Top 10 Solar Energy Myths that Australian consumers should look out for!

There are many misconceptions or solar energy myths surrounding the revolutionary power generating boom. Is it Chinese whispers? Or simply high paid sales reps stretching the truth in the interest of securing sales to meet their financial targets? Either way, it’s time to take a closer look to see if these solar energy myths are actually plausible, or busted.

1. Solar technology has not been proven

The beginning of solar photovoltaic power started with scientific experiments in the late 1800’s. In 1954, the first PV silicon cell was introduced that could convert energy from the sun to power able to run electrical equipment. PV production worldwide was above 21 megawatts by 1983.

In terms of how solar panels work, firstly rays of sunlight (photons) hit the solar panel cells, causing a reaction inside the cells. This reaction then produces a direct current of electricity (DC). The solar power flows in a circuit through the solar inverter where it is converted to an alternating current of electricity (AC) so that it can be safely used around the house as well as sold back the electricity retailers.

2. Only sunny and hot climates can install solar

It is commonly thought that solar panels will not work in locations that have limited sunny hours and a colder climate, however this is untrue. Colder temperatures are actually a more efficient environment for solar panels because because output voltage can be reduced by heat. A higher level of sun exposure will increase the power generation from a solar system, but with the highly efficient technology in today’s solar panels, low light areas are still able to generate energy. Basically, solar can work anywhere where there is daylight. Also, thanks to new solar storage options, power generate in peak sun hours and unused can be stored for later in off peak hours such as at night or on overcast/rainy days.

3. Solar isn’t affordable

With electricity prices on the rise, this solar energy myth is more untrue than ever. Since 2010, solar energy has dropped approximately 50 per cent in price. Conventional energy sources are now more expensive than solar energy in many markets around the world. There are also a number of rebates and financial incentives available for people purchasing solar power such as the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme and Solar Feed-in Tarrif.

4. You can live completely off grid if you get solar

Living off-grid with solar isn’t really a practical option for most solar users yet. While some solar power companies are investing in residential battery storage solutions such as the Powerwall, which is set to become available in Australia late this year, but it is not yet a widely accessible option for many homeowners. The majority of solar system owners still rely on the utility grid for power at night time or limited sunlight time. The costs of batttery storage options are decreasing though, so disconnecting from the utility grid may be a sensible move in the future. According to a new report battery storage systems could be being installed in Australian households at a huge rate of 55,000 per year within a decade. This prediction is thanks to a number of factors including the fall of system price, traction of energy services business models and cost reflective tariffs, as well as feed-in tariffs being wound back.

5. Extra unused energy produced by the solar system is lost

If you are lucky enough to be producing an excess of solar energy, you can be certain it will not go unused. Excess solar energy is compensated for and can be sold back to the grid. This process in Australia is called a solar feed-in-tariff. Once you’ve had your grid connected solar panels installed, any excess energy produced will be fed back into the grid and you will receive a credit on your account.  This gets measured by the new bidirectional power meter which is installed after your panels and inverter are installed.  As an added bonus, if you produce more energy than you consume, then you will receive a cheque in the mail.

6. Solar panels will make my house ugly

Solar panels stuck out like a sore thumb when they first started appearing on people’s roofs, there’s no denying it. However, today’s solar panels a generally quite compact and sleek, and tightly fit against the roof. Mounting hardware that cannot be seen is available as well as different colours and shapes. Also, solar panels are now seen as an attribute to houses, and they discreetly announce to the public that you make use of renewable energy. There is no reason to be embarrassed about caring for the planet.

7. Solar panels can be easily broken and are not long-lasting

Modern solar panel technology is built to be quite durable, and can survive in weather conditions that are harsh. Panels can withstand the impact of medium sized hail. Most solar-energy systems come with at least a 10 year warranty, and a a well-maintained system is expected to last much longer than that.

8. The resale value of my house will decrease with solar

This solar energy myth is way off. According to a recent poll, four in five Australians believed that installing solar panels increased a property’s value and added up to $10,000 to the overall price of a home. A study done by Realestate.com showed that 40 per cent of tenants stated that they would not mind paying more rent for a home with solar panels installed.

9. Solar is only for greenies and hippies

This is no longer the case. Recent research suggests that solar energy within Australia is fast becoming the nation’s preferred energy source as opposed to the coal generated energy system, and is being embraced across a range of socio-policital groups. Homeowners from various demographics are increasing their solar power usage and large companies such as Amazon and Google are also getting on board.  The Federal Government has introduced the Renewable Energy Target (RET) which is designed to ensure that 33,000 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

10. All solar panels are equally efficient

The solar market is home to panels with various levels of efficiency, output, reliability and design. It is important that before you invest in solar you do some research to determine the best installer and system for you. If you are looking at buying a solar panels system, you can find more information in the Australia Solar Quotes Buyers Guide.

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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