How to make your solar work better for you!

make solar work better

We love our solar customers! That’s why they have access to the same great rates and discounts available to all of our customers, with no hidden fees or surprises.

We recently conducted a survey which was completed by solar customers across various electricity retailers in Victoria and New South Wales. The results showed us that there are plenty of people with solar out there who aren’t getting the best out of their systems, so we’ve put together some handy hints for getting the most out of your solar.

The good news is, household solar uptake is on the rise across the country. 1.5 million Australians now have solar PV (photovoltaic) systems on their roof, so learning how to get the most benefit out of your solar PV system is really important.

Come 1 January 2017, many high government solar subsidies and double-digit feed-in tariffs will end (especially in NSW), so it’s become even more important to understand how to make your solar perform at its best.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

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If you’re on a current feed-in tariff (i.e. between 5-10 c/kWh), it’s better to use your solar generation rather than export it, because buying power from the grid is more expensive than what you get in return for your solar export.

44% of the respondents* to our survey who are currently on a feed-in tariff of between 5-8 c/kWh indicated that they look to maximise value by exporting their solar generation to the grid as opposed to consuming it themselves.

This is troubling to us, although not really surprising given how ‘Set and Forget’ deals are sold by many energy retailers as a solution to massive electricity bills. However, nothing can be further from the truth.

Exporting all of your solar generation made sense when the feed-in tariff was high but at the present time self-consumption is often your best bet.

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Data will help you create an electricity usage plan for your home, so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your solar system.

Scribble in your favourite notebook, have a planning doc on your laptop or do whatever works best to make sure you’re well acquainted with:

  • your feed-in tariff;
  • your average daily usage;
  • what you export to the grid on average;
  • what your solar PV system produces on a daily, weekly and monthly basis; and
  • how much energy your favourite appliances use.

We found that over 60% of respondents didn’t know what their feed-in tariff was and in general had little understanding of what their panels were producing.

Knowing the simple things mentioned above will help you craft a customised and well-informed electricity usage plan for your home. Getting to know your data requires a tiny bit of effort, but once it is done it’s sure to benefit you!

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Unless you’re still a lucky customer receiving a premium feed-in tariff, you should aim to use as much of your electricity during the day as possible. 50% of our respondents reported that they hadn’t changed their usage habits after installing solar. A change in habits is a must.

Not following this is a mistake a lot of customers make. Customers often expect to reap the benefits of solar by just investing money in a solar PV system and continuing to use most of their electricity outside peak solar generation periods. This leads to wastage as customers end up exporting their generation during peak solar generation times and would instead be better off utilising this output to power their homes.

To truly maximise the investment in your solar PV system, one thing is a must: change your habits to ensure that you’re using most of your electricity during the day. Understandably, this is not a viable option for all appliances; however doing small things like putting a timer on your dishwasher or your pool pump to get them to switch on during a sunny day is a great way to maximise your solar PV system and save money.

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Find out when your solar PV starts producing electricity in the morning and when it stops producing at night, so you know exactly what time you should use the majority of your appliances.  

A good way to find out this information is to purchase a portable device that displays your solar inverter or meter data. These kinds of devices also allow you to track the efficiency of your solar PV system and let you know if your system is not performing well, so you can get any issues fixed. If you’re a Powershop customer, you can also track the impact of your solar export by going to Heatmaps in your online account. You can find out more about it here.

 

* Total of 500 respondents to the survey conducted by Powershop across Victoria and New South Wales.

Are you ready to join a power company that loves solar?

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3 thoughts on “How to make your solar work better for you!

  1. Gregory John Olsen Esq

    Interestingly, I set up a spreadsheet when my wife and I moved into our new home one year ago which has a 1.5 kW system. We take reading from our inverter and the meter to determine how much our PVs produce, how much we use and how much we export.

    We are both retired, which means we are home most of the day, and have decided NOT to use any discretionary appliances during the peak period simply because the maximum output of our panels is only 1.3 kW. This occurs during a couple of hours each sunny day around the summer solstice. We do our vacuuming and washing in the Shoulder period, between 7:00 AM and 2:00 PM or at the weekends, when there is NO Peak period. The main reason is that, if we are short of a kW in the Peak Period, we’re paying an extra 39.9c/kWh, whereas, in the Shoulder period it’s only costing us 15.63c/kWh (BTW, the Off Peak charge is 13.02c/kWh, certainly not worth getting up early for that!).

    So, when you use your discretionary appliances depends on how much your PVs are producing. For us, avoiding the Peak period at all times is essential. However, if you’re generating 4 kW at any one time, then you really don’t need to worry about when you’re using your appliances unless, of course, there are clouds about! Also, remember that, even though you may be generating enuff electricity to power your place, using energy efficient principles, appliances, lighting etc is far better in the long run for your pocket and the environment. It also will give you a head start when you add batteries to your system and a Reposit Power box to sell your surplus electricity to the grid at market rates! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jamie Willis

    Wash your panels regularly, this will ensure you get the most generation possible for your system. If you were lucky enough to get a battery compatible system this will even out some of the peak/off peak spikes, the batteries on our system normally take us through to about 2:00 AM before we start using from the grid. As stated above with the tariffs dropping it is normally better to use your own generated power instead of selling it in to the grid and then buying the same amount back later at a higher rate.

    Reply

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