Depending on your solar system’s capacity and your home’s energy consumption, there are likely days when your solar system produces more energy than you can use. Solar panels produce the most energy during the middle of the day when the sun has risen to its peak.
Unfortunately, for most, this means that your solar is producing valuable energy when there isn’t anybody home to use it. If you’re at work and the kids are at school, the solar produced during peak periods is unused - so where does it go?
Your excess solar energy flows back into the electricity grid to supplement conventional power in your network. Any energy sent from your solar system to the grid earns you a “feed-in tariff”, which is often credited on your electricity bills against any cost of electricity you use from the grid. Currently, anywhere from 6 cents per kWh to 9 cents per kWh is an average tariff.
The bad news is that feed-in tariffs are decreasing in value. Thanks to a highly successful uptake in solar from homes and businesses alike, wholesale electricity retailers are forced to lower their electricity prices. As energy companies receive an over-supply of solar generation, feed-in tariffs are quick to reduce therefore minimising the benefit of exporting solar to the grid. Click here to learn whether you should base the size of your solar system on feed-in tariff rates (spoiler alert - you shouldn't!).
With such lowly feed-in tariffs on the market, solar owners need to understand that their solar system will generate much better returns when they use their solar energy, rather than export it. Self-consumption is worth roughly double your feed-in tariff, meaning that using up as much of your solar as possible is the key to maximising your solar savings.
"Self-consumption is worth roughly double your feed-in tariff, meaning that using up as much of your solar as possible is the key to maximising your solar savings"
If you’re not at home during the day for most of the week, you can make some household changes to help improve your solar self-consumption. Try charging power banks during the day to then use to charge your phone and laptop at night. Wait until the morning to put on a load of laundry to be washed or dried during the day. Set your temperature control with a timer so the house can be cooled or heated by the time you get home. Save energy-intensive activities for the weekend when you’re home during the day. Small changes like these are a bit of a hassle, but can certainly improve your self-consumption to make sure you’re getting the most out of your solar system.
Alternatively, it is possible to collect and store excess solar your system produces during the day to then use at night or on rainy days. Solar batteries are becoming increasingly popular in Australia, especially in Queensland, where our sunny and generously long days mean that solar owners can store plenty of excess energy.
When you have a battery-connected solar system, your switchboard will direct excess solar energy to your battery for storage rather than exporting it to the grid. Your battery will be charged during the day from solar to be ready for use at night when you get home from work. A battery means you can continue to power your home with solar energy even when the sun isn’t shining.
A solar battery is the best way to maximise your solar self-consumption, make the most of the solar energy generated during the day, and power your home almost completely independent from the grid. With self-consumption solar powering your home during the day and night, it can completely slash your power bills. The only time you would need to draw from the grid is if your battery hasn’t charged completely or if you use more energy than you’ve stored overnight. Sounds pretty good, right?
As of 2022, solar batteries are still a hefty investment for homeowners to make, so installing a battery won’t be right for every household. It is important to discuss with a solar and battery expert whether the investment in batteries is right for you at this stage of time. It is anticipated that solar batteries will become more financially viable for Australians in the coming years.
With plenty of solar batteries on the market and plenty more in development for release in the next year or two, options will be vast. Springers Solar currently uses Tesla, SolarEdge, and BYD as our trusted battery providers, and we can assist you with finding out which battery type is right for your property.
To sum up, low feed-in tariffs are a sign that it’s time to start thinking about how you can improve your solar self-consumption to get the most out of your system and see those savings on your power bill. Installing a solar battery, while expensive, is the best way to optimise your solar system as it allows you to store excess energy to be used at night or during inclement weather.
Springers Solar | Queensland's Most Experienced Solar Installer
Springers Solar provides quality components with proven performance, backed by industry-leading warranties, and dedicated after-sales support. Thousands of satisfied customers over more than 20 years of operation make Springers Solar one of the most established and experienced solar companies in Australia.
Springers Solar has received multiple awards for design and installation and is a certified/preferred installer for a large range of solar panel, inverter, and solar battery manufacturers, including Tesla, REC, and SolarEdge.
Our dedicated in-house team of electrical engineers, project managers, solar PV designers, solar installers and electricians work closely with you before, during, and long after your project is completed. Springers Solar offers an industry-leading 10-year workmanship warranty which is a testament to our qualified staff and offers you outstanding value and peace of mind.