Stories of Electrification

From communities across Aotearoa New Zealand
Your electrification story can keep the momentum going and help us to fight for a fairer, cheaper, cleaner and more resilient energy system. Whether you’ve already gone down that path or are just starting out on the journey, hearing how people are saving money and reducing their emissions gets us up in the morning.
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We just electrified a 1975 Mazda Bongo by replacing its engine and fuel tank with batteries, inverter, motor etc from a 2012 Nissan Leaf ... What would be very cool to see is parts from wrecked or end of life electric cars - both battery and inverter - used for photovoltaic installations. There are some one-off installations but a commercial offering would be a great combination of resources: sun, cars, brains.
Miriam M
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We just electrified a 1975 Mazda Bongo by replacing its engine and fuel tank with batteries, inverter motor etc from a 2012 Nissan Leaf. Rippletech is producing controllers designed for just his kind of project. They have already been used to control Nissan Leaf motors in a six-seater Yamaha buggy, a 1974 electric coffee roaster (most roasters are gas) and a hybrid pontoon boat. You can read more about the Mazda Bongo conversion here.

What would be very cool to see is parts from wrecked or end of life electric cars - both battery and inverter - used for photovoltaic installations. There are some one-off installations but a commercial offering would be a great combination of resources: sun, cars, brains. Thanks for all your efforts.

We have an 18 panel, 5Kw solar system, an EV and two e bikes. We just got out of gas inside by changing to induction hobs and electric rather than gas hot water. The house is now fossil fuel free!
Patrick M
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We like in Taranaki and have an 18 panel, 5Kw solar system, an EV and two e-bikes. We just got out of gas inside by changing to induction hobs and electric rather than gas hot water. The house is now fossil fuel free! I am a climate nutter and loathe Gentailers who are price gouging the population. I have said for years 'what do farmers have lots of? Roofs' The problem is the politicians and their rich mates who have no incentive to change. Congratulations, go to it!"

After a gas boiler burst in her roof, Lou Aitken decided to electrify her home and install a heat pump hot water system. Despite the best intentions, following through on them was surprisingly difficult. While her centralised gas radiators are relatively unique in New Zealand and therefore more expensive to retrofit than the average home, there are plenty of lessons in her piece for those wanting to follow suit. As she says: "We know that we need to electrify our homes, electrify the machines that fuel our lives. But the system needs to be supportive and ready now, not in 2030 and not by 2050. Our planet depends on it."
Lou Aitken
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Read about her electrification journey here.

Our figures speak for themselves. Solar does work, even this far south in Rakiura Stewart Island. And it isn’t rocket science. The issues of micro grids are well understood worldwide, and the kit is there to make it work. If we can make to work at 46deg 50 minutes south, then it's do-able over most, if not all of New Zealand.
Peter - Sails Ashore and Kowhai Lane
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I’ve just completed your survey after reading an article in our local Stewart Island News.

Our home came off grid on 9th November 2021 and I’ve occasionally blogged about our progress, what we’ve learned and how our thinking has changed.  

Probably the most important snippet is the return on investment of slightly better than 18% (this is with depreciation, as we run a Bed & Breakfast).

We have cut our diesel central heating usage to 20% of pre solar, and this is factored into the financials.

By the end of June we will have retired our elderly diesel SUV and replaced it with a 40Kw Nissan Leaf, which will be set up as vehicle-to-home [a technology that lets electric vehicles transfer energy to homes for backup power] and we hope this will remove any dependence on our diesel gen set.

Our figures speak for themselves. Solar does work, even this far south in Rakiura Stewart Island. And it isn’t rocket science. The issues of micro grids are well understood worldwide, and the kit is there to make it work. If we can make to work at 46deg 50 minutes south, then it's do-able over most, if not all of New Zealand.

Since installation the system has probably performed better than we anticipated. We didn't set out to be living off the grid but pretty much by accident that's where we ended up. We were ideally hoping to reduce our electricity bill but now we don't have an electricity bill at all... we recently had a major power outage and the house was fully powered right through the evening until the power was reconnected. So it's not just the savings, it's the fact that you can actually store power for when you really need it.
Wendy and David

This story was provided by Wānaka Solar

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A couple of years ago (when I was 80) I had a 7KWH solar system installed at my home and then installed a Tesla battery last year. I have fuelled my house and Tesla EV which is getting to almost 20,000kms for nothing other than the capital cost ($40K not including the EV) and currently have a $620 credit at Octopus my supplier. If I took that credit in cash it would more than pay for my Tesla fuelling away from home ... It's never too late to start.
Mike C
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Your report will be very useful in helping consumers understand how they can financially benefit from investing in the transition to Green Energy.

You may be interested that a couple of years ago (when I was 80) I had a 7KWH solar system installed at my home and then installed a Tesla battery last year. I have fuelled my house and Tesla EV which is getting to almost 20,000kms for nothing other than the capital cost ($40K not including the EV) and currently have a $620 credit at Octopus my supplier. If I took that credit in cash it would more than pay for my Tesla fuelling away from home.

