Solar system key factors to consider

Sky Solar talks about five main factors that you should look for when choosing your solar system.

Solar system
ARTICLE Nick Freeman from Sky Solar

It’s true that there’s a lot of information around about solar systems and it can be difficult to decipher it all. Basically, there are five main things you should be looking for, which are:

The panels

This is your power plant – the longest-lasting part of the system. There’s a wide range of panels available in NZ but not all panels are created equal.
The key consideration when investing in solar is the quality of the components you’re purchasing. With the panel manufacturer, you should look for a reputable brand name that you know and trust (there’s no point buying a brand that won’t be around in 25 years to honour their warranty) and they should generate at least 250W output.

The inverter

The inverter converts the direct current (DC) generated from the panels into the useable alternating current (AC).
There are two main types of inverters available – Central String Inverters and Micro Inverters (which are placed on each panel).
Micro Inverters are more expensive but if you have moving shade issues, then micros are best. For all day sun, ease-of-use and the potential for solar battery storage in the future, central is best.
Again you should prioritise high quality over cost when buying an inverter because most solar system failures are due to the inverter failing.

Service and installation

The process for connecting up to solar is reasonably tricky to organise the applications/documentation yourself so choose a company that provides the full end-to-end solution.
The installation needs to be completed to NZ/AUS regulation standards by a registered electrician so make sure there’s no cowboys involved.
It’s best the company has their own experienced specialist install team rather than using contractors.

The design

Your system needs to be sized correctly so that you’re not overspending on capacity and selling it back to your power company at low rates.
System designers should advise on the best rates available and how to possibly modify your usage to enable the best return on your investment.
Going off-grid with battery storage (or hybrid) is becoming more affordable, so allow for this in the design.

Monitoring and ongoing maintenance

Most systems offer readouts that show their performance but there’s also sophisticated systems, which are useful for measuring usage – the level of monitoring is over to you.
One of the best things about having your own solar power station is that there are no moving parts (except the sun!) so there’s very little to do.
Keeping the panels clean is the only real thing required, plus keeping trees trimmed to avoid reduced output. It’s wise to take these longer term services into consideration.
At the end of the day, a solar system is an important investment and badge of honour so keep in mind that people never regret buying quality.

You might be interested in reading: An innovative and sustainable home design.

 
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This expert advice by Nick Freeman from Sky Solar featured on page 39 of Issue 013 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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