There are plenty of things to think about when you’re looking at Solar Power.
Pros and cons of solar power systems
Installing a Solar Power system is generally a pretty big investment. Depending on the type of system you need and the solar provider you choose the upfront costs will vary greatly. If you are choosing Solar Power purely to save money on your power bill, the length of time it takes to payback these costs will increase as the costs increase.
Like wind, water and geothermal energy, solar energy is a natural, clean, renewable energy source that’s not likely to run out any time soon. However, there are still some environmental impacts of solar that you should consider, such as the manufacturing processes and transportation of the systems.
What you use power for
If a large proportion of your electricity is consumed heating water, a solar thermal system may be a good way to reduce your power costs. Thermal systems are typically cheaper to install than PV systems so the payback time can be more attractive. However all they do is heat water, so you will still need electricity from the grid for all your other power needs.
When you use power
If you use a lot of power during the day time, solar energy can be collected and used straight away leading to savings on your traditional power bill. This means your investment in solar power equipment will be paid back faster than if you are only a high user in the evenings.
Solar systems don’t generate any power at night so, if this is when you use most power, you’ll need to look at some form of battery to store the power your system generates during the day. Batteries are expensive and this increased system cost means a longer payback period.
Many solar panel systems are designed to be mounted on your home or business’ roof. Do you have enough space to accommodate the number of panels you’ll need to meet your energy requirements? The angle and aspect of your roof will make a big difference to how much energy you can generate. Solar panels that face west will be much more effective than ones that face south.
You also need to consider the condition of your roof before installation and make sure it’ll last for the duration of the panels’ lifespan (20-30 years). If not, roof maintenance once installed can be very difficult.
Warmer parts of the country with longer sunshine hours will obviously offer more potential Solar Power generation than cooler, less sunny areas.
Power for remote locations
Solar power can be ideal for generating power to places ‘off the grid’ helping many applications such as lighting, water filtration, and a variety of rural purposes. If you’ve ever done bushwalks in New Zealand you’ve probably come across bush huts with solar panels installed.