After investing in a solar system, you will want to make sure that it's working as hard as it can. Here are some simple tips to help you get the most from your solar system:
With a net-metered solar system the energy produced by the solar array is fed into your lights and appliances and any unused solar power is then sent to the grid.
Also a good understanding of, not just how much energy you’re using, but also where it's being used and when will come in very handy.
The graph below shows how a north-facing 4kW solar PV system will ideally produce energy throughout the day (green).
The red area is an example of a typical domestic energy profile, showing that energy usage typically falls outside of ideal solar production hours.
The green area that stands alone is being sent to the grid for little to no benefit. So, in order to “Use it, don’t lose it”, you must Load Shift, meaning to run appliances within the peak solar hours, typically 9.00am– 3.00pm, to soak up as much free solar energy while it’s available.
The chart below shows a successfully Load Shifted Solar Customer’s Energy Profile:
The previous chart is an ideal outcome. Real life results will vary greatly, but simple Load Shifting practices such as setting energy intensive appliances to timers to run during sunny days (eg. air conditioners, pool pumps, dishwashers etc) will go a long way to seeing you recoup your solar benefit as quickly as possible.
A great way of monitoring your Load Shifting is to grab one of Solar Australia’s Current Cost Monitors. This device tells you in real-time how much grid-fed power the home is consuming vs. how much solar your PV system is producing. With both these readings, you can adjust your appliance usage to match your solar production and ensure you use as much free solar energy as you can.
You will receive a smart meter with your solar installation. But don’t worry! Some people are in fact better off on smart meters (especially pool owners). This is because smart meters put the power back in your hands.
With cheaper rates available at various times of the day, smart meters mean that you can use your power ‘smarter’ to get a cheaper bill. Have a look at the helpful charts below to see when the best times of day to run appliances are.
Note: The above times are based on Ausgrid’s Residential Time of Use tariffs. Smart meter times are different for different locations - we recommend you contact your energy provider for more information.
The government no longer offers a Feed-in Tariff for exported solar. Some energy retailers are currently paying a buyback rate for unused solar power. You should check with your energy provider for their current rates, but remember; these credits are a BONUS and should not be factored into the purchase of your solar PV system, as they can be withdrawn at any stage.
The better you are at Load Shifting, the smaller this credit will be, as it means that you have mostly used the solar power rather than sent it to the grid and therefore you’ve saved more energy purchased from the grid.
Having a battery allows you to store power for later if you’re not using it immediately. Since all solar power is generated during the day when most people are at work, having it stored for when the sun goes down makes sense, and any excess power overflowing from the battery can be returned to the grid. Plus, you don't have to worry about blackouts.