The Pros And Cons Of Installing Your Own Solar Power System

Date Jul 6, 2021
Blog category Power
By Khristine Eusebio
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New Zealand generation company Lodestone Energy, has shared their plans to build five solar energy farms in the upper North Island. The $300 million will have five solar energy farms that can supply 1% of New Zealand's electricity needs once completed.

The five solar farms are near Dargaville, Kaitaia, Whakatane, Edgecumbe, and Whitianga. Meanwhile, Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed her enthusiasm towards the project, as this will be a great addition to the renewable energy market. This could also help lower power bills and reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

As more power companies build solar farms, it may be time to consider switching to solar power for your household as well. After all, who doesn't want cheaper power bills? Plus, you're doing good for the environment since it's cleaner and more sustainable. But before you do so, let's take a look at its pros and cons to make sure you get your money's worth.

But first, is your home solar-suitable?

Most areas in New Zealand get a good amount of sunlight yearly, particularly in sunny regions like Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Marlborough, Nelson, and Northland. While that may be the case, make sure your roof is suitable for solar panels first. Aside from being in pristine condition and free from trees and buildings, north-facing roofs or roofs with an east or west orientation are also better for solar.

If you want to assess whether your place is viable for solar or not, here are some tools available online that you can use for free:

All you have to do is input some details about your home, including your energy usage and daily activities, to find out if solar is ideal for your living situation.

How does it work?

PV solar panels are used to generate power for your household use. Each panel is made up of several connected solar cells. When the sun is up, these solar panels absorb the light, and parts of the panels convert this light into DC or direct current electricity. DC electricity will then flow into an inverter and turn into AC or alternating current, which you can use in your place.

Grid-connected solar energy
It's the most common type of solar energy in New Zealand and usually consists of solar panels, an inverter, and connection units. The good thing about grid-connected solar energy is you can sell the excess energy from your system to your power provider. Your power provider will give you regular power from the grid at night since your solar system can't convert energy during this time.

Off-grid solar energy
Having off-grid solar energy means you don't have to depend on a power grid for electricity. All you need is your solar panels and batteries to power your household.

Note that this option may be expensive, and some who have chosen off-grid solar energy also get a generator for backup.

Solar power and battery storage 
This option is similar to grid-connected solar energy, except you have a battery where you can store the excess energy when you don't need it, which means there's no need to sell them to your power provider.

How big should my solar panel system be?

There are several factors to consider before choosing the most suitable solar panel system size for your home, such as:

  • Roof size
  • How much electricity you consume at home
  • Future electricity usage - do you think you'll be using more electricity in the future?
  • Daytime usage

Can I store the generated solar power for later use?

If you only installed the solar PV system, the power generated by the panels can't be stored, so they must be used immediately. Good thing there are various battery storage options available today, as these batteries can keep excess solar power for later use.

What are solar buy-back rates?

Buy-back rates are the money you get from your electricity retailer if you have any excess electricity given back into the grid.

If you have a solar panel system installed, you won't draw that much energy from the grid. What's more, you may be able to sell the unused power to your energy provider depending on your retailer, so you might want to inquire about it first.

Now that you have an idea of how solar power works, take a look at the pros and cons before purchasing your very own set of solar panels:

Pros

  • Good for the environment

Of course, solar energy is a great renewable energy source. Unlike some of our other energy sources, solar energy is more accessible, and you can get it wherever you are as long as there is sunlight.  It's also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint since solar energy does not release greenhouse gases.

  • Can reduce your electricity bills

Since you'll be getting energy from your own solar system, your electricity bills will be cheaper. Of course, how you'll save will still depend on how much energy your solar system can produce and how much power your household consumes.

As mentioned earlier, if your solar panel is connected to the grid, you may also receive payments for the surplus energy you bring back to the grid through Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

  • Low maintenance costs

Solar energy systems don't require a lot of maintenance. The only thing you need to do is keep them clean, and if you don't want to do it yourself, you can always avail of affordable cleaning services.

  • Protects you from the rising power costs

As power rates keep increasing, having a solar panel and producing your own energy means you no longer have to worry about these price increase.

Cons

  • The initial cost can be expensive

Just the solar panel and battery could cost you more than $20,000. Paying for the solar panels, batteries, and installation fee may cost you a lot, but since you'll be relying on the panel's generated energy, you'll eventually enjoy savings from your monthly electricity bills.

  • Weather-dependent

A good amount of sunlight is needed for the solar panels to gather solar energy effectively. Yes, you can still collect solar energy even when it's rainy and cloudy, but the efficiency lessens. Aside from that, the panels can't collect solar energy during nighttime.

  • Battery storage can be expensive and uneconomical

If you have an off-the-grid solar system, you can store excess solar energy in batteries. You can charge these batteries so you can use the extra energy at night. However, these batteries can be expensive.

If your system is connected to the grid, you can use solar energy during the day and just take power from the grid at night.

  • It may take up a lot of space.

The more electricity you need to generate, the more solar panels you need to install to collect enough sunlight, and the more solar panels you have, the bigger the space you need for them to fit.

How long until you get your Return of Investment (ROI) from solar panels?

While solar power has always been a better option and favored by environmentalists, it can be quite expensive. On the bright side, their demand over the years and the continuous effort of the government to push a more sustainable lifestyle for everyone has helped decrease the prices over the last decade. Because of that, getting solar panels is more feasible now for households and businesses.

It's still best for those who have someone at their home throughout the day as they're more likely to use most of their solar generation. It's also ideal for those with appliances and devices such as pool pumps or air-conditioning that they use every day.

According to a solar panel expert, you can expect to get savings after a year of using solar panels. At the end of the day, the amount of savings you will get from switching to solar will vary depending on several factors such as how much power your solar system generates, how much of the generated electricity you can use, and more.

So, is it still worth getting solar panels?

Around  80% of New Zealand's electricity is renewable, which is great, but Kiwis are still encouraged to go solar as this will help the country's goal to be 100 percent renewable by 2030, then going carbon neutral by 2050. The demand for electricity in New Zealand might double by 2050, which means additional renewable sources of energy will be required to meet these goals.

If you want to switch to solar energy but don't have the budget to buy your own solar panels yet, you can start by switching to New Zealand power providers that offer a mix of renewable sources. Compare your best options and find the best deals available in your area, all in just a few minutes! 

Start comparing Power plans and save big, right here at glimp!

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