The EV is largely charged using a Tesla App – “charge on Solar only” a very useful load shifting mechanism which gives a significantly better result than charging at off peak rates. I charge my Hot Water using a timer for around peak production - mid-day and sometimes when very cloudy I simply press a button to turn it off - again load shifting.

I am moving to a retirement village shortly and have a larger 10KWH system and Tesla battery underway there. My thinking is to future proof myself against the inevitable rise in Electricity prices. The buyer of my current home certainly paid a premium because of my solar – so that actually cost me nothing and easily provided the funding for the new installation. Looked at another way I am also just over two years towards my seven year payback. It's never too late to start.

It does seem to me that Government could usefully finance younger people into solar in much the same way that  many years ago State Advances helped my wife and I with our first home and in the process save some of the inevitable costs to the Nation of rising grid demand. In reality a loan and a win-win for user and  nation. Seven year finance would work using the savings for repayment.

Some modelling around the size of the fund necessary to achieve this using a range of annual installation numbers would clearly be useful to Government. State housing could also look at solar - charge somewhat higher rents and reduce/remove tenant power costs.

This would also appeal to those (like me) concerned about global warming.

Watch Mike speak to Newshub's Isobel Ewing about ensuring energy security at the two-minute mark here

We’re moving into winter and have had some cloudy and rainy days, but the system has still generated over 600kWh of power, nearly 35% more than we have used. Our first bill was only $33.67 for the entire month, and while this will increase in winter, the additional generation we will get in summer should more than cover this, meaning our power bills for the whole year should be close to $0. Without the solar our bills would have come to around $1780/ year, that means the original investment will be paid off in 7-8 years, less if we end up making a profit on what we sell back.
Joe L
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Respond Architects Associate Architect Joe Lyth has spent the past few years building his own Passive House Certified and Homestar v5 10* home and using it as a vehicle to educate the industry, explore new approaches, and evaluate whether it is possible to achieve an affordable, healthy, high performance home on a budget. His most recent project has been the addition of solar panels to his home, with a journey and outcomes that can help other projects.

We’re moving into winter and have had some cloudy and rainy days, but the system has still generated over 600kWh of power, nearly 35% more than we have used. Our first bill was only $33.67 for the entire month, and while this will increase in winter, the additional generation we will get in summer should more than cover this, meaning our power bills for the whole year should be close to $0. Without the solar our bills would have come to around $1780/ year, that means the original investment will be paid off in 7-8 years, less if we end up making a profit on what we sell back.

Read the full story here and watch a video of the build here.

After reading the book Electrify I decided to get an EV. One of my better decisions. Bye bye pollution, noise, petrol stations, mechanics, petro states… No turning back.
Sasha
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After reading the book Electrify I decided to get an EV. One of my better decisions. Bye bye pollution, noise, petrol stations, mechanics, petro states… No turning back. Just sorry there is no way for renters to instal solar panels.

Our power bill was $320 last year, with an EV!
Peter G
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Our power bill was $320 last year, with an EV! 1970's home, 3 occupants. We switched the gas oven and cooktop out for an induction cooktop/electric oven, and installed solar. Next up is electric hot water!

I am writing to you as a 71 year old pensioner with 8 solar panels on the roof. Your very well presented website is a breath of fresh air. So well done! I have sent your link to several others. ... I am considering moving off gas to all electric, including a hot water heat pump and induction stove.
Nick M
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I am writing to you as a 71 year old pensioner with 8 solar panels on the roof. I like to follow developments in renewables. Just to say, your very well presented website is a breath of fresh air. So well done! I have sent your link to several others.

I wish you every success in influencing government policy in future. I am sure one of the parties will take it all on board. 8 cents a kWh is not enough. Thanks for going to the trouble and expense of producing your peer reviewed report. It is very readable and credible.

I am considering moving off gas to all electric, including a hot water heat pump and induction stove.

Please carry on fighting the necessary fight.

Despite an increase of 62% in power consumption, we only spent $69 for the whole year.
Bec

This story was submitted by Think Solar

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My name is Bec, I'm an electrician in Queenstown and I had my solar system installed in 2021. Three main reasons for deciding to get solar installed was 1. Financial resilence, we've really managed to get our monthly outgoings down. Another reason for wanting to get solar was to really have that resilience against natural disasters with the grid going down. We live on the alpine fault so it's an ongoing threat but knowing that we've got the backup is amazing. And the third reason is for environmental reasons, I think that if you can do something to help fight against climate change then you really ought to be doing that.

This system is completely set and forget. Due to the amount of solar diversion, our self consumption is high and export to grid relatively low. Living rural, we've had a few 6+ hour power cuts since install, and the system has backed up our essential loads perfectly.
Tim H
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Our solar diversion system will automatically divert excess solar based on a configurable priority. First, the house batteries will charge, then the hot water is heated, then the EV’s will charge. Finally any excess is exported to the grid. The hot water and EV solar diverters will automatically use solar if available and off peak night rate if needed. This system is completely set and forget. Due to the amount of solar diversion, our self consumption is high and export to grid relatively low. Living rural, we've had a few 6+ hour power cuts since install, and the system has backed up our essential loads perfectly.

