Solar power is gaining steam as one of the leading green power initiatives across the globe, as it’s more accessible to residential areas than ever. Of the many reasons Aussies choose to switch to solar power, cost is one of the most important determining factors.
One of the first questions you may have about the initial switch to solar energy is how much it will cost to outfit your home for solar power generation. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each solar installation is unique to each household’s needs. Read on for a closer look at some of the variables that affect startup costs involved with a home solar system.
1. Roof Orientation
Whether your roof is made from shingles or metal, or has a steep slope or a flat surface, the orientation and type of your home’s roof affect the manner and methods of both installation and panel selection. Different roof types require varying means of installment, which may also increase or decrease the labor hours required to get things secured and ready for use.
Depending on your roof’s sun exposure, you may be limited in how many or what type of panels you can have installed within the roof areas that are exposed to the sun for the greatest amount of time each day.
2. Solar Mount
Most home solar systems are mounted on the roof of each home, but some systems employ different mounting methods. These alternative mounts can sometimes run the cost upward due to additional required components. For example, solar panels can also be installed using ground mounts that use posts that are anchored into the ground or attached to other structures, which require more parts than a typical rooftop mount.
3. Equipment Class
Different types of solar panels carry different price tags. Some panels are more power-dense than others, which translates into a greater output but also a higher cost. Generally, the more efficient a solar panel is considered to be in terms of wattage, the better the energy-generating technology is in the panel. The better the technology, the more expensive the panel is likely to be.
Different panel arrays come with different price considerations as well. Panels that are linked close together employ string inverters, which are more economical, but group the panels together as essentially a single power-generating unit. On the other hand, microinverters and power optimizers capitalise on the individual power generation of each panel as its own unit, which is, understandably, a more expensive option.
However, with a greater output and more potent equipment, electricity savings add up in the long run and can offset the initial cost of a more efficient panel with time.
A home with large, shady trees helps to keep the place cooler in the summer but can prove challenging when it comes to total solar panel installation cost. Panels must be placed on sections of your home that receive a great deal of sunlight, but if parts of your roof are shaded during the day, you could need more panels, or a wider placement, to compensate for the potentially sunless hours.
The kind of racking, or mounting hardware, used to install your solar system varies from home to home. The racking that your solar installer utilizes will depend on the type of panels you select, your roof’s orientation, your local weather, the overall solar panel array on your home, and the recommendation and preference of your installer.
6. Connection Considerations
To receive power in your newly outfitted home, your system must still be connected to the utility grid. These connection requirements dictate the types of meters and inverters you may use in your system, and some situations may necessitate some equipment upgrades to meet local utility requirements.
In some circumstances, the upfront investment cost of solar is eligible for assistance through the country’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. As well, several government grants, rebates, and subsidies exist to incentivize the switch to solar energy on a national scale. These programs may be available to you, so research the requirements ahead of time.
8. Power Demand
The amount of electricity that your household uses monthly is a significant influence on the cost of your solar system, as a household that demands more power will require a more robust solar array. Fortunately, this factor is relatively within your control as a homeowner. With use of other energy-saving methods, such as modifying the landscape, using energy-efficient appliances, and replacing doors and windows, you can maximize your solar array’s capabilities and balance your electrical load for peak efficiency.