FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

All your questions answered in a categorised manner below.

Why go solar?

  • What is solar?

    A solar photovoltaic system harness the sun’s free energy and reduces your power bill. This is performed through solar panels which create power from light generated by the sun during the daytime. The panels produce energy which is transferred through an inverter to create electricity which can be used by all electrical appliances in your house. It’s important to note that it doesn’t need to be hot to produce solar energy – just light.

  • How does it work?

    Solar panels produce a direct current of electricity (DC), this then needs to go to an inverter which changes the current to usable power, alternating current (AC). The inverter then sends the power to the household appliances which provides electricity to them (think dishwasher, washing machine, fridges etc.) and any excess power goes back to the grid, which you get a small credit – anywhere between 5 & 12c per kW exported.

  • Why should I go solar?

    The main reasons homeowners install solar is to reduce their power bill, add value to their home and to help out the environment.

  • Savings

  • Will solar help save me money?

    Solar could benefit you financially if any of the following apply:

    • Your power bill is more than $200 per month
    • You have a hot water cylinder
    • You have a spa pool or swimming pool
    • You are home during the day
  • How much money will I save if I install solar?

    We aim to reduce your power-bill by around 50% with solar alone, or up to 90% with solar and a battery. We cannot guarantee this saving, as it all depends on your power usage and habits. Read more here.

  • Positioning of panels

  • Where do the solar panels go?

    Typically, we put them on your house or garage roof. If you have limited roof space or prefer not to have them on your roof, then you can put them on a tilted ground mount.

  • What kind of roof do you need? Does it have to be facing North?

    We work with nearly every roof, except for a couple of unique types. Tin, decramastic tiles and concrete tiles are ones we typically install on. We like to install as many of the panels on a north facing roof but if we only have an east or west roof to work with then that is also great for solar.

  • What if I have a flat roof?

    We would install the panels on tilts facing North.

  • What if I have a tiny home?
    • If you are ‘on-grid’ then no problem, we can provide panels, inverters and batteries to help reduce your power-bill.
    • If you are wanting to go off-grid, then you have the issue of limited roof space, you need to be willing to put a ground mount near the tiny house to allow you to have enough panels.
    • Even though the home is small you will still need to spend around $25-$35,000
  • Exporting back to the grid

  • How does the power get exported back to the grid?

    It gets counted through an export meter and this is then credited off your power bill

  • How much will I get paid for my exported power?
    • Anywhere between 5 & 8c per kW.
  • Installation

  • Can I install solar myself?

    Yes you can, however we don’t recommend this as solar installation requires specialist knowledge. Also, we do require photographic evidence to ensure you get your warranty.

  • Do I need a building consent?

    No.

  • Will I need lines consent and a new meter?

    Yes you will, however we organise this for you. Lines consent is a must for every network around NZ in order to obtain compliance and a new meter is required so that you can import and export power from the grid.

  • What if I have a ‘solar-ready’ cylinder?

    That’s great but it isn’t needed for solar power, as any cylinder can be powered by solar panels.

  • Will I need to be with a specific power company?

    Yes, you will. If you are with Mercury, Meridian, Trustpower, Genesis, Ecotricity, Contact Energy or Pulse then you do not need to change, if you are not, then you will need to change to one of the above companies who do support Solar.

  • Can you retrofit solar, or is it only for new builds?

    Solar costs approximately the same to be installed to an existing home as it does for a new build.

  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Loans

  • What is a HBRC loan?

    This program provides loans to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council ratepayers to install solar in their home and will help Hawke’s Bay to be carbon neutral by 2040 (beating the NZ government’s goal of 2050). Terms & conditions apply –  read more here.

  • How much would I save?

    Savings vary from home to home but check out this page to find out more – https://ecoefficient.co.nz/what-do-i-save/. For the life of your loan, solar can be a cost neutral decision and your monthly repayment can be close to what you are saving! Once your loan is paid back you’ll save even more. Of course, every situation is different so please get in touch for a free quote.

  • How long will it take me to pay back the HBRC loan for solar installation?

