5 Stupidly Inaccurate Myths About Solar Power

 

5 Stupidly Inaccurate Myths About Solar Power

In this day and age, you’d think that the absolute majority of Australians would know all the benefits of solar power, yet there are 5 persistent myths – stupidly inaccurate – that still hang around, so we’ve done a “Myth Busters” job on them.

Myth #1 – Solar Works All The Time

This one surprises us the most of all the 5 myths. Yes, there are still people out there who think solar power works at night time. After the Sun goes down. When there’s no sunlight in our sky!

So, let’s just put this one to bed ASAP by saying that solar ONLY works during the day when the sun is shining. No sunlight = No solar power being generated.

The obvious conclusion you can also draw from this is that if you start using more electricity during the night time, your power bills will go up.  So, just be careful how much power you draw from the grid after daylight hours.

Myth #2 – Solar Power Will Take Your Power Bill To Zero

Another myth that is out there is that solar will give you a zero dollar power bill.

Maybe back in the early days of the high feed-in tariffs (FiT) that was the case, but now days with FiT’s all around 10c per kWh – or less – exported back to the grid, you’ll NEVER get your bill to zero or even in credit. End of story.

Think about it. As we mentioned above, solar doesn’t work at night time, so how could your bill get to zero when you have to buy power from the grid at night time?

As for how much your bill goes down with solar, that really varies from household to household. The more power you can switch to daytime use, the less you have to buy from the grid and the lower your power bill will be. How much that amount is depends on you, the power load in your house, your diligence in being smart with your power use, the number of panels and capacity of inverter you have on your home and so forth.

Myth #3 – There Is A “Magical” Brand Of Solar Panel That’s WAAYYYYYY Better Than Any Other

This one usually comes from the more “shady” (read shonky) solar sales people out there. They’ll somehow convince a prospective buyer that their brand of panel is light years ahead of anyone else’s on the market. That it’s more energy efficient. Has a longer warranty. It is significantly more resistant to weather/temperature/tomato sauce (no, not really…) than the other brands.

It’s just a sales pitch designed to catch out the uninformed when it comes to solar.

Truth be told, there is no perfect panel. Even the most efficient panel brands are not massively better in energy production capacity than the mid-range panels. AND, it’s rare that the best panels are cheaper than the rest either, just in case you think you are getting an amazing deal.

Do your research on the panels being recommended by the installer. Do some Google searches into the make and model. Find reviews on them. Basically, do your due diligence or suffer the consequences of buying something that’s not all it’s being made out to be.

Myth #4 – Solar Panels Are Shade Tolerant

You may not know this, but shading on solar panels reduces their effective power production. So, if you have a tree branch or a chimney that casts a shadow across some of your panels during the day, you will find your overall power production will drop.

Now, there is a product sold that claims to reduce this effect. It is called a Micro Inverter and the theory is that since every panel has its own micro inverter individually attached, when there is shade across 1 or 2 panels, it doesn’t reduce the output of the other panels on the roof.

All well and good so far.

HOWEVER, there are a few solar installers out there claiming “their” panel is highly shade resistant (and I guess the implication is that you won’t need micro inverters because of this?)

For the most part, this is NOT true. It’s good old Captain Shonky (mentioned above) at work again.

Sure, some panels MIGHT be slightly more shade tolerant than others, but so far, no panel brand is streets ahead of the other brands on the market.

Long version short. Do your research upfront on the make and model of panels, the inverter and your installer BEFORE buying or you’ll only have yourself to blame if/when it goes pear shaped down the track.

Myth #5 – 10 Year Installation Warranties Are The Best Option

Lastly, we are starting to hear of more 10 year INSTALLATION warranties being offered by installers.

Note: this is NOT a reference to the warranty length of the physical components that make up your system (your panels, inverter, racking, etc.)

This warranty is more around the labour and overall quality of installation of your system.

The problem is that it’s mostly the newer companies offering this as a way to differentiate themselves in the market from the more established, better firms.

So, here’s the thing to think about. While most firms offer a 5 year warranty (that’s fairly standard), what use is a 10 year warranty that’s being offered by a new company who has a minimal track record in the market place?  The chances of them staying in business for 10 years are fairly shaky, UNLESS the owners are truly committed to quality service and already have a great reputation for top notch service and support in the market (a few Google searches will find this out).

Your 10 year warranty isn’t worth the piece of paper it is written on if the firm shuts down in 1, 2, 3 or even 5 years.

So, before you cross off a quote from a reputable firm (with a verifiable track record of quality service and support in the market) that is only 5 years, maybe you should check a little more into the back ground of the firm offering you a 10 year warranty first.

Solar Myths Busted!

OK, so hopefully today we helped bust a few myths for you around solar power?

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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