sunny day, the excess power is fed into the grid and your meter runs backwards, or so it should. More about this below.

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