Thinking about electrifying your home?
We asked local renewable energy expert, Mick Harris, Managing Director of EnviroGroup in North Coburg, to share his answers to commonly asked questions:
Do I need a plumber or an electrician, or both?
Mick: You need both. A licenced plumber is required to disconnect your gas appliances and manage new electric hot water connections. An electrician is also needed to handle the wiring and electrical components associated with disconnections and new connections. Often one will know the other, though, so the plumber you hire can organise her/his electrician to do the work, or vice versa.
Do I need to upgrade my meter?
Mick: Not necessarily. Many meter upgrades have already been undertaken by electrical distributors throughout Merri-bek. However, a very small number of meters may still require upgrading. Your electrician will advise you if a meter upgrade is required, and they’ll usually organise the process. Also, meter upgrades are paid for the electrical distributor, not the customer, so it won’t come out of your pocket. However, if you have two meters and they need to be consolidated into one meter then you will be charged. Your electrician can organise it.
Do I need to upgrade my switchboard?
Mick: Switchboards can need upgrading when going all-electric because some of your new electric appliances will draw more power and need separate circuits. For example, electric hot water heat pumps require extra circuits, as can air conditioning units, solar and some induction cooktops. Look at your switchboard to see if there’s room for more circuits. If there’s space for three or four new circuits you should be fine; if not, you may need an upgrade.
Do I need to increase my power supply to the home?
Mick: The power supply runs through the power line from your house to the power pole in the street. In many cases your existing power supply will be fine but if you’re thinking about having an electric vehicle charger, you might need to upgrade it. This requires the electrical distributor to come out and upgrade wiring from the street to your house, and your electrician to do other work including a switchboard upgrade. This can be organised by your electrician and can cost $2000 or more. A maximum demand calculation can be performed by your electrician to help determine your energy needs and what system upgrades you might need to future-proof your home.
Does my house need to be rewired?
Mick: Generally not. The need to rewire is usually not due to going all-electric but because old wiring may pose a fire risk. Older dwellings with old cables often need rewiring, but newer wiring may just need supplementing with additional cables to meet your increased power needs.
What is the best order to switch appliances over to electric?
Mick: Whichever is most convenient for you or in the order that your appliances need upgrading. For hot water it’s a good idea to plan ahead and replace a system before it fails. Gas hot water systems usually last ten to 15 years so you could take a look at how old your current system is to get an idea of when you might need to replace it. Keeping an eye on available government rebates can also help you plan your switch and keep costs down.
Should I get the gas meter removed from the property?
Mick: If you’ve gone all electric, you can request that your gas distributor remove the gas meter from the property – meter abolishment. If you opt to leave the meter on site, but just have it the supply disconnected, you may still be charged daily service charges, even if the supply is disconnected. Gas providers are somewhat reluctant to undertake meter abolishment but they do do it, so call them and ask about the process.
What questions should I be asking my supplier/installer?
Mick: Establish what costs you will have early in the process with your electrician so that you can gauge if your switchboard and power supply is adequate to handle your future energy needs or if three-phase power supply is needed. Your electrician can perform a maximum demand calculation to help establish your home’s needs.
I’m considering a hot water heat pump – should I get a ‘split system’ or an ‘all in one’?
Mick: This depends on the quality of unit you choose, and the availability of space. Generally, the best units are split system. They are more energy efficient and quiet to run but cost more upfront, from $4,000 – $6,000 per unit. An all-in-one system can be ideal for smaller spaces, are often adequate for most home and more affordable at $2,000 – $3,000, but are noisier and less energy efficient. Rebates for heat pump hot water can be a little complex. They can reduce or increase the price. Do your research, select a reputable installer and buy the best you can afford.
If I purchase an electric vehicle, how do I charge it at home or when I’m out?
Mick: EV’s can be charged at home or at charging stations. At home, charging can be as simple as connecting to a standard power point, but the time it takes to fully charge your car can be very long. To improve charging time, you can also install a dedicated home charging station rated at 7.2 kW (approx. 40kms per hour) right up to 22 kW (approx.100km per hour) if you have three phase power. Please check with your EV manufacturer on the charging specifications and included cables for your particular EV model.