Solar panels have become increasingly popular over recent years, with many home owners and developers opting to go solar in new builds and renovation projects. As with anything, there are pros and cons to using solar panels in your project and the final decision needs to be based on what is going to work best for your needs.
In order for you to make more informed decisions regarding solar panels, we recently sat down with Harry Edwards from Solar Tank to find out more about exactly when, where and how solar panels work best.
AJP: What kind of properties work best with solar panels?
HE: Any property with a north, east or west facing roof is ideal for a solar system. Solar panels can be installed on almost any roof material and at any pitch.
As the efficiency of solar panels and inverters has improved, it’s become more reasonable to now consider solar energy in properties where this may not have been an option in the past. New technologies, such as micro inverters and solar optimisers, mean that even if some of your panels are partially affected by shade, overall production will still be high enough to see substantial benefits.
AJP: What are the benefits of investing in solar energy?
HE: The two main benefits of solar, which customers are generally most concerned about are economic and environmental. When installing a standard-sized residential system on your roof, the positive environmental impacts are greater than many people realise. A 7kw solar system has an impact equivalent to planting 228 trees per year or preventing 4315kg of coal from being burnt annually.
The economic benefits are no small matter either. If your average quarterly bill is $750, your solar system will pay itself off in 4-6 years. Most systems will have a return on investment of over 160%, with annual bills dropping 70% or more.
AJP: Are there any challenges?
HE: The main challenge with solar is changing your habits to ensure you get the most out of your system. Peak production is normally during the middle of the day, depending on the solar orientation. It’s important to understand your system and capitalise on the energy being produced. Small changes like delaying your washing machine and dishwasher until the middle of the day will save you thousands over the life of your system.
Another challenge is finding reliable solar installers who use quality gear. In the solar industry you get what you pay for – that does not mean that entry level systems are not good but having an installer that is recommended and can clearly explain the difference between products, and why one system is more suited to you than another, is priceless.
AJP: What should homeowners think about when considering solar panels?
HE: Panel warranty and quality is important to consider. Some manufacturers offer a 25 year performance and product warranty, which is 25 years of at least 85% efficiency as well as product quality. This is a huge difference from the industry standard and should not be overlooked.
Aesthetics can also be very important on a new build or your home. Knowing what is available on the market is important. The colour of the backing sheets and frame and cell layout all affect how a panel will look on your roof. It’s important not to overlook how your system presents itself.
AJP: Are there any myths about solar power that you’d like to debunk?
HE: One myth, that products coming out of Asia are low quality, is certainly not true. These days some of the world’s leading panels and inverters are produced in Korea or China. Finding components with a good history is the most important thing and any reputable solar company should be able to point you in the direction of high-quality equipment.
AJP: How cost-effective are solar panels?
HE: Solar system price has really come down in the last 10 years, with home storage systems hot on their tail! Energy prices will continue to rise, so utilise the government rebates now and feed in tariffs while they are available. If you have roof space in New South Wales, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be saving money.