Best time to use solar electricity
Use your solar panels effectively
The best way to use solar is to run your household appliances when your solar panels are generating power. Ideally, you want to minimise the amount of electricity your system exports to the grid, and instead use the solar output to power your appliances directly.
Minimise solar exports to the grid
For every kWh of electricity your solar panels export to the grid, you will receive a feed-in tariff from your retailer. Feed-in tariffs vary from anywhere between 8 – 15c. For every kWh of electricity, you buy from the grid; you are likely paying between 30 – 40c. If you can program your appliances, or alter your consumption habits to use more electricity during peak solar generation periods, you can save between 15 – 32c per kWh. The difference between the feed-in tariff and the cost of electricity is the economic difference between using your solar power and exporting it and, it is critical when evaluating your solar return on investment (ROI).
Daily solar generation
Solar power systems typically generate power during the hours of 8 am – 5 pm with the best output occurring between 10 am – 3 pm; though it changes with the season. The graph below shows average daily solar generation for a 5kW system in Sydney.
Typically, households do not draw high amounts of electricity during daytime periods when panels are generating power; instead, energy consumption is highest during the peak periods between 7 – 9 am and 4 – 7 pm.
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Your electricity load profile
To properly size your solar system, you need to get a handle on when you use your electricity throughout the day. This pattern of consumer behaviour is your electricity load profile and, it typically varies from season to season. Your load profile is another key variable when evaluating solar.
Any load profile that uses electricity during the hours when your solar panels are generating power is the most effective.
In Australia, optimal solar output by positioning your panels so that they receive the north sun. However, it is not always possible to do orient your panels to the north. Many rooftops have an east/west orientation that on average, will not generate as much solar power per day.
The upside to east/west orientation
There is one big upside to an east/west orientation, that is they typically generate power during peak usage periods at either end of the day. A professional working couple typically consumes high amounts of power during peak periods and can experience good savings and payback on a solar system because it generates power when they need to use it.
habits change once you purchase solar
Many customers report that their habits change once they install a solar system as they are conscious of when their system is generating power, and when they are using electricity. Aligning your electricity consumption with the power generation from your system is the best way to use solar.