We have set up an all-electric café and record shop called The Record Keeper powered from solar. Our heating comes from storage and infra-red and we spin vinyl records on our turntable powered by solar.
Stephen D
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Congratulations on your Rewiring Aotearoa initiative. We have almost gone full circle with the work we did at Electricorp Marketing in the late 1980’s on gold medallion all-electric homes. The natural gas era was about to arrive. My work was on all-electric process heating and that is another story to write up because we were showing leadership in this all-electric approach in 1996. In fact, I have a complete set of Market Matters from the ECNZ days if you would like them for your library. I am pleased that I am not a lone voice any more in talking about all electric homes. I am now living in Geraldine in the South Island. We have set up an all-electric café and record shop called The Record Keeper powered from solarPV. Our heating comes from storage and infra-red. We spin vinyl records on our turntable powered by solarPV of course and talk to people about lowering carbon footprints compared to streaming music. We will soon be playing records made of eco-vinyl pressed in Auckland. My professional work is now taking me onto dairy farms and how a community can build more electricity resilience in our transition. We should be stressing the systems approach for our energy future. I am more than happy to keep in touch.

I built my house in 2019. I have solar panels, heat pump, hot water, and an electric car ... My electricity bills are between $10 and summer and $60 in winter. This cost includes charging my car.
Elaine D
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We create more electricity than we consume most of the year and export the rest to the grid. We are planning to get EV in the future and will be great to be able to power via our solar system.
Antonia R
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We have a large 1910s house in Wellington and two years ago installed roof top solar panels linked to the grid and with battery. We’d previously installed double glazing to try to minimise energy loss. We create more electricity than we consume most of the year and export the rest to the grid. We are planning to get EV in the future and will be great to be able to power via our solar system. Next on the list for this year is replacing gas stove with induction cooker. We’d love to also switch out our gas hot water and central heating and have had various companies come and quote. The main barriers are practicalities - eg we have  high ceilings and would need multiple/ large heat pumps to heat the space well,but there are no practical external walls to locate them. However, finding suppliers who are informed and on board with decarbonising and able to offer solutions is also a challenge - eg a number of hot water companies seem to steer you back to gas and can’t seem to understand why anyone would want to switch.

We're a young couple who installed solar soon after we moved into our 1960s home nine years ago. I've been commuting by EV for six years and together these decisions have removed our energy bills entirely.
Steve C
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We're a young couple who installed solar soon after we moved into our 1960s home nine years ago. I've been commuting by EV for six years and together these decisions have removed our energy bills entirely. I hope more households can enjoy a similar level of economic freedom so it's great to have Rewiring Aotearoa educating and encouraging similar moves for the good of all of NZ.

We built a new home in Wanaka. 20 Solar panels Tesla powerwall, heat pump for hot water and underfloor heating, a/c in upstairs rooms and an electric car which we charge for free!!!
Carl H
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We built a new home in Wanaka. 20 Solar panels Tesla powerwall, heat pump for hot water and underfloor heating, a/c in upstairs rooms and an electric car which we charge for free!!!  After 1 year we have generated 11MW and used 12MW and purchased almost no peak electricity. There has been 4 power cuts in town that we have not noticed. We receive 17cents per kw but going down to 15cents through Octopus and off peak rate going from 21cents to 23cents. Oh for a fairer system.

From 1st January 2024 to 17th March 2024 the average cost per kWh was (minus) -$0.103. Currently in credit to $86 for the year-to-date. So far, I'm very pleased with the decision to install PV panels and battery back-up.
Mike S
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I'm on my second Nissan Leaf EV. I also own a diesel VW campervan which is used fairly frequently thoughout the year. House is fully electric except for LPG cooktop. Water heating is via water solar collector on roof plus EcoDan heat pump which also heats two hot-water radiators in the living area of the house. No other space-heating.In January 2022 I contracted New Plymouth-based company Natural Technologies Ltd., to install 22 x SunPower SPR-P3-380W solar panels on the roof of my shed. These panels have integrated micro-inverters. Hence all cabling is 240V AC, not high voltage DC. Cost around $25,000.At this time I changed my electricity supplier from Meridian to Our Energy Ltd as they have a much better arrangement for selling surplus power to other Our Energy customers on the Taranaki Powerco network. Buy and sell at $0.12 per kWh.In April 2022, I started monitoring the performance on a speadsheet. From 1st April 2022 to 31st December 2023 the average cost per kWh was $0.102. In December 2023 I contracted Natural Technologies again to install 4 x 5kWh Enphase batteries. Cost around $33,000. From 1st January 2024 to 17th March 2024 the average cost per kWh was (minus) -$0.103. Currently in credit to $86 for the year-to-date. So far, I'm very pleased with the decision to install PV panels and battery back-up.