2 Questions to Ask Before Installing Solar Power for Your Home

Posted on: 31 August 2018

If you're thinking about installing a solar power system in your home, the biggest questions to answer are how big it should be and how much it will cost you. While you can easily get these answers by looking at your current consumption bills with a qualified solar power dealer, there are many other considerations that will impact your final decision. This article discusses two of these considerations.

1. Should you install SAPS or mains?

Stand-alone power systems (SAPS) are set up in complete isolation from the mains power supply line. SAPS are most ideal for remote locations with no access to the mains line. It is, however, more expensive to install, as you have to invest in more hardware than you do for mains grid connections. You will need a charge controller which controls the amount of charge getting into the batteries. Appliances that use direct current (DC) can be connected directly to deep-cycle batteries, while those that use alternating current (AC) must have an inverter between them and the batteries. An advantage is that interruption of the mains supply line does not interrupt your power supply.

Mains grid–connected systems have the energy from solar panels being fed into a grid-connected inverter which is then fed to your appliances the way your normal supply works. At night, your appliances will use the mains supply as normal. If your panels are producing more energy than you're consuming, the extra power is fed into the grid, and your meter will run backwards to give you credit for those extra units. This connection system is simpler and cheaper to install and requires virtually no maintenance except annually servicing the panels. However, a power interruption on the mains supply will affect your solar supply.

2. How can you reduce your initial cost?

Different homes have different energy needs, so there isn't a simple answer to this question. Solar power systems that can run an entire house are very costly to purchase and install, but there are ways to reduce this.

For starters, if you have a very limited budget, begin with just a few panels to serve part of the home (e.g., lights and water heater), and then build on them over time. Remember that solar technology is getting cheaper as technology advances and more players get into the market. You will most likely spend less for the same panel down the line. You can also talk to your local council about renewable energy rebates offered by the government, which can significantly knock down that initial cost.

However, the best way to reduce your initial costs is to reduce your consumption prior to installing the solar power system. Get energy-efficient lighting fixtures and appliances and introduce a few modifications in your family's lifestyle to make significant energy savings. As a result, you'll need a fraction of the number of panels you thought you needed to service your home.