Green Living

Shelley Ferguson investigates if solar power is the right fit for a busy family

Article by Homes to Love

Shelley Ferguson is renovating her house and knows she wants solar panels – but she’s not sure how they work. She finds out if they’re the right fit for her home and busy family life

Shelley Ferguson investigates if solar power is the right fit for a busy family

I reckon home renovation is a bit like travel – you know where you want to go, but how and when you get there and what it costs is a journey in itself. Yes, I know I want HRV solar at home. But is it right for our lifestyle, what is the process of getting it, and how long will this all take? It was time for some serious investigation.

My friendly HRV Solar home expert Leon popped over for an initial assessment to check out the size of our home, how we use it, who lives there and how much of our power we can hope to generate via solar. My main concern was that all the lovely warm fuzzy solar energy would be generated in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak, and that it would be un-lovingly cast aside because we wouldn’t be at home to use it  (I already have a needy cat – I don’t want a needy solar system too). And we live in Auckland where the weather has major mood swings, so I was curious to find out if solar would benefit us on rainy days and in winter?

Leon explained that in actual fact the system generates energy all day long and even in low light, bad or cold weather (which totally makes sense to anyone who’s been sunburnt on an overcast afternoon). Even if it’s pouring with rain the sky isn’t black, which means the HRV solar system is still able to harness some light to produce clean electricity. My hubby Steve is home until lunchtime each day, which means he can put the dishwasher or washing machine on then rather than at night. If Steve’s memory proves unreliable (cough), we can also use timers on smart appliances so they’re using energy at peak production times.

Shelley’s home

After peppering him with loads of questions (he must have been exhausted afterwards), I couldn’t help lament to Leon about not being able to save any of the leftover energy to use later like you do with a packet of biccies. Turns out you can (Leon really does have an answer for everything). If Steve’s memory fails or I’m useless at appliance management, or if we’re drawing down more energy than we’re outputting and want to use it at night, HRV Solar can install a fancy battery (made with Tesla technology don’t you know).

Installation is pretty simple too. Panels placed on the roof use an inverter to convert the light into electricity, and then the meterboard sends power to appliances and lights.  Apparently our switchboard is ancient (I prefer the word vintage) so it will need to be upgraded, and our meterboard will need to be swapped over to a two-way meter by our electricity company. But that’s basically it – Leon reckons installation will only take a day.

Once he had a good grasp on how the system will work in our home, Leon was off to look at our home via satellite technology (as you do). He then provided his recommendation – as our home is big and busy with a monthly power bill of around $350 (eek!), his recommendation was 20 panels. The recommendation and quote was delivered into our inbox and voila, we were ready to go. You can find out how much solar energy your home could be generating with HRV’s online solar calculator.

Installation is in a couple of weeks so I’ll let you know how it goes, how it looks and how it works. In the meantime, head to and do your homework if you’re curious about how the system could work for you.

For more information on installing solar power visit:

Home experts are just a click away