How to Save with Solar
You know that solar is a great way to ‘eliminate your bills’, and you have been told time and time again that you can help save the environment and ‘reduce your carbon footprint’. All you have to do is make the switch to solar, with no upfront payments of course. You might have even had someone unexpectedly call your mobile on the way to work, telling you the government is about to get rid of the solar rebates and you really must buy now.
Maybe once upon a time you've thought about getting a solar quote, or worse Three quotes all at once.
Yet, you probably were quickly overwhelmed after three or more salespeople gave you separate quotes with nine different solar systems to choose from.
All of this has probably made you a little bit uneasy. Solar began sounding too good to be true. But, when it came to actually finding the right system to start saving money, it felt like it couldn’t be more complicated and analysis paralysis set in.
So you’ve ignored solar up until now and justified that pesky quarterly bill.
Besides, isn’t solar unreliable and inefficient? Won’t you be waiting 25 years just to see a return on your investment? Worst of all, isn’t everyone selling cheap Chinese panels, that will leave you thousands of dollars out of pocket, with little impact on your $500 quarterly bill? Besides, you’re hardly home during the day and you missed the boat with the 44c feed in tariff, so is it even worth it?
Well, let’s just say this:
There’s a reason why so many companies are vying to sell you their ‘Tier 1’ solar systems...
It’s because behind the army of telemarketers, tv ads and the endless list of ‘fair’ solar quoting web sites, solar really is a very exciting technology, and not because it’s helping lazy companies make a quick buck.
Rather because the solar boom is very quickly becoming the next industrial revolution and for good reason.
The reality is solar is almost guaranteed to save you tens of thousands of dollars, freeing up your money and putting you ahead of the game, all the while looking after the environment.
In fact, it might actually be the best thing since sliced bread.
But, unfortunately there are a few bad apples out there who are trying to make a quick buck.
So unless you know which system is right for your home, how much you should be spending and how much you could be saving, there's a chance you might make the wrong choice.
For us, there’s nothing worse than witnessing people losing faith in such a game changing technology, just because of a few bad apples.
So, in this simple and easy to read solar guide, you will get the opportunity to learn (in layman's terms, not industry jargon):
How a solar system actually powers your home
How to make sure you find the right system for you and your family
and most importantly...
How you can save the most money for the years to come.
If you’re thinking solar just isn’t for you, or you’ll take a look at it down the track once the ‘technology improves’, then consider this.
The technology has improved, a lot. Rebates vary, feed in tariffs come and go, but at the end of the day solar is affordable, it pays for itself, it produces your electricity and it’s better for the environment. So now it's simply about choosing to either get in while you can, or risk missing out on the solar boom and all its benefits.
Let’s put it this way.
In the near future you’ll most likely fall into one of two camps.
The first camp being everyone who took the plunge and invested in their very own solar system in the 2010s.
The second camp will be made up of everybody who waited until their energy providers wisened up and bought into the solar boom for them (something that has already begun happening).
And that means everybody in camp two will still be paying a utility bill, every three months...
Everyone in camp one will have saved tens of thousands of dollars over the years, while everyone in camp two will have spent tens of thousands of dollars. We hope that this guide will help you make an informed decision about which camp you’d like to belong too.
So... how does a solar system generate the power that saves you paying for it?
Some people might see solar as a complex technology, only to be properly understood by that sleek salesman who told you it would cost $12,000 to eliminate your power bills.
Well that’s not exactly true, firstly, there are three main components to the modern day solar system:
The Solar Panels
And Home Storage (Batteries)
Step 1 - Turning Light into Electricity with Solar Photovoltaics
Starting with the panels, light is absorbed by an array of solar panels that were installed onto your roof, hopefully by a friendly CEC accredited installer, like this fellow
It’s important to understand the difference between Solar PV (Photovoltaics) and other solar technologies. Solar PV is the most common residential form of solar you’ll see, and uses the sun’s light, instead of the sun’s heat.
Solar PV can also save you thousands because you won’t have to buy solar hot water, but a lot of installers might not tell you that. We will explain how exactly you can take advantage of this in just a moment. First, let's get comfortable with this breakthrough technology.
