Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Solar System?

From time to time we get enquires from customers that have had solar installed and aren’t seeing a change in their bills. While solar systems can fault and we take these enquires seriously, a lot of the time this is due to a usage issue. There are a few things you should remember after your solar is installed. Solar is a marvelous thing but it’s not always as simple is putting it on the roof and forgetting about it.

Are you following the Feed-in tariff rules?

The first and probably most important thing is understanding your feed-in tariff (FiT). Depending on where you live and who your energy provider is, your FiT will vary. If your solar was installed before 2013 and your FiT is 44c/kWh or above, then you should export your solar energy. Customers with significantly high FiTs like these are better off using all their power at night and exporting their energy because they receive more in credit than what they would save.

If your system was installed after 2013, then your FiT will be somewhere between 7c/kWh – 20c/kWh. If this is the case for you then you need to be using as much of your solar as possible. That’s because what you could save by using the solar (between 25c/kWh – 50c/kWh) is more than the credit you would receive for exporting the energy.

The variance between your electricity rate and FiT are different across locations but the general rule of thumb is DO NOT EXPORT. Remember that for every kWh you export, the difference between the grid rate and FiT is what you are losing. Let’s look at some examples:

Location Electricity Rate Feed-in tariff rate Difference
Regional Queensland 28c/kWh 7c/kWh -21c/kWh
South East Queensland 25c/kWh 10c/kWh -15c/kWh
Adelaide 34c/kWh 12ckWh -22ckWh
Melbourne 28c/kWh 12ckWh -16ck/kWh

 

Are you using Timers?

Most new appliances have inbuilt timers. This means you can set your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer to run in the middle of the day while you’re at work and your solar production is at its peak. If you’re not at home during the day then this is one of the best things you can do to maximise your solar.

If you have electric hot water, when you purchased your solar system, your sales representative should have suggested you purchase a hot water timer. This marvelous little device will use your solar to heat your hot water system which can account for 30% of your energy bill.[i] If you don’t have a hot water timer, I recommend contacting your local Master Electrician to purchase one and have it installed. Remember, this is a large part of your energy bill! To learn how to change your hot water timer, click here.

If you have a pool, then you know your pool pump is also a huge energy user. The average swimming pool costs between $800 and $1,200 a year to run and can account for 17% of your electricity bill.[ii] If you haven’t already, you need to purchase a timer for your pool pump so that you can set it to run when your solar is at it’s peak.

If you have electric hot water and a pool, you could be covering up to 47% of your total electricity costs with your solar by using timers. That’s not including timers on your appliances or the energy you might be using in the morning and afternoon.

Did you double your energy usage after install?

A common thing that people do after installing solar is start using their energy like there is no tomorrow. Just because you have solar doesn’t mean you can run every light, appliance, fan and air conditioner 24 hours a day. Your system would have been sized to suit your usage so remember that unless you opted for a larger system, your system capacity is paired to your current usage. It’s also important to remember that your solar won’t work at night. Having solar installed isn’t going to help the four air conditioners you’re running at 19 degrees from 8PM – 5AM every morning.

Is your system clean and free of shade?

Like your car, your solar system needs to be cleaned. Debris on your solar system affects its production. For peak performance, we recommend having your solar system checked an cleaned every 12 months. It’s important to remember that debris on one panel will affect the production of all the panels on that string. That means that if one of your panels is shaded or covered in bird droppings, it will affect the production of all the panels in that string. You should also be vigilant of shading. Remember that trees grow and while your system may not have been shaded when it was installed, it could be now. Make sure you’re trimming trees around the home which might affect your solar production.

Solar is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. It not only saves you money but also reduces your carbon footprint. But it’s important to remember that its’s not a magic wand that will make you energy bill disappear. Like anything good in life, it requires a little work. The more proactive and conscious about your usage you are, the better your results will be.

[i] How much of your Electricity Bill is for Hot Water?

[ii] Swimming pool electricity usage explained

[iii] Solar Feed-in Tariff com

7 Comments

  • RL Agacy

    Are you getting the most out of you Solar System?

    Are you getting the most out of your Solar System?

  • Colin Gostelow

    VERY disappointed have a 22KW system our last 2 bills approximately $400 and $600 for the quarter.
    We are on a citrus farm and used to pack 5 days a week from 8am to 5pm but haven’t packed here here for about 8 months.
    The system hasn’t worked satisfactory from the beginning.

  • Sue Mitchell

    Installed a 3.5KW Horan and Bird system after the original system was destroyed by a lighting strike. The new system is very disappointing only getting 10 kwh on a clear sunny day when we used to get 15 kwh or more on the old system.
    Very disappointed

  • Finn Harder

    I also have a solar system installed by H&B. 6KW
    I the 66 days since the last reading of the meters, (17/12/19), This is shown.
    Generated daily high low
    1991 30 39 5
    To Grid
    853 13 34 0
    From Grid
    1048 16 21 12
    Total used (1991-853)+1048=2186
    2186 33 52 20

    AC running 24/7.
    Total Used 2186*0.23661=$517.23
    From Grid 1048*0.23661=$247.97
    To Grid 853*0.07842= $66.89
    Savings 517.23-(247.97+66.89)=$202.37
    Bill 517.23-202.37=$314.86
    This is for electricity only, it do not include meter charges and other BS.
    In my opinion, well worth it.

  • Colin Eglinton

    Hi,
    Would love to be able to log in to my inverter to get real time monitoring but this appears to be a pipe dream.
    Any help in achieving this goal, would be appreciated.

  • Stephanie Parkinson

    Hi Colin,

    I would love to try and help, but would need a little more information. I will send you an email now so we can have a chat. Please keep an eye out for it. Thanks – Steph.

  • Stephanie Parkinson

    Thank you Finn! If you haven’t already, we offer a $100 gift card for customers who participate in a formal testimonial involving a quote and a photograph of you and your home with solar. We also offer the same for any sucessful referrals you may have of any friends or family interested in solar power. Please contact our facebook page if you are interested! Thanks – Steph.

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