When is the best time to use your solar power?
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Understand when your solar panels produce the most electricity and how to make the most of it.
Why is this important? Because maximising the solar electricity you use from your rooftop solar is the best way to lower your electricity bills and reduce the carbon footprint of your household.
Relying less on electricity imported from the grid and using clean (and free!) solar energy is the first step towards energy freedom.
Here are three things to consider when using your solar panels to ensure their full potential:
- When your solar panels are producing the most electricity
- How to make the most of your solar electricity
- When (and why) to use solar monitoring
How to determine when your solar panels are producing the most electricity
Check the orientation of your solar panels
The position of your solar panels will determine what time of day they are producing the most electricity. Like the windows that fill your home with the best natural light, the ideal orientation for solar panels is north.
North-facing solar panels will give you the biggest window of solar electricity for your home.
However, if your solar panels are facing east or west, don’t worry! They will still be generating solar energy and reducing your electricity costs. Their window of solar power will just be slightly different. This is important to know if you want to maximise solar electricity usage in your home.
Use your solar at the best time of day
The best time of day to use solar-generated electricity is during the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest, usually between 9am - 3pm. These peak times can vary depending on the orientation and tilt of your panels but also where you live and the time of year. Check which direction your rooftop solar panels face to find when they produce the most energy (you can ask your solar installer or retailer if you're unsure!).
North facing panels will produce the most between 9am – 2pm while west facing panels generally reach their peak output between 2pm - 5pm
While these are general indications of when your solar panels will be producing the most electricity, the best way to track your solar energy output is by using a solar monitoring app.
Daily solar production view in the Solar Analytics dashboard
What is the best time of year to use solar?
It’s not just you who has less energy in winter; even your solar panels feel that seasonal shift when it gets cold outside.
Depending on where you live, and your proximity to the equator your solar panels will produce more or less electricity in winter compared to summer. The further away you live from the equator, the more drastic the seasonal changes will be.
According to Solar Analytics data from the last seasonal year, if you live in NSW, the average solar production during winter drops to about 64% of what’s generated in summer.
Interested in the seasonal shifts in your state? Check out this table to see the differences.
This means that you should be more mindful of how much electricity you use from your solar system in winter as it is producing less electricity than in the summer months.
What else can affect your solar?
Have you ever wondered how cloudy days affect the amount of solar your system generates? It may be less than you think. We took a look at how clouds affect your solar energy production here. A smart monitoring system can help you track those variations and adjust your electricity usage accordingly
Sometimes a small amount of shading can have a dramatic impact on your solar panels and reduce the amount of electricity they are producing. Shading from trees and nearby buildings could be what's affecting your solar electricity output if you have noticed a slump. Keeping nearby trees pruned will be your best bet in limiting shading to your solar panels. Although it can be tricky to quantify the amount of solar output lost to shading, the best option is to install a smart solar monitoring system, like Solar Analytics, to calculate the amount of energy lost due to shading.
How to make the most of your solar electricity
Load shifting - It can save your household on bills
Once you know when your system is generating the most electricity, the next thing you should consider is how to maximise this free electricity for your home.
Start looking at the energy habits of your household and identify the appliances (especially the power-hungry ones) you could schedule to run during the day when your solar system is producing the most energy. Set your appliances with timers such as washing machines or dishwashers to run during the middle of the day so that they use solar electricity instead of electricity from the grid.
This is called load shifting.
Why does using more solar lower your bill?
You might be thinking, my unused solar electricity is sold back to the grid isn’t that a good way to lower my electricity costs?
While this can help offset your electricity bills, the smarter option is to gobble up as much of that solar energy as possible for your own use. You are paid far less for the electricity you export than the electricity you import from the grid.
State-Specific Variations: Electricity Expenses and Solar Feed-In Tariffs
It’s true that different energy plans on the market vary greatly.As of 2022 the NSW average:
- Cost of electricity imported from the grid is 28.5c/kWh
- Solar feed-in tariff rate for solar electricity exported to the grid is 6.2-10.4c/kWh
These average costs vary by state, if you a/.re interested in the electricity costs and feed-in tariff rates for your state, find out more here.
This means the average cost of electricity can be three to four times that of the solar feed-in tariff rate.
But the cost of solar electricity? FREE!
Check out more tips on how to lower your power bill or even eliminate it.
How solar monitoring can help you make the most of your solar without the hard work!
What is solar monitoring?
Solar Monitoring helps you to understand your solar system and make the most of it. It captures data to help keep you informed when it comes to your energy production and performance.
Not only can solar monitoring help you to identify if your system is working properly, it can also help solar experts to diagnose and solve any problems with your system.
Read more about solar monitoring.
How will solar monitoring help you?
Without solar monitoring, knowing when and how to use your solar is just a stab in the dark.
The power of solar monitoring: A smarter, greener home
Using a solar monitoring system will take the guesswork out of optimising your home energy production and consumption, helping you save money and strive towards a greener home.
A good quality solar monitoring system, like one from Solar Analytics will help you:
- Understand when you produce and use electricity including how much you import and export to and from the grid
- Track your big energy loads and understand when it’s best to use them
- Make sure your solar system is performing at its best taking into account shading and local weather
- Track your savings over time
- Find the right electricity plan based on your household electricity usage, showing you how much more you could save each quarter
The Solar Analytics Dashboard will provide all of this in a user-friendly dashboard helping you save on average an additional $500 per year!
So now you’ve got a handle on the best times to use solar power you're one step closer to lower electricity bills and a greener home!
Here is what you need to remember if you want to maximise your solar power:
- Find out what times of day your solar panels are producing the most electricity
- Make the most of your solar electricity - Shift your home appliance use to when the sun is shining
- Install a good quality solar monitoring system with Solar Analytics