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The Lowdown on Solar Energy Systems: Know the Difference

Thinking of investing in solar energy? If you’ve never looked into it before, a lot of the terminology is confusing and you may not know exactly what you need. This article is designed to give you the basics of how solar systems work, and the different types you can choose from.

Solar energy is a terrific way to keep energy costs low, and you’re also doing a great thing for the planet by reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. Solar energy also adds value to your home, and protects you against future rises in electricity prices.

Here’s what you need to know!

What size solar system do you need? kW explained

A kilowatt (kW) is a unit of measurement for energy. Solar packages are also usually described in terms of kilowatts (kW). When looked at in terms of solar installations, this is essentially the amount of energy your system can be expected to produce each hour during optimum conditions.

For example, a 6.6kW solar system has the capacity to generate 6.6kw of energy each hour. Depending on where you live, you should probably expect around 5 hours of peak solar producing time each day. Therefore, a 6.6kw system should produce around 33kW of energy each day.

This is important, because you can check previous energy bills for your daily usage. If your household uses 40-50kW a day, it’s an indication you should look for something bigger than a 6.6kW system.

Let’s look at the two main types of solar packages you can buy.

On-grid solar energy systems

On-grid means you’re still connected to the main electricity grid, so you’ll still get a power bill. However, your home is powered by free solar energy during the day, and you only pay for electricity at night or when the sun isn’t shining.

Without battery storage, solar energy must be used as it’s produced, which is why you still need to rely on the main electricity grid for certain times of day.

Off-grid solar

Off-grid solar includes a battery for solar energy storage. The cost of a battery is prohibitive to some; however, the savings can be significant. With a battery, any solar energy you generate during the day but don’t use is stored in the battery. So, in the evening, your home is still powered with free solar energy.

In most off-grid solar situations, you still remain connected to the main grid for the times that you haven’t generated and stored enough solar energy. So, there’s always a backup, but your power bills will be negligible.

Get the right advice with RCR

Installing a solar energy system in your home is an investment in the future. There’s an upfront cost, but most systems pay for themselves in approximately 3-4 years. After that, the savings are all yours. The team at RCR is here to help you make the smart choice for your family when it comes to solar installations. We’ll look at your current energy needs, the size of your home and we’ll tailor a package that’s perfect for you. Contact the team at RCR today and find out how you can slash energy bills with solar today.

9 Ways to Save on Electricity Costs

Want to save money on your energy bills? These tips make it easy!


Install great insulation

Insulation in your walls, ceiling and under your floor helps to keep hot air out in summer, and keep it inside during winter. Ultimately, it means your heating and cooling systems don’t need to work as hard to maintain your desired temperature.

Go solar

Solar energy is probably the biggest way to reduce electricity costs. By powering your home or office with free solar energy during the day, you can absolutely slash your power bills. While there’s an upfront cost, most systems pay for themselves in around 3-4 years.

Weatherstripping on doors and windows

You can find weatherstripping at most hardware stores and it’s easy to install around your doors and windows. It may not save you thousands of dollars, but it helps to control your home’s temperature and therefore saves money on heating and cooling.

Cook outside

If the weather is nice and you love to cook on the barbecue, why not make it a regular thing? You can save on oven use, and there are so many great meals you can cook on a barbecue. Plus, there’s less washing up!

Energy-efficient lights

Installing energy-efficient lights in your home is a great way to save money. Even if the lights cost a little more than cheap standard light globes, they last much longer and are cheaper to run. Every little saving helps in the long run.

Cut down shower time

Hot water is one of the biggest offenders when you get your electricity bill. Reducing the time spent in the shower is a great way to minimise this expense. A long, hot shower is a great thing, but try to limit the number of times a week you do that. You can even set an alarm on your phone and the annoying sound will have you out of the shower nice and fast!

Install roof ventilation

Especially in summer, heat builds up in your roof cavity without proper roof ventilation. The trapped heat has to go somewhere, so it either condenses and causes moisture problems or somehow makes its way into your living areas. When this happens, your air conditioner works harder and costs you more money. Effective roof ventilation removes hot air the right way.

