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Do You Still Have An Electric Bill With Solar Panels?

Do You Still Have An Electric Bill With Solar Panels

Let’s get this straight: We’re all interested in solar because we don’t want our hard-earned money to go to greedy power companies. Moreover, in most cases, installing solar panels will reduce your power bill so massively that you’ll wonder why you didn’t go solar sooner.

But does it have the power to totally eliminate utility companies have from the picture? If so, do you still have an electric bill with solar panels?

Before we get to the answer, here’s a quick list of topics this article covers. Feel free to tap on any of the bullets below to skip sections but I highly recommend reading this from the top. Let’s get to it!

Yes, solar panels can wipe out your power bills.

Theoretically speaking, yes, solar systems can rid you of power bills.

For reference, the average Australian household with an electricity usage of 460 kWh per month would need about 8 highly efficient solar panels to entirely offset the power grid.

It’s not always as straightforward as that, though, as a few essential conditions need to be met.

  • Your solar system needs to be the right size.
  • You need to have solar batteries to store all of your energy.

Let’s talk about battery storage first.

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Solar batteries are the unsung heroes of energy independence.

When talking about solar, the panels are understandably the first thing that comes to mind. But, really, these solar systems aren’t just about the modules. They are, after all, only capable of producing energy during the day. That’s just how solar panels work.

Not only that, you will also need a solar battery to store your excess daytime energy so you can use it at night. Thus, making it a huge part of the equation that leads to bidding your electric bills goodbye.

However, it needs to be large enough to store all of your surplus energy. Otherwise, your self-produced solar energy will fall short and you’ll still end up buying power from the grid.

If you need help figuring out what size battery storage your home needs, we have an in-depth guide that teaches you how to do that. But, if math isn’t your strong suit, we have a network of pre-vetted installers ready to do that for you. Let us know and we’ll get you 3 FREE quotes from them right away.

The size of your solar system is crucial.

The second precondition to completely get rid of power bills is to have a solar power system large enough to meet your home’s energy requirements.

When your system isn’t producing enough energy to run all of your appliances, you’d just be buying electricity from the grid again.

That’s not entirely bad, though. As I already mentioned, you will still save a lot of money from reduced power bills even if you still rely on the grid for some of your home’s needs.

But, yes, you’ll need the combination of an adequately large solar panel system and a sufficiently sized battery to effectively eliminate your grid reliance.

Recommended: Our guide to properly sizing solar panel systems

An oversized system can also erase your electric bills, but it’s not wise.

Australia has energy buyback schemes. The name of the scheme can vary depending on where you live, but it will either be called a feed-in tariff or DEBS (Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme).

Regardless of what it’s called though, the concept remains the same: Power retailers pay you for feeding your excess solar energy to the grid. This way, you could use the grid as a “virtual battery”.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, the reality is a little less rosy. The value of DEBS and tariffs are so much smaller than the retail price of electricity.

This means you’d have to export a massive amount of energy relative to the power you need to have a net zero electric bill. And, to do that, your solar system needs to be significantly oversized that you’d be spending so much money upfront. Quite frankly, it defeats the goal of keeping your hard-earned money.

The financial implications of a properly sized system and buying a solar battery

Speaking of money, investing in an oversized system or buying a solar battery will undoubtedly increase the upfront cost of installation. To give you some perspective, solar panels cost approximately $1000 per kW while solar batteries cost around $1000 per kWh of storage capacity.

On one hand, a larger system can generate excess energy which can be sold back to the grid. The feed-in tariff and DEBS rates might be low but, technically, they can still offset some of your costs.

On the other hand, however, a battery maximizes your ability to use your solar power – and that comes with a flurry of benefits, including the previously mentioned potential to eliminate your monthly bill.

Moreover, solar systems with batteries further protect you from rising electricity prices (which, by the way, is inevitable). In a few short years, you’ll find your solar system paying for itself.

Recommended: How long until solar panels pay for themselves? 

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4 other strategies that get you closer to net zero power bills:

4 Other Strategies That Get You Closer To Net Zero Power Bills
A visual representation depicting 4 Additional Approaches Towards Achieving Net Zero Power Bills.

1. Your power consumption should stay consistent.

What I mean by that is that your home’s energy consumption should stay the same after you install solar panels.

Why?

Because if you start consuming more energy than before, your bills, although lower, might still be higher than they could be.

Hence, if you plan on consuming more energy after you have your solar system installed, make sure you discuss this with your installer so your solar system gets sized appropriately.

2. Say Sayonara to your old appliances.

Technology has advanced so much in the past decade that appliances that are 10 years old or more can consume up to 90% more energy than newer models.

Following that logic, upgrading your appliances means you won’t use as much energy, thereby maximizing the capacity of your solar system, reducing your reliance on the grid, and pulling your power bill down even lower.

3. Make sure your solar system is in peak condition.

First, all of your system’s components undergo degradation. It’s why the average modern solar panel is rated to last 25 years instead of, well.. forever.

That being said, natural degradation isn’t an excuse to keep your solar system’s components in their peak condition.

Think of your system as one unit. If one component fails, the entire system’s performance takes a hit. This is especially true for systems with string inverters, which are currently the most common type of inverter in Australia.

4. Make use of all the incentives available to you.

The Australian government has launched a mission to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the time 2030 rolls around. (1)

It’s noble, to say the least – and they’ve backed it up with numerous incentives that make switching to renewable energy sources so affordable and enticing. The feed-in tariff and DEBS I mentioned earlier are part of these incentives but keep your eye on rebates and loans as well.

Specifically, there’s a federal-level rebate all of Australia has access to as long as the (easy) requirements are met. Depending on where you live, there are also state-wide incentives that make the switch even more affordable.

Canberra(ACT), for instance, has an incentive that helps you buy a solar battery; an incentive to buy new appliances, and an interest-free loan to buy solar panels.

Other states and territories have their own incentives, so make sure to check what’s available to you.

Conclusion

Eliminating your electric bill is a lofty aspiration. No doubt about that. But it’s also possible, especially considering the decreasing price of solar components and the inescapable rise of power costs.

This does, however, require some planning concerning the size of your solar system and battery.

If your system isn’t producing enough solar energy, you’d still be buying electricity from your utility company. And if you don’t have a way to store your excess energy, again, you’d still be relying on the grid.

Now, if you want to learn how to size your home’s battery storage and solar panel needs, we have guides for that. An easier (and free) way, however, is to just ask our network of pre-vetted installers to do it for you. Get 3 FREE quotes from us now.

Resources:

  1. https://www.finance.gov.au/government/aps-net-zero-emissions-2030