Have you recently installed a solar system? Or maybe you’ve had solar for a few years but want to learn more about your system? We have a team of in-house electrical experts with all the best tips on how you can make the most out of your solar system.
First, let’s start with some basic terms you need to know.
- Exported energy – surplus solar energy sold back to the grid
- Imported energy – taking power from the grid when your system isn’t generating but you’re using electricity
- Self-consumption – making the most out of your solar system by using electrical appliances throughout the day while your system is generating energy
If you have a solar PV system you will benefit the most by maximising your self-consumption and minimising your imports through using your appliances during the day when your system is generating energy. Money made from exports can offset what you pay for imports, however, having a solar battery can help you store any excess energy generated during the day to use when your system isn’t generating and at night.
The tariff is the value or cost associated with each unit of energy (c/kWh). What you get paid for exported energy is called feed-in tariff. The amount you pay for imported energy is called the retail/consumption tariff. So why does this matter?
Every kilowatt-hour of electricity you use from your own solar system instead of buying it from the grid actually saves you the difference between the two tariffs. For example:
- Your system generates 1kWh of electricity – this gets exported back to the grid and you get 11 cents credit for it
- If you use solar generated electricity, you miss out on the 11 cents, but because you do not pay 31 cents for power from the grid, you actually save 20 cents
Virtual Power Plant Program
If you own a solar battery you may be eligible for the Virtual Power Plant Program which allows households to share excess renewable energy stored in their batteries. When enough households have solar batteries, they can network together through a VPP provider to create a clean electricity grid.
When electricity demand is high, excess power from your solar batteries can feed into the VPP network. Essentially, it’s like renting out your power when you don’t need it whilst receiving higher savings and clean energy for others.
Timing your use of energy
The key to taking advantage of your solar is all in the timing. Specifically, through load shifting – switching some of your usage from night to day. The more you shift to daytime with solar, the better.
- Consider pre-cooling if your home is well-insulated during summer afternoons while the sun is still high in the sky. This may decrease the amount of cooling energy needed during the evening peak. This only works if your house is well-insulated so the coolness/warmth is not lost before you need it.
- Many dishwashers and washing machines have a delay start feature. If you delay your dishwasher to start 2 hours after breakfast, your solar energy might cover the cycle by the time it starts.
Reading your energy generation
Reading your inverter can help you understand how much energy is being generated by your system, which can help you manage your energy usage. Whenever your inverter is sending energy from your system into your home, the rate at which that energy is flowing is available to see on your inverter.
Your inverter also shows energy generated each day, which is tallied up along with the lifetime total for the inverter. This data is often available through a web portal or smartphone app linked to your inverter.
Fuel switching: using electricity in place of gas
For homes with gas, any solar generated cannot offset your gas energy consumption. However, all-electric homes have greater potential to use solar energy as they have more appliances that can use available electricity. Changing from gas to electricity is an example of fuel switching.
You may consider efficient all-electric alternatives to gas-fired hot water, heating, and cooking. All-electric homes mean there aren’t any gas bills to pay, and you’re making the most of your solar generated electricity. The benefits of switching are outlined here.
So, to summarise:
- Maximise your self-consumption and minimise your imports
- Consider installing a solar battery
- To save on tariffs, use electricity generated from your own solar system instead of buying it from the grid
- Consider joining the Virtual Power Plant Program if you are eligible
- Load shift your solar energy usage to the daytime
- Use your inverter to better understand your energy usage
- Fuel switch to all-electric in your home
To learn more about your new solar system, please contact our team of in-house experts today.