Basically, there’s a few technical things that go on once the light is absorbed, the panels create an electric field, which becomes a current.
Essentially, solar panels generate electricity which is then transferred to traditional copper wires, from here on in, it's down to simple electronics.
Step 2 - From DC to AC (We wish it was the other way around too)
DC (direct current) electricity is carried from the panels to your inverter, considered to be the brains of your system.
It’s so crucial not to underestimate how important it is to select a good quality inverter and the right size inverter for your home, and your system.
Selecting the wrong inverter can mean the difference between eliminating your bills and saving thousands, or saving only a few hundred dollars and regretting your decision.
Inverters take raw power (Direct Current or DC) generated by your solar panels, and turn it into usable 240V AC electricity (Alternating Current or AC).
Inverter’s can do a lot more than just invert power. They are often tasked with monitoring your system health, reporting your energy production and usage, and can even be configured to manage appliances throughout the home.
Some, such as the Fronius Inverter, come with mobile apps and web portals for easy system monitoring, no matter where you are. It’s amazing what you can do on your smartphone when it comes to solar.
Step 3 - Getting back at Energy Providers, or Become Solar Powered 24 hours a Day
This step is sort of the magical moment for people who own solar. When the power is used up by your air conditioner, washing machine and an endless number of smart devices, if you were quoted correctly, you should have generated at least slightly more power than you needed.
So what to do with that excess energy?
Option 1 is you sell it back to the energy providers for 6-12c a kW, which people really do get a kick out of.
Option 2 is to store your excess power using home energy batteries and save it for a rainy day. Or more realistically, use it at night time rather than pay peak rates from the grid when the sun goes down. Essentially battery storage gives you more freedom to use your energy when you want, how you want.
How’s that for everyone who says solar only works in the daytime?
And before you say it, we understand, batteries are currently quite expensive. But, batteries are where solar was a couple of years ago. The technology keeps improving, and the prices will most likely keep on dropping. Our Energy Specialist will be able to help you calculate whether you will be better off investing in batteries now or in a couple of years time. Call 1300767280 for a consultation
For those who know they want batteries but aren’t quite ready to commit, yet...a battery ready system is for you.
Battery ready aka hybrid systems have become the new black. Basically plug and play, your system will be capable of using storage in the future, whenever you feel you are ready.
Step 4 - Enjoy your new found energy freedom, hopefully in the Sun.
So there you have it, your panels convert sunlight to DC electricity, your inverter turns that power into usable 240V electricity for your home, leaving you with the choice of selling your excess power back to the grid, or storing it for later.
Simple? We think so too.
Smart? Well yes, we also think so, as do the 30% of Queenslanders who have already made the switch to solar.
But wait, we haven’t told you the best part…
Just how much money you can save, or to put it another way, just how much you can avoid having to spend.
This is the question we most often hear.
So… how much money can I save switching to Solar Power?
Its funny, this is the part a lot people have trouble with, when it should be the most exciting part about solar.
They think that solar will only pay itself off after 25 years of clear skies. To put it bluntly, that’s just not true.
In fact you can break even and begin saving with solar after an average of just 3-4 years after purchasing. Sometimes you can even pay off a system in as little as 2.5 years. That’s ten times faster than what some people out there think.
When was the last time the bank gave you an interest rate of 30% on your investment?
While many companies will throw statistics, we just want to say that everyone’s situation is different. Some save more, some save less.
We always suggest that you get an detailed inspection to see what savings you might reasonably expect.
That being said, this guide will help you maximise the savings you can make, given your unique lifestyle.
To help explain how much solar could save you, we want to share with you a story about one of our customers who has saved hundreds every quarter.
So this customer is reflective of many larger households, average family, kids, parents, a dog, the whole shebang. They also had many of life’s modern luxuries including a pool, a dishwasher, a dryer, ducted air conditioning and many other household appliances that contributes to a higher than average bill.
This family weren’t overusing their appliances by any means, but they were paying a whopping...
$1025 every quarter.
