10 Ways to Maximize Your Solar Power & Savings
You have already made a smart decision by investing in a solar system. Now it’s time to find out how to maximize the benefits of using it.
To get the most out of your solar and maximize solar savings:
Use your appliances during the day,
Stagger your consumption,
Check for shade and debris,
Regularly clean your panels etc.
This article will provide all the necessary information on how to maximize your solar power and savings so let’s go.
The following 10 ways will help you maximize your solar power and increase your savings:
- Use your appliances during the day,
- Stagger your consumption,
- Heat & cool your home in the afternoon,
- Clean your panels,
- Check for shade and debris,
- Use energy efficient appliances,
- Shop around for a better rate,
- Get solar batteries,
- Use a hot water heat pump, and
- Monitor your system and usage.
1. Use your appliances during the day
It is very logical to use all the heavy usage appliances like washing machine, dishwasher, and dryer during the peak sun hours when your solar panels are producing the most power.
2. Stagger your consumption
To prevent using more power than your solar panels are generating stagger your consumption. By staggering your consumption you will avoid drawing electricity from the grid and boosting your electricity bill.
For example, put the washing machine on at 11 am, then the dryer at 12 pm.
3. Heat and cool your home in the afternoon
You can achive a comfortable temperature in your home using free solar power if you heat or cool your home in the last few hours of daylight.
Afterwards, you can turn your conditioner down or even off in the evening to avoid the evening peak energy rate.
4. Clean your panels
The more dust, dirt, and bird droppings are on your solar panels the lower production will be. Such things will obstruct your solar panels and will result in lower production and reduce your savings.
However, getting on your roof can be a risky job, so if it is not possible to spray your panels from the ground with a hose call a professional panel cleaning service.
5. Check for shade and debris
Pay attention to any potential shading issues such as overhanging trees and branches that can obstruct the production of your solar panel system, too.
Cut back any trees and branches that cause shade and block the sun.
6. Use energy efficient appliances
Change all the lights in your home with LEDs and upgrade to energy-efficient appliances if possible. This will lower the energy consumption.
7. Shop around for a better rate
Even though by installing a solar power system you draw most of the energy from there, your energy retailer will still charge you a “supply charge” for providing power to your property.
You can reduce your energy bill more by getting a lower supply charge and finding find a good solar feed-in tariff.
8. Get solar batteries
Solar batteries will help you store the excess electricity generated by your system during the day so you can use it when the sun goes down.
However, take a look at your bill and find out how many kWh you are exporting to be sure if installing a solar battery makes sense for you.
9. Use a hot water heat pump
Get a hot water heat pump system if you are exporting solar power during the day, but installing a solar battery doesn’t make sense for your situation.
A hot water heat pump can run on solar power and work similarly to a solar battery, it stores your excess solar energy in the form of hot water. Additionally, hot water heat pumps use up to 75% less energy than a conventional electric hot water system.
10. Monitor your system and usage
Through monitoring you can learn how your system performs and you can be sure that your system is operating correctly.
Also, most inverters have an app that shows your system’s solar generation.
Additional ways to improve solar panel efficiency
Besides the above-mentioned ways to improve your solar panel system efficiency there are some additional ways to achieve that:
- Buy more efficient solar panel models,
- Buy panels with High Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Cells,
- Avoid installing in shaded areas, and
- Get an expert for solar installation.
Buy more efficient solar panel models
A solar panel’s efficiency is the percentage of energy hitting the panels that the photovoltaic cells convert into electricity. The material and structure of a model determine its efficiency.
Buy panels with High Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Cells
The highest quality traditional solar peak at 22% efficiency while the cells used in CPV panels can reach up to 46% efficiency. The principle of CPV is to focus sunlight onto an extremely high-efficiency solar cell.
Even though CPV panels have great efficiency they have some drawbacks to consider. These solar panels cost 4x more than traditional PV, and there are not as many models of CPV available.
Avoid installing in shaded areas
Simply it doesn’t make sense to install your solar panels in shaded areas since solar panels generate electricity from sunlight.
