Poor Feed-in

Kate8
Semiconductor
1 Reply 396 Views

I regret spending money buying 17 solar panels as I save almost nothing from them. Now in June I save about 15c per week and during the warm weather, ie February I earned up to $6 a week.

The panels are installed on the 2-story end of my home but regrettably, the installer didn't place the panels further along over the lower part of the home and over the garage instead of where 2 eucalypts growing on the nature strip within 3 metres of my north facing roof cast shade over that part of the roof much of the day. The trees are now 15 metres or more so they are shading the roof panels very well now!!! But will council replace them with other native trees that don't grow so high? I doubt it!! 

 

6 REPLIES 6
Lester
Powerhouse
1 Reply 382 Views

Hi Kate,

Solar is a bit of a minefield, and you depend on the solar companies you contact the know their stuff, and advise correctly.

 

There are 3 things that stand out in your post.

 

1. 17 panels ? That is an approx 6 to 7 kw system ?

This system might help a very small usage home, people that are frugal with power and / or have very low power needs.

In my research about 6  - 8 months ago, I found very few people get this size system any longer, most decent solar companies will look at your power needs, and recommend crushing that with maybe double what it looks like you need, just to future proof your home needs through winter, once panels are dusty, and also gradually lose a little efficiency over time, etc.

Now in winter, our panels are really struggling and that's with 27 panels / 11.23kw.

We killed it in our first summer and shoulder months, and will probably get a battery sometime in the coming 12 months.

 

2. Solar feed in paid is (in general) pathetic, more so in some states than others, but solar is at its best when you use the power in the home when the sun is shining, using that self generated power to eliminate the high peak usage charges, rather than depend on a low feed in rate.

If people are at work during the day, and not using power to do the usual household chores, then you really only benefit from the low feed in.

A way out of this is a battery, so you can save the power to the battery during the day, and use that in the peak night time . . . but your system has to be compatible, and the cost for a battery is about same as a solar system to pay out again !!

And that is for a larger 10 - 12kw system, so min $12k - $14k for a battery.

 

3. Shading. Yes, this has a huge effect on production.

We have 2 massive lemon scented gums in the backyard, and now in winter they block a huge amount of sun.

Even though we got an optimised system installed, so shading doesn't affect as much of the regular string of panels, it's still dropped so much with winter and the extra shading of these 2 huge trees inside our back northern boundary.

We expected this, and had planned to take them down before winter set in this far, but went through some processes to get the ok to take them out, now due early July with the tree people we arranged.

Trees on the nature strip, probably not much you can do about them, like you say council responsibility, and they don't take tress out willy nilly.

Maybe they might make a concession to trim the heights a little ?

Can't hurt to ask, you might have to bear the cost.

No doubt in Summer and shoulder months, you will not be affect as much by the blocked sun, maybe that is a concession you can take away for a little condolence.

Kate8
Semiconductor
1 Reply 377 Views

Thanks Lester for your reply. I had no idea about solar and trusted the company - big mistake. I will not spend another cent on solar energy so no battery for me and that is a shame as I'm ecologically concerned. I only use washing machine on short cycles using cold water between the hours of 10 and 2 and 11 and 3 during daylight savings. I no longer use the clothes dryer or dishwasher nor do I use the kettle, only a tiny pot on the gas cook top to make tea as my gas is so much cheaper. We have two-way ducted heating which we are careful with. We now only change bed linen fortnightly instead of weekly, wear more clothes to keep warm rather than use the heater and have all blinds and curtains open during daytime (4 main rooms face north) to gain natural warmth from the sun. There are 4 of us and the bills are still between $6 and $9 per day. 

Lester
Powerhouse
1 Reply 366 Views

No problems Kate, happy to try and assist.

I don't blame you re not wanting to invest more, but maybe there are ways to help understand your power costs vs needs, and how the situation can develop.

 

Sounds like you are aware of the best way to use your power, and get the most from solar (use as much as you can during daylight solar production), and simply look at any extra feed in as a very slight sweetener.

 

I think you will find this might be more of the winter and winter shoulder months cost issue, while summer you might get a lot more benefit.

 

Eg, at the moment, for power we have made in total for the 15 days of June, we make 2 good summer days !!

Now, I feel just like you a little, but I think this is normal for the seasons.

 

I would also look at the other side of this, and how your bills have likely changed.

 

You may have got solar on through these big price jumps in tariffs from retailers

in the past 12 months.

Further, you might have been updated to a digital meter in the process, and gone from a possible single rate tariff onto TOU - time of use tariff (likely due to your shoulder cheapest power use comment).

 

This can change things like an electric HWS where you go onto the same period timing with controlled load - CL TOU coming on during peak, off peak, and shoulder times.

This is happening with us right now, as ours is working like that.

I do have a night / day switch, so turned that on as we always ran it, so at least we get it coming on during off peak (middle tariff rate) midnight to 0600.

 

We are just 2 in the home usually, me and the wife, usually home as sort of semi retired, and I just checked . . .

We are currently in winter seeing our bill go to $4 to $5 a day, so your $6 to $9 for 4 isn't too bad in comparison.

For our winter bill, I'm expecting say $450, 2 shoulder bills maybe $300, summer bill around $100.

