More and more Kiwis are investing in solar energy. In Marlborough, it makes sense to capitalise on our high sunshine hours. Plus, we have fantastic service providers in the region.
Marlborough based, iGenerate has been operating for four years. The company provides clean, affordable solar energy to power homes or businesses. Locally owned, iGenerate produces free full assessments for their customers. These show how much solar power their home or business will produce to offset against their power bills. The company is also a proud sponsor of Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough. Every solar system they install pays for another child in their KiwCan programme.
We caught up with Managing Director, Mark Unwin, to get the lowdown on solar energy.
Solar Energy – Your questions Answered:
Q: Why is ‘now’ the time for solar?
A: Unlike power companies, the sun has never increased its pricing. The technology is reliable, safe and long-lasting, and you can start your savings today. Installing today starts your payback and locks in your power costs at today’s prices.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about solar power?
A: That it is too expensive. Systems start from $20 per week through council rates or $6000 installed.
Q: When it comes to solar energy, who can benefit?
A: Anyone that owns their own roof and can use the power the solar generates to offset against their power bill.
Q: How have you seen perceptions around solar power change over the last three years?
A: People are beginning to understand that solar is one part of the energy solution; it doesn’t have to power everything just offset your average house load. Consumers are more used to the look of solar panels as they are beginning to get used to seeing them around. As a result, we see fewer requests to hide the panels. Finally, with more EVs on the road, more and more people are thinking about power generation.
Q: What about technological advances, how have these affected the services and products that you’re able to offer?
A: The technology for producing solar panels has remained the same. However, the panels have become cheaper and more powerful. When we started out, panels were 200w, and now they are over 300w. The most significant advances in technology come down to batteries for energy storage. This technology continues to evolve and allows people to store their daytime solar power for night time use. Batteries continue to improve at a rapid rate, and there are new technologies, including lithium iron and supercapacitor batteries.
We are also seeing opportunities for customers to share power locally which improves buyback rates. We are part of the trial in Raglan that is looking to promote that solution.
Q: What’s the cost of retrofitting solar versus incorporating into a new build?
A: The majority of the installs we complete are retrofitting. The difference with new builds is that we will install the solar when the roof goes on, and the scaffolding is still up and finish the system once the electrical work is completed. The costs depend on the roof type and the size of the system.
Q: Is there any funding available in Marlborough for homeowners who wish to incorporate solar and how easy is it to access said funding?
A: The Marlborough District Council has a straightforward funding programme for solar e that allows you to put solar in your roof and pay it off through your rates bill. This is over nine years at 5.5%, which means that generally, the savings from your system will offset against the repayments. iGenerate is a registered provider through the council, and we can complete all the paperwork that the council require. We also have access to an incentive through Kiwibank and NZ Home Loans ($2K off a system for any new loan).
Q: Does solar power work for any home?
A: As long as your power bill is over $100 per month, your roof is in good condition, and you have some daytime power usage then you will see a return from solar energy use.
Q: When can someone expect payback from their investment in solar?
A: Between 7-9 years, depending on how much of their solar power they use. The return is generated by avoiding bringing power in from the grid so the more you use from the solar, the quicker your return.
Q: How do you determine what size system a prospective client requires?
A: We come onsite and do an assessment of the roof and home for the install. We look at the appliances you use and determine how you use power. We also review previous power bills to make our recommendation. We have some exceptional case studies of customers taking their bills from $300 per month to $75.
Q: What’s the general process involved in fitting a solar system and how long does it take?
A: We do all the work, and the process takes about three weeks. This process involves an application to Marlborough Lines, then the power retail company. After that, we come onsite and do the install, which generally takes one day. The following day we commission the system and show the customer the free online monitoring.
Q: Finally, please can you share a few tips on how a homeowner can maximise their solar system?
- Hot water timers are a very simple way of maximising your solar generation as it means your hot water turns on during the day.
- Use the timers on the dishwasher and washing machine, so they come on through the day and schedule any other appliances to turn on during the day.
- Buy an EV or electric bike; they are fun to use, cheap to run and help the environment.
A huge thank you to iGenerate for their professional input into this article. Contact them here for more information.
Solar energy can also be a huge draw for potential buyers. If you have a property to list, (with or without a solar system), contact us!