Get the facts about solar power

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

True or false? 

Our experts help you separate the solar power fiction from the solar power facts. 

Solar power only works if I live in a hot, sunny place

False. Solar power is created by sunlight, so while the amount of energy being made on an overcast or rainy day won’t be as much as a clear sunny day, your solar panels will still generate electricity. 

Solar power is only for eco-warriors

False. Many people consider solar power for many different reasons. While it is important for us all to do our bit when it comes to reducing our impact on the environment, many people are turning to solar power to help reduce the soaring cost of energy and to increase the value of their home.

Most of the money you make from solar panels is from sending electricity back to the grid

False. While it is true that when your solar panels produce more electricity than your home requires, it’s sent back to the grid through your electricity meter and you receive a feed-in tariff in the form of a credit on your electricity bill, the amount that will be returned has decreased over time. 

When solar power was first introduced, the government offered significant feed-in tariff incentives to encourage installation. The feed-in tariff is now 11.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) which is less than half the average 28 cents per kWh standard peak hour rate charged for electricity in Victoria. For this reason, you get the most benefit out of your solar by using the generated power within your home so you don’t have to buy as much from the grid.

I can only have solar panels if my roof faces north

False. Solar panels do work best when facing north to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight. However, there are many different types of solar power systems and installation techniques available, making most houses suitable for solar power.

I can store the electricity my solar panels produce

True. To store the energy you produce, you’ll need a special battery. These range in size and price, so it’s best to talk to your installer about the available options.

Technology is moving so fast, so I should wait to install solar

False. Technology is always evolving but if you’re waiting for the next ‘big’ discovery in solar power, it could be some time. Development in solar power has plateaued and the dramatic decreases in system prices have slowed while energy prices continue to rise. So, if you’re considering installing solar power, now is a great time to talk to a specialist.

It doesn’t make sense for companies to install solar on commercial premises

False. Businesses are increasingly turning to solar power to help lower their energy bills and reduce their impact on the environment. Commercial solar power systems can be fitted to most business and industrial premises, including factories, car parks, sporting complexes and regular office buildings.

Everyone should install solar power and disconnect from the grid

False. Solar systems are designed to maximise your savings while controlling the cost. To go “off-grid”, the system generally needs to be much larger to deal with worst-case scenarios. This can be very expensive and most of the time your system will be under-used. 

Off-grid systems are generally only suitable for those living in rural areas or who are building new homes and where establishing a new electricity connection is expensive enough to justify the alternative.

Another thing to think about is that much essential infrastructure and many services and community groups will always need to be connected to the grid. Think about trains, hospitals, schools, and people who can’t afford to install solar power. If large numbers of houses disconnect, the cost of operating the grid would be shared by fewer people, possibly leading to the costs being passed back in different ways or making electricity near impossible for some to afford.
 

RACV’s solar experts can assist you with all your solar power needs, from advice to installation. Head online to register your interest.

Written by RACV
November 06, 2017

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