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Friday, February 23, 2018

Driven by various ad hoc State and Federal government schemes, PV solar power has come from nowhere a couple of years ago to become a major supplier of electrical energy to over 120,000 Australian households, although the general public still don’t fully understand how solar and in particular, grid connect solar works. It can be very confusing and hard to work out whether grid connect solar power is really worth it. Government rebate changes are confusing and the cost of electricity is continuing to rise rapidly and predicted to double in 5 years.

Solar energy is derived from Photovoltaic solar cells (solar panels) that convert light to DC Power, The amount of power (Kw) depends on the power of the individual panels and how many make up a system. DC power is then converted to AC 230V 50Hz power by a device called an inverter. The inverter Kw rating must be at least as big as the solar panel rating. For example a 2Kw PV solar array must be connected to an inverter no smaller than 2Kw. The inverter size may be larger, say 4Kw and this would allow the system to be expanded at a later stage for minimal cost. The inverter is then connected to your existing house electrical system on the load side of your electrical meter. This is then called a Net connected grid solar system.

To work out how much Grid connected PV solar power is worth. Consider the value of the following:

  1. There are 2 identical, neighbouring properties for sale but one has a solar system. (Adding solar power to your home immediately increases your property appeal and resale value.)
  2. Every KwH of solar power generated reduces the amount of carbon gas produced by the power stations which saves fossil fuel and helps reduce global warming.
  3. Solar panels are generally mounted on the roof of your home thereby putting that part of the roof in shade and blocking the sun’s heating effect on your roof, decreasing the heat load in your home.   (Making your home cooler in summer, so air conditioners will work more efficiently)
  4. Solar power is generated during the day, when the cost of energy is the highest, so saving you more.
  5. A typical 2kW solar system installed in the upper hunter will produce approximately 5KwH of energy per day and can save you over $1000 per year in energy costs, depending on your circumstances. Your savings increase every time electricity prices go up.
  6. With solar panel performance warranties of 25 years expect your solar panels to still be producing energy well into the future. I have tested panels that are 40 years old and are still producing over 80% of their rated power.

At current electricity prices, the savings made in electricity will pay for the cost of a solar installation in about 7 years. Your savings and payback period is shorter with every increase in electricity prices and that does not count all the other additional benefits mentioned above.

Is solar power worth it?

Free electricity after payback, what do you think?

One word of caution, there has been numerous instances of faulty and unsafe solar installations. To ensure your system is safe and performing at its best for the full life of the system you need to find a properly accredited Clean Energy Council solar specialist.