Year-round sunshine and an increasingly robust renewables infrastructure make Australia the perfect place to switch to solar. A sizeable solar power system can meet the energy needs of a household with excess to spare. In this case, why stay connected to the grid? But can the benefits of off-grid solar power outweigh the initial installation costs? Read on to find out!
Those who stay connected to the grid have the security of knowing their power will never go down. That’s because if for any reason their solar power system does not meet their needs the grid provides the shortage. However, their system may also create more power than they need. In this instance, the surplus power goes back into the grid and the energy company pays the owner in cash or offers a reduction on their energy bill.
So why choose off-grid solar power? Well, if your solar power system can generate enough power on-site, you needn’t be connected to the grid at all. That means no energy bills ever again!
In very simple terms:
During the day, your solar panels can generate more electricity than you need. This electricity is stored in deep cycle batteries for use at night or during the days that are overcast. Australians living in rural communities have been using off-grid solar energy for years. Some people, especially business owners, keep a DC backup generator in case something goes wrong. Yet many Australians manage to meet their energy needs with a stand-alone system.
Australians have experienced a dramatic hike in energy prices in the last few years. Between 2015 and 2017 wholesale energy prices almost doubled leaving Australians struggling to pay for some of the most expensive energy in the world. By generating your own power off-grid, you are energy independent and unaffected by energy prices or grid-outages.
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The initial cost of an off-grid power system can be high. A grid-connected system capable of producing 5kWh per day costs around $15,000. An equivalent off-grid (SAP, stand-alone power) system costs around $30,000.
The Australian government is striving to meet renewable energy targets. Part of their strategy is to support Australian homeowners to invest in solar panel technology. Generous incentives and rebates have been introduced to make the initial investment easier to manage. As well as STCs (small-scale technology certificates) that act like discount tokens, the government can also offer no-interest loans.
The main issue with off-grid supply is unpredictability. Your energy supply is entirely dependent on the weather. And while most of Australia enjoys a great deal of sunshine all year round, there are still overcast and rainy days. If your system should fail, you’re also responsible for any costs. Living without energy is a challenge and you may even find yourself saddled with a large bill to reconnect to the grid.
The power generated by solar power is clean of harmful emissions. Switching your household’s energy supply from the mains grid to solar power is one of the greatest contributions you can make to improving the environment.
Solar is one of the world’s most inexpensive renewable energy sources. Once you have a system fitted, that is. In Australia, solar power system installation is big business. More than 20% of Australian households are now fitted with a solar power system that costs an average of AUD$5,000 for a 5kW capacity set-up.
But can something as ordinary as hail damage your solar panels and what can you do to protect your important investment?
Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels are made up of silicon cells structured in three different forms, monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous. Most solar panels have two layers of these silicon cells. The top layer contains chemicals that create a positive charge while the bottom layer has chemicals that create a negative charge. This generates a charged field. When light particles reach the charged field, electrons are knocked from their atoms creating electricity.
The whole solar panel is covered in a layer of tempered glass. This glass is a key component of the panel as it ensures as much light as possible is filtered into the silicon cells. However, extreme weather can damage the glass.
Solar panels are durable. Manufacturers of solar panels put their product through rigorous testing to ensure they’re fit for purpose and won’t break when exposed to normal weather conditions.
While severe hailstorms are rare in Australia, they do happen. In December 2018, New South Wales experienced a hailstorm that caused catastrophic damage. In 2017, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Denver, Colorado was able to test its solar panels under live conditions. A major hailstorm hit the lab and 2.75-inch hailstones caused $2.3 billion in damages across the state. Miraculously, the more than 3,000 panels on the roof of the lab were almost untouched. Only one panel was damaged.
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The quality of your solar panels comes into play here. The better the quality of the panel and its components, the less likely it is to be damaged by impact. LG panels, for example, promise to withstand hailstones of up to 28mm in width and frost of -40 degrees without cracking.
