Solar pioneer David Mills’ life in the burbs – with PV, two EVs, and battery storage

Solar pioneer David Mills says if he can do it, almost anyone can. And by doing “it”, he means powering his suburban house and his two electric vehicles largely through rooftop solar, and storing excess output in battery storage.

For the last two years, Mills  has been been working on integrating solar PV with battery storage, a hot water system and two EVs – a Tesla Model S85 and a BMW i3 – all in a conventional grid-connected home.

And, he admits, it is not a particularly energy efficient home, or even very well placed for solar. His home is angled about 45°C from the north, and one of his two solar arrays is shaded by trees, particularly in winter.

The house – built in 1921 – has no special seals, window coatings or double glazing. In other words, it is not particularly energy efficient. And it is not exactly low usage either. Apart from the demands of the EVs, there are five adults and three of them are young “profligate” users of electricity.

But here is his cheerful and re-assuring message, particularly for the many people in the suburbs looking at how they can reduce their soaring electricity bills.

“If our home can do it, then any home can do it.”

Mills estimates that if solar PV was being installed today, then almost 2/3 of the energy could be supplied for this house and the two EVs. Were the site less shaded by trees, it had better insulation, and if higher quality solar PV panels were included, then solar could provide a lot more.

“The impact of storage is also likely to be significant,”

he says.

“It can almost eliminate peak and shoulder period imports on many days, even in rainy and cloudy weather if the storage draws from the grid during off-peak periods. Such storage should make the grid more stable, especially in hot weather as experienced in eastern Australia in February.”

Read more: One Step Off The Grid

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