Solar energy considerations

What’s environmentally friendly, efficient, produces no emissions or noise and is low maintenance?

In recent years solar energy options are becoming prominent in homes as they become more affordable.

Photovoltaics (PV) – the cells which convert sunlight into usable household power-means you can take control over your electricity costs.

Suitable for most homes, solar panels can be placed on roofs, garages, facades, conservatory roofs, sun shades or specially-built stands on the ground.

If you own your home, have high electricity bills and have a roof which receives plenty of sunlight, then solar may be the right option for you.

But are they right for your home?

It’s important solar panels receive good levels of direct sunlight in a north-facing location with year-round sun, but they are still effective on cloudy days. Consider the environment such as neighbouring buildings, or trees which can block out sunlight, before you invest in solar energy.

A suitable roof should be made of composite, should not be too steep and have plenty of space to install solar panels; a typical 1kW unit needs an area of about eight square metres. Flat roofs, concrete tiles, wood shake roofs are more difficult to install on.

To determine how many solar panels you will need, consider the following:

  • How much space you have on your roof
  • How much electricity your home consumes in a year
  • How much energy you would like to reduce in your home
  • Your budget.

Consider roof conditions:

  • Does it get sun exposure?
  • What material is it made of?
  • Does it get shade?
  • What condition is it in?

You can expect solar systems to last for 20 years or more, so if you decide to install solar panels, it’s best your roof be 15 years old or less. If your roof needs to be repaired or replaced, it would be wise to attend to those problems before you install solar panels to avoid the time and cost it would take to remove and re-install the panels in the future.

Typically a home tends to use more electricity at night during a working week, but this is when your solar system won’t produce any solar energy. So it may be a good idea to combine your source of energy by using both solar energy and the utility company, to make up for when there is no sunlight and no energy when it
is needed.

If you’re considering installing solar panels in your home and need more information, seek advice from a solar installation professional.

For more information about energy efficient options, visit the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) at: www.eeca.govt.nz



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