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Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Buying Solar Power

By Kristy Hoare on in How Solar Power Works

Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Buying Solar Power

With rising energy costs, it’s no wonder that people are looking to install solar power on their homes and businesses. The use of solar panels goes a long way to cutting energy costs, resulting in significant savings for companies and households across New Zealand. 

However, if you want to get the most out of solar power, there are things you should avoid doing. This article will discuss the top 5 mistakes people make when buying solar power.  

1. Don’t install the system yourself or buy components separately

There’s no denying solar power systems have a significant upfront cost, so who wouldn’t want to shave a few dollars off the system cost? One way people do this is to buy solar panels from ‘a guy who brought in a container of solar panels from China’. You may even be tempted to cut even more corners and install the system yourself!

There are two things wrong with this scenario. Firstly, solar panels are expected to last more than 25 years and have a warranty to back this. From the ‘container’ sale, there is no way you’ll be able to claim a warranty. 

Secondly, no matter how good you are at DIY, solar is not a DIY project.  Only well-trained professionals should be working with connecting DC wires, drilling holes in your roof, and lifting 15kg solar panels onto your roof.

Even if you purchase solar panels from a reputable NZ wholesaler, your warranty might become void if the system isn’t installed by a qualified professional.

Also, the design process or system configuration is best done by professionals. You might end up spending hundreds of hours of research, and finding the parts yourself, only to end up with a solar power system that isn’t the right fit for your home.

2. Thinking the Solar calculator’s results are the only possible outcome

Solar calculators are an excellent first tool to use if you think about installing solar.  But just because they have the word ‘calculator’ doesn’t mean that they are exact.  So many variables will determine how much a solar power system will produce on your roof and the amount of savings you will get.

A solar calculator might inform you that a solar power system will save you $600 in a year when in reality, it might save you $1,000 or vice versa.  This is because of all the variables behind the calculation. 

Solar calculators often make several assumptions, which of course, won’t lead to an accurate result.  For example, the calculator might assume your electricity charge is 30 cents/kWh, and if your electricity cost is actually 40 cents/kWh, then your savings could be 25% more than what was shown in the calculator results.

We recommend getting three free quotes from different solar installation companies. This way, you’ll get much more accurate estimations. It is crucial to consult professionals, and this is what they can do for you:

  • They will look at your electricity bills
  • They’ll figure out your electricity use patterns throughout the day
  • They can observe satellite images of your roof or look at it on a site visit
  • They will look at average sunshine hour data from NIWA for your exact location
  • The above is all done to give you the most accurate estimate possible.

3. Thinking that if your roof doesn’t face north, then solar panels won’t be suitable

In many cases, solar panels on a north-facing roof are ideal, as solar panels facing north will generate the most electricity over the course of the day. 

Solar panels on an east-facing roof will generate more solar electricity in the morning, and west-facing panels will generate the most solar power in the afternoon.

If the solar panels aren’t facing north, then the system won’t generate as much power over the course of the day.  

But if east-facing panels are matched with a household that uses more power in the morning, then less energy will be exported to the grid, which means their savings on electricity bills will be higher.

4. Not understanding the impact of solar self-consumption (it might make the savings from solar power a bit average)

For a grid-connected system to provide a high return on investment, this normally requires the household or business to use the majority of the solar power that they generate rather than exporting it to the grid.  This is because the price electricity retailers pay for excess solar power is usually low. It comes to roughly 9 cents/kWh.

So, expensive grid electricity will be offset if solar power is consumed when generated (known as solar self-consumption).  I’ve known some people to be disappointed with their system as they don’t understand why they aren’t getting the savings they anticipated.  

They expected to use a high portion of solar power directly from the roof, but in actuality, they don’t do anything to change what time they use energy. The result is that the percentage of solar electricity use is low, leading to low savings.

It’s essential to consider increasing solar power self-consumption before installing the system. For example, making sure the hot water cylinder is a timer, and the dishwasher and washing machine goes on during the middle of the day.  Find out more about self-consumption here.

5. Thinking one solar power system size fits all

If you don’t get the solar power system size right, you’ll either end up with excess solar power or not enough, and you won’t see a significant change in your electricity bills. Getting a solar professional to figure out the best system size for your home or business will give you the most accurate solar power system to suit your needs.  

Overall, if you avoid the above mistakes, your solar installation will work in your favour. In this regard, we’re here to help. When you get three free quotes from us, we’ll put you in touch with reputable and skilled solar professionals to figure out the best system size for you.  

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