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This system was installed to power seemingly to avail of a rebate more so than actually conserve power use, and to me fits under the mantle of "Feel Good" as much as anything can, when done for airy fairy reasons.

The system, is basically just over 1kw system, which is small but all we could afford. We also have a really great solar hot water system, a fireplace for heating and a very small household, so it's all doing well to provide a lot of our needs. We've fed a fair bit into the grid and used a fair bit ourselves. It's hassle free, maintenance free [Authors comment here - there is no such thing as maintenance free] (so far) and was very simple to order and have installed, etc. The company took care of everything from go to wo except signing the form for the government rebate, which is the home owners responsibilty.

Anyway, as far as I know the whole system cost about $15000 and we are due to get $8000 back from the government. That's six sharp 175kw panels. We chose Sharp as they are cheaper than BP and although BP are supposedly local, we felt that as it is a multinational and components are imported anyway, there wasn't significant moral advantage to going with them.

We found in our research that most of the companies doing the whole package generally charged similarly [Author points out "Buyer Beware" morale], but we went with the one who returned our calls and was the most helpful. I'm not sure about getting the package together yourself, probably cheaper, but as it all had to be installed by the right people and photographed, etc for the rebate, we thought it was easier just to go with a company who'd organise everything.

The only problem we had was that we were told the panels could be installed on an angle to face due north, but then they were installed in line with our roof (approx between NNE and NE). When we looked into it they said it was because of our roof design - there wouldn't have been enough anchor points on an angle and the panels would have been at risk of wind damage, etc. They did tell us it should only affect the output by about 3% [Author comment - nice round figure it could go as high as 10+% on the minnus side who would know?? Every effort should be made to ensure that the panels get the absolute north facing position, no matter what it could cost in ascetics or extra brackets, we have a pool heating mat that is fitted on teh same roof as is mentioned above and this reduces the winter time heating capacity by around 30% to 50% in short it is not worth the expense]which so far seems to be fairly accurate, so that's not really a problem.

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