If you do experience a severe hailstorm and are concerned about your solar panels, here are a few things you should know.
So, it seems hail can damage your solar panels. It’s unlikely but at least you know what to do if the unlikely occurs!
Solar panels work by converting photons (or, light particles) into electricity we can use. When something blocks light from reaching solar panels, they can’t produce energy. Solar panels sitting in complete shade simply won’t work. But how much shade is too much shade for a solar panel and how can you minimize efficiency loss when the sun is weak? Today, we find out.
The answer to this question is no, not really. Shade has a much greater impact on solar panel efficiency than people think. A standard solar photovoltaic (PV) system serving a small business or medium-sized home has a capacity of 3 or 5kW per hour. This translates to anywhere between 15 and 30 solar panels, depending on the size and shape of your roof and the system you choose.
Solar panels alone cannot generate electricity that is instantly safe to use. All solar panel systems feature an inverter that converts solar electricity into AC (alternating current) electricity. AC can be used to power home appliances and can be channeled successfully back into the grid.
Shade is a big issue because of the way solar panels are connected. Rather than stand-alone panels that can work efficiently even if other panels in the system don’t, solar panels are arranged into strings. Strings consist of a number of panels working together and if one panel drops out, the electricity generated by the previous panels cannot reach the inverter.
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A bit like an old-fashioned string of Christmas lights where each bulb connected with the next on one electrical wire. For as long as one of the panels sits in shade, the entire system fails. With some older systems, even a few shaded cells can cause a power outage.
Consider the effect of shade on your solar panels before installation. Shade is usually caused by trees on or near your property, or the shape of your roof. Consider these factors before the solar panels are fitted, noting how much of your roof is in shade at different times of the day.
It may be possible to simply trim foliage and plan the layout of your solar panels to avoid shade completely. If shade is unavoidable, you may need to buy a solar power system with a special type of inverter that minimizes power loss.
There are three types of inverter:
This inverter is part of the system described above. The most basic but also the most common type of inverter out there, a string inverter system will fail even if only one panel is in shade.
Microinverters are small inverters that are installed on each individual solar panel. This means each panel can work on an individual basis and maintain peak efficiency even if a neighboring panel is in shade.
Power optimizers operate somewhere in between string inverters and microinverters. Power optimizers are installed at each solar panel, like microinverters, but they send the electricity generated to a single string inverter. Again, a single shaded panel cannot affect the system as a whole.
Both microinverters and power optimizers will increase the cost of your solar power system. However, if you know your roof is partially or completely in shade for part of the day, it’s can be well worth the investment. The more electricity your solar panel power system creates, the more money you save.
“Wear sunscreen even when it’s sunny” is sound advice. UV light, known to be a leading cause of skin cancer, can harm our skin, even on a cloudy day. That’s because clouds may minimize the amount of light that reaches us but clouds have no impact on the sun’s radiation. Solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy, overcast days!
Using the world’s renewable, natural resources to meet our energy needs is no longer an option but an imperative. Solar power is a thriving industry in Australia where 21 percent of all power comes from renewables. And we want more.
Forward-thinking technology companies are stepping in to support our growing demand for renewable energy. Tesla, Inc, a California-based company run by Elon Musk, took a giant leap forward in 2015 with the Tesla Powerwall, a residential-use battery system for solar power.
Only one year after the launch of the Tesla Powerwal Elon Musk and his team launched the Powerwall 2. A game-changing product, the Powerwall 2 has twice as much capacity as the Powerwall 1 and features a built-in inverter. All for the same price. But what exactly is a Powerwall and how does it differ from what came before?
A Tesla Powerwall is a large-capacity battery that stores electricity generated by solar panels. When your home’s electricity is pulled from the grid, you can use the exact amount you need, when you need it. With a solar power system, your electricity needs remain the same but you can’t turn off your system.
