How can 1 person have such a great experience and another person have a bad experience with batteries, solar panels and solar power systems ?
It's recently come to my attention that there are many grey market parallel importers out there who simply just import and sell items for no other reasons other than to simply make profits. Sadly it's the intention of these people usually to just be interested in making the profits (as their primary motivation) but not being able to give correct real world advanced technical advice or technical support to their clients.
This then has lead to many people wondering WHY items they purchase elsewhere gave them a poor experience and why items they purchased from us gave them a great experience? In their minds they thought they were buying what looked to be the same (or very similar) items.
We've heard this with batteries, inverters, solar panels and entire solar systems in fact. In some cases we've seen some people only get 2 years of life from their batteries that they expected to get 10 years life from, and in other cases their entire system yearly power production was down to 40% of what it should have been (they had lost 60% of their output) and other similar occurrences.
With many items we supply at Hitek we've done thousands of hours of R&D (research and development and technical testing over many of our key items combined) to ensure our products and systems actually deliver great results for real world NZ conditions. Often many of our items we get produced for us will have changes or internal variations or adjustments made specifically at our request so that they deliver a better real world experience for our customers here in real NZ system conditions, yet when people try to source their own version of an item it will often be a different spec internally from what we are supplying and in turn it won't perform as well in real world applications.
Not only this but often our method of configuration and / or implementation of the items or systems will be different due to our 12 years of vast technical knowledge and hands on real world experience with this technology as a specialist in this area. This means that even just a voltage adjustment of say 0.4v difference (less than 1 volt) or even a temperature adjustment of just 5 degrees C can have a HUGE real world affect on whether you have an average result from your system or whether you have a great experience.
If you think about it Solar Power Systems (making them work really well) have alot in common with baking a cake. You could give 12 different people all the same ingredients and just depending on the way they put them together, the order they put them together, what settings are used for the mixer and oven etc and you end up with vastly different results. The ones implemented poorly will FLOP and the ones implemented well will be amazing (yet in these cases the same $$ was spent on the ingredients), and this is the reality of the world we live in today. One could even then say well the guy who had the flop now has to end up buying the ingredients again and wasting their time + energy to have a go a second time just to try and get the same good result that the other guy got the first time. This is why often thinking you are saving a few bucks and up as a FALSE ECONOMY, as it ends up costing you more than to do it right from the start. How many of you have ever watched Jamie Oliver on TV and thought that looks amazing what he's made, and you use the same ingredients and yet what you end up making turns out looking and tasting nothing like what you had seen him make? If however you practiced and made the same thing 50 times over likely by the 50th attempt what you've made will be much better than the 1st attempt. The exact same is true for solar power systems and battery systems today except instead of $15-30 of cake mixture involved there's often $5000 - $90,000 dollars involved, so not something you want to be getting wrong and repeating.
With items we supply we are happy giving this correct technical advice / support away for free but only for items and systems we've supplied and we only give that advice / support away to the direct person or company we sold to, however with items supplied by other companies you cannot phone us up for free technical advice / support for items we have not directly sold or supplied you. In turn we charge for technical support for anybody wanting technical advice / support for items or systems we did not directly supply and we may simply deny technical support for items purchased elsewhere also.
The real key point here though is that often a person may think that they're saving $40 or $60 buying what they thought was the same or similar item from a trading company, only to find that because of lack of advanced technical support / technical advice they end up with a poor experience that then means they're still unhappy with the result even after their purchase, yet if they had purchased through Hitek they wouldn't be in that same position and they would be assured of having a good experience and correct technical advice / support available.
Often when people are spending $2000 through to $90,000 then you really must think long and hard about what VALUE that advanced real world technical advice and technical support is actually worth to you if it means the difference between having a good long term experience from your hardware and your systems or having a poor experience from your hardware / systems and potentially replacing expensive items much sooner than expected. Eg if you spent $4k on batteries and then you only got 2 years of life from the batteries as a result of running them in the wrong environment or with wrong settings then even if you thought you had saved $300 at time of purchase, you actually just cost yourself an extra $3700 after 2 years as a result of the consequences of that decision.