Reduce clothes dryer use

It’s super convenient to throw your washing into the dryer, but it’s also expensive. When the weather is nice, hang your washing outside and dry it the natural way. Your electricity costs will decrease significantly.

Close off unused parts of the house

Finally, to maintain a good temperature in your living areas and reduce the use of heaters and air conditioners, shut off parts of the house you don’t use. If you’re not in there, there’s no use wasting electricity to heat or cool them!

Need help with solar energy?

RCR can help with all of your solar energy needs, and we can even recommend the perfect system for your home or building. Take advantage of free, clean energy from the sun and start slashing your electricity costs today. Contact us today and find out how we can help with solar installations.

Why You Should Upgrade Your Store’s Lights To LED

LED Lights lasts the distance!

Changing light bulbs in commercial spaces requires planning, downtime and potentially after hours work requirements.  This makes the benefits of LED lighting a perfect solution!  Long life is the number one benefit of LED lights, Manufacturers claim one bulb can last up to 100,000 hours. To put that into perspective, that means 11 YEARS of continuous operation! Unlike conventional bulbs, the diodes doesn’t “burn out” but rather emit lower output levels over a very long period so that the light slowly becomes less bright.

Better Energy Efficiency

LEDs are today’s most efficient way of illumination and lighting, with an estimated energy efficiency of 80%-90% when compared to conventional light bulbs. This means that only 10-20% of the electricity is lost as heat – an impressive number, compared to incandescent lights that lose up to 80% of electricity as heat!

Key Benefits

  1. Upgrading to LEDcauses merchandise to look more appealing.
  2. High color quality, revealing the true colors of merchandise.
  3. Light control accessories accessible to minimize the glare.
  4. Flexible, user-friendly, and energy-saving power control system

Enhancing Shopping Experience

With shoppers increasingly turning online, retailers are moving positively to improve their store image and particularly enhancing in-store shopping experience as this is a factor in attracting shoppers to stores. Proper retail lighting design is beneficial to keeping shoppers engaged in the store and help guide them effectively around the store. With upgraded lighting, most retailers find their store shapes and architecture look more appealing, which can get more customers interested in shopping in the store.

LED downlights and track lights, which are available in 2700K, 3000K and 4000K and support smooth dimming, are ideal light fixtures used to highlight in-store experience by enhancing the textures, colors of store merchandise as well as cultivating a welcoming and pleasant shopping environment for customers. LED light fixtures also ensures a uniform and glare-free light distribution, leading to stress-free and clear and comfortable illumination across the retail stores.

When thinking about who to get to install your LED lighting, you want a supplier who knows what they are doing.  RCR has a wide range of experience in this field to ensures we can get the work done to specific requirements.  RCR has experience in a wide range of LED upgrades, from big chain supermarkets to office buildings.

Safe, Licensed and Reliable

Our team are professionally trained, accredited, and licensed to work on your commercial electrical jobs. With all the necessary insurances in place, you know that you’re in safe hands with RCR.

Workplace safety is always at the front of our minds on all projects, we hold our team to extremely high standards.

Our careful planning, mapping, and forecasting allows us to provide realistic timeframes for electrical installations to ensure we deliver on time.

Breathe Better September

RCR helps young Kiwis to breathe easier

RCR Infrastructure is proud to partner with the Asthma & Respiratory Foundation to help support the 700,000 Kiwis with respiratory disease.

As part of the partnership, RCR is teaming up with another Friend of the Foundation, Pink Batts, for the Foundation’s main campaign of the year: Breathe Better September. Throughout September, the Foundation raises funds and increases awareness of respiratory disease in New Zealand.

To show support for Kiwi youth living with asthma and other respiratory conditions, RCR will donate two heat pump systems to two education centres: Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt and The Satya Sai Preschool Auckland. Our friends at Pink Batts will also be insulating both of these communal learning spaces, ensuring each space provides year-round comfort.

With Hutt Valley High School, unfortunately, experiencing some issues with mould earlier this year, having the opportunity to work with RCR and Pink Batts was very welcome news following a tough start to the year, according to Associate Principal Denise Johnson.

