Ashleigh O’Brien, General Manager of Bradford Solar answers some of the most common questions householders have about solar panels and batteries for the home.
Q. I already have solar panels and a good feed-in tariff which has reduced my power bills. What’s the benefit of adding a battery?
Adding a battery to your solar PV (photovoltaic) system means you can save the energy not used during the day, for use in the evening and following morning when your system is not generating electricity for you. This is when most of us have the highest energy demand.
Another great benefit of batteries is backup. Most solar systems are grid connected and so your power will still go out in a blackout. However if you install a battery with a backup feature, you can keep running pre-selected circuits, even when the grid goes down.
Q. What if my roof is not really facing the right direction to capture a lot of sun?
Every home is different, so it’s important to work out the best option for yours.
A north facing PV system is ideal because it optimises the exposure of your panels to the path of the Australian sun. Panels not facing north will still produce energy, but the output might be less.
Alternative options could be east or west facing panels, or to use tilt frame brackets to face the panels in the ideal direction. A north facing panel tilted to match the latitude will optimise the sunlight across the seasons and almost always give you the best performance.
Using optimisers instead of a string system will also enhance your system performance, especially if partial shading is an issue.
Q. Why buy a solar-battery system instead of waiting for the price of the batteries to drop further?
Like all technology, prices will come down over time. However there are some good reasons to switch sooner rather than later.
You’ll start saving on bills straight away
A PV and battery system can have you using and generating most of your own electricity effective from the day you turn it on. This means there is no need to worry about bill shock or electricity price increases, or having to scrimp on your energy usage to control power bills. As the home owner, you have control of your power.
You’ll understand your energy use much better
A new system coupled with the latest monitoring tools will give you clear visibility on how your household uses energy. Armed with this information, large savings can be had by simply using your electricity better.
You’ll improve home comfort
Take advantage of the ability to keep your air-conditioning running on the power of the sun. Heating & cooling account for around 38% of a typical home’s energy use. Whether it be heating or cooling, you’ll be able to keep your home humming with guilt-free electric solar power, day and night.
You’ll reduce your carbon footprint immediately
A solar PV system will reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Depending on the size of your solar system, your household’s CO2 emissions could be reduced by many tonnes per annum and you will contribute to limiting the effects of climate change.
Q. How do I get the most from a solar panel-battery combo? e.g. do I only run appliances like the dishwasher at night?
To get the most from your system we highly recommend installing a home energy management system. Using your smartphone or tablet, you get real time monitoring data on your energy use and can adjust your energy habits accordingly.
For example, appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and pool pumps are best run during peak production, which is generally between 9.00am and 3.00pm. If you are not home during the day to run these appliances, set a timer.
You can also reduce the use of heavy appliances on overcast days, and maximise their use on bright and sunny days.