See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

More and more Kiwis are embracing solar energy to provide power for their homes. Once upon a time driving past a solar panel on the roof of a home had people almost pulling over to take a photo. These days, they’re regularly appearing on the roofs of new home builds and being added to a multitude of existing dwellings too. There are many upsides to being a part of this sustainable power consumption revolution so let’s investigate the main reasons to get onboard.

You live in a sunny area of the country

In spite of the relatively small land mass, some parts of New Zealand are sunnier than others. Our population is spread across two small islands with a range of sunshine hours at their disposal to be captured by solar panels. Although having a solar power system is not tethered to your living in super-sunny places like Coromandel, Northland, or Nelson, these areas certainly indicate that using solar power makes sense. Higher UV rays in sunnier climes mean generating solar power is an easier mission than those darker parts of the country where there’s higher rainfall and more cloud cover. There are plenty of places to find out about the sunshine hours in your neck of the woods so it makes sense to do this research before reaching a decision.

You’re looking for potential long term savings in power

The question about whether you want to save money on your power bills is a no-brainer in this era of increasing cost-of-living pressures. Who wouldn’t want to explore the options to bring down their monthly spend? While solar power has a large initial capital outlay, the long term benefits are such that you’ll eventually come out ahead if you stick to the plan. As time goes on and costs or materials and installation come down (with potential subsidies on the cards too), this timespan should compress further. Patience is the capacity to count down before you blast off so if you’re willing to wait and intend to stay in your home for the foreseeable future, you’ll be around to enjoy the benefits of your decision to harness this renewable energy source that’s powering your home.

It’s a renewable energy source

Humankind has been harnessing renewable energy sources for over 2,000 years. One way or another, we’ve been seeking better ways to derive our power from wind, sun and the most reliable of all - water. You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware that globally we’re on a quest to diversify the sources of our power needs away from ever diminishing fossil fuels. Playing your part and adapting your home or brand new build utilising a solar based system isn’t an ideological feel-good gesture - it’s a viable and efficient action that will pay enormous dividends. The answer to how we reduce our carbon footprint and minimise our environmental impact has always been literally staring us in the face from above. You may be shifting to solar for yourself and your wallet but this is a literal power move with lofty and positive implications for planet earth.

You’re looking to get power to a remote location that’s off the grid

These days living in the “back of beyond” doesn't mean you have to compromise on power supply as much as in the past. Sustainability and independence from mainstream power sources are often put forward as great reasons to harness solar for your remotely located home or building. Living off the grid and owning a home that’s your favoured lifestyle escape into the wilderness presents an ideal scenario for solar.  

Clearly, far flung properties don’t have the luxury of connection to cables, water pipes or power lines so by their very nature, the way they are powered will require some exploration of alternatives. This lack of proximity and challenging terrain to link the dwelling to cabling means that running standard power lines above or below ground is just prohibitive and therefore more than open for other more viable scenarios. In this regard, installing solar power is a logical step. Other buildings that are necessarily isolated from civilization can include weather stations, scientific observatories and farm structures, ruling out connection to traditional utilities yet ideal for a solar panel set up.

Your monthly power bill reduces, freeing up budget for other things 

Everyone loves to have choices when it comes to spending power. Keeping the family budget on track sometimes feels like you’re running on the proverbial hamster wheel. And  while they are still working out a way to harness the energy that hairy little critter’s spin produces, there are bigger and better alternative energy sources worth exploring. Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to keep more money in your pocket when it comes to the family power bills? Solar power systems in the long term provide an opportunity to save on the monthly bills so that you have spare readies for other more pressing expenses.

Adding up the drain on funds can be a tad daunting but imagine having an extra $100+ a month at your disposal for food, petrol, travel and generally keeping the family show on the road. This could be the game changer that moves you to live in a solar powered home.

You can sell excess solar energy back into the grid

Extraordinary stories of New Zealand solar powered homeowners having $20 winter power bills with excess power sold back to the national grid will become less newsworthy as more and more folk get onboard with solar power. If your solar system  generates more power than you need, then the excess can be sold back to Powershop at buy back rates which can be credited against your monthly bill. You’ll be able to monitor your daily data with our mobile app showing how much electricity you are feeding back. The unprecedented experience of seeing a power metre that rolls backwards must surely be the icing on the cake! Not only are you getting paid for the power you’re generating, you’re sustainably contributing in your own small way to New Zealand’s renewable energy goals. 

You can reduce the impact of grid power cuts

It’s a cold night in June, the heat pump is on full and the roast is half cooked while your dinner guests are sitting around eagerly anticipating a hot meal. All of a sudden, the power cuts out. Unfortunately this scenario is all too common in New Zealand and no one escapes the impact. Bad weather, high winds, or an accident blowing a transformer and knocking out power lines can literally create the perfect storm and plunge you into darkness. For those who have the appropriate battery backup system, they will be able to rely on power for a period after the outage. This is a reassuring feature that minimises the impact and inconvenience of power loss. Conversely, if bad weather is the culprit for the outage then it may be that you’re missing the all important UV rays to sustain the power anyway. Nevertheless, assisting in a power outage is another factor you can add to the ever-lengthening list as you investigate your options.

It’s an attractive feature of a modern, sustainable home

More and more we seek to future-proof our homes and improve our lives by making decisions to live sustainably and consciously. Some of the more interesting eco-friendly materials that are being researched and even deployed in homes being built in New Zealand include:

  • Green thermal insulation like sheep’s wool, recycled newspaper and plastic bottles
  • Structural insulated panels for better home warmth
  • Recycled metal and timber framing
  • Fast-growing self-generating bamboo building materials for things like flooring
  • Cork as a recyclable and renewable insulator literally growing on trees
  • Cement using recycled plastic as a key ingredient

If you were choosing between two similarly designed homes but one was already fitted with a solar power system it would make sense to opt for the lifestyle that offers the more advanced technology. Living sustainably in the 1960s and 70s was considered the realm of alternative lifestyle fans but times sure have changed. The widespread uptake for new builds and home renovations incorporating alternative power systems that defer to renewable natural energy sources are not only mainstream now but an attractive feature that incentivises buyers to favour one over the other.  

With a battery you can store collected solar for later use

Adding a battery to your system at time of installation is a good call if you’re willing to add that to the cost.

Household routines involve heavy usage at optimum times of the day like mornings and evenings with a large chunk of the day generating lots of power at a time when the requirements while everyone is at work and school are considerably reduced. Storing the previously-collected power and utilising it later when it’s needed most is an excellent option for a busy family. At prices that start at $6,000, this isn’t an addition to your system that’s taken lightly. But assessing the type of household you are - and the nature of your overall usage - will direct your decisions as to whether a storage battery is worth your investment. 

You may take a more proactive approach to power consumption and reduction

Author John Perkins said “Admitting to a problem is the first step towards finding a solution”. It will always pay dividends to take a vested interest in the issues of your family’s power consumption by finding out more about what you’re spending and linking that to the cost of installing solar power. Just by applying your critical thinking to power price reductions and doing your due diligence on the many variables on investing in a solar system, you’re well on target to more sustainable power generation and set to live your best life in all sorts of unthought of ways. 

Learn more about solar power

Visit our comprehensive Solar Power guide to learn more about using solar power in New Zealand - and whether it might be right for you.