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Carl Zirn Harbour Energy

Getting to Know: Carl Zirn of Harbour Energy

Thinking of installing solar at home? Carl Zirn from Harbour Energy shares some of the benefits and considerations involved in running this type of power system.

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a self-confessed workaholic, supported by an amazing family! My heritage is Australian/German. I was born in Sydney before our family moved to Tamworth where I grew up, then returned to Sydney for university. I love the inner west and find it is ideal for my family of five and a great location for my business, Harbour Energy. I’m passionate about maintaining high standards in the solar PV (photovoltaic) industry. We are family owned and operated, including my brother, sister, partner and sons, and provide custom-built quality solar PV and storage system solutions for Sydneysiders.

What path led to you specialising in solar power?
I am a professional electrical engineer and project manager, licensed electrician, and CEC (Clean Energy Council) qualified solar designer and installer. I have more than 30 years experience in the energy, industrial and construction sectors, and have worked in both Australia and Germany with companies such as Mannesmann Demag, Alcan, BHP and Johnson Controls. I successfully founded and grew two prior ventures based on smart homes and building automation.

I understand the urgent need to drive rapid environmental change and felt that solar and smart energy systems just ticked all the right boxes for me. I founded SunPeak Australia with two uni friends with our office based in Marrickville. In 2020 I bought them out and changed the business name to Harbour Energy, which I think better reflected my client base in the harbour city of Sydney.

What are the main motivators driving your residential clients to install solar panels?
While the payback for new solar array is very attractive, it’s the environmental benefits of going solar that really motivate many of our clients. These solar champions are keen to lighten their environmental footprint, reduce their reliance on the grid, therefore using less coal and gas, and most importantly be more sustainable.

Installing solar is about more than just saving money – it’s also about self-reliance. Our customers are particularly keen to work towards energy independence.

Are there benefits in addition to cost savings and environmental impact?
In years gone by, many solar systems did not have even basic solar production monitoring which meant the first-time solar owners discovered there was a problem was an unexpectedly high electricity bill.

We install all systems with online monitoring which shows power generation and consumption in-house via a mobile app. Some solar systems can also monitor each panel individually. For those of you with older systems, we can now add solar and home monitoring to see how your system is performing! A good decision financially and a great benefit to knowing your household’s energy usage patterns.

Adding a battery to a solar system is another way to reap the rewards of solar. Battery storage technology and pricing has rapidly evolved in recent years and continues to move fast.

Although Australia leads the world in solar PV systems, we are lagging in the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), but 2023 should see a good number of new EV releases.

You do a lot of work in the inner west. What should a homeowner consider as they investigate having solar PV installed?
There has never been a better time to embrace solar technology, but unfortunately many people are getting burnt by sub-standard workmanship and low-quality products. While solar quickly pays for itself in 3-5 years, it’s worthwhile avoiding the cheapest option.

We install the systems ourselves, providing friendly, reliable, and quality workmanship. We are not a “re-seller” or sales company, so we can guarantee quality from start-to-finish, with after sales support.

If you receive a quote from a business that has not actually visited your property this should be a warning sign. A quality solar system will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of its life, but this will only be the case if quality parts are used, and it is installed by experienced tradespeople and backed by a reputable warranty. We will not be the cheapest installer, but we back ourselves again and again for being very good at what we do.

What have you been enjoying most about lockdown being over?
Socialising at last! Being able to get out again to enjoy bands around the inner west has been amazing and catching-up with friends and family is a close second (lol).

Favourite places in the inner west?
There are too many to list, but here are just a few. For Friday evening country it’s The Duke of Enmore, hosted by Jy-Perry Banks Steelin Hearts, then there’s LazyBones, Butchers Brew and the Petersham Bowling Club. For great food, there are the neighbouring shops Sultans Table and Cow and Moon. Pat and the team at Wille the Boatman in St Peters serve up great craft beer and also supplied our staff Christmas party early this month!

Carl Zirn is the managing director of Harbour Energy, phone: 1300 522 819 or visit:

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