You’ve probably thought of installing solar but not sure where to start. The concept of solar panels capturing and converting energy is straightforward but did you know that an audit of the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) found that one in six solar installations were deemed ‘substandard’ with a further one in 30 considered “unsafe”?
1 in 6 solar installations are under-performing – ANAO audit
The Clean Energy Council requires accredited solar installers to design a system suited to your home and show you a projection of how much energy it will yield. Accredited installers are equipped with specialist visualisation technology to give you the most personalised solar system recommendation that will not only perform but start saving you money on your energy bills from the get-go.
Top solar installers use specialist software to help them design the best system for your household. This software use satellite imaging to visualise and map the top of your roof, including pitch and angle.
It then cross-references your roof’s specific characteristics with a library of all the solar panels, inverters and other components available on the market to determine which configuration will give you the best yield.
Usually installers will present you with two to three options to choose from, matching your energy consumption and budget.
Make sure your system is designed correctly
Generally speaking, solar panels in Australia have the greatest energy yield (and savings) when facing true north – where they experience the longest duration of sun exposure.
But it’s also important to consider when your household consumes the most energy. For example, if most of your household’s energy consumption occurs in the morning, your panels should sit on an eastern-facing roof as the greatest exposure will come in the morning.
Every home’s roof mechanics are different, as is every household’s lifestyle. This information will help your installer tell you how many panels you will need, facing which way and on what tilt.
The right angle
Now that your panels are facing the sun, you need to have them angled the right way. As a rule of thumb, the ideal tilt for your solar panels are approximately equal to the latitude angle of where you live. This means that for Adelaideans, the ideal panel angle is 34.9 degrees, while in Sydney the ideal angle would be 33.9 degrees.
Your installer should ask questions about your energy consumption habits to determine the right angle for your home.
“If you think you’ll be using your home heater a lot in winter, you will want to angle your panels at a greater tilt for maximum exposure to the low winter sun,” says Stace Tzamtzidis, co-founder, Clipsal Solar.
Your local environment
It is important for an installer to inspect your house to manage the most efficient solar system options available to you. Shading around the home is the biggest influence on this – if trees cover parts of your roof at certain parts of the day, these areas should be avoided when placing your panels.
If we step away from your home’s immediate environment, there are also other things to consider. For instance, close proximity to the beach may cause issues for panels that don’t handle salt exposure well (there are worse problems in the world). Solar panels have to meet a standard called IEC 61701 to be suitable for installation close to the sea, so your installer should be on top of this. If not, let them know!
Suited for solar
As a country that experiences virtually year-round sunny conditions, we are in a prime position to consider solar, or other sources of renewable energy options, to make the most of our uniquely privileged climate.
Online quotations can certainly be a quick and easy way to understand the potential of your future solar system and associated costs, but they generally offer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ recommendation. Finding an accredited installer that can come to your house to give you a tailored solution to your needs and circumstances will help you reap the greatest savings in the long-term.