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If you’re not connected to the main grid (ie, you have an off-grid system), the excess electricity you generate needs somewhere to go. That’s where a battery comes in. By using a Tesla Powerwall you can store electricity for use when your solar panels aren’t producing enough, such as at night or on rainy days.
The Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery system. Working with solar, the Powerwall can meet 100% of your energy needs and power your home for 7 days should the grid go down. The product also has an open patent. This means other energy companies can build on Tesla technology to create even more efficient batteries!
Installing a Tesla Powerwall doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from the grid. Many people use their solar power system and Powerwall as their main source of power but stay connected and pay for top-up power, when needed.
However, the real money is in energy self-sufficiency. If you’re disconnected from the grid, you are unaffected by energy prices. Australia has some of the highest energy prices in the world, a trend that may continue to worsen. Having your own energy system is like being your own mini power station and means you can benefit from feed-in tariffs. A feed-in tariff is the amount of money an energy company pays you for your excess energy.
Powerwall technology could also save you money indirectly. Tesla is developing large-scale Powerwalls for use by power utilities. If storing power becomes easier and more efficient, energy prices should go down as old infrastructure is replaced by new, sleeker systems.
As listed on the Tesla website, a Powerwall costs AUD$10,100. Installation could cost anywhere between $1,450 and $4,400 depending on your specific needs. Installation cost is based on your current electricity set up, energy usage and logistics of where you’d like your Powerwall placed. These sums don’t include any GST, permit fees or connection charges from your energy company.
You also need to consider that a Powerwall is only part of a solar power system. It is usually possible to add a Powerwall to an existing solar power system. But if you’re making the switch from grid-connected energy supply to solar energy, you need to pay the cost of an entire solar power system. A 5kW system (the average for an Australian home) can cost anywhere between AUD$12,000 and $15,000.
The efficiency of the Tesla Powerwall is truly remarkable and the latest version is now available from suppliers all over Australia.
The SkyPoint Observation Deck is so special because it is arguably the most remarkable attraction in one of the most attractive cities in the world. It can be found on the 77th level of the Q1 building in Surfers Paradise. It is Australia’s one and only observation deck situated neat a beach. It sits at an amazing height of 230 meters high in the sky. Skypoint has become the one of the most popular attractions in the Gold Coast and it is visited by domestic and international tourists all year round.
The biggest feature of the whole attraction is the observation deck itself. The 360-degree panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, the Gold Coast skyline and the Queensland hinterland, up towards Springbrook's National Park.
At night you can experience the lit-up sky line of the city below, which is also a beautiful sight to see. You can, of course, enjoy these panoramic views while having a freshly made meal to eat from the SkyPoint Bistro + Bar. The bar also has a huge variety of beers, wines and spirits. Around the deck are also informative feature zones which deliver you interesting facts about the Gold Coast and Skypoint.
At night time the deck turns into a modern, high altitude lounge bar with club beats on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sunday afternoons between 2PM and 5PM the observation deck welcomes live performers. So, you can take in the views while listening to music, it truly makes for a great atmosphere.
You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner while you take in the gorgeous panoramic view. The dining menu has fantastic gourmet burgers and delicious sweetcorn waffles. The drinks and the dining menu is known to be just as attractive as the panoramic view. Visitors can start the day with a buffet breakfast and a relaxing espresso or cappuccino.
All tourists visiting the Gold Coast shouldn’t jet off without doing the Sky Point climb. It’s an experience that lasts for an hour and a half, consisting of an outdoor adventure to the top of the Q1 building. The Q1 building is one of the tallest residential towers in the world and obviously is the highest point in the greater Gold Coast area. You can consider it to be one of Australia’s most wonderful landmarks.
Visitors will be taken 270 meters into the air, making it the highest external building climb in Australia. At the top, on display will be the most amazing view you will ever come across in your life. The Pacific Ocean and the Gold Coast look gorgeous, particularly on a blue sunny day.
