6 Reasons Why Solar Power Isn’t Saving You Much Money

 

A number of comments and questions we get on our Facebook page suggest that solar isn’t worth the money, and isn’t paying for itself quickly enough.

So, we thought we’d come up with a list of things people can investigate with their own solar system to find out if there’s a fault with it (that they aren’t aware of) or something else going on that is reducing the savings.

1) Shade On Your Panels

A LOT of people don’t realise that if your panels get shade on them (from a tree, chimney, neighbouring house, foxtel dish, etc.) it can reduce the output of the entire system.

Naturally, shade reduces the direct sunlight on a portion of a panel BUT it also acts to potentially “block” the flow of power from some or all of the panels in your array.

If your panels are under-producing due to regular shade, this could definitely have an effect on how much power your system produces over time, and thereby reduce the power you can consume during the daytime.

Not all systems will have a major issue with this (some systems have components included that reduce the loss from shading), so don’t automatically assume this is the entire reason for your poor savings, BUT it’s definitely worth looking into.

Check your roof to see if there might be obvious items that cause shade (trees would be the most common) and perhaps consider whether there is some way of mitigating the shade caused.

shading

2) Inverter faults

According to research conducted by Choice Magazine, one of the most common reasons for a solar power system breaking down is due to a fault or failure of the inverter.

It’s possible that your inverter might not be working properly for any number of reasons and the only way you can usually have this checked (aside from none of the inverter lights or screen/s going on) is to have an inverter specialist come out and take a look at it.

3) Poor wiring

This one usually relates to a sub-standard installation job by the installers. Wiring can be cut or poorly insulated, &/or exposed to the elements (water + electricity = a BAD thing!).

This one is potentially harder to spot, but a quick look around might show up some spots where the job hasn’t been done properly. Always get a qualified electrician to come onsite to check and fix issues here. Electricity is NOTHING to joke about.

damaged-wiring

water-damaged-650x553

4) Increased Power Usage

Moving away from problems with hardware and installation, another common reason for a solar power system not producing as much savings as expected (assuming the system is working properly and has been installed properly) is that the home owner has increased their use of electricity.

It’s fairly common for people to start using more power once they get solar installed. They have the mindset that it’s coming free from the sun now and they don’t need to be quite as frugal with it.

The only catch here is that if you use a lot more power after getting solar than before AND your system can’t produce enough spare electricity during the daytime to accommodate that, your power bills WILL go up.

To get an idea of what your power usage is like, go and look at your bills prior to installing solar and compare them to after you installed it.

Look at the actual number of units (kWh) consumed, not the dollar amount.

If you are seeing an increase in units consumed, then chances are this is the reason for your bills not going down very much. At least this is a simple fix – just use less power.

5) Not Using Enough Power During The Day

Possibly the easiest solution to increasing the savings you get from Solar is to switch as much of your discretionary power use to daytime as possible.

Almost everyone has a fridge (or 3) running 24×7 that can’t be turned off, but what about your washing machine, clothes dryer, dish washer, pool pump, electric hot water system, garden reticulation system, etc?

In many cases, you can put these items on a timer so they only go on during the daytime. That way, they are more likely to use the electricity from your solar panels RATHER than the grid, and thereby save on your power bills.

Note: Surprisingly, some people still don’t realise that solar doesn’t work at night time, and also go hard on the electricity use at night. Our suggestion is to always be mindful of excess power use and try to either cut down on it or – if possible – switch it to day time.

6) Misreading Your Power Bill

The other big one is that people assume the Feed In Tariff credit on their power bill is the sole extent of their savings, but in fact, the biggest component of savings come from reducing the amount of power you have to buy from your energy retailer. Note that this amount is not on the bill.

You can learn more about the “hidden savings” from solar here:

The Missing Piece of The Solar Power Puzzle

7) Changes To Your Electricity Tariffs

#7 is an unannounced freebie! :-)

In some parts of Australia, adding solar to your house triggers your energy retailer to change the kind of rates (or tariffs) they charge you for your power.

Because the greedy power companies don’t like losing income (such as when you go solar and reduce the power you buy from them), they sometimes will change your electricity service from charging a rate per kWh used, to a fixed daily rate (with a small component for kWhs consumed). This means they are jacking up the daily price BEFORE you use a single unit of electricity, in order to make more money from you. OR, they may put you on a different Time Of Use (TOU) tariff which charges more per unit of power consumed in the evenings when you are not generating free electricity from your solar system.

If you are in this situation, we recommend shopping around for a NEW energy retailer who is more solar friendly.

In many cases, this can see a decent reduction in your power bill.

The easiest way to identify this is look at your old power bills before you got solar (which should show your rates on them) and compare them to your current bills.

Lastly, here’s an interesting article on increasing fixed daily charges in QLD and another article about Govt investigation into this in Victoria and QLD.

If You’re Still Considering Installing Solar…

If you’d like to crunch the Return On Investment numbers for solar power for your home or business, why not use our Free Solar Savings Calculator. It will give you some ball park figures of how quickly solar will pay for itself for you, and ultimately how much money it will save you over its lifetime.

Alternatively, if you’d like to get 3 free quotes for solar power for your own home or business, just fill in the quote form below (it only takes 30 seconds) to get the process started, and you’ll be contacted by 3 local installers ASAP to provide a fully customised no-obligation quote for solar.

 

Take our Solar Quiz Compare Energy Providers and Save

Download Your FREE Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power!

Beginners Guide to Solar Power

If you’re considering solar for your property or just looking to maximise the savings for your solar system, download a FREE copy of our "Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power".

Become an expert and better understand the ins and outs of solar power and solar PV systems for your property.

Includes detailed explanations and diagrams of the various types of solar systems and their parts, solar battery storage systems, Government incentives, expected ROI periods, finance, energy saving tips and more!

Download Your Free Copy Now!

Latest blog & information

X

Please provide your email address so that we can send your free copy of "Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power".

* By clicking "Send me a copy" I agree to the terms in TQC’s privacy policy.

Thank you

We have emailed your copy of "Beginner’s Guide To Solar Power".

If your guide does not appear in your inbox ensure that you have provided the correct email address or check your junk/spam folder.

This message will close in 10 seconds or

Close and back to page
X

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.
 

Find the solar system that suits you & its price in 2 mins

Take Our Solar Quiz Take Our Solar Quiz!