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Solar energy produced from rooftop solar power systems is part of the renewable energy revolution happening in WA right now. Around 36% of homes in the SWIS (South West Interconnected System) have rooftop solar systems. These rooftop solar systems convert energy from all that famous WA sunshine into electricity to be used to power our homes, businesses and electric vehicles.

If you have been thinking about getting solar, here are five things to know before you get that rooftop solar system installed.

#1 Home solar is an investment 

Having a rooftop solar system could be one way to reduce your home’s electricity costs, but it’s also an opportunity to reduce your environmental impact. While electricity from the grid comes from a range of sources, a rooftop solar system generates renewable energy while the sun is shining. Using the electricity your rooftop solar system produces can reduce your electricity costs, as you’re likely to be drawing less electricity from the grid.

#2 Solar panels are just one element of your rooftop solar PV system 

Your rooftop solar system is made up of:

  • Solar panels - These are comprised of a collection of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells which collect the energy from the sun and convert it into DC (direct current) electricity.
  • The inverter - This converts DC electricity to AC (alternating current) electricity, which is then used to power your home’s appliances and equipment. 
  • The mounting or racking - This is what attaches the solar panels to your roof and usually made of aluminium. Your installer will angle the mounting to maximise the solar panels exposure to the sun. 

Your solar system might also include a consumption monitor which measures how much electricity your solar panels are producing and how much electricity you are drawing from the grid. Not every rooftop solar system will include a consumption monitor. Monitoring your solar output can help you to make the most of your rooftop solar system.

Battery storage can be added to homes with rooftop solar systems to help make the most of any excess solar energy your rooftop solar system produces during the day. Rather than being exported to the grid, this excess solar energy is first stored in the battery to help power your home when the sun goes down.

#3 The position of your rooftop solar system matters

Your solar panels should be positioned optimally on the available roof space to increase their exposure to the sun. Depending on the roof space, the location of your home and any shade that your roof might experience, your solar panels might be mounted at an angle to maximise sun exposure. 

Your solar supplier should consider your electricity usage needs at different times of the day in considering the placement of your solar panels. For example, more solar energy will be generated in the morning from east-facing solar panels, in the middle of the day from north-facing solar panels and in the afternoon from west-facing solar panels.

If you’re building or renovating your home, you might like to consider how your home design could help you to make the most of solar energy.

#4 Don’t just look at the price 

It’s important to choose your solar supplier carefully. Here are some things to think about when you’re looking for a solar quote:

  • Solar panels will generally last a long time, so look for a supplier with a great reputation that can provide support.
  • Know your electricity needs, as it is best to have a rooftop solar system that is suited to how your house uses electricity to avoid exporting to the grid. A bigger rooftop solar system is not always the best option. 
  • Be wary of cheap options and any deal which seems too good to be true. A rooftop solar system is an investment in your home and a good quality system, particularly a good inverter, could be more beneficial in the long term.

It’s also important to think about your home’s electricity needs now and into the future as home batteries, EVs and electrification increasing play a bigger role in our lives.

#5 You can be a solar super user

The more solar power you can use at home while it is being generated, the more value you can get from your rooftop solar system instead of exporting excess electricity generated by your system to the grid. As more renewable energy is introduced across the SWIS, it’s important to keep the grid stable to avoid risks associated with low load. By consuming as much of the solar energy your system produces as possible, you are helping to support the stability of the grid as well. 

You can be a "solar super user" by shifting as much of your electricity use to times when solar energy generation is highest, usually between 10am and 2pm. For example, you could run your dishwasher and washing machine during the day instead of overnight.

You might like to use a consumption monitor application to help you make the most of the solar energy your system generates by adjusting your electricity usage habits. You could also consider connecting a battery or using your solar energy to help power an EV in the future.

If you’re wondering what happens once your rooftop solar system has been installed, here are five things to do after your solar panel installation.