Aug. 18, 2016

Top 3 solar power myths debunked

When the Beatles sang ‘here comes the sun, and it’s alright’, they weren’t wrong. Neither are the 1.5 million sun-powered households across Australia which are sourcing carbon-free energy and enjoying shrunken electricity bills as a result. It’s not surprising that the Sunshine State of Queensland agrees ‘it’s alright’, with a whopping 30 per cent of homes with solar power. Leading analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance predict that half of all consumers will have rooftop solar by 2040.

Locally, we are falling behind in the sun chase. Despite our love of the sun-kissed lifestyle, only six per cent of the Eastern Suburbs detached or attached dwellings have rooftop solar power. Despite its rising popularity, misconceptions still lurk in the shadows. So, let’s shed the light of truth on these top solar myths.

Myth 1: Solar panels are expensive

Solar power systems are more affordable than they’ve ever been. In fact, costs have fallen 80 per cent in the last 10 years, and continue to drop. Currently, the entry-level 1.5kW system averages $3,000 across Australia, equivalent to a nice computer. You’ll pay this back with bill savings within five or six years. So any future dollars saved head straight to your pocket (or the holiday account).  With solar power expected to be one of the cheapest energy sources within the next decade, it’s a great buffer against the rising costs of fossil fuels like coal and gas.

Myth 2:You need a lot of sun – they don’t work in cloudy and cold places

Solar panels rely on UV light and work well on overcast or foggy days. In fact, a system produces only a few percent less power than one in a sunny and hot area.  Take Germany as a shining example; it’s the global leader in residential solar despite ranking low in sunny days. Solar power panels are even more efficient when they're cool. And while we’re talking temperature, contrary to some beliefs, having solar panels don’t make your roof hotter in summer.

Myth 3.Solar panels are often installed badly and require constant maintenance

With no moving parts, they rarely require maintenance or cleaning, plus the average warranty lasts 25 years. Luckily in Australia, our solar industry is well regulated and safe. The main equipment must comply with Australian Standards, and each solar installer must be a qualified electrician, and undergo additional training and accreditation. See the Clean Energy Council’s free online consumer guide to help you get quality product and service www.solaraccreditation.com.au/consumers.

Council is helping local schools and preschools get solar with our regional Solar my School project, a joint initiative between Woollahra, Randwick and Waverley Councils. Email anthony.weinberg@waverley.nsw.gov.au for more info.

Written by Nicola Saltman

First published in The Beast magazine 

1 comment

  • Hi, having recently installed solar panels on my freestanding house, from my experience you:

    1. Overestimate the cost - I installed a 4 Kw system using top quality components for the price you are suggesting a 3 Kw system would cost.

    2. Underestimate the performance impact of overcast conditions on solar. On a day of heavy cloud cover and some rain, my system would generate only 25% of the output it can achieve on a mostly sunny day.

    That said, I am really pleased with solar. It was cheaper to buy than I expected and weather permitting, is generating a lot of power and substantially reducing my electricity bill.

    Peter Fagan

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