Is now the right time to go solar?

Will solar power provide a better return than investing in the share market? Let’s take a look and find out.


I’ve been toying with going solar ever since I became a home owner 12 years ago. But I have never been convinced it was a good investment, well that all changed today. We’ve finally gone solar, and I’ll show you why.

My assumptions as at September 2017.

It costs $10,500 for 4.5kw of north west facing solar panels, and a solar power diverter installed in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Amount of solar power generated and consumed as calculated by the energywise solar calculator 3,090kw per year.

Price per kw $0.25 from current electricity provider.

3,090kw x $0.25 equals $772 of solar power per year.

By diverting excess solar power to heat our hot water cylinder, I estimated we will use an extra 1,000kw of our solar electricity per year.

1,000kw x $0.25 equals $250 of excess solar power heating our hot water per year.

$772 + $250 equals $1,022 of solar electricity generated and used per year.

Solar vs investing

$1022 dived by $10,500 equals 9.73% return on investment. Compared with a 7% average return from the share market, this is looking very good.

But wait it gets even better with the 0% financing and no repayments for 21 months being offered by select solar installers.

Instead of paying $10,500 up front for the solar install, say we take the finance deal and invested the $10,500 for 21 months.

$10,500 x 7%(long term average share market return) equals $735 return per year, divided by 12 months equals $61.25 per month x 21 months equals $1,286 earned during the interest free period.

$10,500 – $1,286 gives us the new cost of $9,214.

Let’s not forget we’ve also had the benefit of 21 months of solar power generation without paying a cent.

$1,022 of solar power generated per year dived by 12 months equals $85 per month, x 21 months equals $1,788 of free power.

$9,214 – $1,788 gives us a new price of $7,426 for our solar system.

The best return on your money

Thats right, you can get a 4.5kw solar system installed with no government subsidy for less than $7,500.

So what’s our new annual return on investment? $1,022 dived by $7,426 equals $13.76% return on investment per year, every year for the next 25+ years.

Expect regular updates as we monitor the solar systems performance and back this article up with real data.

Warning to all readers, beware of no interest deals, read the fine print and always repay in full amount before the interest free period is over.

Choosing your free hour of power

For all Electric Kiwi customers out there, here’s how to view your electricity usage to choose best time for your free hour of power.

  1. Log in to your account
  2. Scroll down to “Analyse your usage between”
  3. By default you’ll see last weeks power usage
  4. Now change the date range to be a specific day that’s representative of your average power use
  5. You’ll get a nice easy to read graph that breaks down your power usage in 30 minute chunks
  6. Find the off peak hour in that you used the most electricity, and set it as your free hour of power
  7. Now up your electricity savings by moving any additional power consuming activities to this time slot

Not an Electric Kiwi customer? Get you free hour of power and $50 credit  at www.electrickiwi.co.nz.

Disclaimer, I also receive $50 credit if you sign up from the link above. 

Got your own tips on how to get the most out of the free hour of power? Let us know in the comments below. 

Top 10 tips for selling on Facebook Marketplace

Learn how to sell on Facebook Marketplace with these ten tips.

Facebook Marketplace is available in Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, UK and the USA. Thanks to Facebook’s large user base, it’s one of the few real rivals to the local classified sites like GumTree, Craigslist, Kijiji and even the established online auction sites like eBay and TradeMe. 

It’s accessible to all Facebook users in your area, it’s fast to create a listing, and there are no fees. 

But unlike selling on auctions sites, classified listing require a slightly different approach. The basics are the same.

1. Use the RRP as a price anchor. Facebook automatically calculates and displays the discount between your listing price and the retail price to entice buyers. 

2. Take good photos. Try to avoid photos taken at night with your cellphone that end up super grainy. Take your photos during the day with lots of natural light. Avoid placing your items in direct sunlight. Make a space around the items so it’s clear what is for sale.

3. Use emotive and technical language in your descriptions to connect with different buyer personalities. Emotive can be as simple as a couple of key words thrown in like beautiful, stunning, reliable. Technical can be as simple as the objects dimensions, colour, appropriate ages, model number. Don’t go overboard with listing every spec. Just what is relevant for today’s buyer.

4. Be realistic about what you own is worth. Search for similar items on Facebook market place and auction sites to understand both the asking prices and sale prices. Understand retail shops typically run 100% markup, so if what your selling is new expect no more than the wholesale price (50% of retail). If it’s used but in good condition expect 25%. If it’s used, but imperfect 10-15%. 