“We’ve selected our Pavillion building for insulation and a heat pump,” says Denise. “It currently has an old gas heater and no insulation. It is a well-used space even though it is cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Adding a heat pump and insulation means it will be a more welcoming, healthy, and warm space for students and staff.

“To have this space insulated, heated and cooled using a New Zealand company is very important to us,” adds Denise. “We are mindful of supporting New Zealand and work hard to establish links with local business and community groups.”

“As a proudly owned and operated Kiwi business, we’re passionate about supporting local and for us, teaming up with the Asthma & Respiratory Foundation and Pink Batts to support these two amazing schools is something we’re so grateful we’re able to do” Director of RCR Infrastructure Lorene Maher said. “Our vision is to help contribute to a healthier, more sustainable New Zealand and this is one of the significant activities we are undertaking to realise this goal” Lorene added.

In addition to the heat pump donations, RCR is thrilled to be taking part in a Step-Up challenge team for the month of September.

You can follow the team’s progress here:


Asthma and allergies are among the most widespread and troublesome common medical conditions. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 7 children living with the condition.

If you or your child suffer from asthma, chances are you are acutely aware of the life-changing inconveniences that come with it. When a person living with a respiratory condition is exposed to common triggers like mould, dust mites, pollen, and atmospheric pollution, their airways can swell, restricting airflow to the lungs and making it difficult to breathe. Cold air is another significant trigger, which makes it important to invest in the best available heating solution.

Heat pumps are a great choice for families who suffer from seasonal allergies, and new research shows that appropriate heating and insulation can reduce the incidence of asthma and allergies significantly. By simply choosing the right heat pump, you can reduce the allergy and asthma triggers inside your home, save on your energy bills and on potentially costly medical interventions for allergy and asthma symptoms.

What Type of EVCharger Do I Need?

Buying an electric vehicle and not sure which charger you need? Here’s what to consider when purchasing your new charger or charging station.

Power delivery explained

If you find electrical terms confusing, we’ll try to keep this as simple as possible! Power delivery is measured in amps. This is important, because it helps you understand what sort of charger you need.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have smaller batteries than full battery electric vehicles (BEVs). That means you don’t need as many amps to charge them. Typically, PHEVs can only accept 16 amps, so buying a more heavy-duty charger is a waste of money. BEVs, on the other hand, can accept up to 48 amps.  In very basic terms, the extra amps determine how fast your vehicle will charge.

It’s important to consider this carefully, because your needs really depend on how you use the car. If you only want to do a full charge every few days, you’ll need your charger to be strong enough for a full charge overnight. If you just like to top the car up every night, a charger with fewer amps may be fine.

Do I need smart features?

Some EV car chargers come with a range of smart features. Much like other ‘smart’ items around the home, you can do more with these chargers. Features include the ability to monitor real-time charging, start or stop a charging session, scheduling charging to start at a certain time and collect data on how you use the charger.

It’s a personal choice whether you want these features or not. If you get a charger without all of the smart features, it will still stop charging once your car’s battery is full. So, you may not find much need for all the bells and whistles.

Can I use a universal EV charger?

The other issue to consider is whether you can use a universal EV charger. In most cases, the answer is yes. As long as you choose a high-quality universal EV charger that’s installed to manufacturers specifications, it should work to charge most electric vehicles. If you have any doubts about this, it’s worth checking your car owner’s manual or contacting the car dealer for confirmation.

Plug-in or hardwired?

Most electric vehicles come with a plug-in charging option, but many of them don’t give you the power you really need. Sort of like getting a cheap, small spare tyre in a new car. It will work in a pinch, but you’ll want something better for regular use.The issue here is that a very low-amp charger (12 amps) is probably fine for a PHEV, and it uses a 120v power outlet, so it’s easy for most households to just plug in and charge.

However, for something capable of charging a BEV, you’ll need a 240v power outlet, which is an added installation cost. Also, if you want anything above 40 amps, it needs to be hardwired anyway. Plug-in chargers give you the flexibility to move them, but in reality, this usually isn’t necessary. So, if you want a more powerful, hardwired solution, you’ll need a licensed installer.