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Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is arguably the best petting zoo in Australia. It hosts some of the country’s iconic wild life such as koalas, emus, dingos, echidnas, wombats, Tassie devils, crocodiles and much more. Currumbin is a thirty-five-minute drive from the Gold Coast and is located just south of Burleigh Heads.
The sanctuary is great for families, it is such a fun place to explore and visitors will come to know lots of wonderful creatures. No doubt you will be taking so many lovely pictures with your favourite Australian animals. The park is open daily from 8am-5pm except on Christmas day and ANZAC day.
Probably the most attractive experience in the Sanctuary for both domestic and international visitors is getting up close and personal with the koalas. It’s Australia’s most well renowned icon after all. Care takers will teach you all about these creatures including their, habitat, reproduction process and their diet. After learning about, touching and patting the koalas, you will get a free professional photo taken with one to remember your koala experience.
Visitors will also be able to meet a pure white alpine dingo. There is an invitation for you to go inside his enclosure, give him lunch and pat his fury white coat. Afterwards, if you like you can take one of the alpine dingoes for their daily wild walk around the twenty-seven-hectare sanctuary. Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to get close and personal with echidnas and wombats. The care takers will spill some interesting facts the animals and you also won’t leave without giving them afternoon tea.
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There are so many more animals to see in the sanctuary and to do this you can hop on a Segway and explore the whole grounds. Care takers will also tell awesome facts about the Tassie devil and all the other animals in the sanctuary.
There are also many shows happening throughout the day in the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Here is three of them.
At the bird feeding show you'll get to see some beautiful parrots such as the Lorikeet species. These take place at 8:00am and 4:00pm. The park asks that you donate a gold coin to help support them.
You will be able to witness the biggest salt water
crocodile in Currumbin. He is known as the “boss hog". Visitors will get to see him live in action with his girlfriend Lily and all his other smaller mates. He won’t be asleep when you arrive at his front doorstep. After witnessing the “boss hog,” there will be a chance to get your photo taken with a baby croc.
There is live sheep shearing on every day at the sanctuary. You will get a sense of what farmers do as they work in the Australian outback. Currumbin’s “Gun Shearer” will share his experiences and interesting facts about working in the outback, wool and the sheep. After the show you can also ask questions and meet the shearer and his sheep.
28 Tomewin St, Currumbin, Gold Coast, Queensland 4223
(prices updated on June 2018)
Broadbeach on the Gold Coast has accommodation around every corner. This article compiles some information on the best hotels in Broadbeach. The reason there is so much accommodation, is because it is close to a beach, has a massive shopping centre and wonderful restaurants. There are also events happening year round. Such as concerts and music festivals. Many families, individuals and groups from across the country and the world pick the Gold Coast as holiday destination. This makes Broadbeach a hotel haven.
Bel Air on Broadbeach is a fantastic resort and is great for all types of groups and families. The four-star hotel has an outdoor pool, a gym, beautiful suites, free parking and Wi-Fi. The apartments are very spacious and they all have air-conditioning. It is also directly opposite the tram and bus stations. So, families can go straight to the theme parks. The Pacific Fair shopping mall is nearby, and balconies have a view of the ocean and the Gold Coast down below.
Address: 2633 Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland 4218, Australia
The suites in Peppers have great views of the ocean the Gold Coast skyline, which includes Skypoint Observation Deck in the Q1. The rooms are very stylish with modern kitchens, WiFi, air-conditioning and laundries. There is also an outdoor spa, heated pool, steam room, sauna, gym, free parking, access to a shuttle bus, barbeques, luggage storage and lovely Asian gardens to explore. It’s not far from the beach and the hotel is surrounded by fantastic international restaurants.