    The HBRC loan scheme is over a 10-year period.

  • Does the HBRC charge fort his loan service?

    HBRC charges a 4% interest which is included in the monthly repayments.

  • How do I pay the HBRC loan back?

    You make a monthly repayment by direct debit.

  • What happens if I sell my house before the loan is paid off?

    If you sell your house, you’ll have to pay the loan back upon house settlement.

  • Cost of installing solar

  • How much does solar cost for an average sized house?

    It doesn’t matter about the size of your home, it matters about the size of your power-bill and the type of appliances you are running. If you have a $200 monthly power-bill then you probably need around 8-12 Solar Panels (2-4kW), this costs around $8,000-$12,000 installed on-grid (this depends on your installation).

  • How much does one solar panel cost?

    We sell a minimum of 6 solar panels with an inverter installed for around $7000.

  • I want solar and batteries, what is the cost now?
    • If you want solar and batteries, you’ll need enough panels to power your house during the day AND charge your battery. Therefore, you’ll need more panels.
    • On average, you will need between 14-22 panels and a battery. This ranges from $25 – $40,000 installed.
  • Will I need to pay for a new import/export meter?

    Yes, you will. This is a one-off fee that is around $100-$350 depending on which power company you are with and how many phases you are.

  • How solar works

  • How does solar work?

    Solar panels produce a direct current of electricity (DC), this then needs to go to an inverter which changes the current to usable power, alternating current (AC). The inverter then sends the power to the household appliances which provides electricity to them (think dishwasher, washing machine, fridges etc.) and any excess power goes back to the grid, which you get a small credit – anywhere between 5 & 12c per kW exported.

  • How does the power get exported to the grid?

    xxxx

  • What happens in a power cut?

    If you have a battery that has emergency power supply (EPS) then you will have power available to some appliances. You can choose what appliances you would like in a power-cut. If you only have solar and no battery, then you will also have no power like everyone else.

  • What happens at night?

    If you don’t have a battery, then you will pull the power from the grid. This is automatic, and you won’t know when this is happening. If you have a battery, then you will power your home from the battery until the battery is empty – you will then pull from the grid automatically.

  • What happens if it rains, or in winter?

    Solar PV panels are light-efficient, therefore they will still work on a cloudy or rainy day, just not as effectively as they would on a sunny day.

  • Does it heat your hot water?

    Short answer, yes. However, we do not provide or recommend solar hot water tubes/panels. Heating water directly on your roof is now considered old technology. There is a large amount of maintenance required for solar hot water and in winter it sometimes leaves you with cold water.

    We provide solar panels that produce electricity, and we divert that electricity to your hot water cylinder. This then powers the element within your cylinder, meaning that your hot water is now powered by electricity.

  • But we heat our house with a fire?

    Solar provides power for your appliances such as your fridge, lights, tv’s, oven, washing machine, dishwasher, heat pump, hot water cylinder, spa pools – it’s not a heat source itself. So there’s no problems heating your house with a fire and having solar to power other appliances.

  • But we have gas?

    No problem. Remember that solar photovoltaic panels provide power to any appliance that requires electricity, so if you have a fridge, lights, tv’s, oven, washing machine, dishwasher, water-pump, spa pools etc., then solar is for you!

    If you have a hot water cylinder, then even better, we can power that as well!

    If you are building a new home and are putting in solar power, then we recommend that you install a hot water cylinder or a hot water heat pump so that the solar can power this. We cannot power gas therefore you always will have a gas bill no matter how much solar and batteries you install.

  • I am buying an electric car, can solar & batteries charge it?

    Short answer, yes it can, however we don’t want to charge it from zero to one hundred, as the solar and batteries will not be able to keep up with it. The best way to charge a car off solar and batteries is to top it up each day or night, say from 80-100% so that the solar and batteries can keep up.

  • Technical

  • What is the physical size of the panels?

    1m x 1.65m

    They are 1m x 1.67m and they usually have a wattage of 315 watts each.

  • How many panels will I need?

