Review of Solar Success

REVIEW BY ALAN GRAY – EDITOR, EARTH GARDEN MAGAZINE

 

Solar Success

by Collyn Rivers

Author, Collyn Rivers, has covered just about every aspect of installing, designing, and understanding a home solar power system, whether it’s stand-alone or grid-connected.

Starting with a reality check on what runs from solar and what won’t, Collyn presents eight parts. Part 1 covers household appliances, Part 2 explains how systems work. Then he moves on to designing and scaling systems, installing the basics, the actual installation, example systems, finance and supply, and a final chapter on the author’s own home system, located on Collyn and Maarit’s stunning property overlooking the Indian Ocean just north of Broome. You won’t find a better book on these topics.

Collyn, as a former Bulletin and Australian Business technical editor, has the happy knack of getting technical information across to the average enthusiast in a straightforward and comprehensible way. Sprinkled throughout the book are little gems of information you’ll only get from an experienced Australian solar power user. For instance, I’m about to clean my 4.3 kW grid-connected array and learned that one teaspoon of detergent added to a bucket of water makes the ideal rinse: detergent has anti-static properties.

I was delighted that Collyn tackles a couple of contentious issues head on: manufacturers and installers continue to quote the output of their panels in wattages that are never attainable – even with MPPTs [Multiple Power Point Trackers]. Collyn points out that you’ll never get more than 80% of the array’s rated output in a grid-coonect system, and a disappointing 70% in a stand-alone system. He also points out that the average home can cut power usage by 50% or more, and this should be done BEFORE a system is designed. He claims that many installers show little interest in an energy efficiency drive when calculating power needs. Whether you want to simply understand the pros and cons of going solar, or like some people forgo the (now more elusive) rebate and use advanced skills to install your own system, this book will answer more questions than any other. Highly recommended.

Alan Gray Editor, Earth Garden magazine Sept-Nov 2008

The book has eight main parts, presented as 37 chapters. There is also reference and terminology sections. The book is fully indexed and is available directly from the publisher and through specialised suppliers.