Welcome to Stewart Island & Sails Ashore +64 3 219 1151 tait@sailsashore.co.nz

Sails Ashore is now running on Solar Power

Over two months ago we commissioned our new Solar Power system installed by Tansley Electrical from Invercargill  see “Sails Ashore is Solar Powered”  We have chosen to go completely “Off Grid”. although we still do have a switched connection. We’ll cut that off very soon. The plant has 16 panels on the roof, giving us 7 kw, with 6kw maximum from the inverter. As well as supplying direct to the house this also supplies a 24 kw Lithium Ion battery bank, which with it’s own inverter supplies power when the panels aren’t producing at night or on a dark day.  Up to a combined maximum of 12 kw….

The last two months have been something of a  a learning curve as we figure out how to get the best out of the system.  What we’ve found is that with just Iris & I in the house, the battery drops around 30% over night. With guests the drop is around 40%. On a clear sunny morning the system starts producing about 0700, and by 0930 the battery will be over 95%. We then turn on an electric element in our hot water system, which allows us to turn off the diesel furnace. Turning it off and diesel back on when the battery drops below 95% full. At present we have to do this manually, but the system will soon be “tweaked” to do this switching automatically.

I’ve been carefully logging the central heating / domestic hot water furnace “on” time and it looks like with just Iris & I in the house we’ll cut our diesel use in the summer to around 12% of previous consumption.

This is of course mid summer, and winter days are much shorter. But last winter I ran a homemade solar logger and when looking at what it told me, and comparing it to the output curves of the solar system now running it looks as if an addition of 3kw to our roof panels will allow us to operate complete with water heating in winter as well as in summer. So we’ve just asked Tansley’s to do this, and in addition we will put 5 kw of “Grid Tied” panels on Kowhai Lane. Grid tied means extra electricity produced will be sold to the local power company, and Kowhai Lane will purchase power at night or on dark days. Thus when the house has no guests it will be helping lower diesel consumption for the Islands power system


Installing the last panel

The battery and electronics shed
Lithium Ion batteries have been known to go on fire, so a separate shed seemed a good idea

Sails Ashore will be completely off grid. It does make us a little vulnerable to long dark winter days, but our system allows connecting to an auxiliary generator, which we have. The figures we have indicate that at most we might run that 3 or 4 hours per month in the winter time. With the correct auxiliary generating system this can be automatic as well.

This is all a considerable capital investment, and I did a fair amount of analysis of our logger data before we committed. But so far the figures exceed our expectations, and we are looking at a return of around 12 % on capital investment. And that is at todays fuel and power costs. Personally I don’t see these going anywhere but up in the foreseeable future.

And, as I say to our guests …. smell that lovely clean aroma of “Home Made Renewable Electricity”

We have links to all our Solar Power Posts etc on ourSolar Power & Environmentpage

This pan full was the biggest of the shore, and was absolutely delicious baked.
Two meals for the two of us.

This is the whole shore, less the one in the pan
The longest is 18cm long

The second largest 1.256 kg


Iris vegie garden is in full flourish. We’ve had a dry summer starting in Early December, and I’ve carted water to make up the short fall for both vegetables and our lawn.

It’s obviously been worthwhile, as yesterday I dug the first of a new row and from one shore took 5 kg. The biggest was over a kg. As Iris said, a combination of great compost, warm sunny days, and the watering. These spuds are Red Fantasy a new variety for us. They are a lovely buttery gold spud, great boiled with a knob of butter and spring onions or as a baked spud