Solar Panels

The following information has been reproduced with permission from the book
Rural Living MANUAL‘  2nd Edition by author Bernie Webb.

RURAL-Solar-Panels.pdf (217 KB)

Why are you considering solar panels?  If your reasons include helping to save the planet, sustainability or reduced your carbon footprint please go ahead and install them, and don’t delay!

If, however your main aim is to save money, here are a few things to consider:

  • Will you be living on the property long enough to cover the ‘Pay-back-time’?
  • It is far cheaper to use the electricity your solar panels generate rather than sell it to your energy provider for a pittance. Can you arrange to use most of your electricity (i.e. washing machines, dishwashers, reticulation (watering during the day is not really a good idea), air conditioners, welders, etc.) while the sun is shining?
  • It is very important to confirm that your warranty on all the ‘bits’ (Inverter, solar panels, etc.) lasts at least as long as your ‘Pay-back-time’.
  • Regrettably, batteries to store your generated electricity to then use at night are not sufficiently economical (at least in 2020). Let’s hope that by the time you are reading this…
  • On the other hand, if you are a long way from the grid a solar power system with batteries may well be a lot cheaper than connecting to the grid.
  • With prices continually dropping don’t waste your time and money with too small a system. The sweet spot is probably around 6kW of panels (approx. 20-22 in total) with a 5kW inverter.
  • Solar panels on your roof won’t automatically increase the selling price of your home but it could be the motivation that encourages a purchaser to acquire your property over one without a solar system.
  • Solar energy is generated from daylight not sunlight, so even on rainy or cloudy days, your panels will be working to produce energy just not at a lot less efficiency!
  • A large, unshaded area of your roof is required to install you preferred system.
  • Solar Panels are best installed on a North facing roof (assuming you are in the Southern Hemisphere) to maximise exposure to the sun in winter.
  • The best angle to install them at is approximately equal to your latitude (for Perth this would be 32o), also for the best result in Winter.
  • You may wish to consider the cost of installing a solar panel system as purchasing electricity in advance!

Some of the above gives the impression that I am trying to talk you out of installing solar panels, on the contrary, I hope you do install some but my intention has been to better inform you of some of the facts to consider.  We first installed ours just over 10 years ago. We had recouped the cost and were starting to make a profit when the Inverter blew up.  We ended up replacing the whole system, but twice as big (6.6kW) for less than we had paid for the smaller original system.  I am sure we will pay for the new system even quicker, especially with electricity charges continually going up!