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Off-grid solar solution gives power to Bellingen Shire couple’s sustainability dream

Leonardo da Vinci called it early: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

On a former cattle property, surrounded by rainforest and towering eucalypts in a secluded pocket of the Bellingen Shire, Matthew and Roslyn Cameron are steadily creating their version of simplicity.

“It’s the seclusion of the place, it’s clean and quiet and out of the way with no industry; we were looking for somewhere peaceful,” shared Matthew about the 200 acres of fertile land purchased 10 years ago on the Kennaicle Creek Road.

With seclusion came great planning and effort to create a sustainable sanctuary on the property in preparation for the couple’s permanent relocation from Brisbane where they specialised in developing custom software for government and the corporate world.

“We’ve put in all the infrastructure; roads, water and power, sheds and built a guest house. The main house is still to come.

“We’ve installed satellite NBN so we’ll still do some contract work; just what we can do remotely.”

One of the couple’s first priorities was organising the property’s off-grid power source, prompting a great deal of research into solar and battery storage technology, and this is where Care Solar Solutions entered the picture.

“I needed a solar system that was going to be adaptable,” explained Matthew. “The existing off-grid solar systems used gel lead acid batteries which are very difficult to expand on. I wanted a system that was going to be more adaptable and robust so I wanted to use the lithium-ion batteries.”

Matthew and Roslyn’s complete solution consists of a 6kWh solar PV system (24 panels), a 10kWh LG Chem RESU battery, paired with an SMA Sunny Island 8.0H off-grid inverter and Sunny Boy home management system.

“On a sunny day, we’re using about one hour of our energy production and we’ve got another five in our pocket to do whatever we want with. In extreme conditions involving significant cloud cover for multiple days we do use the back-up generator to recharge the system.

“We may not need more panels when we build the main house, we probably will need another battery; the system is working so far beyond my expectations I don’t think I’m going to need to add much to it, but we’ve installed a system we can double up if we need to.”

The cost of installing a CSS package was half of the amount quoted to connect the property to the grid.

“It’s a very lean system which reduces the cost,” said Matthew.

“I’m a systems engineer and the golden rule of engineering is simplicity.”

It’s been Matthew’s long-held dream to live on a country property and live sustainably.

“We’ve been experimenting on the guest house with green products, so it’s been built using the best available green technology,” explained Matthew. “It uses very little energy; we’ve used things like polystyrene concrete bricks, magnesium oxide boards instead of gyprock and travertine tiles, which are good for thermal regulation... We can cool the home with natural convection.

“I love Australia and for me I would like to leave it in a better state then I found it, for this property our main aim is to build a lifestyle that’s in harmony with nature and works productively with nature.

“We have an organic farm next door and the people in the Nambucca Shire and Bellingen have similar values to us; we live in a beautiful area and want to take care of it.”

To view Matthew and Roslyn’s complete solar solution https://player.vimeo.com/video/229670128?autoplay=1


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