What to Look for in an EV Charger

There are several considerations you may factor in when deciding which EV charger to buy, including

  • Cost
  • Cable length
  • Power delivery
  • Smart features
  • Warranty

These are all important, and some are self-explanatory. But how can you really make sure you’re getting the best EV charger for your needs? Your car will no doubt come with some guidelines about the level of power delivery you need, and it’s pretty easy to decide whether you want a long or short cable. But let’s take a look at some of the other factors to consider before buying.

Universal electric vehicle use

When buying an EV charger, it’s tempting to just get what you need for your current vehicle. But what if it’s your first electric vehicle, and others might follow. Perhaps your spouse, children, or regularly visiting friends and family will purchase an EV too.

That’s why it makes sense to consider an EV charger that works with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. It’s a smarter choice than having to wire in a new charger 12 months down the track, or whenever you buy a new car.

Free home assessments

When buying an EV charger, have a think about the installation process. If your unit needs to be hardwired (and most of them do), you’ll need qualified and licensed electrical specialists to do it. However, the process of having your charger installed goes a lot smoother if you can have your home assessed prior to purchase.

Find an EV charger installer who will come to your home first. This allows you to find the best spot for the charger, discover any electrical issues, and also may inform your decision on the length of cable you need.

Full overnight charge

When you buy an electric vehicle of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, you’ll get a portable charger with it. However, most of the time, it’s not as powerful as you’d like. An EV charger’s power is measured in amps, and chargers range from 12 amps to 48 amps. Naturally, the more amps, the faster your electric vehicle charges.

In addition, if a more powerful charger comes standard with your car, you will probably still need to install a 240-volt outlet in your garage or near where you park the car. It pays to do some research on your car’s charging needs, because you want to be able to achieve a full charge overnight, if necessary, but you also don’t want to spend more than you need. If you top up your car every day, a cheaper alternative may be just fine.

Safety certification

Finally, always ensure the EV charger you buy is safety certified. You can always buy an EV charger on the internet, and you may think you’re getting a great deal because it’s cheap. However, these items may not meet national standards, and could therefore pose a safety risk to you, your vehicle and your home. Only purchase quality products from reputable suppliers, so you know that you’re getting a safe product.

Reputable EV charger installers can also schedule annual servicing or maintenance to ensure your charger is tagged and tested in accordance with Worksafe New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Renewable Uptake 

New Zealand has a very progressive approach to energy efficiency and renewable energy. In fact, a recently announced multibillion-dollar proposal to build a pumped hydro storage plant could push the country closer than ever to reaching a 100% renewable energy target.

The charge towards 100% renewable energy

New Zealand currently generates around 80% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and about half of that comes from hydro. However, forecasting has revealed that in future dry years, the country’s hydro infrastructure won’t be enough to meet demand. The proposed hydro plant storage aims to pump river or lake water into hydro dams when needed.

The country also has a plan to reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050, but experts suggest renewable energy generation would need to increase by around 70% in that time. With a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2035, the hydro plan could help the country get there. However, there still needs to be considerable investment in wind and solar farms.

However, as community attitudes change, there are several ways to help reach these targets. From electric vehicles to virtual power plants, New Zealanders are certainly on the right track.

How can RCR help businesses go green?

RCR is at the forefront of the green revolution, and we maintain a strong focus on energy efficiency in everything we do. It’s part of our role to help homes and businesses across the country find more sustainable ways to live. Here are just some of the ways we can help.

Solar energy

We provide tailored solar energy solutions to businesses throughout New Zealand. By analysing your current energy consumption, we can determine the right type of solar energy system for your building. Combined with energy-efficient electrical, HVAC and refrigeration systems, you can transform the way you use electricity.

Best of all, you’re generating your energy from solar power. So, you’ll be saving plenty of money on electricity costs all while doing your bit for the planet.

Energy efficiency

All homes and businesses can become more energy-efficient. Whether it’s overhauling their lighting system with energy-efficient globes, to a complete building overhaul, RCR can help. We provide energy-efficient designs for buildings, including HVAC, refrigeration and electrical systems.

