Spectacular Solar Installations: Road Trip Discoveries

Having recently completed a road trip through SA, VIC and NSW, I have come to two conclusions…

  • there are still some workers out there installing less than first-rate solar power systems,
  • you never take as many photos as you should.

In any case, I have a few pictures which should make more than a passing interest, even if it’s only the solar nerds who appreciate the finer details.

Some Installations Just Warm The Cockles Of Your Heart

Here’s a system in Hay, NSW, where it’s instantly apparent that the rulebook has been thrown out.

Hay solar installation

The end product is a sight to behold. This isn’t the crap install of someone who can’t be arsed or the ignorance of some drug-addleder who’s working completely outside their expertise. Someone has meticulously engineered this.

Look! It’s sign-written on the front of the building. Not only does that awning offer shade, electricity generation and weather protection, but there’s also a winch and wheels attached to make it serviceable. This is a function brought to fruition. Art with purpose. Banksy, eat your heart out.

Solar panel opening

I’ve always been a fan of solar awnings.

And the solar panels, they’re everywhere. Fixed at all angles, in all manner of ways, someone has thought hard about how to catch more rays. Predating all the PV, there’s even a good old Solahart up the back there for simple bolt honest hot water.

Solar hot water system

The hot water unit must be pre-2010

Walking out of the pub after a decidedly ordinary meal (does NSW even know a parmy has ham?) as the very last of the sun streaks the sky, you realise Hay has a “sunset lookout” for a reason. Those modules placed vertically on the western side aren’t just decorative, they are placed, just so, to gather the dying of the light.

Sunset at Hay

Sunset is a terrible time to head west from Hay.

vertical solar panels

Vertical solar isn’t just for high latitudes.

And as an electrician, I’m not going to sully the inspiration by imagining how it’s wired up.

I saw many examples, and that’s a good thing, generally. The rest of the country is catching up with South Australia rapidly. These are but a few of the ones I captured out there in the wild, despite the regular enquiry from the passengers :

“What? why are we turning around… again? has something fallen off?”

Just need a photo luv…

Clamp zones

Clamp zones are for wusses, it’s wattage for winners.

Ground Mount Excellence.

Here’s a textbook use of a ground mount to avoid defacing an otherwise beautiful building. We don’t celebrate rusty sheds and industrial heritage nearly half as much as we should.

Filling The Roof Well

Thoughtful solar panel placement, maximum wattage using landscape and portrait orientation, and quality equipment.

Even the verandah got a guernsey.

Spectacular Tilts

Across the street, things look decidedly ordinary in terms of angle frames constructed outside of manufacturer specifications, but I guess the proof is in the pudding. It hasn’t blown off and appears old enough that there must have been some weather to test it.

This reverse-pitch tilt frame results in a pretty flat array.

This particular bit of class shows a classic trap for solar installers. When buildings are extended, they often have different purlin spacings/screw lines. If you don’t notice and start building the solar frame, you can rapidly find there’s nothing to screw your solar onto halfway along the building. Exhibit one is the differently angled legs, a great reason for adjustable framing.

Roadtripping And EVs

Having spent 4 days covering 2,400km driving Adelaide-Dubbo return in a PHEV, I can see the point the naysayers have about electric vehicles and refuelling in 5 minutes. Charging stations certainly weren’t obvious enroute and towing an old car on a trailer wouldn’t be kind on battery life in a full EV.

However, it’s well known that lowering your speed from 110 to 90km/h can potentially double the range of an EV. The boomers towing behemoth caravans have already worked out that the simplest way to save money is to slow down, and lie to your friends about fuel mileage. These new BlandCruisers use half the fuel they tell me.

Road safety campaigns are all asking that we stop, revive, survive. Even my car posts little reminders to pull over every couple of hours, so being forced to stop for charging isn’t actually a bad thing. It’s not a new feature mind you; my early seventies Falcon with 20 litres/100km of pushrod simplicity and V8 thirst combined with a thimble-sized fuel tank means you are forced to take regular fueling breaks.

I think EVs might be good for local communities. All the little dot towns with closed servos just need some investment in amenities and a fat grid connection. Most of them already seem to have good coffee and little museums.

I can only surmise those who carp and wail the loudest about not being able to go 1,000km non-stop do not actually like traveling, can’t stand their kids, and want it to be over before they ask again, “are we there yet?”.

Actually, we aren’t there yet, the energy transition is just getting its socks on.

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