Getting the most from your solar power system

At present the amount of money paid by electricity distributers for solar power that is exported to the grid, is minimal. The amount paid is currently under review by an independent tribunal, with recommendations due in the near future. It is expected the price power companies will pay for exported solar electricity, will be less than the prices currently paid, by consumers, to purchase power from the grid.

This means in NSW, consumers get the most benefit from a solar power system if they use all of the electricity generated and export nothing to the grid.

To maximize the benefits of a solar power system, consumers should adopt the following strategy:

  1. Assess your home or business for its energy efficiency, and make changes to reduce the overall electrical consumption of the premises. The NSW government has put together a website with information on what you can do to reduce your energy consumption and can be found at: http://www.savepower.nsw.gov.au/
  2. Shift as many of your household tasks that require electricity consumption, to daylight hours. This could include washing clothes, running the dishwasher, heating an electric hot-water cylinder, or running a pool pump.
  3. Determine how much electricity your household or business uses during daylight hours. This information can be captured, by installing an energy monitor. Meridian Solar can install a monitor as part of the consultation process and compile data on how much electricity your home is consuming and when this electricity is being consumed.
  4. Install a Solar Power system that generates an amount of electricity equivalent to, or close to, the amount of power your house uses during daylight hours. This effectively means the solar power system is reducing your power bills by an average of 21 cents/kWh, up to a peak of 34 cents/kWh at certain times, as these are the current rates you would have to buy this power from the electricity network. It may be wise to install an inverter that is capable of having more modules connected to it at a later date, if export rates improve, to offset the power you consume out of daylight hours.

As power prices continue to rise, the solar power system will save you more and more money, as you do not have to purchase this power from the grid at the ever-increasing prices.

Care and Maintenance

Grid connected solar power systems require little maintenance and are generally trouble free providing you have purchased quality components.

The solar panels have no moving parts and a film on the surface of the solar glass helps water run off them during rain. This usually removes most of the dust and debris that accumulates on the panels but they may require cleaning if there is a long period of no rain.

The Australian Standards recommend panels be cleaned quarterly and the framing system and cabling be checked for mechanical damage.

To maximize the performance of your solar power system and to protect your investment Meridian Solar recommend an annual service call.  Output voltage and current from the panels should be checked to ensure they are operating as expected and shading issues due to vegetation growth need to be identified.

Meridian solar provides maintenance packages that include a full system check, clean and a report.