Address: 21 Elizabeth Avenue, Broadbeach, QLD 4218, Australia
The Breakfree Diamond Beach apartments have air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, free parking, a pool, spa, and wonderful open spaces. It’s probably the best hotel to have a barbeque with the family or a group. It is also located less than one hundred meters from the beach. Additionally, Breakfree is walking distance from great restaurants, bars and Pacific Fair. The hotel is great for families with young children as it as a fun pool, a cool playground and a games room.
Address: 10-16 Alexandra Avenue, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland 4217
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Sofitel is a five-star hotel by the beach. Every morning there is a breakfast buffet and there is a large pool. Each room is very luxurious and spacious with air-conditioning. It is close to the star casino, if you want to have a gamble and the Oasis Shopping Centre is nearby if you want to do some shopping. It is located very close to the dining and entertainment areas in Broadbeach. You are sure to have a great time.
Address: 81 Surf Pde, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland 4218
The Star has very nice rooms. They are all spacious and have really comfy beds and sofas. There is free-Wi-Fi and free parking for all guests. The hotel also has a wonderful, stylish restaurant, which in the mornings turns into an all you can eat breakfast buffet in the mornings.
Address: Cnr Gold Coast Highway & TE Peters Drive, Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland 4218
Springbrook National park has walks that are suitable for every family, individual or group to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you are strolling, hiking or meandering through the park you will be amazed by the native flora and fauna appearing at every turn.
Springbrook National Park there is a variety of environments including subtropical forests, temperate forests, eucalypt forests and mountain heaths. You should bring your camera and binoculars to enhance your experience. Here is a list of walks, from shortest to longest, that you can take on at the great Springbrook park.
The ten-minute walk leads to a truly wonderful lookout at Goomoolahra Falls, most of it is on asphalt. Gazing out from the Goomoolahra lookout you can see across the canyons to the lovely city skyline of surface paradise. It truly is an amazing view.
The Best of All Lookout Walk takes around thirty minutes to complete. While walking along the track you will come across moss laden relics formed from the last ice age. You will also see what are known as Antarctic Beech trees which are estimated to be around 2000 years old. The path is mostly a gentle slope that continues down to a lookout. This lookout has fantastic views of the Tweed Valley, to Mt Warning and all the way down south.
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The Twin Falls Circuit is known to be the best short walk in southern Queensland. You will see rock clefts, a few waterfalls and lovely 1500-year-old palm trees with beautiful ferns. There is also an opportunity to take a dip in one of the rock pools on the way. This walk will take at least three hours to complete.
The Purling Brook Falls Circuit starts off by walking across a Suspension bridge into an open Eucalyptus forest. After walking through the forest, you will descend into the gorge below. This is where you will see wonderful creeks flowing with water. Then there is a climb towards a picnic area. The circuit takes around 5 hours to complete.
If you're after something more thrill seeking, you may want to check out Dreamworld.
The Warrie Circuit is the most interesting walk you can do on Springbrook mountain. It commences along the base of the cliffs near Goomoolahra Falls. It then descends into the depths of the rainforest. The forest is very mossy and green, you will discover many creeks and gullies. The canyon floor contains many pools of water. Water flows down from the top of the canyon creating many beautiful mini waterfalls.
The cascading waterfalls are truly a thing of beauty. Therefore, you should really take your time for this part of the walk and really appreciate the flowing water. The reason this walk is named the Warrie circuit is because Warrie is an Aboriginal word for rushing water. The walk takes about a day to complete but a good hiker can get it done in half a day.
Burleigh heads is a wonderful area to go shopping, dining and adventuring. It is truly the heart of the Gold Coast.
The first thing you should do when you reach Burleigh Heads is to wander off down to the beach. It is a lovely place to spend the morning relaxing, swimming and body boarding. Many describe the beach as beautiful, with lovely clean sand and warm water. Parking a car there is free. Surrounding the beach is a park, which is a great spot to have a picnic or a walk.