Buying and running solar items and solar systems is NOT like buying a new fridge from your local white-ware store. With a fridge you basically just plug it in and away you go, you'll get the same experience no matter who plugs it in, but with batteries, inverters, solar panels, solar systems the same is NOT true at all, in fact it's very far away in real world reality.
With solar panels themselves they are rated as their "Peak Power Wattage" that only tells you what the panels will do during the best day of the year during the best part of the day (eg 12pm) on a clear sky sunny day during the peak of summer, however it does NOT tell you anything at all about how the panels will perform for you during a cloudy or overcast day, or during Autumn, Winter, Spring etc. In turn our main focus with our solar panels has been real world NZ testing and NZ panel development right here in New Zealand to actually ensure our panels are tested back to back against other top brands of panels from around the world to ensure that our panels actually typically give HIGHER / BETTER real world power output in real NZ conditions than typical conventional panels. In many cases back to back testing (including independent client feedback) has found that often many of our panels are able to give between 50% extra power per panel and often even up to 30% greater power (per rated panel watt) in real world NZ conditions. This means we've had 1 of our 330w panels give up to 50% more power on a cloudy NZ day compared with a 1 year old 330w conventional panel supplied by another company. Why this is critical is that for many system owners (including off-grid systems and RV's etc) the cloudy days are when you are needing that extra power the most, and so if a panel is only efficient at producing power in the peak of summer but terrible at producing power on a cloudy or overcast day then even though it may have the same Peak wattage label rating as our 330w panels that does not tell you anything about how similar (or dis-similar) the real world NZ power output will actually be between their panels vs our panels and in fact many companies in NZ have not even done ANY of their own real world back to back testing to even directly compare their panels vs other panels in real NZ conditions, and I can assure you just testing the comparison in China does not tell what or how they will perform like here in NZ as our atmosphere conditions are very different here. It's well known that many panels designed for usage of solar power systems in China may run happily there for 10 years without issues and then as soon as those same panels are used here in NZ they may perform poorly or even fail after just 2-4 years, and people say why? They don't understand that the panels need to be built to a different and higher (NZ specific) spec as our conditions here are very different, and this is exactly why we don't just import random panels and items from China and why we do our own development and testing of our panels and many items we supply to ensure the really will give a long life and best results here in real world NZ applications, but I'm not aware of any other companies in NZ that do this to the extent that we do.
Long story short, when you are buying your solar system or battery related hardware or items then you want to be dealing with a company who really cares about ensuring that each and every client ends up with a great real world experience, rather than a company who doesn't offer (or often even have the ability to offer) to advanced technical support to ensure you can even end up with a great experience because their primary concern is just making sales and lining their pockets (this is the opposite of what Hitek is about).
Our company slogan is "Empowering your world" as it's our goal with ALL of our systems to actually help empower our customers, and part of this means being able to give them correct real world advice or technical support to ensure they can achieve a good experience, and this is our primary goal (not lining our pockets).
Because we are "Official" agents of the brands we use and supply then we get direct technical support and access to alot more advanced technical information than someone who is just grey market importing a brand and in turn is LOCKED OUT of the official manufacturer support channels.
I hope this article proves useful to really help people better understand why and how so many people can have bad or poor experiences just from buying hardware online from random sellers when in their mind they thought they were buying the same (or similar) items. As the old saying goes "It's all in the detail" and when you don't even know what you are looking for in the first place, you don't know what correct questions to ask and in turn the critical details are often missed until it's too late and by that time you find out you have a poor experience and nobody there to properly assist you to get things running right for your site.
This is why we hear that around 80% of NZ solar systems running here in NZ today are giving LESS than optimal results or have not met the clients expectations or are not giving the power output or savings that a client had expected at the time of purchasing, yet for our clients and our systems we have amazing results and amazing success stories from the last 7500+ systems we've designed and supplied.
We have a saying that is "You don't buy Solar Panels or Batteries to just sit there and look pretty", meaning that unless they are doing their job and doing it well then there's no point on having them as if all they are doing is just sitting there looking pretty and not giving you good real world results and not giving you good real world savings then there's really little point having invested in them in the first place if they're not working well for you.
