This Off-Grid Home Expects a 7.5 Year Payback on Solar Energy Storage Investment

by Andrew Meyer
November 25, 2015

Steve Madson just made a major statement.

The Australian utility lobby has said it would take 30 years for a suburban home to payback the solar energy and battery storage investment it would take to get off the grid. Steve Madson, the head of Australian company Country Solar, just proved them wrong. Way wrong.

Madson paid an all in cost of around 25K to install 7kW of rooftop solar, hooked up to a 10.8kWh home battery storage system. Where he lives in north Queensland, that’s enough to take his home entirely off grid. The payback time? 7.5 years.

The home battery unit Madson installed is one of the first of its kind in the world, but Madson is convinced that as as more customers--his customers--see him lead by example, he’ll be getting inquiries left and right.

Madson doesn’t anticipate any problems with going off the grid. He predicts that his 6.5kW of rooftop solar photovoltaics will produce more than 24.5kWh of electricity each day in the winter, with a jump to 38kWh per day in the summer. This is more than enough to cover the 18-30kWh of electricity Madson’s household uses.

Does he have to change his lifestyle to stay within his energy storage limits? Not at all. “I have a swimming pool, an aquaponics vegetable garden, [and] we are in a hot humid environment, so the house is air-conditioned with inverter split system air cons,” Madson says. He wasn’t about to give any of it up. Now he doesn’t have to.

Air conditioning is popular in Madson’s hometown of North Queensland, and has contributed to peak electricity demand in the early evenings. Though solar usage has been on the rise in Australia for years, it wasn’t able to ease the peak demand of AC units in the evening because the sun was on its way out. To solve this problem, Madson started looking into solar energy storage options, like home batteries.

Fixed charges in Australia have been on the rise for years, and like utility rates worldwide, there are no signs that rate hikes will slow. Madson took the opportunity to stop throwing his money at the power companies, and invest in a home battery energy storage system.

“With our electricity prices, these battery storage systems are already delivering fantastic returns,” Madson says.

Madson is loving the advantages of his solar-plus-storage system. The rainy season is on its way, and Madson is already experiencing his first taste of blackout protection, as many of the suburban homes in his area are experiencing power grid outages. As an experiment, Madson drained his battery to see how much charge he could put in on a rainy, overcast day. The result was unbelievable.

“Right now, my pool pump is running, two fridges and all standby equipment are on - and my battery is charging, and has come up from 6 percent to 18 percent in the pouring rain!” All this before 10am. Madson reported at the end of the day that his battery storage system had charged to 65 percent, even in the rain and cloudy weather. Madson supposes that if he would have shut down his pool pump, his battery would have been fully charged.

Steve Madson is happily living as an example to all of the power grid customers who are on the fence about solar home batteries. It’s likely that the trend will catch on, and Madson will find himself in the middle of a solar energy storage community even before his 7.5 year pay-back time has come to an end.

Right now, my pool pump is running, two fridges and all standby equipment are on - and my battery is charging, and has come up from 6 percent to 18 percent in the pouring rain!

Steve Madson, Country Solar CEO