SUNNY OUTLOOK: Tim Hourigan with the latest technology solar panels.
SUNNY OUTLOOK: Tim Hourigan with the latest technology solar panels. DEIRDRE SMITH

Taking a shine to solar

STANTHORPE might be cold but there is no shortage of sunshine, even in the cooler months.

That's where Tim Hourigan of Solar Blessing comes in.

While many people are aware of solar for domestic use, as they notice the increasing number of solar panels going up on roofs across the district, there are two other important markets.

Solar use for commercial properties is gaining momentum as it offers a great return on investment.

"Places with a high daytime usage can supplement their usage through their own solar,” Mr Hourigan said.

The other growing market is off-grid, which is an increasingly influential trend in rural areas.

It means no electrical connections, with the properties run completely on solar power.

Mr Hourigan said many people were attracted to the idea for environmental reasons, but it could also turn out to be cost-effective.

"You might pay $20,000 for the Ergon connection then bills of $1000 per quarter,” he said. "A solar system tailor- made to your specification would be $30,000 to $40,000 and that's it.”

Mr Hourigan said the current technology was so good there was "no difference to living off-grid”.

So good that that's the way he lives himself at his Mt Tully property.

"We have an electric oven, dishwasher, kettles and you can have air-conditioning,” he said.

Mr Hourigan said people considering going off-grid were welcome to inspect his property to see how it worked in practice.

"They think you can only have two lights on and the television on for one hour,” he said. "But it's completely different technology.”

Once installed, solar systems provide free energy but do have to be maintained.

Batteries have to be replaced after 10-12 years and systems inspected, especially as they age.

That's all in a day's work at Solar Blessings.

Mr Hourigan has been operating the business for six years, and the previous owner, Peter Blessing, had 30 years' experience in the industry.

While Mr Hourigan welcomes competition, he cautions potential customers against phone and door- knocking salesmen.

"Nothing else is sold that way - you don't see encyclopaedia or vacuum salesmen anymore,” he said.

"It gives the industry a bad name.”

He also said a system advertised "on television for $3000 can't be done properly”.

Instead, he said, a local company would offer "a better quality system and better quality service”.

For more information, go to au or visit the Solar Blessing Facebook page.

For a free solar assessment on your home or business, phone Tim Hourigan on 0424 251 033.