Solar power is becoming an increasingly popular investment in Australia. Last year, more than 9500 solar panels were installed each day on average. However, there is still a lot of information out there about solar, particularly when it comes to upkeep, reliability and cost. Here are five myths that prospective first-time buyers need to know.
As we head into spring, now is the perfect time to start investigating your options and preparing to make the solar leap. The first step is to determine fact from fiction. We asked Chris Zondanos, commercial director at Amaysim Energy, to bust a few enduring myths about solar energy.
Myth #1 Solar panels are very expensive
“In fact, solar panels are increasingly affordable, and save households money in the long run. The cost of producing and installing solar power systems has fallen dramatically over recent years and it continues to drop. Four years ago, a solar panel system could cost as much as a small car, now it costs about the same as a large TV."
According to Solar Quotes, setting up a solar system on your roof with all further equipment that creates usable electricity requires an investment starting from $3700 for the smallest size/capacity.
A properly set up and well-maintained solar system (excluding battery) has a typical payback period of around four to seven years. "There are many variables though and home owners should calculate when they will break even carefully," Zondanos said. "If you decided to go off-grid, you will never have to pay an electricity bill again and receive ‘free electricity’ from that point on."
Myth #2: Where I live doesn’t get much sunshine so it’s not worth it
“Solar power is still generated on a cloudy day. The main thing you need to generate solar power is free, and Australia has bucket loads of it – sunshine."
Whether it’s sunny, cold or cloudy, solar panels can still be relied upon to convert the sun’s rays into power. Wile cloudy days do reduce the amount of energy generated, an efficient solar panel setup are still able to efficiently power your home.
“What’s crucial is the direct sunlight your roof gets; the more sun, the more power you generate. Also important is to install the panels at the right angle for your property.”
Myth #3: Solar can only ever make a small contribution to our energy needs
“Solar power generated can make a significant difference to your energy bill. Without a battery, you can only use solar power when the sun is shining, so it’s advantageous to run your energy-heavy appliances like dryers during daylight hours.
"Energy you aren’t using will be fed back into the grid and power companies like Amaysim will pay you per kilowatt hour (kWh) you provide to the grid – this often reduces the cost of energy bills.”
If you're keen to have a completely self-sufficient energy supply, you might want to consider installing a power storage system. This captures unused solar power generated to use when the sun isn’t shining. If your solar panel system and battery are large enough, your household can become quite independent of the power grid.
Just be mindful that battery storage systems are relatively expensive – according to Choice, a lithium-ion battery and hybrid inverter typically cost between $8000 and $15,000. "Home owners should receive multiple quotations and carefully evaluate whether this addition makes sense for their home," Zondanos adds.
Myth #4: Solar panels require constant upkeep
"Solar power is actually low maintenance. Your own little energy plant on the roof doesn’t require too much of your attention once it’s up and running. Solar panels are built to last 25 years and as they have no moving parts, generally you shouldn’t encounter major upkeep expenses.”
With that said, you should budget for maintenance every now and then. For example, it’s recommended you clean your panels once a year, which might be done through your installer.
Myth #5: Solar panels will damage your roof
“In reality, solar panels may protect your roof! Solar panels shield parts of the roof, which helps to prevent deterioration. They are installed on railings rather than directly on your roof, and during installation sealants are used to create barriers which actually protect your roof against the elements.”
A welcome side effect is that solar inspections are also a great opportunity for experts to assess the condition of your roof too, which can sometimes be neglected. They might alert you to a broken tile before you discover a leak.
You can find more handy tips and guides about home solar below:
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