What Do I Need to Know About Solar Panels?

Interested in generating your own electricity? Solar panels (also known as photovoltaic panels) installed on Kiwis’ homes are quickly proving a popular way to accomplish this goal!

How to Install Solar Panels on Your Home

Like most decisions in life, it pays to do your homework first before making a big decision! The same logic applies to installing solar panels on your home.

Prior to doing so, consider the pros and cons of adding solar panels to your residence. Although you may already know the benefits of having solar panels (with the big one being a decrease/elimination of energy costs), have you considered the disadvantages?

Researching the costs associated with having the solar panels, such as maintenance costs and parts replacement as well as the length of the warranty can help you make an informed decision.

More Information Available Online

As part of your research, check out the solar calculator on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s website. By giving your address and electricity usage from a previous bill, you’ll be able to see how much value you could get from installing solar. And all within only 15 minutes online!

Further information is available via Consumer NZ’s website and Sustainable Electricity Association New Zealand’s website.

Your Connection to the Grid When You Have Solar Panels

Even when you generate solar energy, you still remain connected to the grid. A relationship continues with your retailer and lines company as well.

Your retailer can let you know if your electricity meter can measure both the electricity created from the solar panels, as well as the electricity exported to the local network. It’s worth researching buy-back rates of various retailers in your area to learn more about what you can do with your excess electricity.

What to Do with Solar Panel Issues

If you have a complaint with the solar panels on your home, you must first seek a solution via your panel provider. If you’re still not satisfied, either the Commerce Commission or Citizens’ Advice Bureau can assist you.

Other Ways to Save on Energy

Not interesting in installing solar panels, but still want to save on your energy bill? Switchme, New Zealand’s largest non-government funded energy switching site helps Kiwis find better energy deals.

Since 2009, we have offered free, independent advice as well as assisted customers through the confusing process of changing energy providers. Using our free, online comparison calculator, easily see how your current energy provider compares to competitors! Contact us today for more details!

Image result for solar panels

Solar Energy Heating Up

Energy users and researchers say new technology could heat up an already growing enthusiasm for solar panels in New Zealand.

Figures released by the Electricity Networks Association, which represents electricity distributors, show the number of solar power systems across the country has more than tripled in the last 18 months.

Solar panel on house roof.

Photo: 123RF

Photovoltaic systems in New Zealand in October 2013 numbered 1630, but by March this year had climbed to 5367.

The figures were released just weeks after distribution company Vector announced a partnership with US technology company Tesla to bring its new large storage batteries to New Zealand.

Electricity Networks Association chief executive Graeme Peters said it was still just a blip in the market so far.

But as more people switched to solar power, it created questions for power companies, particularly around what was fair, he said.

"If you have a solar electricity-generating array then that means that your overall power bill will be lower and that means you can access the low-user fixed charge.

"The amount of money that you'll be paying for maintaining the lines network is reduced, so that increases the cost-subsidy to people who don't have solar power, so that raises all of these issues."

While Aucklanders led the way in sheer numbers, the Tasman and Nelson districts were leading the pack proportionally.

In Tasman district, there were 41 solar power systems for every 10,000 people, compared with a national average of 12.

Nelson resident Carolyn Hughes, who installed her panels in 2011, said it was more than just the region's sunny reputation driving solar's growth there.

"There are quite a few people, particularly in Tasman, who live fairly remotely, who sometimes want to go off the grid entirely," Ms Hughes said.

"There are also quite a few communities - eco-villages, I suppose you'd call them - who look seriously at community-owned photo-voltaic [systems]."

One of the big problems for solar users was how to store energy when they were not using it, she said.

As a result, Vector's call for expressions of interest in Tesla's new lithium ion batteries, which store large amounts of energy in a small space, had got her attention.

"We're watching Tesla and watching Panasonic, and seeing who comes out with a better deal, really - and of course, as time moves on, the cost will go down."

The pay-back period for a photovoltaic system had dropped to about 10 years with the average system lasting 25 years, Ms Hughes said.

However, deputy director of Otago University's Centre for Sustainability Rebecca Ford said the upfront cost was still a major barrier for many people.

The increasing involvement from power and lines companies, such as Vector's partnership with Tesla, was positive however, she said.

"I think the distribution companies are starting to realise that if enough people do take up solar there could be a bit of a problem for them, looking forward, with their infrastructure [so] I think it's really exciting that Vector are getting into this game."

Financially, the new batteries did not seem to stack up yet, Dr Ford said.

However, they could become a much more attractive option as the cost came down and the energy market changed, she said.

Source - Radio New Zealand