5 things to consider before going solar

If you’re thinking about solar electricity as an option for your home or business, here are some things you should consider.

And it’s a popular choice too; in Australia there are over 1.4 million residential solar systems installed and globally,1 over the past 15 years, solar energy has grown at a rate of 20% a year.2

Solar is becoming an increasingly popular choice for good reason, but it’s not the most efficient choice for every home. If you’re thinking about installing a solar system, here are some things you should consider

5 factors to consider when you’re thinking of going solar
 

1. Look up – check your roof

Take a moment to check out your roof. Some roofs are going to provide a better return than others. Generally speaking, it’s ideal if they’re north or northwest facing and not blocked by trees or shade from other buildings.

While some roof angles work better than others, every roof receives light. So even if your roof is not angled directly towards the sun, you can still place a solar system on your roof and enjoy the benefits- it just might produce a bit less power.


“Take a moment to check out your roof. Some roofs are going to provide a better return than others.”


2. Know your energy needs

A residential solar system generates electricity when sunlight hits the panels during the daytime. Without viable battery storage technology, a solar system won’t retain any of this electricity for use at night.

So if you’re considering solar power for your home or business, a good place to start is to take a look at your energy use. Would you use the electricity generated by the panels during the day? If you run a pool pump during the day, have children getting home from school in the afternoon, are running a business from home or you’re at home for the majority of the day, then the answer is probably yes.

Once you know you’re a daytime energy user, it can be handy to estimate the size of the system you’d need to meet your needs and get an understanding of potential savings you could make.

3. Know what plans are available

Making the choice to go solar can be a sizeable investment. A survey by Choice Australia and information sourced from the Alternative Energy Association (ATA) suggests that after incentives and rebates, most people invest anywhere between $4,400 and $8,243, depending on the size of the system.2

But, there’s good news, set up costs no longer need to be a huge barrier. New offers such as Solar Flex remove system purchase costs, meaning you don’t need to buy and own a system outright in order to benefit from solar.

There are also some Government incentives for solar systems, (Small-scale technology Certificates), that help to reduce the up-front cost of solar systems. The subsidy that you receive depends on a few factors, including the size and location of your solar PV system and the price of the certificates when your system is installed.

Find out more about the options to go solar

4. Use a trusted solar expert

The panels in most solar systems are expected to last around 25 years, so you should also choose an installer that you can trust to be around for the life of the system. Solar systems also have other components, called inverters, which convert the energy collected from the solar panels into electricity that can be used by your household appliances. It’s likely that the inverter will need to be changed by your installer at least twice across the life of your solar system.

So don’t just look at the hardware, check out the installer and supplier, and take the time to check your warranty details. If anything seems unclear, speak to your retailer. Always purchase a solar system from an accredited Clean Energy Council installer. Take some time to research how long the company has been providing solar systems and whether customers are happy with their service.

5. Understand your options

There are some complexities to installing a solar system on your home. Apart from the technical requirements of the system itself, to ensure you’re getting the best value from your investment, you need to ask your provider to explain what government incentives, tariffs and plans are available to you.

Each state and each retailer will vary in terms of what is on offer, so be sure to do your research before signing up. 


“It’s important to look beyond this and investigate the other benefits that adding a solar system to your home might bring.”


Value beyond the budget – some benefits of solar

People tend to focus on the possible financial benefits of solar; and why not, when the right system could help you save on your household budget over time. However, it’s important to look beyond just monetary savings and investigate the other benefits that adding a solar system to your home might bring. 

Solar panels can help to reduce your carbon footprint – once the panels are on your roof, they can reduce your home’s greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a way to do your bit for the environment. Solar panels may also add value to your home. When asked by realestate.com.au, 85% of Aussies said they thought solar panels would add to a property’s value.4

Reference

  1. Sunwiz Solar Industry Intelligence 2015, Australian PV Market Insights as at July 2015. 
  2. National Geographic, solar energy
  3. Choice, Installing solar panels, published 28 January 2015
  4. Consumer Omnibus Study, April 2015 realestate.com.au/Blog

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