During summer, our average with just 2 of us is a couple of $ a day, and this includes the $1 a day supply charge, so very happy for the overall savings a year, we were paying between $600 and $900 a quarter.

Our son visits from interstate very regularly, and when he does, our rate goes up a few $ a day . . . he charges his EV on the EV night saver rate 8c, so might add a few $ a night.

 

If you have an app for the system (likely if fairly recent), then you should be able to see all sorts of usage patterns that might help you work out the best options for the future, and keep a positive outlook for summer and its shoulder months. 

 

Here's a couple of day screenshots of my app with production, consumption, self consumption, and to the grid.

One for Feb 1st, the other for June 1st.

 

Looking forward to the warmer weather for 2 reasons now 🙂

Our best summer production for this first one just gone was 71.5kw, most averaged around 60kw - 65kw.

Now in July, we barely get any feed in, which is good in one way because we are self consuming all (the pitiful amount) we are producing.

I'm hoping the 2 tree removals will help greatly both summer and winter production.

 

Feb1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

June1.jpg

 

 

 

 

Kate8
Semiconductor
1 Reply 347 Views

Thank you for sending the graphs Lester. I am not too tech-savvy and will ask my electrician friend to explain them when I see him.

I've just received my first invoice from AGL  - 1756.56kWh bought = $440.32 and 497.008kWh sold @$24.36 resulting in payment due for 1259.58kWh = $415.96. This was for 7th March to 4th June so a bit of a mix of temperatures. During March I sold roughly $4 per week and last week of the invoice (29/5-4/6) only 54c.

I previously had gas hot water and cooking and the bill was never more than $57 per 60 days. There is a mandatory payment whether or not gas is used so I still pay low $50s for the cook top. About 9 months ago I replaced the gas system with a government subsidised Eco Alliance Heat Pump model 215L for which I paid nearly $2K so I think that has bumped the cost up significantly in spite of it supposedly being inexpensive to run. 

When I was with the former power company, I paid $885 for a quarter till I changed the plan and cut my usage of most appliances as described in my previous communication and got it down to mid $600s. So $415 is still a great improvement but I hate using my dishwasher as a storage unit now and washing the piles of dishes etc by hand. Without the dryer I continually have 5 clothes horses over heat vents in lounge dining and bedrooms. But since power costs have surged, I must revert to the old days of my parents who couldn't afford a clothes dryer and thought dish washers and automatic heating/cooling was for the wealthy. We then cleaned the briquette lounge space heater and hot water tank every evening after work before we could thaw out from the cold! 

I've just finished paying off the solar panels back in March so they're 3 years old. I think in all, I paid a bit more than $3.6K.

I will approach council and ask if they cannot remove the eucalypts if they could trim the tops as you suggest. It's worth a try as the low arc of the sun half the year is the problem. In the height of summer the sun is much more overhead.

Thanks for your interest and suggestions Lester.

NeilC
Powerhouse
1 Reply 165 Views

@Kate8 

 

Three years with a $3600 cost, that is about $3.29 a day.

 

When I purchased the 5kW system here, we were getting 20c per kW, it took 19 months to cover the initial cost of $3291.

 

Exported kWSolar Gen kWUsed kW
20102532523

 

You need to factor in the actual figure for Solar Data for the first bill I had with AGL

 

Now I got paid $402 into my account  and saved $218 by not having to buy  523kW of power thus getting a total of $620 on the first bill (three months)

 

So simple maths will show that it would take about 5.3 months to pay, however due to lower output in winter this actually took about 19 months to cover the total cost. Since then I have had FREE electricity and profit from my solar panels.

 

In my last bill (April/June 2024) I got paid $173 for my solar and saved approximately $120 by using 270kW of my generated solar or $293 for the period.

 

You can see that this has roughly halved since the panels went in at the beginning of 2019.

 

Like you (and Les) I have an issue with a gum tree in the back yard, we have a guy who comes and prunes the tree but he charged $300 the first time and I expect to pay about $500 when he trims it this year if my housemate agrees to the pruning as she like to sit in the back yard with a wine and watch some of the 40 species of birds we have in the yard.

 

Its only an issue in winter when the sun is low in the sky...

 

So I say you are not wasting your money but investing in the future.

 

By the way I think you should look at your current plan to see if you have the best plan for your situation. I am on a solar savers in SA.

Cheers Neil


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Kate8
Semiconductor
0 Replies 153 Views

Hi Neil, I did change plan then I left my provider and came over to AGL and apparently I'm on the best plan.

On looking back through my invoices, I average roughly $30 to $32 a month feed in over warm months and $1.20 to $4 per month over cooler months. The two gum trees in front of my house shade most of the panels when the sun is arcing low but the worst news is that council has just planted 4 more gum trees across the road from me. 3 of them will add shade to my roof when they grow tall. I guess I might downsize by relocating when that happens. That side of the road floods every time we have a heavy downpour of rain - happened a couple of weeks ago - due to all the gum tree litter than is washed down the hill from those planted further up the hill, to the corner where I live. The extra 4 gums will cause more flooding but another phone call to council last week resulted in being told the current gum trees cannot be replaced by smaller growing natives and that it was my responsibility to tell the solar installers not to place the panels where they did. Well my home is ranch style with roof pitched to face north and south only so I guess that means I probably should have realised my roof was unsuitable to have panels in the first place! I didn't realise those trees would grow so tall.