Over the past decade, solar power has gone from being a relatively expensive and rare form of power, to increasingly affordable and common.
As the price of installing solar panels drops and the drive for greener lifestyles grows, many New Zealanders have considered taking this step towards living a more eco-friendly life, and bringing down their annual power bills.
An estimated 300 homes are installing solar panels every month, with approximately 20,000 homes around the country featuring solar connections.
If you’ve considered solar power for your home, here’s everything you need to know!
How does solar power work?
Solar power works by placing panels on your roof or outside your home to soak up the energy with photovoltaic (PV) cells. The system takes that energy and turns it into electrical energy that your home can use.
When you have solar panels installed, the experts will advise you on the best placement for the panels. Typically, they will be placed facing north in order to catch as much sunlight as possible every day. If your roof does not have a good angle for north-facing panels, they can face in other directions (they just won’t be quite as effective), or you may have the space to build a dedicated stand on the ground.
If you’d like to learn more about what kind of value you could get out of solar panels, you can use the GenLess solar power calculator.
How much solar power is needed?
The amount of solar power you would need to power your home greatly depends on how much energy you use. Small, well-insulated homes use much less energy than large, energy-hungry homes.
You’ll find the information for your home on your electricity bill. But as a general idea, most Kiwi homes use approximately 8,000kWh – 9,000kWh (kilowatt hours) per year.
As for solar panel system sizes, most New Zealand homes have between 3kW and 8kW systems.
A 3kW system would use about 10 solar panels, and is suitable for a small three-bedroom house, producing roughly 3,400kWh of electricity under ideal conditions each year.
An 8kW system uses about 20 solar panels, and would be suitable for a large home with high energy use, such as a spa pool and an EV charger in the garage.
Finding the right set up for your home and electricity needs will require the assistance of an expert. Also keep in mind that solar panels don’t usually completely remove the need to use power from the grid, so you will still have power bills (albeit smaller ones!).
If you install more solar panels than you need, you can technically sell the excess power to your electricity provider (not all providers offer this option, so check if your provider purchases excess energy first). However, providers won’t pay much for your excess energy, so surplus solar panels are not generally considered a strong investment.
How long does the installation work?
Current solar panels are expected to last for about 25 years with some minor maintenance.
They will need to be cleaned occasionally to remove dirt, leaves and any other build-up that can occur on the panels. Plus, you will need to trim any trees that shade the panels to ensure they continue to get as much sun as possible.
BlackFox Electrical will always be on hand to help with energy issues around the home. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services, or to arrange a visit.