Humans of Solar: Manfred Schneider

14 Sep, 2021

We speak with everyday Tasmanians who are living off sunshine.

by Manfred Schneider

I have traveled around the world extensively and experienced the devastation of nature; the smog in Los Angeles and in Moscow and in London. I was involved in shipping for 18 years in Western Australia, in Port Hedland for iron ore, and then for 18 years in Mackay, for coal. The change from exporting iron ore to exporting metallurgical and steaming coal represented some challenges to my acceptance of scientific evidence of global warming and encouraged me in my personal life to strive at reducing my personal carbon footprint. I was in Germany in 2005, riding a bike along the Danube River and I came across huge solar farms and that excited my interest.

My wife Maggie and I had 36 years in the tropics after moving here from Germany in 1966. We came to Tasmania in 2001 and bought a house with the purpose of settling here for our end of life. Each winter we kept traveling in our caravan on the mainland. I had been impressed with the solar uptake. But, here in Tasmania, I was disgusted with the air pollution in winter with all the wood-fired houses, especially going into Launceston on a winter morning with all the smog. So I developed a strong sense that we had to improve the quality of the air. And of course, I’ve maintained an interest in the discussions of global warming and climate change.

In 2009 we realised that the first house we bought was getting too big for us in our old age. We bought a new house and Martin at Mode Electrical installed our first solar system, a 5kW. I always insist on buying the highest quality panels and inverters. After a couple of years I added another 4kW, this time using bigger panels. The next step was to add a Tesla battery.

I am absolutely excited at the performance of the battery and the smarts of the technology. I can set the mode so that the system avoids importing from the grid during peak energy time, for example. It’s just amazing. 

I’ve also switched from Aurora to First Energy where the feed-in tariff is better, and I’ve upgraded my meter box to a smart meter on tariff 93, with the battery being able to recognise the off-peak and peak period times. My bill for the month of May was $3.83! So the solar system keeps me energy neutral. It’s just magnificent!

I constantly check on my mobile phone the battery performance, and I’m conscious of optimising the use of energy when either the battery is full or the sun is shining, or it’s off-peak period over the weekend. I’m very conscious of energy consumption. It’s not only a hobby for me, it’s a passion!

My wife gets very jealous. Because I’m constantly on my phone checking the battery, she says this must be your girlfriend—she calls her Batterina!