Choosing the right solar system is crucial.
Electricity is one of the biggest expenses in every household. With prices continuing to rise, many homeowners are now considering giving solar energy a try. If you are looking to make that switch but do not know where to start, we can help.
Let’s start by understanding energy consumption.
Energy is measured in kilowatt-hour or kWh. The average Australian home consumes around 16 to 20 kWh of electricity per day. The best way to measure your energy consumption is to check your previous bills. You’ll be able to see the peak months as well as the low-usage times of the year and use that as a reference when choosing a solar package size.
When do you consume the most energy?
If you work from home, you will have appliances running throughout the day. This means that your energy consumption will be higher compared to an 8-5 office worker who is only home at night.
How does this relate to solar energy?
If you use around 65% of the energy that your panels produce, your system will pay for itself more quickly than someone who only consumes around 30% of their solar-generated electricity.
What size do you need?
If your household consumes 20kWh of energy per day, a 5kW solar system would be sufficient in meeting your daytime power needs.
Since solar installation prices have plummeted in the last five years, you now have more freedom to install as many panels as you can afford. Even if you produce more energy than you actually consume, the extra energy will not go to waste as your feed-in tariff will give you your money back.
Note, however, that the Distributed Network Service Provider may have limitations on how many panels you are allowed to install so you should always check first.
How many PV panels should you install?
- The total power output of your solar system matters more than the number of panels you install
- The higher the nominal power rating of each panel, the fewer panels you will need
- If you have plenty of roof space, it might be more economical to buy a lot of low-efficiency panels than a few high-efficiency panels
For example, you could install four 250W Jinko panels to build a 1000W array. However, four 327W Sunpower panels could form a more powerful 1308W array while taking up the same amount of roof space.
Maximise your solar panels by facing the right direction
The direction of your solar panels matters when it comes to electricity generation.
When solar panels are facing east, you’ll be able to produce more energy in the morning.
When solar panels are facing west, you’ll be able to generate more solar energy in the afternoons.
Solar panels that are facing north produce the most energy overall as they peak around noon.
Every household will have a different optimal direction. If you are never home during the day, north-facing panels might not be your best option. If your roof structure allows it, install solar panels that are facing both east and west. This would allow your system to produce plenty of solar energy before you leave for work and when you come back home late in the afternoon.
How much money can you potentially save by switching to solar power?
Considering the upfront cost of installing solar panels, it would take around two to seven years for your system to pay for itself, depending on where you live in Australia as the amount of sunshine varies. After that is when the big savings come in.
Households with low daytime energy consumption typically export 75% of their solar-generated power to the grid. In contrast, families that are home during the day send back around 50% of their solar energy.
There are two ways to make money off your solar power system: small-scale technology certificates (STCs) and feed-in tariffs (FiTs).
What is an STC?
Small-scale technology certificates are a form of currency for owners of renewable energy systems. Under the Solar Credits Scheme, the federal government allows eligible households to cash in their certificates earned over the next 15 years straight away.
The number of STCs you get depends on the size of your panels as well as your location. Generally, you will generate more STCs if you have a big system in a sunny region.
What is feed-in tariff?
Feed-in tariff is the amount of money your electricity retailer pays you for surplus solar power that you send back to the main grid. For example, your system produced 3000kWh of electricity, but you only consumed 2500kWh. Your electricity retailer will pay you the rate for the 500kWh difference. This could amount to approximately $1300 savings per year!
The Australian government offers federal rebates for homeowners who install a PV array on their roofs. As of September 2019, the rate is $650 per kilowatt, but it slightly varies by region.
Solar installation rebates are subject to certain conditions such as:
- The solar system must be less than 100kW
- Panels must be installed by a Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited installer
- Panels and inverters must be CEC approved
How much will it cost to install solar panels on your roof?
Cost varies significantly between installers, with the quality of components being the primary factor. The price range for a solar system with tier 1 panels and a quality string inverter is as follows:
3kW system: $3,500 – $5,000
5kW system: $4,500 – $8,000
6kW system: $5,000 – $9,000
10kW system: $8,000 – $12,000
These are already net prices with federal solar rebate deducted.
Also, the type of roof you have may push the cost of installing solar panels. If you have a difficult roof structure or your home requires extensive electrical work, you will have to spend more to set up a solar system.
Do you need a solar battery?
Solar batteries let you store solar-generated electricity to power your home at night or during cloudy days.
The Tesla Powerwall is the most popular battery solution for solar systems. These battery solutions can store emergency backup power – either from your solar panels or from the main grid during off-peak hours.
Tips for buying Solar
Installing a home solar power system can be exciting – imagine generating electricity for free! But be careful not to get carried away with dazzling advertising. Solar systems are a substantial investment that you have to live with for years or even decades.
Here are a few tips you might want to consider when buying solar.
- Assess the system capacity you need according to your daily energy consumption.
- Check the orientation of your roof and if it faces an optimal direction.
- Make sure there is no shading from trees and other structures.
- Find out where your power lines are located.
- Check if your roof and ground mounting are wind certified or cyclone rated if you live in a region with harsh weather.
- Check the solar requirements of your local council, if there are any.
- Ask friends, family, neighbours or colleagues for recommendations and potential issues.
- Try to calculate your solar system ROI.
- Get multiple quotes from installers and only work with CEC-accredited companies certified by the Clean Energy Council.
- Make sure your solar panels meet Australian and international standards.
- Check product and performance warranties.
Why Aztech Solar?
Our engineers at Aztech Solar have spent years developing solar technologies to help Australian customers break free from power companies and take control of their electricity needs.
Just recently, we delivered Tindo Karra 315W solar panels that are 100% made in Adelaide. The system features SolarEdge technology with Tesla Powerwall 2 storage solutions – providing our client with complete energy independence.