We also help businesses and building owners invest in building systems monitoring and asset management tools. These systems not only improve your energy efficiency and reduce consumption but allows for real-time monitoring of system performance.

Electric vehicle chargers

If you own an electric vehicle, you naturally need a high-quality charging solution at your home. Our nationwide network can provide EV charging stations for all types of vehicles. We even have universal options, meaning you won’t need to change if you purchase a different EV.

We also work with businesses to provide charging stations. This encourages your staff to upgrade to EVs and charge them while at work. In addition, it can be a drawcard for customers who may choose your business due to the convenience of an EV charging station right there on the premises.

Going Green: How to Create a More Sustainably Minded Business

Becoming a more sustainability-minded business is a win-win situation. Of course, it’s the right thing to do for the planet. Reducing your emissions contributes to an overall healthier world. However, there is another, perhaps less selfless, a reason to go green. Modern consumers love to support businesses that have a strong sustainability focus. So, here are some tips on going green without compromising your financial stability.

Clean, green energy

Renewable energy is booming across the country, so if you don’t already access solar or wind energy, it’s time to consider it. There are two ways you can do this. You can generate your own power with an on-site solar system. This is a great way to reduce your energy costs while supporting sustainability measures.

This does come with considerable setup costs though, so you might choose another option. Look for electricity retailers who can provide you with clean, green energy. Power purchase agreements are also available, allowing you to source 100% renewable energy.

Energy-efficient technology

Another great way to reduce your company’s footprint is to invest in energy-efficient technology. You can take small steps by only purchasing electrical equipment with good energy ratings. Perhaps consider energy-rated lighting in your office. Or, you can go a little further and look into the Internet of Things technology such as a building energy management system, which gives you greater control over your energy consumption.

Ditch the paper

It might sound like a small measure, but every step counts. It’s time to go paperless. In the modern world, we have everything we need in digital form. Sure, there are a few minor exceptions where you must use paper, but most businesses could drastically reduce their use. Invest in technology that takes your business to the next level, while also removing the need for paper. Things like online timesheets are a great start.

Electric vehicle fleets and chargers

When it’s time to review your fleet vehicles, now is the time to go electric. The electric vehicle industry is picking up speed now, and there are more and more charging stations around the country to make EVs more viable. So, why invest in old petrol-guzzling vehicles when you can lead the way with an EV fleet. You can even install EV chargers at your workplace, encouraging customers and staff to go electric too.


Most people are pretty familiar with recycling now, however, it’s amazing how many businesses don’t do enough of it. Sometimes it’s as easy as setting up more recycle bins around the office to encourage people to do the right thing with plastic and glass.

Flexible work conditions

Finally, consider offering flexible working conditions. You could have people working from home regularly, or even at other smaller, remote sites. This can benefit you in two ways. You can consider alternative office space options, potentially downsizing and saving heaps on rent and overheads. Additionally, allowing people to work from home means less commuting, which means less pollution from cars.

You don’t have to overhaul your entire business model to go green. In fact, a few simple steps are all it takes. Your customers will love it, and you’ll likely save some dollars along the way.

Stonewood Group Acquires DataGuard NZ ­– Incorporates Hi-tech ‘future Energy’ Capabilities

Stonewood Group acquires DataGuard NZ ­– incorporates hi-tech ‘future energy’ capabilities into RCR’s national infrastructure service offering

Two years since purchasing RCR’s profitable New Zealand operation from the failing Australian parent company RCR Tomlinson, Stonewood Group co-founders John and Michael Chow are expanding RCR’s services to include future-tech engineering solutions such as EV chargers, smart building solutions and commercial solar installations, as well as smart grid and AI solutions.

The transition of RCR into one of New Zealand’s biggest maintenance, electrical and mechanical engineering companies is being achieved through Stonewood Group’s purchase of DataGuard NZ’s engineering and technical know-how.

DataGuard has traditionally provided datacentres with a focus on uninterruptable power supply-based (UPS) hardware. However under RCR, its market-leading technical knowledge will be applied to sourcing and importing hi-tech products that will be installed and maintained by RCR’s nationwide network of technical experts. RCR currently provides heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) as well as refrigeration, electrical and building management systems via offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch.