Even one shaded photovoltaic cell can act as a resistor and will impact the energy generated by its neighbour cells. Do your homework and plan the process to analyse the site and ensure that the shade isn’t going to be an issue.
Get an expert to install
Your solar won’t receive the optimal amount of sunlight if isn’t installed correctly. The orientation and the angle are some of the main things to consider while installing solar panels. For maximum sunlight exposure, solar panels should sit at an angle between 18 to 36 degrees.
Also, the effectiveness of panels can drop as the temperature increases due to overheating. To avoid this a sufficient gap should be left between the solar panels and the roof to allow air movement.
How to maximize your savings?
With solar PV systems, you can maximize your usage and savings. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your solar energy.
- Share your excess energy,
- Consider your plans before installation, and
- Maintain your solar system.
Share your excess energy
If you have stored excess renewable energy in your solar battery you can share it through Virtual power plants VPPs. If a group of households have solar batteries they can create a network through a VPP provider and create a clean energy grid.
When electricity demand is high, the excess power from solar batteries can feed into the VPP network, and the savings into participants’ pockets. In other words, you can rent your clean energy when you don’t need it.
Consider your plans before installation
You must factor in your plans when you size your new solar system because if you plan to buy an electric car, for example, or plan to have more children, then you must install a bigger system.
Ask your solar retailer to explain this and help you decide what is the best option for you. Usually, your retailer will provide you with a customized solution which includes how many panels you should have and how they should be positioned.
Maintain your solar system
A professional check is recommended every two years even if your system works well. You can ask your original solar installer if he can provide this service or give you a contact of a certified specialist to do this for you.
When to run your appliances and how to save electricity?
Solar panel’s peak hours are during daylight. So if you want to maximize your electricity savings run all your major electricity appliances such as washing machine, dishwasher etc., during the day.
Appliances you can run daily on a 3kW solar system
The table below shows which appliances you can run daily on a 3kW solar system and for how long.
|4 x CFL/LEDs||20 watts each||Each for 8 hours|
|1 x AC||1,400 watts||For 2 hours|
|2 x Fans||50 watts each||Each for 10 hours|
|1 x TV||150 watts||For 2 hours|
|1 x Laptop||200 watts||For 6 hours|
|1 x Geyser||2,000 watts||For 30 mins|
|1 x Refrigerator||200 watts||For 24 hours|
|1 x Washing Machine||200 watts||For 1 hour|
Calculating solar payback periods and savings
To determine your solar payback periods and savings, it’s essential to estimate your solar system size and compare rates for buying and selling energy. Solar Choice offers a calculator to help you estimate your solar savings based on various factors, including your energy consumption, roof size, and current electricity rates.
Estimating solar system size
There are several effective ways to estimate the size of the solar you need, such as using a size calculator, dividing your average daily electricity usage by 3.5, or calculating the system size based on your current usage.
These methods take into account factors like your energy usage, roof size, and location, ensuring that you size your system accurately to cover all of your electricity needs.
When the sun is shining, solar energy is converted into electricity by solar panels. This DC (direct current) electricity is then converted to AC (alternating current) power by a solar inverter and used to power your home appliances like the fridge, dishwasher, pool pumps, etc.
This electricity is then used to power your home and appliances. By using solar energy, you can reduce your energy costs and be environmentally friendly.
Maximise the benefits of your solar system by using the power it produces at peak times when the sun is strongest. This is usually between 8 am to 5 pm, and especially between 10 am-2 pm.
That way, you are using the power as it is being generated.
To run a household, you typically need 10 kilowatts (kW) of solar power installed. This would require approximately 27-30 solar panels installed to generate enough energy to meet your home’s daily electricity needs.
Plan your usage for when your panels will generate the most electricity, invest in a solar battery to store unused power, share any excess energy through virtual power plants for rewards, plan ahead for future plans when selecting your system and maintain and care for your solar system.
With this in mind, you can ensure you are getting the best from your solar energy system.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.