Our first all solar home was in a remote area of north-west Australia. Our current one (pictured above) is 30 km north of Sydney (Australia). Bought in 2000, we found it drew over 35-kilowatt hours of a day. This is about twice that typical but did not worry us. We knew how to slash that by 30%-40% virtually overnight. That described below is your first action to convert to an all solar home. It requires only a tiny change in what you and your family do – and saves you thousands!
Convert to your own all solar home – wall warts suck electricity!
Wall warts are those little grey or black boxes plugged into your power outlets. They enable you to turn off your lights, radio, TV etc by their remote controls. A typical home has 20 to 40 of them. Each draws only a tiny amount of power. BUT all do that 24/7. Many draw more day and night than whatever they control. These wall warts alone typically suck a third or so of many people’s total electricity usage!
Fixing the issue is simple. Turn off everything by the associated wall switch – never by the remote control.
Convert to your own all solar home – change the light globes
A further major energy user is incandescent light globes that many homes still use. These globes create a great deal of heat and some light and increasingly banned from sale. So-called LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) produce the same amount of light but use only 20% or so of the energy in doing so. They cost more initially but have a far longer lifespan – typically of many years. Many directly replace your existing globes. Almost all available in warm white as well as the cooler light often used in kitchens. You can use some with existing wall dimmers. You can also buy LEDs in Edison screw as well as bayonet fittings.
Changing the light globes should be your next step when you convert to your own all solar home. You do need to spend money to do, but that which you saving over time is huge. Hint: You can often buy LED globes in bulk at a major discount.
Convert to your own all solar home – heating
Many homes have gas or electric radiator heating. It is far more efficient to heat your home by using reverse-cycle air-conditioners, using their heating cycle. By utilising so-called ‘latent heat’ this provides up to four times more heat for the same amount of electricity as of electric radiators of the same nominal wattage.
Here, you need to do some homework as reverse-cycle air-conditioners vary in efficiency. All reveal their so-called CoP (coefficient of performance): in effect, the amount of cooling or heating (in watts) for the watts actually drawn. Top units (such as Daiken) have a CoP of about 4.0.
If your home has heavy walls, heat during the day (if/when solar is available). Reduce the heat setting during the evening.
Convert to your own all solar home – refrigerators
Refrigerator efficiency improved considerably from 2000 onward – and in many cases dramatically around 2014. Consider replacing any made prior to 2014 and do replace if pre-2000.
Be aware that the larger the fridge the more efficient it is (pro rata its volume). For this reason, never have two small fridges. One of that same total volume will use only 25%-30% more electricity.
Swimming pool pumps
A typical swimming pool pump uses a huge amount of power. Here too, you can make truly major savings. If you have ample sun, consider installing a small stand-alone (48-volt dc) solar array directly running a 48-volt input dc brushless dc pump. You need no batteries as ample water is circulated all-day long. How to do this is explained in our book Solar Success.
You can save power used for pumping by knowing that water truly resists being pumped. Doubling pipe size costs little – but reduces the energy used by the pump no less than five times. Here again, see Solar Success.
Our current home now
We have 6 kW of solar plus a 14 kW Tesla battery. It produces 20 to 40 kWh a day- and we currently use 9-11 kW. The rest is sold to the electricity grid (for 20 cents per kWh – about A$730 a year). We plan later to buy an all-electric Mercedes car and use that surplus to run it.
About our books
All our books are updated at least yearly. They are Solar Success (for home and property systems), Solar That Really Works! (for boats, cabins, caravans and motorhomes), and Caravan & Motorhome Electrics (that covers all aspects in depth).