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Four costly mistakes to avoid when using solar

You've likely heard about the benefits of solar power; the energy source that means you can generate your own clean power at home throughout the day.

Back in 2014, Roy Morgan Research found that 1 in 6 Australians had solar panels installed at home, with the number doubling from 2011 to the end of 2013. Now, 1 in 5 households are utilising solar clearly illustrating Australians are taking a liking to this type of renewable energy.

As with any popular new movement or trend, however, it's easy to make mistakes when using solar. Let's take a look at the top four.

  1. Solely using solar

    The sun doesn't shine at night, which is great for night owls but less than ideal for an energy source dependant on the sun's rays. Once you've installed solar panels, they'll produce clean power throughout the day, even if it's cloudy. At night, however, they're not able to produce energy.

    This shortfall does have an expiry date, and when batteries become more readily available, households will be able to store any excess energy they produce during the day, and then draw from a connected battery in the evening. However, for the time being when you put solar panels in place, you're still going to need to connect to the grid after sundown.

  2. Picking the wrong panels

    Solar panels are not all created equally. Every manufacturer produces different panels, of varying efficiency. Over time, panel efficiency has continued to improve.

    According to PV Tech, SolarCity managed to create panels at the end of 2015 with 22.04 per cent conversion efficiencies. Researchers from the University of New South Wales, however, managed to create panels in 2014 with an efficiency of 40 per cent. This essentially means how much of the sun's energy the panel can convert into usable power. When you're shopping for solar panels, ensure you do a little research first to find the panels with the highest possible efficiency.

  3. Picking solar for the wrong property

    Getting involved with a new trend is always exciting, especially when it's a trend capable of helping you to save money on your power bill! However, solar power may not be the best fit for you - or your property.

    While it's true, as noted in the first point, that solar panels can generate electricity on a cloudy day, they won't be much help in the shade. If your house is surrounded by trees or perhaps in the shadow of larger homes or buildings, solar may not be the best fit. Solar power is also what we like to refer as a marriage, not a speed date, meaning if you're renting or looking to move in the next 24 months, you might not find the return worth the investment. To find out how long it might take for you to pay back your solar system, enter your property address and number of people in your household into our Solar Payback Calculator.

  4. Not looking after your panels

    Picture a solar panel, and it's clear that this is a system designed to expose as much surface area to the sun as possible. When leaves, dust or sand start to build up on solar panels, their efficiency is going to come down, and their power generating capacity along with it. Ensure that when you've installed solar panels, you also implement a routine to keep them clear and exposed to the sun.