Installing Solar Panels – Is It Worth the Cost?

concentrated solar power tower
Concentrated Solar Power Tower | Image by WikiPedia

We installed a 3.0KW solar panel in June 2011. Our energy bills were each quarter between $ 750 to $ 900 and rising. We are a family of 4 and run a home office, pool pump and sometimes heated in winter heating and summer cooling. The house had low voltage downlighters everywhere. We live in a sub-tropical location, so that heating devices are required for the winter and cooling in the summer but a few days a year. Our constantly rising electricity bills were becoming a real concern.

The Australian federal government offers rebates for the installation of PV (photovoltaic) cells or solar panels for generating electricity. In our case, the rebate was worth about $ 4,000

  • in suburban areas, the solar panels feed electricity back into the grid through an inverter that is connected to your electricity meter.
  • The electricity meter is turned into a “smart meter” which is also installed as part of the drive. The “smart meter” measures the amount of electricity you use (bring) as the quantity of electricity put your solar panels. As you pull to use electricity during the day, the meter will your electricity on the amount of electricity that make panels.
  • If you produce more electricity than you use, then your excess electricity back to the electricity supplier sold for about double the amount you buy it for. This system applies in Queensland, where you are paid the net amount of electricity produced.
  • It is by selling your excess electricity back to the supplier who can be real savings on your energy bill.

We use about 1 to 1.5 kW per hour during the day. So install a 1.5 kW solar system would only just meet our immediate needs power.

Given that most savings from selling power to the grid, we needed to install a larger system. Our roof size meant that we could only accommodate a 1.5 kW system on any roof face. We opted for a total of 3 kW over two roof areas using a special converter that could take power from two different solar panels installed

Some considerations for locating the solar panels.

  1. Direction: Roof needs to north or near the face to make the north the maximum sunlight. In our case, each roof facing north-east and north-west and it seems to work well.
  2. roof slope. The panels, in Queensland, should ideally be about 15 degrees to achieve the horizontal winter and not too hot in the summer sun to get
  3. overshadows. Make sure the panels will not be overshadowed during their peak generation time from the trees, other buildings, TV aerials etc. If a panel is shaded, even a small amount, the panel will not generate electricity
  4. Peak Generating Times: Generally from 10:00 to about 03:00, the average peak generating time for the panels. The times will rise in the summer from about 8:00 to about 4:00, depending on the roof orientation
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    In addition to adding the solar panels, also undertook some changes in the house :.

    1. The swimming pool pump is connected to an off-peak rate savings of 50%
    2. The washer, dryer and dishwasher were also added to the off-peak rate savings of 50%
    3. The off-peak rate cuts electricity to these devices, between 18: 00-09: 00 every day
    4. We removed all low-voltage lamps and replaced by energy efficient fluorine downlighters. The low-volt lights each drew about 50watts per hour. Attract new lighting on 15Watts, save 70% on each light.

    How much did this cost?

    We invested $ 17,500 for all electrical work, including the installation of solar panels, new gauges, new wiring for the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and pool pump. Given the government rebate of $ 4,000 total investment came to $ 13,500.

    How much will we save?

    We just had our first solar impulse electricity bill received for the spring quarter. Our bill for this time last year was $ 750, and we used 51.7kWh of electricity.

    The current bill is $ 360 for the same period and we used 28.8kWh of electricity, a 55% savings.

    Greenhouse gas emissions went from 5 tons to 2.6 tons, a 48% savings.

    When do I get my money back?

    We’ll save at least $ 1,600 per year from our electricity bills with the addition of solar panels and re-jigging of our equipment. Most people try to work out how long it will take to get their money back (8.5 years in our case)

    But I think this is the wrong question .; a better question is: How much return do I get my money? I invested $ 13,700 and get a return of at least $ 1,600 per year. This means that my investment back me 11.7% saving on my electricity bill. This is about double my mortgage so I’m still making money.

    How long did it all take?

    We used a local electrician trained in solar systems, which provide us with all the suggestions for reducing power, revised rates for our devices and the delivery and installation of the solar system. We had to be applied in the first place, electricity supplier in order to ensure that they would accept us supplying power to them (2 weeks). The installation, re-wiring for tariff switching for devices, solar installation took two days. The smart meter was installed two weeks later.

    On a side note, our first electric bill came with no mention of solar energy and an amount due of $ 950. A quick call to our provider, we realized that they had no idea that we installed the solar panels. Their accounts were not updated our records. They reworked the bill to the current $ 360 (a savings of the original invoice of 62% or $ 590).

    Our experience?

    I do not know why I waited so long to install the panels, and would advise anyone to do this as part of their long-term investment.

Source:—Is-It-Worth-the-Cost?&id=6758873 by Paul Hindes


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