So, naturally they were looking for a solution. It didn’t take long before they contacted us, and we sat down around the dining table to discuss their options.
At first they were hesitant, which is normal for everyone. They wanted to save money, and it felt a little strange to be handing over a thousands of dollars. But, they were in this for the long term and after we showed them what solar could do for them over the next 25 years, they were in.
This family opted to go all out and get a high quality hybrid system, which combines the best of generating your own energy through solar, storing any surplus energy in batteries and being on grid to meet any shortfall. Basically, you can use battery storage, while being connected to the grid. This means you can sell excess power, or store it for later use. Its up to you.
Now, not everyone needs to invest in a battery storage solution but in this instance, with a supersized bill, it made sense.
As a working family, away from home for most of the day, the best way to manage their energy was with a larger sized hybrid system and battery storage to help provide their evening energy usage.
So they chose:
24 x 260W Winaico Solar Panels
A Sungrow 5KW Hybrid Inverter
A LG Chem 6.4 KW Home Battery
A total investment of $17,490.
Woah, that sounds way more expensive than any quote I’ve heard of?
You're right, most systems will cost you around the $5000- $7000 range. But these guys wanted the good quality, and they wanted energy storage sooner rather than later.
And, with a bill like that, it turned out to be worth it and we will show you why.
If they didn’t choose to get solar when they did, they were looking at a lifetime of ever increasing bills, with electricity prices set to increase by roughly 3% every year. Their current bill was $1,025 every quarter, over $4,000 every year and was only going to increase from there.
So, projected over 25 years it would have cost this family a huge amount of money in the long run. How much? Well somewhere along the lines of $149,482.
After the system was installed, we were able to decrease their bills by $680 every quarter, on average. Meaning they went from spending over a thousand dollars every three months, to spending $345 in the next quarter.
That’s a considerable amount of money, they won't have to spend ever again.
We also made sure that we installed a clock timer on their hot water system, configured to heat their electric hot water only during peak sunlight hours. This simple addition can make a difference saving thousands of extra dollars over the long term. Money they would otherwise spend using peak or off peak rates. What’s more it saves them thousands of dollars they may otherwise have spent on installing a separate solar hot water system.
Make sure you tell your installer you're interested in a hot water timer; we’ve heard too many stories of people spending thousands unnecessarily.
We also used a Sungrow inverter, one of the leading hybrid inverter brands in the industry. Make sure you get a good quality inverter, even if that means getting more affordable panels, it’ll make the world of difference.
Once this family has covered the initial investment of purchasing the system, which will happen in just 5.6 years, they will continue to save even more over the next 20 years. So how much more?
They will save an estimated $95,000 in total, an average of $3900 a year, just under the amount they were spending on electricity in the first place before they installed solar.
So, how much can you save with solar? Well if you're the family above, it’s quite a lot. In fact, it's the deposit on a house, all because you aren’t paying that electricity bill.
Another little secret you may not know...
is solar actually increases the value of your home. So make sure you get your house revalued shortly after the system is installed
You might be surprised to find that on average, a home can increase in value by up to $10,000 or 3%. The family who opted to get battery storage, can expect to get a higher return than that.
But, that being said, we can’t stress how important it is to make sure you get the right system for you, not so small it doesn’t make enough of a difference and not unnecessarily big you will spend the next 15 years paying it off. It needs to be just right.
Sort of like if you were a young girl wandering through the forest, only to stumble upon the home of three suspiciously intelligent bears and proceed to investigate everything they owned before making the right selection. Does it make sense now?
Which, brings us to the third most important question you have to ask yourself, and your installer when considering solar.
So… what type of solar system is right for my home and my family?
Solar is serious, but, it doesn’t have to be something to worry about. It should like buying a new car. You should spend some time finding the perfect new ride, but it should be something to get excited about.
When you do find the right system, it should fit with your lifestyle and not force you to make changes. At the same time it's important to go overboard and spend thousands more than you needed to. So it’s time to make two important decisions, don’t worry, we will show you how.
Decision 1 - What size solar system do I need to cover my bill?
