Solar panels keeping the work site going

Builder Richy Kvick (left)  and electrician  James Hardisty  with the solar panels at Blanket Bay...
Builder Richy Kvick (left) and electrician James Hardisty with the solar panels at Blanket Bay which are providing the energy for power tools being used for a house build. Photo by Rory McLean

Solar panels positioned on a hillside in Blanket Bay have overcome the need for a noisy generator to power up tools being used for a house build.

Dunedin electrician and alternative energy enthusiast James Hardisty, who installed the system, sees it as a good alternative to a fuel-powered generator on sites where there is no electricity available from the national grid.

A conventional generator used for power tools either had to be stopped and started or left going all the time.

Builder Richy Kvick said he had no difficulties with the system and found it more convenient than stopping and starting a generator. Mr Hardisty said he expected the system would function in the winter as the site was a sunny one.

Overnight, batteries stored any energy not used so ‘‘ you should be able to come here any time of the day or night and still have power''.

On bigger builds, he would use three times as many panels, he said.

Mr Hardisty (35) is the chief executive of Control Focus Ltd, an industrial automation and controls company whose interests also include solar technology, smart homes, electric vehicles and battery management.

One of his plans is to build a trailer with solar panels which could be manoeuvred into the best position for sun and used by people who needed power at gatherings such as A&P shows. If it had three-phase power it could also be used to power an air compressor or a pump.

Although his initial plan was for a hire trailer, if there was interest, the firm could build them and sell them, he said.

Experienced at converting conventional vehicles to electric power, he is getting closer to achieving his goal of having an electric electrician's van.

Battery technology was improving all the time, extending the distance which a vehicle could travel on one charge.

He was particularly keen to have a vehicle which could make it from Dunedin to Christchurch on one charge.

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