Solar installer Brendan Laidlaw (EnviroGroup)
How much did the contestants know about solar?
Most had little interest in solar, because they were so busy with what they were doing. Wombat lives in a container, he’s an off-grid guy, so he was very interested in the technology and would ask me questions.
What do you want viewers to know about solar?
I hope viewers take away from seeing The Block that solar is a really good idea. Even straight solar without a battery, you’d be stupid not to have it. It’s just money in the bank at 10 per cent – you’re not getting that in the bank, but you will get that sort of saving, at least, with solar panels on your roof. If you spend $5000 on a solar system, you’ll get at least a $500 saving on your electricity a year. Most people will pay off a solar system in six or seven years.
What did you think of being on the show?
I enjoyed the challenge. It was high-intensity, you had to be going flat out all the time and communicate with 15 different people at all times to be sure you kept up. You might have a two to three-hour window to get what you needed doing, then stand there for that long and do nothing.
Tell us about the system
I installed five RACV Solar systems on the site, each building got its own individual system. It’s a hybrid system, designed to take the power you’d normally send to the grid during the day and store it in a battery to use later at night.
The export rate is 11 cents per kilowatt hour, buying back at a minimum 25 cents. If you can take the power you would have exported and put it in a battery, that allows you to consume more of the energy you’re generating on your rooftop.
We installed SolarEdge and LG, they’re premium products. LG Neons are up with the most efficient panels on the market, and Solar Edge is a high-quality inverter.
I can drill down to see what each panel is producing at any given time. You’ve got an app to check where your energy is being used, how much you’re consuming, how much is in your battery.
It’s a really nice-looking install – the panels are black, on a black roof, they almost vanished into the rooftop.
Why is solar important?
You shouldn’t build a new house without solar. It needs to become like your hot-water system, your internet connection, those normal utilities you have at your house. Energy independence will become a standard feature of every house, especially with batteries. It just needs to be normal and seamless, people shouldn’t have to think about it too much.