So this part can be a little confusing for people. Lucky there is a little industry trick that we are happy to let you in on that will save you time and money. It’s only a rule of thumb but it will give you a ballpark figure on how much you would be expected to spend, and how big your system needs to be.
Most importantly, it means You as the customer, have an understanding about what you're looking for. This will save you the back and forth negotiation that goes on between some installers, who want to maximise profits without giving back to their customers.
Simply, you know what you want, all you need now is to get in contact with the right people. Don’t be lead in circles because you don’t have an understanding about the system you’re after.
So, it goes like this:
1 - Take your last quarterly bill.
2 - Find your average daily use, e.g. 12 KW, 28KW...
(It should be on the front page. It might even compare this year’s average to last years, letting you know if you're bills are increasing).
3 - Now, all you have to do is divide that number by 4.2
4 - You now know how big your system size should be in KW.
To give you an example, if you are using 21 KW a day you would need a 5KW solar system to cover you bill.
Simple isn’t it? You will still need a qualified installer to take into consideration the pitch of your roof, shading and a few other variables, but this should help out with getting an idea about system size.
In some cases, there is a limit to how big your system can be if you want to be connected to the grid. This brings us to the next big decision you will need to think about.
Decision 2 - Off Grid, On Grid or Hybrid Solar Systems
In some cases it’s fairly obvious whether you would like to go off grid or on grid. Do you live in suburbia? Or do you live in rural countryside? Then, maybe an off grid, ground mount system like the one below is the best option. But, sometimes it’s not that easy.
So when should you consider hybrid, or even off grid over an on grid system?
Well, like we said earlier, some systems are actually too large to be grid connected. Usually if your system is over 6.24KW, you might need to consider looking into a hybrid system, which is both grid connected, yet has battery storage backup as well.
Like the family we mentioned earlier, while this type of system may be more expensive, you will end up saving thousands. In their case they will save nearly $100,000 over 25 years.
Don't be put off choosing the right system, just because it will take a little longer to break even.
Alternatively, if you choose an on grid system that is smaller than you were hoping for, you could end up wasting your money, because you won’t being saving as much as you could be. It’s all about choosing the right system for you.
Lets look at the advantages of grid Connected, off-grid and hybrid systems to get a better idea of what you might want out of a system.
Grid Connected Systems:
- Feed in Tariffs
- Grid Backup
Off Grid Systems:
- Energy Independent
- No more Bills
- Battery Storage
- Cheaper than off grid
- Best of both off grid and on grid
- Smart Inverters help maximise savings
- Grid Backup
- Battery Backup
The thing is, most people will probably be looking at getting a run of the mill on grid system. Which isn’t a bad thing, in fact if you are an average Australian family, an average solar system will give you a better return on investment than the family we talked about earlier.
Let’s consider what the average Australian family is and what the average system will look like. You will have a better understanding of what most people get out of going solar, and if the average system fits in with you.
The average family will probably consume around 25KW a day, with a quarterly bill of $2000 a year or $500 a quarter.
And, the average family will end up spending $73,000 in the next 25 years.
Meaning, they are perfect candidates for a simple grid connected solar system.
The average solar system might look like this:
A Sungrow 5kW Inverter
With 6.24KW of Jinko Panels (Around 24)
Which will cost around $6500.
Even after the initial investment, by using a hot water timer, and making sure to use quality products, the average family will save around:
$40,000 in 25 years.
With a simple solar system, at an great price. So if you are an average family, this is the type of solar system that could end up putting you in front over the next 25 years.
If you’re not an average family, don’t worry, solar can work for everyone. But, to save space, unfortunately we won't be able to include every possible scenario an Australian family might find themselves in.
Now, remember we talked about how in the future there will be two camps of people?
The first will be able to save $40,000 to $95,000.
The second will be spending around $73,000 right up to $149,000
Which camp do you want to be part of...
We understand that this guide doesn’t cover everything, we just wanted to get the basics down. To learn more call Majestic Earth on 1300767280! We can help you with any questions you may have, that this guide didn’t answer. We can even design a system that will help maximise your savings, and let you know if solar can be of benefit. It’s up to you.