    It varies from home to home, although an average family home needs around 10 panels. We do a proper analysis of your power-bill & usage to decipher what size is best for you. It can be anywhere from 6-200 panels

  • What is the difference between a strong and micro inverter? Which one is better?

    A strong inverter is one inverter that controls all of the panels, a micro inverter is an individual inverter that goes underneath each individual panel. We will work with you to see which inverter is best for your property.

  • What is the wattage of the panels?

    This ranges from 270 – 305 watts per panel.

  • How long will the panels last for?

    Our panels come with 25 to 30-year performance warranties, at 25 years they are still producing at 80% efficiency, so their life expectancy could be 40 years or more. Our inverters come with a 10-year warranty and their life expectancy is around 15-20 years.

  • Can I add more panels and a battery at a later stage?

    We talk with you about what you want. If you would like the ability to add more panels and/or batteries to your system in the future, then we can future-proof you for this.

  • Should I go ‘off’ grid?
    • If it costs you more than $40,000 to get power connected to your house, then it may be a good idea to consider going off-grid completely. You need to have gas water, gas heating and gas cooking and you need to be willing to live a simple electrical life. No spa pools, electric blankets etc., unless you want to pay big dollars for it (think $100,000).
    • If you are already connected to the grid, then there is absolutely no return on your investment to go off grid.
    • You need to be willing to spend around $30-$50,000 to go off grid and live a simple electronic life. We only use high quality inverters and lithium ion batteries and are not willing to supply any other cheaper brands.
  • Batteries

  • Do I need a battery?

    We will sit with you to figure out if a battery is appropriate for your property and what size Battery you need. The average home needs anywhere between a 4.8kW Battery to a 14kW Battery?

  • How much do they cost?
    • We are only using lithium ion batteries that come with a 10 year warranty. The Tesla Powerwall 2 Battery stores 14kW and is big enough for most homes. They have a price tag of $16,500 installed and including GST (as of 11/08/19)
    • We also have smaller batteries (4.8kW) that start at around $10,000 installed.
    • All of our batteries come with emergency power supply (EPS) which means that you have power in a power cut.
  • I want solar and batteries – what will the cost be?
    • If you want solar and batteries, you’ll need enough panels to power your house during the day AND charge your battery. Therefore, you’ll need more panels.
    • On average, you will need between 14-22 panels and a battery. This ranges from $25 – $40,000 installed.
  • Hot water heat pumps

  • What’s a hot water heat pump?

    A hot water heat pump is more efficient and cheaper to heat water than a standard hot water cylinder and it can be installed outside, freeing up space in your hot water cylinder cupboard! Find out more about the Ecoefficient Hot Water Heat Pump system 

  • Why should I upgrade to a hot water heat pump?

    There are many reasons to upgrade to a hot water heat pump: you’ll reduce your power bill, enjoy high water pressure, have more hot water and gain space inside (as this is an exterior unit).

  • Will a hot water heat pump save me money?

    If you are a family of 4-5, a hot water heat pump will save you about $1,000-$1,500 per year on your power bill – approximately the same amount as the repayment. This means that for the life of your loan, installing a hot water heat pump can be a cost neutral decision and your monthly repayment will be close to what you are saving! Once your loan is paid back you’ll save even more. Of course, every situation is different so please get in touch to get a free quote.

  • How does a hot water heat pump work?

    A HWHP is a new and improved energy efficient way of heating the hot water in your house. Unlike older technology where the sun’s heat was used to heat the water on the roof, the HWHP uses natural energy from the air to efficiently heat the water. The pump attached to the top of the cylinder extracts heat from the atmosphere which increase’s the water temperature to 65 degrees – this requiring approximately one third the electricity required to achieve the same water temperature compared to a standard electric hot water cylinder.

  • How is a hot water heat pump installed?

    We’ll remove your existing hot water cylinder and install an outside, 300L mains (high) pressure cylinder/hot water heat pump. This will free up space in your cupboard inside giving you more storage inside.

  • What type of hot water heat pump does Ecoefficient use?

    We supply the Stiebel Eltron – a high quality German engineered hot water heat pump.