Gone Bananas for Solar

My parents want to go off grid. This comes as a tiny bit of a surprise, given that they’ve never expressed any such sentiment before. On the other hand, they’ve always been full of surprises, so in that sense it’s not surprising at all. It seems that they were inspired to make this transition after a particularly engaging chinwag with the owner of their local fruit shop.

The fruit shop in question, which is in a relatively upmarket part of town, has replaced all its lights with an array of stylish new LEDs. Apparently, they did this to upgrade the ambiance of the joint, which the owners tend to do on a regular basis. On this occasion, though, side effects of the update has been significantly reduced energy usage and, accordingly, much friendlier power bills. Installing commercial LED lighting is, it seems, a go, and now my parents want to get in on the residential equivalent.

They’ve gone a step further, though… quite a few steps, really. Once those two get a whiff of something that’s of interest to them, they don’t hold back on investing themselves in it. They’ve started comparing residential and commercial solar energy solutions – commercial is included in their considerations because they technically run a business from home (not that you’d know it, as they’re both ostensibly retired) and they’re trying to figure out what incentives they’re eligible for.

Dad in particular is all about these online solar panel calculator tools, which estimate your potential earnings from feed-in tariffs. Apparently, these are paid in exchange for surplus power you generate from your panels and feed into the grid. According to dad’s calculations, doing this could have the system paying for itself sooner rather than later. Mum, on the other hand, is more interested in storing excess energy in a battery system, which will cost more but enable them to rely significantly less on the grid.

Who knew that stopping by the fruit shop for some bananas could get so technical?