Burleigh head National park is a great attraction for those who enjoy the outdoors. The park has many trails and walks through the rainforest and the rocky foreshow. Do some of the walks in spring and you may be lucky enough to see beautiful whales gliding along the coast. The two best trails are the Oceanview Walk and the Rainforest circuit. Broadbeach is closely situated and a great place to check out also.
Burleigh is a region that loves arts, crafts, fashion and food. Visiting the Burleigh markets on the weekends is a great way to meet some of the locals and get a feel for the regions aspiring entrepreneurs and their creative businesses. The markets put on a great atmosphere. There is live music with local artists playing in the background while you have a bite to eat and browse the interesting items available to purchase. By the end of your visit to the markets you will have come away with a fascinating souvenir. There are three markets around Burleigh Heads. Our homepage has more information around the GC.
The best fashion market on the Gold Coast. It features around one hundred stalls that focus on vintage, hip and retro clothing. A great place to explore the talent in the local fashion industry. When: 1st and 3rd Sunday of each Month. Where: Burleigh Heads school.
This market features great grocery and gourmet food stalls, with a lot of local produce on offer. When: Sat 7AM-12PM Where: Burleigh school.
There are many creative stalls that sell local arts and crafts. Items in the stalls include toys, jewellery, fresh produce, skin care products and much more. There is something for everyone. When: Last Sunday of each month Where: Justin’s Park (opposite beach).
Rick Shores is a lovely restaurant situated by the beach. It serves Southeast Asian cuisine. A really wonderful place to experience modern Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese dining. It is open for lunch and dinner, it also has an extensive wine list.
Go and experience the Gold Coast’s only craft beer brewery, Burleigh Brewing. Their beers are made from one hundred percent pure natural ingredients. Therefore, they don’t put any chemicals into their products. They brew in a very traditional way, maintaining the practices of the past centuries. They have many craft beers to try from an ale style to a larger.
In Dreamworld there are so many thrilling rides, fun attractions, nice food and cool shops. It really does take a whole day to explore the park. Many families and groups go into Dreamworld without planning how they are going to spend their day. Groups arrive at the park, go through the entrance, grab a map and have no idea what to do first. For maximum enjoyment and to get the best out of your day at Dreamworld you should plan.
In the morning as soon as you arrive at the park, you are excited. Therefore, you should not hold back that excitement and go straight on the fun and thrilling rides. For a family group with adolescents or kids, this is a good idea because it will make them happy and set in them a great mood for the rest of the day. You don’t want them complaining all day cause you wanted to go see a slow paced boring attraction first that they wouldn’t be interested in.
Dreamworld has the most thrilling rides out of all the theme parks with thrillers such as Tail Spin, Giant Drop, Tower of Terror and Buzz Saw.
Going on rides all morning, you will have so much fun and will have used so much energy that lunch time will come around very quickly. In Dreamworld there is so much food to choose from, you really are spoiled for choice. You can have burgers, fish, chips, pizza, pies, sandwiches, coffees, ice creams, hot dogs and Asian food. It’s a great time to relax, soak up the atmosphere or have a conversation about the rides. Click here to return to our homepage.
After lunch, if there are any rides that you missed earlier in the day that you would like to ride, you should go on them. The lines will be shorter as everyone else may be having lunch or doing something else. Once you have completed going on all the rides you wanted to, you should then go see some on the entertaining attractions. There are places in Dreamworld like the ABC Kids World and the Wiggles World which is a great place to go for families with young children.
The DreamWorks experience is also very fun for kids. It brings all the characters from movies like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar to life. There are also live shows and presentations around the clock. These include seeing live koalas, crocodiles, tigers, kangaroos and a sheep shearing show. With the Sunset Safari Experience, everyone can get up close and touch very amazing Australian wildlife.
Another great place to take the family is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for the day.
At the end of the day before you leave would be the correct time to buy a souvenir. Don’t buy something during the day, you don’t want to be carrying it around everywhere. Overall, Dreamworld is a very exciting theme park with lots to see and do for the whole day.