Many people don't realize that we actually DO have a price match policy*, which means if you do see the exact same make + model items as we are offering and it's in stock in NZ (currently in stock available) not coming on a shipment a few weeks away, and it's a public listed / advertised or quoted price that you can reference, then we are able to often match (or beat) that price under our price match policy. What this means is that if you were thinking about buying elsewhere because you thought were were getting something slightly cheaper then PLEASE talk with us first and ask about this policy, as the very worst thing we can possibly come back to you saying is "sorry we can't help" but more often than not we may be able to come back to you saying "Congratulations" we can assist you with that. There's a great saying "If you want something, it's best to ask", so we encourage our clients to please talk with us and at least ask us to allow us to best assist you rather than just assuming we may not be able to help you.
If you have an existing solar system (or battery system) that was purchased elsewhere or supplied by someone else that is not performing well for you or you are having constant issues then please feel free to give us a call and we will see how we are able to best assist you to help.
Lead-Carbon batteries are different from other types of batteries because they combine the high energy density of a battery and the high specific power of a super-capacitor in a single lower-cost device (also known as Pb-C).
Our Hitek Lead-Carbon batteries feature industry leading and proven technology, achieving maximum cycle life in a compact package.
The primary goals of lead-carbon battery research has been to extend the cycle life of existing AGM lead-acid batteries and also increase their storage capacity / power. The Activated Nano-Carbon Enhanced negative electrode provides proven results and unmatched cycle life, even in a partial state of charge (PsoC) operation. This is very beneficial in solar power systems, communication sites, Caravan, Marine, Motor-home / RV installations and many more applications.
We have pre-made battery racks available for our lead-carbon batteries to make installation quick and easy. Our lead-carbon batteries are fully sealed Valve-Regulated and can operate on their front, side or standing upright to give you maximum installation options in any installation scenario.
Advantages of Lead Carbon compared with Lithium batteries and Lead-Acid:
* No BMS (Battery Management System) is needed to prevent over-charging and under-charging on a per cell basis, as lithium battery sets need.
* No thermal run-away risk of individual cells over heating, exploding and catching on fire as lithium batteries can have.
* Much better and greater kWh storage capacity per dollar compared with lithium (approximately twice the storage capacity from lead-carbon compared with lithium, or about half the price for the same kWh capacity).
* A nice easy to carry modular system where each battery can be carried and put in place 1 at a time, without needing any forklifts, jacks etc like you need to install the Tesla Powerwall battery and Panasonic Lithium Home Storage Battery.
* Suitable for On-Grid Hybrid and Off-Grid systems due to high discharge amperage capacity. A set of our 14.4kWh lead-carbon batteries is capable of 5kW discharge capacity without any problems or issues, yet lithium batteries such as the Panasonic Home Storage Battery + the Tesla Power Wall battery are limited to 2 - 3.3kW constant power output which in turn makes them un-suitable for off-grid installations.
* No Cooling fans / system is needed for lead-carbon batteries, yet lithium batteries such as the Panasonic Home Storage Battery + the Tesla Power Wall battery need active fan cooling to constantly regulate and keep the lithium battery temperature cool otherwise over-heating and risk of fire / explosion may result if they had a cooling system failure.
* Can easily retrofit / retro-fit onto ANY / ALL existing systems running existing lead-acid batteries, where as lithium batteries can't easily be added onto existing older systems that are running older lead-acid batteries. In turn our lead carbon batteries can work on older systems that may be running Outback Power, Midnite Solar, SMA Sunny Boy / Sunny Island setups, Enasolar, Enphase, APS, Solax, Goodwe, EP Solar Tracer, Xantrex, Schneider, and many other existing older system types.
* Much higher energy density and longer life in the same size (or smaller) package compared with existing AGM / GEL and Flooded Lead Acid Batteries. Eg a typical 6v Crown / Trojan 430Ah L16 style Flooded Lead Acid Battery only gives 1200 cycles at 50% DOD while our lead-carbon batteries offer 3500+ cycles at 50% DOD while also giving MORE usable Ah / kWh storage capacity at the same time.
* No need to run lots of separate 2v batteries as was the norm with older lead-acid solar storage setups, as our 6v 300Ah battery sets offer much better value for money per kWh than existing traditional 2v setups offer, however yes we can also offer our lead-carbon batteries as 2v battery versions also (via pre-order only). This not only saves you money but also means our battery storage system offers a much faster and easier installation in comparison.
