There are lots of myths about solar energy but if you're thinking of investing in solar, you need to know the difference between what is fact and what is not. Here are 5 solar myths BUSTED!
MYTH 1: 'Solar is only for the wealthy'
It may come as a surprise, but Australian working class families living in low-to-middle-income suburbs, purchase and install more solar panels than any other demographic. The idea that solar panels are an upper-middle-class luxury is a complete myth. Solar power systems have dropped substantially in price over time, and is now more affordable than ever.
In addition to this, a range of generous government incentives are still available, making solar power even more affordable. Initiatives such as Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) and Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) offer home-owners the potential to save thousands of dollars.
MYTH 2: 'Solar only works in sunny weather'
Solar power comes from the sun. The more sun, the more power...right? While it is true that sunnier conditions are ideal for solar power generation, it's not that simple. Even overcast conditions can provide optimal solar generation since panels generate electricity from light (UV rays), not heat.
Your solar PV panels will still convert sunlight into electricity on cloudy days and do not require heat from the sun. Even on the darkest, dullest days, a solar rooftop system can generate as much as 25% of a normal clear day output. Rather than worrying about the average temperature in your city, more focus is required on the placement of your panels. They need to be away from shade and pointing in the correct direction to maximise sunlight.
MYTH 3: 'Renewable Energy is driving up electricity prices'
The myth that solar incentive schemes and subsidies cause high power bills continue to linger. While there is no question electricity costs have skyrocketed in recent years, there are many reasons behind the price hikes and solar is far from the worst offender. The latest industry data points to network and transmission charges as the biggest culprits, while the impact of solar rebates is shown to be trivial.
The cost of deploying renewables across Australia is just a small proportion of electricity bills. By far the largest component of electricity bills is network costs which makes up 40-50 per cent. That is, upgrading transmission and distribution infrastructure such as poles and wires to handle rising peak demand and replace old equipment.
The growth in ‘peak demand’, those few times a year when demand for electricity is the highest (usually the hottest few days in summer) is a major factor driving up costs. More houses, more air conditioners and other gadgets, all being used at the same time for just a few hours a year, puts enormous strain on the system. To avoid blackouts during these few hours we need to build extra power plants – at considerable cost. This is the real issue that Australia needs to confront if we want to stop power price rises.
The next largest component of electricity bills is the wholesale price of electricity which makes up 20 - 30 per cent of bills).
Solar is an insurance policy against these rising costs.
MYTH 4: 'Solar panels are unreliable and require constant maintenance and cleaning'
Many home-owners are worried their solar power system will be costly and difficult to maintain. But the truth is, once installed, your solar energy systems is virtually maintenance free.
Firstly, there are very few parts that may need replacement. Most parts, like the inverters that convert the solar energy into electricity compatible with the grid, come with lengthy manufacturer warranties.
In terms of cleaning, most people find rainfall sufficient to keep their solar panels clean. Or in the event of rainfall containing elements of sand, simply rinsing or hosing down your solar panels once or twice a year will avoid a build up of sand residue and help avoid any deterioration in solar panel performance over time.
That said, there are some occasional repairs and maintenance that can help optimise the performance of a solar power system. Some simple things you can do include:
- A visual inspection of the modules
- Check the inverter to ensure it’s working correctly
- Check cables and connections are secure
- Check switches and circuit breakers are operating
MYTH 5: 'Solar panels are expensive and have a poor return on investment'
One of the biggest questions people have when thinking about solar power is, “Is it worth it?”
Some would argue that solar panels don’t reduce your regular electricity bills enough to recoup the cost of installation for decades. However, solar panels are not as expensive as they once were and the payback for Australian homes continues to show that solar panels are a great investment.
To calculate the payback period of your solar power system investment (the estimated time to recoup your initial outlay), you need to consider a number of factors.
- Installation cost
- Amount of energy the panels will generate
- Amount of energy you’ll use as opposed to that taken from the grid
- The “reward rate”, or credits your electricity company will give you for the excess energy you “sell” back to the grid
- The cost of electricity from your utility company
Together, these factors will tell you how quickly you will be able to recoup your initial solar panel installation costs. As a general rule, the less electricity you end up drawing from the grid, the more benefit you will get from your solar power investment.
Remember, solar power systems come with very long warranties and the typical solar panel installation is expected to last at least 25 years. But you don’t need to stay in your home for that long before you recoup the investment in your solar power system – energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a draw card for prospective homebuyers, which means solar panels are likely to increase the value of your home.
There are many more myths about solar energy to be debunked. Whether you’re thinking about investing in solar for your home or business, or simply interested in this renewable energy source, we are here to help. Our friendly solar technicians are ready to visit your home for your FREE consultation. We are happy to discuss your options to find the best solar solution for you and your power needs.