The merger of complementary expertise will also see RCR extend its reach beyond existing commercial clients into the residential housing sector, where a growing range of green, future-tech energy solutions are increasingly becoming available. These are suited in particular to intelligent ‘smart’ homes requiring comprehensive automation control.

“DataGuard was one of the first companies in New Zealand to use lithium batteries on a grand scale,” says RCR executive director Garry Ko, “so incorporating their expertise opens RCR up to the rapidly advancing world battery market – from domestic solar applications through to large-scale industrial Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS). Their engineering knowledge of the world global battery sector alone is unparalleled in this country – after all, data centres are always the smartest part of any building.

“This is a very strategic marriage of DataGuard’s technical insight with RCR’s hands-on ability to apply the technology on a national scale. Our goal is for RCR to be New Zealand’s most future- focused engineering tech firms, and a one-stop shop for the residential and commercial sector.”

Ko says a tangible example is how EV installers typically aren’t importers. “So RCR will now be able to do both – identifying and importing the best units in the world, then installing and maintaining them.”

He foresees exponential growth in the EV charger market in particular, citing Government policy statements that will end petrol-fuelled car imports by 2030. This translates into a requirement of New Zealand to by then have installed an estimated 1 million EV chargers.

The existing owners of DataGuard, Paul Jefferies and Peter Evans, see many mutual benefits of being part of a larger entity.

“RCR will give DataGuard the ability to improve sales and services nationwide, and provide long-term supply and support security to our loyal customers,” says DataGuard co-founder and managing director Paul Jeffries.

Stonewood Group co-founder and managing director, John Chow says he’s had a long-held vision for RCR to be the country’s leading provider of fully integrated engineering solutions.

“It’s been very clear to us where the market is heading in the home and commercial technology space and DataGuard significantly expands RCR’s technical service offering.”

He confirmed that the existing staff will be joining RCR.

“Unlike many of the acquisitions we’re known for, DataGuard NZ was not a distressed asset and we’ve been in negotiations with them for the past two years. The company had the know-how but not the size and national reach that RCR does, so it’s been exciting to be able to complete the deal.”

Garry Ko says RCR staff numbers are up more than 50 percent to 120 since Stonewood Group purchased the business in early 2019. John and Michael Chow took an 88 percent shareholding, with RCR management team owning the balance.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Protect your Critical Equipment in your Data Centre with a UPS installation!

Data centre applications require reliable power sources.

No Backup Power

One of the most surprising things about such an advanced facility is that it will have no backup power source, no power generator and no batteries. If commercial power to the facility goes out, all data in transit will be lost.

How often should a UPS be serviced?

A strong, comprehensive service plan should cover all of the following: UPS electronic parts and labour coverage: This covers UPS’s basic electrical components, excluding the battery. UPS battery parts and labour coverage: To prevent UPS failure, batteries should be replaced at least every five years.

What is the average lifespan of UPS batteries?

The standard lifespan for VRLA batteries is three to five years; for wet-cell batteries, it is up to 20 years. However, expected life can vary greatly due to environmental conditions, number and depth of discharge cycles, and adequate maintenance.

What is the key to UPS System Maintenance?

Make a Schedule (and Keep to It) This might seem obvious, but given all the demands of day-to-day data centre operations, it’s easy to take things like backup systems for granted.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems are a critical component of data centre backup power. Their purpose is to maintain the infrastructure until consistent power returns, or if needed, until longer-term emergency power backup systems kick in. They also suppress power surges, so they don’t damage equipment.

Temperature is the foremost environmental threat to computer equipment. Countless amounts of servers become damaged due to improper thermal management. The air around your servers needs to be maintained in the range of20° to 24°C for optimal reliability. Not only must you consider the heat produced by the servers, but you must also account for outside influences that will have an impact on the room’s temperature. It is always critical to have visibility on the temperature of your server room or data centre.

Finding the right company for your UPS installation and maintenance is key, protect your Data.

If you’re looking for a team to help you get ready, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local RCR crew.

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