If you simply read the headlines you might be forgiven for thinking that due to a reduction in government rebates, solar power might no longer be a good idea for your home.
Whilst it is true that government incentives may have been reduced recently, solar technology has become cheaper to manufacture. This means that harnessing solar power for your property is actually more attractively priced than before and therefore your decision to install solar power can still make a lot of sense in more ways than one.
Here are five of the most important questions that you should ask if you are a homeowner who is considering the option of installing a solar power system.
1. Is now a good time?
Your priority is presumably to reduce your energy consumption by improving the energy performance of your home.
There are numerous ways that you can help lower energy consumption and solar power is one of the positive actions that you can take, along with ensuring that your building insulation is up to a good standard. It would also make a difference if you used energy efficient appliances and also had a solar hot water system.
The sooner that you take action and try to meet some of these energy-saving goals, the more potential savings you will make against your current energy costs.
2. What size of system do I need?
The size of solar system you need will not just depend on the dimensions of your property but it will also be driven by what your main aims are from installing solar power.
If you are looking to reduce your electricity bills to zero and offset all your energy use then this will probably mean a greater capital outlay than if you want a solar system that is small to begin, but can be expanded at a later date.
You do not actually need to buy a solar system that is capable of providing all of your electricity requirements as you can take any extra you need from the grid as before. There may be limiting factors like the size of your budget available or the amount of roof space you have to work with. Your installer should be able to provide good advice on what you need once they know specifically what you are expecting to get out of your system.
3. What financial incentives are currently available?
The Australian government has targets that they want to meet with regard to the levels of clean energy generation being achieved in the country. This means that that there are subsidies and financial incentives available to encourage homeowners to install solar power systems that will help to make these targets achievable.
The Federal Government Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme works on a credit scheme and certificates are awarded depending on what you are having installed and where you live. You need to check to confirm the level of financial assistance in your area and although the level of incentive dropped in June 2012, the cost of installing these systems also fell, due to improvements in technology and competition amongst installers.
4. How long is the payback period?
This is not a question that you can give a general answer to. The payback period will vary widely, according to your location and your own unique situation and circumstances.
Your installer should be able to give you a reasonable projection as to how long your investment in a solar power system will take to pay for itself.
5. What type of solar panels?
There are different qualities and grade of solar panels and your choice may well be influenced by your budget.
Thin-film panels often work well in shaded sites are generally a less expensive option, although they often require more space. Polycrystalline and mono-crystalline panels are likely to be more efficient and require less space, but they would not be the best option for a shaded site.
Your professional installer should be able to guide you through the choices and whichever option you choose, the panels need to comply with Australian Standards.
If you ask these five key questions of yourself and the proposed installer, you should be a lot nearer to choosing the solar power system that is right for you.
Guest Blogger: Ryan Keynes converted to solar power a few years ago. He likes to blog about homeowner issues, and especially solar power, on the internet.