1. Don’t install a solar power system yourself, and don’t buy components separately!
There’s no denying it; solar power systems have a large upfront cost. It might sound economically enticing to try and shed a few dollars off the systems cost and purchase solar panels from ‘a guy who brought in a container of solar panels from China’, then install the system yourself, after all, how hard can it be?
There are two things wrong with this scenario. Firstly, solar panels are expected to last more than 25 years and reputable SEANZ certified installers and retailers have the warranty to back this. The ‘container’ sale panels have no warranty, and if they do – be skeptical, I doubt these sellers will be willing to honour their products in 20 years-time.
Secondly, no matter how good you are at DIY, solar is not a DIY project. We can’t stress that enough. Only well-trained professionals should be completing the service. Connecting DC wires, drilling holes in your home and lifting 15kg solar panels onto your roof may sound easy enough, but it isn’t that straight forward, and doing so will void your warranties.
I’ll repeat that last part for clarity. If you DON’T purchase solar panels from a reputable NZ wholesaler/retailer, your warranty can become void if the system isn’t installed by a qualified professional.
Also, the design process or system configuration is best done by professionals. All the research in the world, along with hours of looking at online tutorials and locating the parts yourself can amount to a system that isn’t fit for your home.
2. Using solar power calculators and believing the calculator’s results are the only possible outcome
Solar calculators are a good tool to use when considering having a solar power system installed, but solar calculators aren’t an exact measurement. There are so many variables that can determine how much power a solar power system will produce, not to mention the savings gained from having one.
A solar calculator might suggest that a solar power system could save a customer around $600 a year, when in reality it might save $1000, or vice versa. This is because of all the variables behind the calculation. Solar calculators often make assumptions, which impedes an accurate result. For example, the calculator might assume an electricity charge is 30 cents/kWh, and if the electricity cost is actually 40 cents/kWh then the savings could be 25% more than what was shown in the calculator’s results.
To get accurate estimations we recommend getting 3 free quotes from solar installation companies. They’ll look at electricity bills, figure out the daily electricity use patterns of a home, use satellite images of roofs (or access on a site visit), and look at data for the average sunshine hours (from NIWA) for precise locations. All to give the most accurate estimate possible for the individual customer’s needs.
3. Worried that if your roof doesn’t face north?
In many cases, solar panels on a north-facing roof are ideal, as solar panels facing north generate the most electricity during the course of a day.
Not all is lost if you don't have a north facing roof. Solar panels on an east-facing roof will get generate more solar electricity in the morning and west-facing panels will generate the most solar power in the afternoon.
If solar panels aren’t facing north, then the system won’t generate as much power over the course of a day. But if east-facing panels are matched with a household that uses more power in the morning, then less power will be exported to the grid, which means their savings on electricity bills will be higher.
4. Not understanding the impact of solar power self-consumption could weaken the potential savings
For a grid-connected system to provide a high return on investment it will require the household or business to use the majority of the solar power that they generate, as opposed to exporting it to the grid. This is because the price electricity retailers pay for excess solar power is generally low, roughly 9 cents/kWh.
Therefore, if solar power is consumed when it is generated (known as self-consumption), expensive grid electricity will be off-set.
I’ve known some customers to be disappointed with their systems as they were caught unaware as to why they weren’t getting the savings they were hoping for. They expected to use a high portion of solar power directly from the roof, but in actuality, their power consumption habits weren’t altered to the systems output, therefore the percentage of solar electricity use is low - which leads to low savings.
It’s important to think about the ways to increase solar power self-consumption before installing a system, for example making sure the hot water cylinder is on a timer, and that the dishwasher/washing machine goes on during the middle of the day (during peak power production times). Find out more about solar power self-consumption here.
5. One solar power system size does not fit all
Miscalculating solar power system sizes could see customers end up with excess solar power, or not enough, and customers won’t see a significant change on electricity bills.
Getting a solar professional to figure out what system size will be best for your home or business will give you the most accurate system size that will suit your needs. When you get 3 free quotes from My Solar Quotes, we’ll put you in touch with reputable solar power companies, who will be able to figure out the best system size for you, along with a quote to match.