Solar power is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy in the world. Households in Australia are installing solar systems to lower energy costs and reduce carbon emissions. Despite solar’s popularity, you might have heard that "it isn’t perfect and has its disadvantages". Here's a deep drive to see the truth behind some of the rumours.
It is true - even with subsidies, a decent solar installation still costs thousands of dollars. They don’t work as well in cloudy weather and don’t produce any energy at night. Placing solar panels requires a lot of space and it’s not suitable for every house.
These are all true.
But the benefits still outweigh much of the disadvanages.
As long as you find ways around the disadvantages, solar power can be a great investment that pays itself off.
"Solar has a high upfront cost"
The benefits of solar are often talked about, such as independence from the grid and savings on your energy bill. Installing the solar system is an expensive endeavour that costs a lot of money.
For example, the average cost of a good 5kW solar system is between $5k and $7k, whilst a 10kW solar system is between $10-13k.
Are there ways around the cost of solar power?
Federal and state governments offer renewable power incentives for households to install solar. They subsidise the cost of installing solar panels and battery systems, making it more affordable. Check the incentives available in your state and location, especially if they are still available. Some incentives that your neighbours and friends have used may have expired or have been replaced by different ones.
There are ways to finance solar systems if you don’t have enough money to buy them upfront. Some banks offer green loans that have better repayment terms than personal loans. You can also tie your solar investment to your mortgage and pay it off that way. You can also lease solar panels to get the benefits at a cheaper cost, though you won’t own the panels.
Certain solar providers like Go Sunny can offer a $0 upfront solar plan, giving you the benefit of solar early without you needing to pay upfront. One example is Go Sunny’s ANYTIME Solar plan, where you make repayments every month, though you can pay more to pay off the loan sooner.
Any financing option will require you to pay back the financial institution or company that gave you the loan. Your repayments will just be smaller monthly amounts rather than a large lump sum. Cost is the hardest disadvantage to get around because it never goes away. You just decide how you want to pay for your solar.
"Solar is dependent on weather and sunlight"
Solar power converts sunlight into energy and constantly works throughout the day. But if clouds obscure the sun, your solar panels won’t get much sunlight to work with.
In addition, poor weatherwill also reduce the amount of power your panels generate. Nighttime will also prevent solar panels from generating any electricity since there is no sunlight to absorb. That means you must have alternative sources of power or risk spending around half a day without power. This often means drawing power from the grid, especially if you use more energy at night.
These are legitimate concerns. Let's see how we can address them.
Planning your energy use around solar generation
Solar panels are most effective between 9 am and 4 pm, which is when they generate the bulk of their power. For homeowners and businesses, the fastest way to achieve a favorable return on investment (ROI) is to align their power consumption with this solar generation window.
By doing so, they can maximize the use of the energy they produce. An effective strategy to achieve this is "load shifting," where energy-intensive tasks are scheduled during peak solar hours. You can read more about load shifting here. Load shifting can significantly enhance solar savings.
Feed-in Tariff Benefits
Even if you're unable to consume all the energy your solar panels produce, it doesn't go to waste. Homeowners can sell their unused energy back to the grid through a system called "feed-in tariff."
Currently, the rate stands at approximately 6c/kWh, providing an additional income stream and further enhancing the ROI of the solar system.
Battery Storage Solutions
Modern advancements in battery technology allow homeowners to store excess solar energy. These batteries can then supply power during the night or on cloudy days, ensuring a consistent energy source.
By integrating a battery with a solar system, one can harness solar energy around the clock, making the argument of nighttime inefficiency moot.
"Solar installations take up large amounts of space"
Solar panels are heavy objects that take up a lot of space on their own. The most common solar system in Australia is a 5kW system with around 14 solar panels. Smaller systems won’t need as many panels, but you still have to put them somewhere. Solar panels are often put on the roof, but you must also consider how many panels can fit on the roof.
If there isn’t enough space on the roof, you must place solar panels on other parts of the house. You might have to place them on other buildings like a shed or a garage. That may affect the number of solar panels you need, increasing the cost of the system. Panels will also be exerting weight on those structures, which must be accounted for.
For people who live in small houses and apartment buildings, there might not be enough room for solar panels. Even if you could place a few panels, it might not generate enough energy to pay for itself. As appealing as solar is for lowering energy costs, not every household can take advantage of solar.
Can you tackle the solar panel space disadvantage?
High-efficiency solar panels are better at converting sunlight into electricity, generating more power. This allows you to use fewer panels for your solar system than if you used low-efficiency panels. Panels that have efficiency above 20% are considered high-efficiency, and several brands have them in stock.
Solar installers will take a look at your rooftop and how solar panels can be placed to maximise space. Optimal alignment can help your panels capture sunlight, even if they must be placed elsewhere. Most of the time that shouldn’t be a problem, as rooftops can take a large amount of solar panels. If there is a structural problem, they will be placed elsewhere.
Smaller houses can have solar panels on their walls if the installer sees that it will help. As long as a solar panel won’t cause problems, it can be placed in various areas to generate power. You can also consider ground-mounted systems for solar power, though you may need approval before installing them.
While solar power is a great form of renewable energy, it isn’t perfect. We acknowledge that there are challenges, but we believe that the challenges can be overcome.
There are different ways to financially structure your solar deal, move consumption to when solar is generating as well as arranging panels on your roof in such a way that it doesn't look bad.
At the end of the day, you must be feel comfortable about your purchase and your purse.
Luckily, you can contact Go Sunny whenever you're free. We can help answer any of your questions, address your concerns and show you how you could be saving hundreds of dollar of bills per year.