08 Jul Squeezing The Most Out Of Your Solar System
SolarKraft energy consultant Jack Fuller investigates.
By now, you ought to know that there is a lot more to saving money than simply installing a solar system. Sure, it’s an important first step, but simple adjustments to your energy usage, along with maintaining a healthy system, can make a significant difference to your quarterly power bill. Your PV system is Jerry Maguire, pleading with you: “Help me, help you!”
WHAT’S MY TARIFF AGAIN?
The number one influence over how you should use electricity. Start by taking a look at your latest electricity bill, and see what your supplier offers you. Keep in mind that in Queensland and New South Wales, retailers do not have a mandated minimum feed-in rate, and therefore do not have to offer you a cent*. Let’s map out what your tariff will mean for you:
A high tariff
Lucky you! The days of 50c+ feed-in tariffs are gone, but there are some great opportunities still available. Diamond Energy is one of Australia’s greenest energy retailers, and offer SolarKraft customers up to 20c per kWh, which is a clear industry leader. If you are lucky enough to have a feed-in rate that is comparable to the rate in which you buy your electricity, sit back and relax, secure in the knowledge that the electricity you are feeding to the grid during the day is offsetting the cost of your usage at night. A ‘virtual battery’, if you will.
A low tariff
If your feed-in rate is low (under 10c/kWh), don’t despair. With some simple changes to the way you look at your energy usage, you can still save a significant amount of cash.
Try to take advantage of the gift the sun lovingly gives you. Say you need to do a load of washing. Today is overcast, but tomorrow is going to be sunny. If you can wait a day, kick your feet up, and put off doing the washing until tomorrow! It’s for economic reasons! Use the sun when you can.
Think about the amount of electricity you are using at any one time. If you’re using a bunch of appliances at once, you may push your immediate energy usage over what your system is generating, forcing you to buy from the grid, even on sunny days. This is pretty easily avoided. Wait until the washing machine finishes before you use the dishwasher, turn off the TV when you’re not watching it, switch off lights when you leave the house, etc.
Lucky for us, saving energy (and money) isn’t rocket science: use fans before air conditioning, natural sunlight instead of artificial light, and your clothes line rather than your clothes dryer. Of course, the best outcome is to seek a high feed-in tariff AND be solar smart! Having a monitoring device that gives you a precise graph of your usage is also super helpful. Monitoring systems are a great investment in this regard.
KEEP ‘EM CLEAN, KEEP ‘EM CLEAR
Depending on where you live, and the surrounding environment, a build up of grime can reduce the efficiency of your solar panels. Rain does a great job in rinsing off dirt and dust, but if you live in an area with heavy bird or bat traffic, droppings can be much harder to remove.
The easiest way to make sure that you’re not missing out on is to give the panels a good clean once a year (maybe more frequently if you live in a desert). You can do it yourself, or you can call in an expert. Often, however, it can be an economically superior decision to simply install a slightly larger system than you need, to cover for any inhibited performance. We’re only talking one we panel here.
If you have flat panels, however, cleaning them regularly is paramount.
Shady spots are a different story. Your roof may have full sun when you installed them, but trees grow. If branches start to get in the way of the love affair between the sun and your panels, it might be time to give them a trim and remind them who’s boss. A small amount of shade can make a big difference.
21ST CENTURY SOLAR SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
As much as you can do towards keeping your system healthy, and your bank balance healthier, there are limits to what we laymen and women can achieve, short of being an electrical engineer or solar panel expert. That’s where SolarKraft can help.
Thermal imaging has been a revolution in diagnosing poorly performing panels, undetected damage, and systemic weak points. Now, SolarKraft has gone one step further.
Using the latest in drone technology, SolarKraft can identify where, why and how a system may be underperforming. Take this photos for example:
This is even less you have to do to ensure your system is A-OK. A quick phone call to SolarKraft, or a visit to our website, and we’ll be able to give you peace of mind in no time. We’ll send out a drone to examine your roof, see where the system may be going wrong, and recommend changes. For more information on solar drones visit: http://solarkraft.com.au/solar-drones/
We want you to love solar as much as we do. Along with superior customer service, cutting-edge technology and a new era of professionalism, SolarKraft offer Kraft Analytics, which will tell immediately tell you when your system is underperforming, have a technician onsite within 48 hours, and give you two performance audits each year, giving you peace of mind that your investment remains a good one.
*If you want to do more research into the different types of energy retailer contracts, see the National Energy Retail Law, which commenced in Queensland on July 1 2015, and is also in place in South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and the ACT.