Last weekend was Earth Hour, hopefully you will participated by switching off the lights for an hour. This may have inspired you to start thinking of better ways of sustaining yourselves, your families and homes. Couple this with the ever-rising cost of electricity, and many of us are considering alternate power sources not just for environmental reasons, but also financial savings.
One area that seems to be gaining momentum is solar power. While there are many often vocal opinions on whether it’s all worth it, it comes as no surprise that each situation is unique. Knowledge is power, so being an informed consumer is paramount. Some things to consider when deciding if solar power is right for you include:
Not all solar panels are created equal, so getting as much information about which one suits you best is important. Monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film panels are three of the main options available in Australia. They not only differ in structure and appearance, but also in their abilities to absorb sunlight, the space required for instalment and of course cost. In addition, as the global solar industry continues to grow, technologies are advancing, so understanding the technology you are buying is important.
With the different technologies available in mind, the next factor to consider is your location and its impacting characteristics. Because solar power relies on sunlight, your location, roof structure and available space must all be considered in order to determine suitability. Do you experience partial or full shade? At what times does this occur? These points are important as they can impact which panels are most suited to your structure and how effective the whole process will be.
For example, while thin-film solar panels are more resistant to partial shade, polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels tend not to be. However, thin-film panels are not as efficient, so they required a larger surface area.
Installation and additional costs
It is also important to clarify any hidden costs when obtaining a quote from a solar energy provider. Installation costs as well as warranty options should be discussed. Additional costs to consider are not limited to initial outlay; possible maintenance costs as well as product longevity should also be examined.
For example, while some people opt for solar panels with lower layout costs, it’s important to consider degradation of solar panels. A cheaper import may be tempting but if you don’t do your homework you could compromise on quality. Each case is unique, so consider such things as how long you expect to reside in your current location. With this in mind it is worth calculating your systems payback time.
Rebates and subsidies
Whilst the initial setup and outlay for solar panels can be significant, you may be eligible for a Australian Government solar rebate. Schemes like the Solar Credits rebate can help you save a lot of money.
The bigger picture
Ultimately, solar power is one part of a larger picture when it comes to saving energy and resources. Rather than viewing it as a one-stop solution, try to consider it as one step in the saving process. Water, electricity and other power usage can all be considered as a way of not only saving money, but helping our environment.