Investing in a solar system for your home is a wise step towards significant power savings and a more sustainable future. We’re blessed with all this beautiful solar energy, why power our homes purely from the grid? With Queenslanders and Hervey Bay residents enjoying glorious sunshine year round, you’ll see immediate solar benefits and power savings through installing a solar system. But there are many ways to optimise your solar to make best use of Earth’s natural energy, while increasing the performance and value of your system. From small lifestyle changes to clever investments, here are some top tips to help you get the most out of your solar.
Choose the right solar power system for your home
Getting the most out of your solar starts with choosing the right hardware and system for your lifestyle and unique needs. What’s best for your neighbour may not necessarily be ideal for you.
How many solar panels do you need?
There’s much more to an efficient solar system than installing the maximum number of panels possible. Your supplier should consider the location, orientation and angle of your roof, and the impact of environmental factors such as nearby trees and shaded areas.
Should you invest in a battery storage system?
A typical grid-connected home solar system without battery storage will generate power for use during daylight hours only. Any surplus power that is not used during the day, is fed back into the grid. When the sun goes down, you’re utilising (and paying for) power from the grid again. A battery storage system will store surplus power generated during daylight hours for you to use at night, during power outages, or even on a rainy day. This is the ultimate in sustainable renewable energy at home; but, not surprisingly, it’s considerably more costly on the onset.
Does the Inverter make a difference?
Essentially a residential solar system is comprised of your solar panels, an inverter – which converts sunlight into usable electricity, and the racks or brackets required to fit your panels to the roof. If you’ve chosen a battery storage system that of course will be an additional component.
There are two types of inverters, each with their own pros and cons.
Microinverters Vs String Inverters
Microinverters provide an inverter for each individual solar panel, installed under each panel. They are designed to help you get the more energy out of your solar power system. They can help your panels function better if they become partially shaded, and if you have panels facing different directions. These benefits can save you a lot of energy, which in the world of solar, means money!
More expensive initial outlay.
String Inverter Pros:
String inverters function in a circuit connecting 6-10 individual panels in a ‘string.’ Typically a residential property would require one or two string inverters installed near to your power board. They are cheaper than micro-inverters and easy to access in the event of a problem.
Limited to output of weakest panel in the string. So if one panel is faulty or partially shaded, the efficiency of the whole string is affected.
Uses higher voltage DC cabling.
It’s well worth putting some time and research into choosing the right solar energy management system.
Minimise Power Usage to Optimise Solar Benefits
While it’s tempting to run around and turn on every appliance now that you’re powered by the glorious sun…keep in mind that you get a small return for the power you feed back into the grid. If you have a battery system – all the more reason to conserve power for use after dark.
- Turn lights and fans off when you leave the room
- Run the Aircon at 24 degrees (only when necessary)
- Turn standby appliances off at the wall when not in use
- Use the eco settings wherever possible
- Use only cold water for your washing machine
Change night-time power settings to day
A little change in your routine can go a long way. Put those solar panels to optimal use by operating some of your more power-hungry household appliances during the day.
Pool pump – Run your filter during daylight hours rather than overnight. Set the timer for early in the morning, and mid-to-late afternoon.
Washing machine – Avoid washing your clothes in the evening or on dark rainy days.
Hot water system – If you have a timer system connected to your hot water system, set it to heat and fill your hot water for a particular number of hours during the hottest time of the day only, not overnight. And use your hot water conservatively in the evening.
Dishwasher – I know, we all love the convenience of popping the dishwasher on before bed and waking to sparkling clean dishes. But you’ll be amazed at how much you can save by running your dishwasher in the afternoon and quickly washing those final dinner dishes by hand.
Upgrade Old or Faulty Electrics and Appliances
These are items you can address over time that can result in massive savings. You can begin to put away your electricity savings to reinvest into upgrading and optimising power-hungry appliances.
- Install efficient LED bulbs and dimmer switches
- Upgrade to more energy efficient modern split system air conditioners
- Install a time on your hot water system in order to only heat and refill the system at nominated times during the day – not every time you activate your hot water around the house.
- When it’s time for a new fridge, washing machine, or any appliance, spend that little extra on a good brand with a high energy efficiency rating.
Ultimate in Solar Power System Optimisation: Battery Storage
While it comes down to your individual circumstance, property, power consumption and lifestyle, a solar battery system could be perfect in helping you get off the grid in the evenings. It is often considered the ultimate in solar power optimisation and efficiency for residential and commercial systems. Known to be quite costly, price has come down in recent years thanks to swift advances in technology. If unable to invest in a battery system right now, many homeowners are ensuring they install a system with provision to add a battery at a later date.
As of April 2019, there are some great QLD solar rebates, incentives and interest free loans on offer at the Federal and State Government Level in Queensland, it’s well worth looking into when you’re considering a solar powered investment.
As always, we advise you talk with your trusted local Hervey Bay solar company, who knows your area well and has a good idea of your particular needs and lifestyle. Look for a company with a good reputation and solid local references. Choosing the right solar company is probably the most important step in ensuring the optimal suitability and efficiency of your system – and the maximum dollars kept in your wallet!