* High Amperage Charge & Discharge capacity compared with Solar GEL batteries which have low charge / discharge amp input and output current restrictions.
* No harmful and toxic gases coming off our lead-carbon batteries (as they're sealed), so you don't have to worry about terminals and wiring corrosion, or spillage of liquid acid, checking fluid levels, hydrometer checking and all the safety risks / hazards that you have with existing flooded lead acid batteries. Our lead-carbon batteries don't need external outdoor ventilation as normal lead-acid batteries do.
* Up to 20 Year Design Life for our lead-carbon batteries (when running in best case with perfect environment conditions), compared with standard lead-acid batteries that have a 3-5 year design life and lithium that has up to 10 year design life.
We have now supplied and deployed more than 7,500 of our lead-carbon batteries to clients around NZ and also international clients all around the world (as at 2019), and we've not had a single client who has not been happy with how nicely the lead carbon batteries are running for them on their solar systems. Many of these clients previously had existing lead-acid batteries that had failed on them much sooner than they had expected and they wanted a more reliable long-term solution. Our lead carbon batteries are the answer and today here in New Zealand we've not found another single solar / energy storage battery that is "Better Value for Money" than our lead-carbon batteries when usable battery life and usable energy storage are part of the calculation.
Note: We can offer wholesale / trade supply to other companies who may wish to offer our lead-carbon battery storage options to their own clients. Please contact us for more information.
We recently supplied one of our new "SOLAR HYBRID STORAGE SYSTEMS" to Gavin over in Sydney Australia to get better returns and more savings from his existing Solar PV system.
He was already running 16 x 260w Trina Honey Solar Panels (4.16kW) with Enphase Micro Inverters. He was wasting around HALF his Solar Power produced each day by giving it back to the grid for peanuts (basically giving it to them almost for free at around 6c per kWh), and yet facing paying 51cents per per kW worth of power later in the evening (on that same day). So instead he now has 14.4kWh worth of latest technology Lead Carbon Battery storage and our Hybrid Storage system manages everything automatically for him to get BEST advantage to use ALL of his solar power each day (without wasting any of it back to the grid) and he also gets to top up his battery storage cheaply from the grid at the lowest cost of 11c per kW unit in the middle of the night to cover his morning loads also. This solution would give an average solar power home a benefit of around $110 - $160 per month MORE compared with just having the solar power system alone, and a net benefit of around $260 per month compared to before he had any solar power system or storage at all.
Gavin had looked into the options of getting the new Enphase AC battery, and also the Tesla Powerwall battery and Panasonic Home Storage Lithium battery as options, however with a high cost per kW and low storage options (the Enphase only 1kWh usable storage, the Tesla Powerwall only 6.4kWh usable storage per day and the Panasonic only 8kWh storage per day) he really wanted a better solution that offered MORE storage so he wasn't having to waste all his solar production each day sending most of it back to the grid as it had been until our system was installed. This system also allows him to easily expand (and DOUBLE) his storage capacity to 28.8kW anytime he would like to in the future with minimal extra cost per kWh worth of storage, as it's only the extra batteries that would be needed, no inverter, charger or other system upgrades would be required.
This is a perfect example of how Solar Power + Storage (in the right setup) is a game changer today and WHY every home with Solar Power in NZ and Australia should consider adding on this option.
You would have thought that between Enphase, Tesla and Panasonic they could have came up with a solution which would have achieved the same result for Gavin, but in this case their solutions were not up to the task or readily available to retro-fit onto his existing system easily or at an affordable price.
Talk to us if you'd like to know more about how to get the BEST efficiency and payback from your existing solar power system, or even if you don't have a solar power system and are interested in getting one and care about the actual savings and returns that the system will give you (not just having it on your roof to look pretty and give you poor paybacks as many systems are currently doing today).
The pictures and graph should best explain and show the savings that our system was giving him over that 24 hour period.
