Solar panels are installed on your roof and produce electricity. This electricity will go into your appliances, like your television and your heat pump, if they are on at the time. If they are not, the electricity will be sent to the grid, for which you will get credit from your electricity retailer.
Solar energy is a broader term than solar power. Solar energy is either the light or heat from the sun that humans can harness and to put to use. The sun's energy can be caputred in the form of light from solar photovoltaic panels and can be captured in the form of heat by solar hot water collectors.
The amount of electricity each solar panel generates depends on the angle and orientation of the panel—the optimum position faces directly north and is angled approximately 30° from flat. Different areas of New Zealand get different amounts of sunlight, which affects the performance of solar panels. If there is any shade on the panels, the output will be reduced.
The cost of the solar power system will largely depend on which system size you install on your roof. Fully installed systems start from $6,500 and can cost as much as $40,000 for a large residential system. Click here for more information.
Typically the payback period would be between 8 and 10 years to make up for the initial investment of the solar power system. This depends on how much electricity the system generates and what the value of this electricity is. For example if you spend $10,000 on a system and it produces $1,000 worth of of power each year then the payback period would be 10 years. But as the price of electricity is increasing every year, you can expect the value of your electricity to increase, therefore the payback period would be faster than 10 years.
Currently the best way to finance a solar power system is through a home loan. Most banks now recognise a solar power system as an asset for your home and are happy to add a solar power system to your mortgage. Getting finance for a solar power system still makes the investment worth it, for example if you mortgage rate is 5% and your return on investment for the system is 10% you are still earning 5%.
You are fairly free to pick any system size you like and are only restricted by the space you have on your roof, your budget and restraints (if any) imposed by the retail or lines companies.
Many people go for system sizes that eliminate their electricity bills. The average New Zealand household would need between a 5kW and 6kW system to eliminate its electricity bill. Some people go for systems that might halve their electricity bills, and some just go for the smallest size, which is generally 1.5 kW.
If you would like a system to eliminate your power bill, write down how much electricity you consume in a year in the comments field when filling out our online quote form so that the solar installers can figure out which system size you would need to eliminate your power requirements. Once you have worked that out, you can always go for a smaller system. It is not recommended that you go for a system size larger than your requirements as energy retailers might not want to sign you up if you are planning on generating a profit from the system. If you are planning on going for a larger size system it is recommended that you call your energy retailer first to see if they will allow you on their system.
EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) have worked out how much power 2kW, 5kW and 6kW systems will generate in year for New Zealand. Please see the table below.
Approximate actual PV output (in kWh) for different sized systems in different areas
The power gets sent to the local grid and you will be given a credit or paid directly. You need to find out whether your electricity retailer will buy back your excess solar power. Meridian is currently the leader in buying back renewable energy from homes and businesses. They aim to offer the best rate in New Zealand for distributed generation. They supply power to most areas in New Zealand, so you may be able to switch to them if you have not already done so. Please note that New Zealand energy retailers are not obligated to purchase electricity from private solar power systems, and their terms and conditions could therefore change at any time.
If your home or building is built to code, you will be able to install a solar power system on it. If the roof of your building is suitably flat and faces north, west or east, then the building is suitable.
Solar power is an electrical unit that provides electricity to electrical appliances in the house. A solar hot-water system is a form of plumbing that creates hot water for all of your hot-water needs.
Monocrystalline panels are made of solar photovoltaic cells cut from a solid silicon crystal. This type of panel will normally produce the most power per unit of surface area. They are great for people who have limited space on their roofs.
Polycrystalline panels, also known as multicrystalline panels, have solar cells made of a number of small silicon crystals. Typically, these types of panels produce less power per unit than monocrystalline panels, but, because of advancements in technology, polycrystalline panels have caught up in power production and are now close behind monocrystalline panels. Given that polycrystalline panels are normally cheaper than monocrystalline panels, they can sometimes be the better choice.
Thin-film solar panels have cells made up by a thin layer of photovoltaic material deposited on a substrate. Thin-film panels are not as robust as the above two types of solar panels and are not expected to last as long.
You can expect the solar panels to last more than twenty-five years. The average lifespan of a system has not yet been calculated because many of the first solar panels are still producing power today. The inverter may need replacing in about twelve to fifteen years.
Different components of the system will come with different warranty lengths. Normally solar panels have a 25 year performance warranty, with a 5-10 year workmanship and material warranty. Inverters normally have 5 year warranties that you can often pay extra for a 10 year warranty.
There is very little maintenance involved with a solar panel system. You may want to give your panels a quick wash once a year with some soapy water and a soft brush. Most solar power systems come with online monitoring software. I would recommend solar power owners to check the monitor at least once a month, if there is a signifcant drop in power production that can't be explained by the recent weather, it is then recommended you call the company that installed the solar power system and ask them to look into it.
Yes. You can ask for a system that will allow for scaling-up in the future. This usually requires that you purchase an inverter larger than that of your current system size. For example, by purchasing a 3-kW system with a 5-kW inverter, you can scale up to a 5-kW system in the future. There are some limitations to doing this, so make sure you ask your sales representative about this option before you go ahead with a system.
Your solar power system will automatically shut down for safety reasons. If you need power during blackouts, ask your sales representative about the possibility of adding a backup battery bank to the system.
Solar power is the most abundant renewable energy source. Solar power systems do not emit any CO2 and their costs of them are coming down. In contrast, fossil fuels are being depleted, the prices of them are going up, and they are not renewable. Solar power is clearly the answer for the future of energy. Although many large entities are not committed to solar power, a household can choose to have a solar power system on its roof.
Before a solar power system can be considered renewable and clean, it needs to pay its debt for the energy used to create it. This is known as 'embodied energy'. Recovering this energy will take approximately two years. The solar panels can then expect to generate clean electricity for at least twenty-three years.
As long as there is a switchboard in the dwelling, and as long as the installers can get a solar cable to the switchboard, the system should function well. If there is not a switchboard in the dwelling, then a trench will need to be dug between the dwelling that hosts the solar panels and a dwelling that does have a switchboard in order to connect the cables.
Usually, the inverter is placed alongside the fuse box. The inverter is silent and has a display to show the electricity generated. Other data options, such as the total electricity generated since installation, are available.
With most power retailers in New Zealand, you can set up an arrangement whereby you will send any excess solar power from your system to the grid. The retailer will set up a special billing process by which you will be paid or credited for the power you export. On the energy bill you receive at the end of each month, the retailer will calculate how much power you have imported from them and display it as a one line item. They will subtract this amount from the amount you have exported to the grid, which will be read from your newly installed export meter. The net value will be the amount that you pay for.
Yes. You will need approval from the lines company. Most lines companies require you to fill out a form. A couple of lines companies require an administration fee between $200 and $300; most lines companies don't have any charge.
This depends on your regional or city council. About half of the councils in New Zealand require you to get consent. You can ask your installers if they know this information about your council, or you can contact the building department of the council.