Queensland Firefighters Keep Safety in their Sights
Firefighters in Queensland, Australia, wanted to contribute to the fight against climate change but needed a safe energy solution that delivers dependable performance monitoring. Green Energy Electrical had the solution tucked inside a toolbox.
Starting with Fire Safety in Mind
As a licensed electrician, Steven Pilcher carries around a variety of instruments for cutting and shaping electrical wires and yanking them through hard-to-reach places. These are his tools of the trade. For customers who want solar energy systems, Pilcher also keeps an Enphase Microinverter at hand. The device is compact and lightweight, easy to travel with, and he finds that showing it drives home the inherent safety of the product.
Safety was a good starting point in the sales process for one of Pilcher’s latest solar jobs, a 2kW project for the Mapleton Rural Fire Brigade. The all-volunteer fire brigade represents the front line of defense against Australia’s bushfires. Enphase Microinverters keep the fire station safe by operating at low voltage, eliminating most of the risks present in string inverter systems.
“They take fire out of the equation,” says Pilcher, the owner of Green Energy Electrical. “It’s that level of safety – and the monitoring – that get me the jobs.”
Monitoring by Committee
Firefighters use the Mapleton station for meetings, training, and to fill their trucks with water, but without paid staff, the building is often unattended. While the brigade is out running fire prevention programs and community education activities, Enphase collects real-time system performance data and makes it available online to the fire brigade and installer.
The system works. Pilcher recently noticed that the Mapleton project had stopped reporting performance data. Without having to visit the station, he correctly diagnosed the problem – an unplugged internet cable – and notified fire warden Geoff Noble. “He was the first to know,” Noble says.
Enphase monitoring not only keeps the fire brigade informed about how its system is operating, it also helps Green Energy Electrical provide efficient system maintenance.
Green Energy Electrical started installing Enphase in January 2014, not long after they became available in Australia. “I generally stay with quality. That’s why I use Enphase. I never want to go to a site twice. If I go twice, it’s costing me money,” Pilcher says.
A Bright Future
The announcement of the Enphase Energy Management System will give Pilcher a good reason for returning to completed installation sites as well as finding new ones. Once it is available, the fifth generation Enphase System will give customers even more control over their energy, including the ability to store it for later using the Enphase AC Battery.
Energy storage is a big part of Pilcher’s plan to grow his busi- ness with Enphase in 2016 and beyond. “It’s super-exciting,” he says. “That’s going to take off in Australia.”