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Blog Post Thursday 30 August 2018

How to Make the Most of Your Solar Power Panels

Solar power has gained a lot of interest over the last few years and it has become increasingly popular among consumers due to its eco-friendliness and relative affordability.

Solar power is generated when solar photovoltaic panels, or solar panels as they are more commonly called, convert sunlight into electricity. Solar electricity can, in effect, be considered free electricity once the initial set up cost of installing solar panels has been cleared.

Not all of the electricity that is generated is used to power up the house that sports the solar panels. If a household with solar panels on their roof happens to generate more electricity than it needs, the excess electricity is exported to the grid and credited to the household’s electricity bill. Many energy retailers have varying solar feed-in tariffs to offer for these customers generating excess electricity.

Although the initial set up cost of installing solar panels may seem high at first, a customer who manages to maximise the amount of exported solar energy will see their solar panels paying themselves back relatively quickly.
 

 

Setting up solar panels

When installing solar panels, the optimal placement of them for people living in Australia would be a roof facing north. However, roofs facing east or west are not a bad choice either. As long as the panels are not installed on a roof that faces south, the person owning the panels should see a return from their investment.

The panels should also be sloped at the right angle to receive the most amount of sunlight available, while simultaneously avoiding installing the panels in a place where there are trees or other objects creating shade over the panels.

Even when panels have been installed properly at a correct angle and away from any objects creating shadows over the panels, the work does not stop there. It is also important to keep the panels clean to ensure that the panels are performing to their fullest potential.
 

Using solar power

With solar panels, the yearly electricity production graph usually resembles a bell curve. The low end of the curve represents the winter months and the peak is reached in the summer.

Indeed, solar power generation can often be so high that a household generates excess power. Although the excess is exported to the grid for others to use, it is still recommended the household try to take full advantage of the surplus power.

Even in winter, it is best to use home appliances during the day instead of the evening. As most energy is generated during the day, by scheduling the use of appliances to the daytime a household is more likely to use their own solar power instead of paying for someone else’s in the evening. Furthermore, the absolute ideal scenario would be to run high-wattage appliances on sunny days instead of gloomy ones, if at all possible.

A good starting point is to note down the power rating of the various appliances in the household. This way it is easier to gain an understanding of which appliances to run and when. Please note though that some appliances, such as refrigerators, do not use electricity evenly.

In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current electricity consumption and generation situation in a household, a smart electricity meter should be utilised.

To plan the use of appliances, it is best to start planning the electricity usage list by listing the larger high-wattage appliances such as the freezer and refrigerator, as these will be on continuously.

After this, it is wise to stagger the use of other high-wattage appliances such as the dishwasher and the washing machine. Because these appliances do not need to run on a continuous basis, they should ideally be run during daytime and on sunny days.

If both machines are run at the same time, the electricity usage may exceed the amount of power that is generated. This leads to additional cost to the household, and should therefore be avoided.

It is therefore recommended that the dishwasher is not turned on before the washing machine has ended its cycle, and vice versa.

Vacuuming and recharging appliances such as electric toothbrushes and laptops should ideally be done during daytime when there is more energy being produced than used. Based on the data collected from the electricity reader, planning this should be relatively straightforward.

Finally, a large contributor to an electricity bill is the lighting as most households turn the lights on only during the evening when there is not enough sunlight. To decrease the use of evening electricity, it is beneficial to change any high-wattage spotlights to warm white LED lights, which will help save energy.
 

More information

If you are interested in Click Energy’s solar power plan, visit our solar power page.