By sa move team
Published: Thursday, November 16, 2023
South Australians looking to combat skyrocketing energy bills are making the switch to solar. We’ve debunked a few common myths to help power your decision to go green.
In 2022-23, RAA saw a 75 per cent increase in home solar sales, with more than 14,000 solar panels installed – up from 8000 the previous year.
The increase in South Australians turning to solar and battery comes as the Australian Energy Regulator announced an electricity price hike of up to 23.9 per cent for the current financial year.
But why make the switch to solar? We debunk a few common myths.
Myth 1: Low electricity consumption means you only need to install a small system.
Not necessarily. While oversizing your solar system for more than you need means you may not save as much today, it’s important to plan for the future.
With the number of electric vehicle (EV) sales on the rise, consideration of how you power your future EV is a consideration. For example, an EV will result in about 6kWh energy usage per day, based on an average distance of 11,500km travelled yearly. This means you should be looking at approximately 2kW more solar to meet EV requirements alone.
Homes of the future will also likely be electrified, meaning you may have heat pump hot water heating and an electric stove, which will also draw energy from your solar system.
Myth 2: Solar panels don’t work in cloudy or cold weather.
Solar panels can even generate electricity when there is only diffused light available, like that caused by clouds. That means they’ll still generate energy in the middle of winter – as long as your panels aren’t covered by snow (shouldn’t be a problem in our climate).
That said, they won’t generate as much energy as they do on bright sunny days. Typically, the energy produced during winter compared to summer can be less than 50 per cent.
Rain, hail or shine – don’t be fooled: solar panels generate power in different types of weather.
Myth 3: A cheaper system may pay itself off quicker.
A smaller system won’t produce as much energy as a larger one, meaning your electricity bills won’t be reduced by as much and, therefore, it’ll take longer to recoup the money already spent.
Some companies promote cheap systems, which may not be enough for your power needs, and you could still end up with big power bills.
A household with an average energy consumption of 25kWh per day can save this much in the first year of having a home solar and battery system. As well as saving money, they’re also reducing their carbon emissions by 6.6 tonnes a year.
Myth 4: You can’t run on solar power at night.
As mentioned, solar panels can only generate energy when there’s some form of sunlight – direct or diffused.
Most systems produce enough energy during the day to cover your needs, plus some excess to feed in the electricity grid. This will provide a credit from your electrical retailer. This is called a feed-in tariff, which will help you reduce your energy costs during times when there’s no sunlight, like overnight.
In some cases, it may be more economical to store this excess energy in a battery for later use rather than feed it all into the grid.
Myth 5: I don’t use power during the day so solar isn’t worth it for me
While it’s true that households with high daytime consumption make the most of their panels, it doesn’t mean solar isn’t for you if you’re out most of the day.
You can still utilise your solar panels by simply reducing how much energy you use at night.
For example, using your washing machine or dishwasher on a timer during the day can make use of the energy captured by your solar panels.
Or charging battery-powered devices, such as laptops, when you’re at work.
Another option to make of the most of your solar system is install a battery, that will store energy during the day and be ready to use when you get home.
Myth 6: Installing solar panels will damage my roof
Solar panels shouldn’t cause damage to your roof if they’re installed correctly on mounting brackets.
These brackets are designed to bear the weight of the panel, so they don’t cause damage to your roof.
In fact, our accredited installers should be able to identify if there is any existing damage to the roof, such as a cracked tile, that might impact the installation.
Myth 7: Solar panels need a lot of maintenance
Once properly installed on your roof, solar panels don’t require much maintenance.
You will need to regularly check that they aren’t covered in dirt, leaves or other debris, though, as they can block the sun’s rays.
A system health check is a good idea every 2 years and if you believe your solar panels are faulty or damaged, make sure they’re inspected by a licenced electrician or an accredited solar panel installer.
RAA members can get in touch with the RAA Trade Assist team for solar panel cleaning and maintenance.