Optus + NBN – Fail 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the problems in getting an Installation Appointment but things didn’t much better.

Stage 5

New Optus Modem arrives in the post followed by an NBN installation engineer on the 5th May. the engineer checks the line plugs the modem in and leaves telling us that we should be up and running in 15-30 minutes.

Stage 6

After several tries still no internet and now no phone either.

On the mobile to Optus, after waiting for an hour we were told that we would need to check the NBN box (outside the flat) was working.

We were unable to access the communications room room for the apartments until the caretaker arrived the following morning.

Stage 7

Following morning checked the communications room to find a locked NBN cabinet apparently working.

On the mobile to Optus, after waiting for an hour we were told that we would need to book in an Optus technician to install a cable between the box in the basement and our apartment, at a cost of $140.

Didn’t believe this so contacted NBN who informed us that our NBN was definitely ‘Fibre to the Node’ and ‘Copper to the Apartment’.

Stage  8

Received a message from Optus asking why we were not using our new NBN connection.

On the mobile again to Optus, after waiting for around 45mins we explained what NBN had told us and asked to be phoned back when they had a response.

A couple of hours later we received a phone call saying we had been sent the wrong modem and another  modem was being sent to us.

Stage 9

Finally receive new modem which worked within a few minutes of installation. . . . Internet and phone now working, after 3 days without either service.

Stage 10

Contacted by Optus Customer service as a result of a complaint to the Telecommunications Obudsman who agree to the equivalent of waving 2 months service charge as compensation for the mobile phone calls and inconvenience.


If Optus believed in Customer Care they would:

  • Have enough operators to be able to respond to call in minutes, not an hour.
  • Train their operators to be able to provide correct information.
  • make sure that if a mistake was made with a customer they would take additional steps to ensure no further mistakes were made.

When dealing with communications companies if they fail to provide acceptable service contact the Telecommunications Ombudsman at this link: MAKING A COMPLAINT







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Tree Caravan????

Tree Caravan

One of the strangest house photos I have seen?

I found this picture on the website www.appraisalpress.com.



For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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Passiv Haus

What is a Passiv Haus  (Passive House)?Castlemaine Pasiv Haus

Well as you might have guessed the term originates in Germany, and relates to a method of achieving more sustainable performance (and lower Energy Bills)

It’s a technique which doesn’t rely on good orientation, high thermal mass and natural cross flow ventilation to provide comfortable conditions with low energy use.

The house on the right, built in Castlemaine by Carbon-Lite, is said to be the first Passiv Haus built in Australia

Some of the key Passiv Haus characteristics are:

High Levels of Thermal Insulation

All  the exterior envelope (walls and roof) of the house are very well-insulated with a maximum Heat Transfer Coefficient, U-value of 0.15 W/m²K (R=6.6)

This is much better than:

    • A typical Brick Veneer Wall – U value 0.51   (R = 1.92)
    • A typical Roof – U value 0.26   (R = 3.91)

Elimination of Thermal Bridges

All Wall openings, corners, connections and penetrations are designed, and constructed, with great care, so that thermal bridges can be minimised.

Highly Insulated Windows:

Typically triple glazed windows will be required to achieve appropriate insulation

Air Tightness of the Building:

Uncontrolled air changes from gaps must be smaller than 0.6 of the total house volume per hour which is much better than 1.0 of the total house volume per hour that would be more typical of a new house.

To achieve Passiv Haus certification involves a test where the house is pressurised using a temporary ‘Blower Door’.

Energy Recovery Ventilation:

Because the house will be quite airtight a mechanical ventilation is required to keep the air fresh and prevent condensation.

Passiv Haus systems have highly efficient  energy recovery ventilation systems

In Winter around 75% of the energy from the exhaust air is used to warm the fresh air again by means of a heat exchanger.

In summer the exhaust air is used to cool the incoming air

The ventilation systems also incorporate pollen and dust filters.

For more information go to the The Australian Passive House Association.


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Lollipop House

lollipop house 1

lollipop house 2

Can you Lick This?

This ‘Lollipop House’ is in Giheung-Gu, South Korea

The unusual shape incorporates 7 rooms, each on a different level, as you can see from the drawing on the right.

For more pictures check out freshome.com


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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Sensor Switches

Sensor switchFed up with lights being left on!

Why not plan some internal sensor switches for your new home.

Unlike the sensor lights commonly used for outdoors its common to have a sensor switch wired into the lighting circuit rather than a combined sensor and light.

For my last house I installed one in the Walk in Robe, which worked well.

Here are some things that I learned , from experiance, about installing sensor switches.


Field of View

Make sure the sensor has a good view of the most of the room.

