If you’re thinking about adding solar panels for your new or existing home, this handy guide will walk you through the main things you need to know.
What is solar power?
Solar power is the strong energy generated by the sun. By installing solar panels to absorb the sunlight in the silicon cells, you can utilize this to power your home.
Solar power via PV panels is a completely renewable energy source that produces no emissions, has no moving parts and won’t disrupt your family life.
Do I connect to the grid?
This question largely depends on your location and your individual requirements, but the choice is up to you.
Some Kiwis prefer to take control of their power and become independent from the gird. For example, many people who live rurally choose off-grid solar because it’s cheaper to produce their own power and store it in a battery bank than it is to connect the house to the grid.
Off-the-grid systems are also useful as a back-up supply in areas that have frequent power cuts.
For standard NZ homes in a city or town, you could go off-grid, provided you had a large battery storage system and inverter on site. Usually the most cost-effective option is a bank of solar panels that provide some or all of your home’s power needs, and feed residual power back into the grid (earning you a rebate).
Many grid-tied systems will also include battery storage inside the home to make the most of the solar generation – it’s more affordable to use this than to pay for excess supply from the grid.
Is my house suitable for solar?
Solar panels are at their most efficient when oriented directly north, with nothing shading or obstructing them. Individual cells in each panel are connected together, which means if even one individual cell is shaded, you’re shading them all.
If your roof doesn’t have a direct north orientation, you can erect a frame to hold the panels at a more efficient angle. – The panels need to be tilted up toward the sun.
Your local solar specialists will recommend the best solar system for you. They’ll also provide in-depth financial assistance to calculate costs for the installation and panels.
When thinking about solar panels, also consider the upfront cost of their installation. Work out how many years it will take you to ‘break even’ on the cost of installing the system. If you don’t plan to stay in the home for that long, they may not be a worthwhile investment.
How much power will I generate?
This all depends on how big your array is, the amount of sunlightand a whole range of other factors.
According to Smarter Homes NZ, the average solar system will generate around 3,400kWh annually. An average New Zealand household uses around 9,000kWh of energy annually, so if this is you, your solar panels might provide ⅓ of your home’s energy use.
Your solar array could take care of most of your power needs. By making simple changes to be more efficient, your costs could drop further.
Are you ready to give solar power a try? Find out how you could pay less for your power bill and receive competitive prices prices for selling solar back to the grid with Ecotricity.