Solar power can be a lucrative investment in places with abundant sunshine and expensive electricity—yes, we’re referring to Australia! With plenty of sunshine, solar panels provide more energy over their lifetime for the same upfront cost. In addition, expensive electricity means saving more cash per unit of energy produced, if you compare the savings with those achieved in countries with lower energy rates.
However, the productivity of a solar array is also influenced by site-specific conditions: two photovoltaic systems can be in the same city and in buildings with the same electricity rates, yet the savings achieved can vary significantly. This article will give you some tips to get maximum savings when you install a solar power system for your home or business. You can also read some tips to purchase solar panels wisely in an article we published previously.
Install the solar panels on a rooftop that faces north
Since Australia is in the southern hemisphere, there is more sunlight coming from the northern portion of the sky throughout the year. This means that rooftop areas tilted to the north get more solar radiation on average, and are the perfect spot to install solar panels.
If you don’t have a roof segment facing north, solar power can still offer you considerable savings. Just keep in mind that panels facing east are more productive in the morning, and those facing west generate more energy in the afternoon. If you have both options, select the orientation that best matches your energy consumption habits.
Avoid installing solar panels in shaded areas
You don’t have to be an energy professional to conclude that installing solar panels in shaded areas is a bad idea. The tricky part is that shadows depend on the sun’s position in the sky, and thus they move throughout the day. Ideally, solar panels should be installed so that they are never covered by shadows – get a professional evaluation to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Even small shadows can have a negative effect: solar panels are connected in strings, and it only takes one shaded panel to affect the energy output of the entire circuit. If avoiding shades completely is not possible in your property, you can use devices called power optimisers, which manage the energy produced by each panel individually. SolarEdge is one of the leading power optimiser brands, and their products are available in the Australian market.
Shadows can be cast by natural obstacles such as trees and hills, or by man-made objects such as buildings and communication towers, so check if your neighbours have any plans to build or renovate before installing your solar!
Use batteries to store surplus energy from your solar power array
If your solar power system lacks energy storage and your panels are generating more energy than what you are consuming, the surplus is sold to your power company. The disadvantage is that you get paid at around 20% of the rate they charge you, so they make a profit at your expense! A solution is to simply install a battery array and store any surplus energy generated, to be used when you need it. This way you save 100% of the price of all surplus energy, not the 20% you would get by exporting it to the grid.