Now onto the differences​. With classified listings you have to be more hands on with negotiating the price and closing the deal.

5. Understand buyers on Facebook Marketplace are looking for a bargain. Nearly all buyers will attempt to negotiate on the price. A negotiation should be win win for both the buyer and seller. Adjust your listing price up by 20% so you have room to negotiate to a lower price and still get to a “win win” solution. 

6. When negotiating with a potential buyer, close the deal by seeking confirmation from the potential buyer.

Hi. Yes I can do $80 pickup for the kids table and chairs. Please confirm you will be buying them and I’ll send through my address details.

7.  Keep in touch with other buyers who expressed interest. Once you have received confirmation from the first buyer let the other interested buyers know it’s on hold. 

Hi. I have someone buying it tomorrow morning. If they don’t show, I’ll let you know. Thanks.

This is to ensure you have a good relationship with the other buyers encase the deal falls through.

8. Be patient. Unlike an online auction there is no deadline for the sale. If there’s no interest after three weeks consider dropping the price, or trying to sell elsewhere. 

9. Don’t inconvenience yourself when arranging pickup times. You will get no shows. There’s no point getting mad about it, just move on to the next buyer. One way to combat no shows is to offer to deliver the goods. 

10. Be a good marketplace citizen and mark the item as sold once you have the money in your hands.

Is there anything special you do when selling on Facebook market place? Let us know in the comments. 

Top 10 TradeMe selling tips

There’s many ways you can approach selling on TradeMe. The ten tips below intend to guarantee your items get sold, while also getting the best price by attracting as many buyers as possible.

1. Use a price anchor. Either have a high buy now price, or state the retail price.

2. Create buyer urgency by generating competing bids. The easiest way to achieve this is to run a $1 reserve the auction. This may seem risky, but if the item your selling is in demand and you follow the rest of the tips below, you’ll get the market price. Everyone bidding knows it will be sold, it will be gone, and they may not get the opportunity again.

3. Pay to promote your auction. I always pay the $0.55 gallery listing, and for goods I believe will sell for over $50, I pay the $3.95 combo. Attracting impulse buyers is a great way to get extra bids in to help drive up the price. Don’t be a cheap in the hope of saving a few cents.

4. End the auction at a sensible time. 11 pm on a Friday, or midday Saturday are not good times. I normally target 8-9 pm on Monday or Thursday. If you are not normally home at these times to start the auction, pay the $0.25 so you can pick the exact closing time. Run the auction for a at least week, to ensure you get exposure to as many buyers as possible.

5. Take good photos. Try to avoid photos taken at night with your cellphone that end up super grainy. Take your photos on the weekend, during the day with lots of natural light. Avoid placing your items in direct sunlight. Make a space around the items so it’s clear what is for sale.

6. Use emotive and technical language in your descriptions to connect with different buyer personalities. Emotive can be as simple as a couple of key words thrown in like beautiful, stunning, reliable. Technical can be as simple as the objects dimensions, colour, appropriate ages. Don’t go overboard with listing every spec. Just what is relevant for today’s buyer.

7. Put a shipping price on it. www.passtheparcel.co.nz is great for calculating shipping costs and avoiding unnecessary errands to the post office. For furniture and bulky items charge a reasonable rate, but restrict delivery to you own city. Often the eventual buyer wants to pickup anyway, but it’s getting the buyers who can’t interested and bidding up the price. And if I do end up delivering $30 is well worth an hour of my time.

8. When selling lots of items for pickup, email the auction winners a one hour time slot to pickup on the weekend say 10-11 am Saturday, and then be open to other times by arrangement. My best result was having six people turn up within that slot. This can save you a lot of time.

9. Sell items individually. Just because you liked having a bookcase that matches the coffee table, doesn’t mean other people will. When it comes time to sell you limit the number of willing buyers by bundling both into one auction.

10. Be realistic about what you own is worth. Add similar items to your watchlist, and see what they actually sell for. Understand retail shops typically run 100% markup, so if what your selling is new expect no more than the wholesale price (50% of retail). If it’s used but in good condition expect 25%. If it’s used, but imperfect 10-15%. Ultimately all I’m interested in is getting the market price, and following the tips above seems to get me there.

Got your own tips for selling on TradeMe? Share them in the comments.