PS: Gavins existing Solar PV system was installed only a year earlier by a highly reputable solar power company in Sydney, they did a good job on the physical installation and used high quality items, but sadly the detail was lacking in giving a "FULL SOLUTION" which actually provided a good "REAL WORLD PAYBACK RETURN" which is what our add on system finally gave him. His existing solar power company that originally suppliled his Enphase system did not have a solution like this to be able to offer (which is often the case with many solar companies to be honest).
Recently there has been a lot of media attention around the proposition of long term solar power leasing agreements. Solar Long term leasing is a term that is being talked about more commonly nowdays, but is it really actually viable in reality??
The concept is that you receive your solar panels and installation for ‘free’, and you in turn sign a long term lease agreement for 20 years (where they own the system on your roof top and will never own it).
To read more about the viability of long term solar leasing agreements, Frank and Muriel Newman from the Oily Rag have written an interesting article, featured in the Bay of Plenty Times.
We think it’s a good read, and raises some very interesting points, and compared to adding it onto your mortgage or buying the system outright, it's easy to see that the "TRUE REAL PAYBACK RETURN BENEFITS" of Solar Power Systems from the likes of what Solar City is offering with their Solar Zero system offerings don't compare against owning the system yourself. Why pay to make somebody else rich, when you could be making ALL of the savings yourself instead of lining their pockets?
Original Article Published Below by Oily Rag:
Authors: Frank and Muriel Newman, authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. To read more of their content and follow them online, please visit their website.
Featured: Bay Of Plenty Times, Thursday April 16th 2015. Original article source:
Some say that solar power is the way of the future, but that the stumbling block has been the high upfront cost of solar panels. So there was a ripple of excitement within the oily rag community recently, caused by a media headline. “Free panels place solar power within reach for Kiwis,” it exclaimed.
However, on further reading, it is apparent that while there are lots of free things for the frugally minded, solar power is not yet one of them.
The story was about a company called solarcity, which recently went nationwide with a new solar power option called solarZero, whereby homeowners can get solar panels installed on their roof at no upfront cost — as long as they make a 20-year commitment to pay a fixed monthly fee. According to the company this is a first for New Zealand but is not uncommon overseas.
The “zero upfront” deal involves the householder entering into what is, in effect, a rental and servicing agreement. At no stage does ownership of the panels pass to the householder.
The monthly fee ranges from $55 to $280, depending on the number of panels that need to be installed, which in turn depends on the power consumption of the household.
The website has some handy calculators to show the potential savings. For example, a “normal” household (not that oily rag households are normal!) that pays $300 a month in power bills would save about $119, but out of that they would have to pay $110 a month to solarcity. Over the 20-year period of the contract, the payments would total $26,400.
The net savings to the householder would therefore be $9 a month ($119 less the $110 fee), or 3 per cent of their power bill. In other words, the energy cost savings of $119 are split $9 to the householder and $110 to the solar panel provider.
Since solar power is only generated during the day and storage cells are not included in the deal, customers would still have to buy power from their electricity company for night-time use.
Although solarcity has provided a new option for those wanting to make a switch to solar energy, committing to 240 monthly payments is a big, long-term financial undertaking that requires a good deal of serious thought.
What happens if you were to sell your house within the 20 years (quite likely given the frequency with which people move house)? In that case you would have a number of choices: convince the new owner to take over the remaining payments, pay to relocate the panels to your new home, or pay upfront the remaining payments due.
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For example, if someone 10 years into the 20-year commitment moves in to a rest home and is not able to convince the new homeowner to take over their contract, they would be left, in our example, with a bill of $13,200.
Some may say solar panels add to the resale value of a home …we doubt that and take the view that the rate of innovation is such that the units may be of little or no value.
It is also questionable whether it is wise to make a 20-year commitment to a solar power system, when the solar industry is undergoing rapid improvements in technology. The cost of solar power units has fallen significantly over the years and we don’t see any reason why this will not continue.
Solar energy may be the way of the future, given the vast roof areas that could be used to capture the sun’s energy. However, having done some number crunching, we are not convinced that a very long-term rental agreement with its inherent uncertainties is as attractive as it might sound. Householders should consider the upfront capital payments and assess the saving in energy costs as a return on their investment.
You can send in your ideas and join the Oily Rag mailing list, by emailing us at email@example.com or by writing to us at: Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.
Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Read our wealth of tips at Oily Rag.