New to Solar?
5 tips to consider before installing solar power
You’re new to solar and looking to install solar on your home.
Installing solar (for home or business) can be confusing, especially if you are new to the technical issues and jargon involved. There is so much information (and misinformation) out there that it’s hard to separate the mangoes from the bananas!
This article looks at some key steps you can take to make the process easier.
Here are our top 5 tips to installing solar for your home.
Look at your energy consumption!
On the back of your past electricity bills you will see a graph showing your home’s average daily power usage in kilowatt hours per day. A kilowatt hour is the standard unit measure of electricity consumption. Knowing how many units of power you consume (and when you need it) allows you to work out approximately what size solar system will meet your needs. From there you can also work out what impact the appropriate size system will have on your power bill.
Most solar installations in the Top End are grid-connected systems and do not have battery storage. Yet. This means that your house will use the solar generated during the day, saving you the cost of the power you otherwise would buy from the grid.
Excess power from your rooftop solar system is sent back to the power grid and you will be credited for this by Jacana Energy at the same base rate as you pay for grid power you consume. This is called the NT 1 for 1 Feed in Tariff program. As of July 2019 the effective Jacana buy-back rate is 26.01 cents for Residential customers and 30.32 cents for business customers.
In other words you have two ways of power bill saving – from the electricity you don’t have to buy and from the surplus electricity you sell. It means you have a direct saving or a credit for every kilowatt hour of power your solar system produces.
Previously, NT Power and Water limited household solar systems in the Top End to 4.5 kW capacity. A system this size generates approximately 20 kW hours of electricity per day, meaning a total saving of about $5 a day (25.95 x 20), $35 a week, $4554 a quarter or about $1,820 a year.
In May of 2017 NT Power and Water changed its rules, permitting NT householders to install systems of up to 6.6 kW capacity capable of producing an average of 31 kWh of solar electricity a day.
A system of this size means a potential saving of about $8 a day (25.95 x 31), $56 a week, $728 a quarter or around $2,900 a year.
With this information and a price quotation from an installer you can readily calculate the payback period for your system – after that all the years of savings go into your pocket.
Bear in mind the approximate daily solar power outputs given above are AVERAGES and the actual numbers will vary – in the dry season the daily output may be higher and in our wet season, with some cloud cover, the output may be lower. But they are a sound guide.
The 2017 NT Power and Water rules allow householders with 3-phase power to install systems of up to 9 kW capacity capable of an average daily output of around 40 kWh. This larger system will deliver proportionately greater savings.
- Look LOCAL first and make sure all licences and accreditations are in order!
This may sound obvious, but rooftop solar is a big and rapidly growing business and many interstate companies are cold calling Top End householders and offering what seem to be attractive deals on solar systems.
Their offers are often based on experience and systems developed to suit less challenging conditions in the Southern States
Often these companies are unfamiliar with Top End conditions, our cyclone Building code regulations and our NT Power and Water rules.
This means dubious cost estimates and questionable claims about the performance of the systems they are selling. And once the installation is complete you are unlikely to see them again, creating a big question mark about support and maintenance.
At Country Solar NT we point out that we live here. We know Territory conditions, we know the rules and regulations, we know the appropriate authorities to deal with and we know it’s essential we offer quality products, service and support together with complete transparency. That’s how we have become the Territory’s leading solar installation company.
We also know how and what Territory householders need to do to secure the maximum Government incentives to reduce your installation costs. We can hold your hand through the red tape or transparently prepare the documentation on your behalf. We are Clean Energy Council accredited, an essential requirement to qualify for key Government incentive payments.
We employ local people, benefit the local community and support community organisations. It’s a win, win, win especially if you need follow up support after your system in installed!
- Check out the Power and Water website.
Power and Water provide a lot of information on their website and if you are keen to know more then we highly recommend checking it out. Their FAQ’s are really handy and they also have a great checklist to use when talking to installers and gathering quotes.
- Check that your quote the final price you pay
There should be no hidden fees and no vague or tricky wording around rebates and incentives.
Your quote generally should INCLUDE necessary engineering fees and Power and Water fees and charges.
The quote also should clearly show your federal government rebate amount, generally displayed as STC’s (Small Scale Technology Certificates). For a typical household solar system this will be in the order of $4,000 or more and it should be shown as deducted from the quoted price.
- Book a Site Visit from your selected Installer
To ensure that you get the right system and the best bang for your buck we strongly recommend booking a site visit from your selected installer.
The installation company representative should explain further any issues not clear from the information above, answer any other questions you may have, more precisely analyse your power consumption and needs and, more importantly, comprehensively survey your property and site.
Only then can he or she recommend the appropriate system to meet your needs and prepare a detailed quote and projections as to how your system can be expected to perform and how much it should deliver in power bill savings.
An expert assessor will look at how much suitable roof space you have available, the pitch and orientation, shading from vegetation or nearby buildings, access and so on.
The assessor will then help you to make the best decision as to the location of your system and the type of components that will best suit your situation and maximise your savings and benefits.