There is a temptation to have them mounted in the top back corner. . . . . In Walk in Robes the field of view may then be obscured by a high shelf and/or things stored on the top shelf.

Point into the Room

Its better to point into the room you wish to light.

The mistake I made was the sensor was opposite the door so everytime we, or our pets, walked past the open door the light came on.

Set Up

Most people don’t realise that sensors can be adjusted to improve their suitability.


The time can normally be adjusted between around 10 seconds and 5 minutes.

When I first used the WIR and was looking for my shoes on the floor the light went out after a few seconds as I was below the field of view.

Adjusting the time to around 3 minutes gave a  much better result.


The sensitivity adjustment affects both the range of the Sensor and the size of the object that is being detected.

A lower sensitivity will avoid pets setting off the lights. (In the case of outside security lights this is really useful in avoid birds and possums causing the lights to continually going on and off)


 This affects the amount of light at which the sensor will function.

At the lower level the light will only come on when it is completely dark, at the higher level it will come on during day light.

Usually a mid range setting will be best.


Make sure you choose the best light bulb for the room.

LED bulbs are better than compact fluorescent as they switch on quicker, and are at full brightness immediately.

Also check on Light Colour to check the light you are getting is the best to help you choose the best outfit.


For more posts see Electrical or Light Fittings



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Solar Electricity To Heat Water

Do you need a separate solar hot water system?

Could you just heat the water by electricity generated by your Photo Voltaic (PV) solar cells?

I have carried out a desktop exercise to help you review the options.

Solar Water Heaters

There are now hundreds of thousands of solar hot water heaters installed around Australia so the technology is well understood.

One of the main reasons for their choice is they are fairly simple.

Also they are very efficient, as around 60% of the sunlight that falls on the panel is converted to usable heat.

This efficiency has meant that the panel size can be kept relatively small.


Direct Heating with PV Panels

Efficiency of Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) is much lower than solar hot water at around 20%.

To provide comparable direct heating using PV panels and an immersion type heater will need an area of panels larger compared with a solar hot water heater.

How Many Panels Will Be Needed

The equation for calculating the power to heat water is:

kW hours = litres  x temperature rise in degrees centigrade / 853

Assuming the incoming water will be around 16ºC you are going to need to raise the temperature to around 60ºC

for 200 litres of water the equation becomes:

kw hours = 200  x  44 /853  =  10.3 kwhr.

1,000 watts of panel on average generates around 3.5 kw hours per day .

So to provide hot water by PV panels you will need around 3,000 watts, a considerable area, and expense.


Using A Heat Pump With PV Panels

One way of reducing the area of PV panels needed for water heating is to install a heat pump.

The most common hot water heat pump systems extract heat from the air.

Efficiency of heat pumps does vary between winter and summer  but an overall Coefficient Of Performance (COP) is typically around 3.

That is for every 1 kW of electricity 3kW of heat are produced. (300% efficiency)

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Optus + NBN – FAIL

Since the National Broadband Network (NBN) became available in our area our story of customer service with Optus has been appalling!

Stage 1

At the end of March we tried to use the Optus on line system to book an installation.

After an on line discussions with an Optus representative we were told that the installation would be within 3 weeks.

Stage 2

Monday 19th of April, and the three weeks are up, and no sign of an installation. . . . . .  We phoned Optus, after waiting on the phone for an hour Optus hung up on us.

Tried again and after another hour (My wife is very patient) we told that someone at Optus had cancelled the order the day after they had agreed to do the install. . . . would have been nice if they had told us!

The Optus representative agreed to arrange for NBN Co do some connections on the morning of 24th April with the modem being installed on Wednesday 24th April.

Stage 3

We received a text message saying the NBN installation would be in the afternoon of the 24th.

My wife spent more than 3 hours on three occasions trying unsuccesfully to contact NBN and Optus about when the connections would be done.


Friday 24th April after my wife stayed in all day no one had turned up by 4.30pm.

After another hour waiting on the phone we were told “There is no appointment in their system.”

My  Opinion

Well if you look on the Optus website you will find they say  “Optus aims to lead Australia in delivering Outstanding Customer Service’. . . . . I DON’T THINK SO!


When I originally published this post I expected that with an installation appointment booked for 3rd May I wouldn’t have any further problems. . . . . .  To see how wrong I was see Optus+NBN – Fail 2


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Pallet Furniture – Win or Fail?

Pallet Furniture

So the house cost a lot more than your original budget . . . . and now you can’t afford furniture!


No worries all you need is a few 2nd hand pallets!


It’s an interesting idea so it could be a WIN . . . . but it doesn’t look very comfy so for me it’s a FAIL!


Want to get some more ideas for pallet furniture? . . . . Have a look at www.facebook.com/paletohistvo


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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