How to Maximise The Benefits of Solar Power in New Zealand

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How to Maximise The Benefits of Solar Power in New Zealand

21 August, 2018

Investing in solar power allows you to harness the sun’s energy to power your home. The energy potential of the sun is incomparable to any other energy source on Earth, and many Kiwis are installing solar panels so they too can harness the sun's energy.

A good portion of people with solar panels are still connected to the grid. This way, there is still the option to buy energy if solar isn’t producing enough to solely power your home. We want to give our customers the ability to take charge of their energy consumption and power their homes by solar, so you can reduce your reliance on the grid.

This article dives deep into some of the best ways you can use your solar panels more efficiently - from when to use your panels, to how to store surplus energy. Keep reading to learn more about the steps you can take to maximise the benefits of solar power in your New Zealand home - (hint: more solar energy and possibly more savings).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use your solar energy during the day

The main ingredient you need to produce power from solar panels is the sun, so your solar power system is generally going to be at its most productive between 10am and 4pm, as long as there are no shading areas or significant cloud coverage. Make an effort to try and use most of your power during these times, particularly those appliances that demand more energy. Charge devices, put the washing on, do the vacuuming or perhaps do some baking for the week. For many New Zealanders who spend the majority of their day at work, this is much easier said than done.

Life hack: how you can use power during the day if you’re not home.

Thankfully, we live in the 21st Century, where technology is rapidly improving to meet our ever-growing demands. So, if you are someone who doesn’t spend much time at home during the day but still want to power your home by solar as often as possible, consider one of the following solutions. Simple measures such as installing LED light bulbs and turning off lights when you aren’t using them, will definitely help to lower your consumption, especially when using power at night. Using LED light bulbs could save some households up to $100 per year! Energy Efficient and Conservation Authority (EECA) claim households could save up to $200 per year if they switch off items when not in use. Switching off unused items will mean less solar energy is wasted, enabling it to power other items in the house and ultimately, should help to reduce the need to rely on the grid for extra power.

 

Solar panels on homes

 

Timers and multi-plug boards can actually solve some of these problems for you as well. A digital timer/plug can be programmed to switch off power at certain times of the day - consider doing it for a towel rail, or a heater. Plugging in multiple related items into the same multi-plug board and switching all off at once is also useful. Perhaps plug your TV, DVD player and gaming consul into the same multi-plug board, as it’s unlikely you’ll be using one without the other.

Do a bit of research on your household electrical equipment and how to effectively use different items and save power where you can. Energy Efficient and Conservation Authority (EECA) has some great information on different household items and how to use them wisely. The below table summarises how much on average it costs to run a selection of staple household electrical items - this is calculated using 26c per kWh. Why not program your heat pump to turn on mid-afternoon while the sun is out and have it turn off before you get home from work (to a toasty warm home)? Give the tool a try yourself and adjust the usage details according to your household for more accurate results.

 

Appliance/heat pump

Average energy usage per year

Average annual running cost

Dishwasher

282 kWh

$74.03

Fridge/freezer

169 kWh

$44.33

Clothes dryer

96 kWh

$25.11

Washing machine

115 kWh

$30.16

Heat pump

1140 kWh

$299.15

Television

111 kWh

$29.06

Monitor

88 kWh

$22.96

Source: EECA Running Cost Calculator. Annual running costs are calculated using 26c per kWh.

 

Take some time to better understand how your solar panels are performing; when are they producing the most energy and what are your consumption patterns? This is likely to be different between households. Simple differences such as the orientation of your roof can impact when and how your solar panels are performing at their best.

The Tesla app and Fronius app are designed to do the hard work for you, it will help you understand and analyse your solar consumption so you can get the most out of your renewable energy.

 

Get a battery

Solar panels alone cannot store energy for later use, which can be frustrating if you want to run your home on solar energy 24/7. Unless you are in a particularly sunny region of New Zealand, overcast and rainy days are unavoidable for many homes, meaning solar power potential is not always at its fullest. It might be a good solution to buy a battery, which will store unused solar energy and feed it back to power your home when it needs it, or you could sell the excess power back to the grid.  

This is another great solution for people who are rarely home during the day and therefore cannot always do tasks such as housework or cooking while the sun is shining. We all love the feeling of coming home after a long day at work, putting your feet up to watch the news, or tackling tonight’s My Food Bag recipe - and with a battery, you can do all of this using your stored solar energy.

Have a read of our Tesla Powerwall 2 Review to learn more!

Monitor your production

Understanding the production and consumption of solar power in your household can highlight deficiencies that you were otherwise unaware of. Effective use of solar power is a balance between demand and supply, so managing your consumption is key. As mentioned, the Fronius app is a great tool that makes this task easy. Making a habit of checking these reports often and tailoring your consumption patterns accordingly, will set you off on the path to success: getting the most out of your solar power set up!

 

Fronius Solar App

 

Keep your panels clean

One of the ways your panels can lose power is if they get dirty. This is commonly known as “soiling” in the solar industry. Being outside, panels are exposed to the elements and other outdoor annoyances, such as bird droppings. Dirty panels can result in a power loss of up to ten per cent, so it’s worth checking regularly if they need cleaning. If you are going to clean your panels manually, make sure you do so in the early morning or late at night when they are not hot. Speak to your solar expert about servicing and cleaning your panels properly, to make sure you do this correctly if you plan to clean them yourself.

If required, HRV can service your panels as well. We recommend getting in touch with us to clean the more difficult areas, as they will use the proper techniques and materials to avoid any damage.

Whatever your motivation might be for installing solar panels; environmental benefits or power savings, adopting these methods can help you achieve better results. Perhaps you’re on the fence and not sure if the investment will be worth it. Our Solar Solution E-valuator will show you how much solar energy your property could harness, and what that could be worth. We have a selection of solar solution packages suited to different budgets and households. Give solar a try and make the right decision for your family and home.



 

 

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