Review of Solar Success

Solar Success by Collyn Rivers



Author, Collyn Rivers, has covered just about every aspect of installing, designing, and understanding a home solar power system, whether it’s stand-alone or grid-connected.

Starting with a reality check on what runs from solar and what won’t, ex-research-engineer/writer/publisher Collyn Rivers covers, in depth, how to reduce the existing energy consumption – and includes actual examples of often dramatic reductions. Further sections cover items from fridges to swimming pools – and how solar systems work. He then moves on to discussing the design and scaling of systems, installing the basics, the actual installation, example systems, finance and supply.

The final chapter is about the author’s own home system, located on Collyn and Maarit’s stunning property (built in 2000 and sold in 2010) overlooking the Indian Ocean just north of Broome. See Our All Solar House.

Coconut well from air jpg

The property (north of Broome – north-western Australia). In the background is a tidal lagoon – and the Indian ocean. The entire property ran 100% from solar.

The book also covers his three previously-owned solar equipped off-road RVs. You won’t find a better book on these topics.

Collyn, as a former The Bulletin and Australian Business technical editor, has the happy knack of getting technical information across in a straightforward and comprehensible way. Sprinkled throughout the book are little gems of information you’ll only get from an experienced Australian solar power user. For instance, I’m about to clean my 4.3 kW grid-connected array and learned that one teaspoon of detergent added to a bucket of water makes the ideal rinse: detergent has anti-static properties.

I was delighted that Collyn tackles a couple of contentious issues head on: manufacturers and installers continue to quote the output of their panels in wattages that are never attainable – even with MPPTs [Multiple Power Point Trackers]. Collyn points out that you’ll rarely get more than 80% of the array’s rated output in a grid-connect system, and a disappointing 70% in a stand-alone system.

He also points out that the average home can cut power usage by 50% or more (and describes one of close to nine times!) and emphasises this should be done BEFORE a system is designed. He states that many installers show little interest in an energy efficiency drive when calculating power needs.

Whether you want to simply understand the pros and cons of going solar, or like some people forgo the (now more elusive) rebate and use advanced skills to install your own system, this book will answer more questions than any other. Highly recommended.

Alan Gray
Earth Garden magazine.

(The above review of Solar Success is of the first edition, the second edition (2014) is a  major update).

Published by and available from Successful Solar Books,  (email [email protected], or phone 02 9997 1052). The book is fully indexed and has comprehensive reference and terminology sections. The price is $42.50 incl GST. It is available directly from the publisher and through specialised suppliers.

Other books by Collyn Rivers include – The Camper Trailer Book, The Campervan & Motorhome Book, Caravan & Motorhome Electrics and  Solar That Really Works! (that covers all aspects of solar in boats, camper trailers, campervans, caravans and motor homes).