Harness the free energy of the sun. Learn more about solar PV panels and see if it's the right option for your household using EECA's Solar Calculator.
Why consider Solar PV Panels?
There is enormous enthusiasm in New Zealand to take our power generation through to 100% renewable as well as to gain independence from the power companies and lower household power bills.
It may be worth considering solar power if you want to reduce your energy bill, protect yourself from the rising costs of power, increase the value of your home, or reduce your carbon footprint. But solar panels are not right for everyone.
If you want to evaluate solar panels alongside a range of other energy saving options then request a personal Home Energy Plan - its free advice.
Are Solar PV Panels Right for Your Home?
There are a number of factors that determine whether the economics of solar PV panels will work for your home. The factors include:
- How energy efficient your home already is.
- The orientation & pitch of the roof placement for solar PV Panels
- Your geography and associated sunshine hours in a year
- Whether your home is occupied during the day
- The buy-back rates of your power company
- Whether you need to borrow to finance the solar panels
EECA Solar Panel Calculator
Evaluating whether a solar PV panel system is right for your home is a little complex so our friends at the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA) have come to the part with a very handy calculator to make the evaluation so much easier. They look at your home, finances, power costs and estimate the financial payback of solar panels for your home.
They've also created a handy video over-view below. If you think solar may be right for you - we encourage you to visit EECA's Solar Calculator for a full evaluation.
If you find that the payback period for solar panels is longer than you are comfortable with then perhaps there is another product solution that can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Energy Efficiency is the best form of Energy Generation
The best form of energy generation is energy conservation and efficiency. The power you don't use or save by using better appliances, lighting, heating and insulation is available to use later or by others. This is especially true of our winter night power use which solar power does not help with.
If having tried out EECA's Solar Calculator - the payback period is longer than 7-8 years, then check out our FREE Home Energy Plans. We evaluate a range of energy saving products and rank them according to the impact that they can have on your home.
How do Solar Panels work?
The solar cell is the basis of a solar power system – a number of cells forms a module which are linked together to form a solar “array” to produce electricity. Solar arrays are connected to an Inverter which allows the current to be used within the building and connect to the grid.
Solar uses no moving parts and is super reliable with a guaranteed performance of over 25 years, depending on brand.
When sunlight hits the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, electricity (or 'solar energy') is produced. The electricity then runs from the solar panels through an inverter.
The inverter turns the power from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which you can then use for electronic appliances in your home.
Solar Power & the importance of Time shifting
The best way to maximise the return on solar panels is to use as much of the energy you create when it's generated as you'll save the full retail value of every kilowatt. Any surplus solar energy from your panels feeds into the grid and is only credited at the wholesale rate of about 8c per kW. That is why solar can be more valuable for people who at at home during most days. The key to using your power during sunshine hours is timeshifting - scheduling appliances to run during the daytime that you otherwise might do at night.
Any appliances that are AC powered can use the solar power, including lights, dishwashers, washing machines, clothes dryers and electric hot water cylinders. It's best to run these during the day - and many have a delayed start feature to help you do this.
Where should I place the PV panels?
Solar PV panels are suitable in both rural and urban conditions. Panels are usually installed on roofs but you can also place them on facades, conservatory roofs, sun shades, garages or specially built stands on the ground.
Make sure your site:
- faces north
- is free from shade from trees, buildings and hills and is exposed to good sun all year
- has enough space - a typical 1 kW panel needs around 8m2.
How much do Solar Panels cost?
Over recent years the cost of solar panels has fallen significantly as production expands globally and technologies improve. Despite the massive drop in solar power prices the EECA Solar Power Calculator still estimates that a 3kW system will cost you around $9,500 including installation. You may be able to purchase at a lower price than this but check it includes installation.