If you are thinking about investing in commercial solar for your business, you need to read this. The majority of Australians actually know very little about this form of energy, and often end up overspending on equipment that isn’t right for them.
There is a lot of information out there, which is why we’ve compiled all the important stuff into one handy guide.
Let’s start with the basics – what commercial solar panels actually consist of.
The panels themselves are made of either a monocrystalline or polycrystalline material – or a combination of the two. It doesn’t really matter which material you choose, as they are both pretty much as good as each other. What matters is the brand you select – you want to choose a good provider.
The inverter converts DC electricity into AC electricity, which can then be used in your business, home or wherever you need to use it. You can choose between a string inverter or a micro inverter. Micro inverters are more expensive but have the benefit of optimising each individual panel. They are also expandable, safer and quieter than their string counterparts.
The third component is the mounting (or racking). This is the piece used to attach the panel securely to the roof. You’ll want to invest in a good quality brand to avoid damaging your precious commercial solar panels.
Measuring your energy use
Crucially, before you make any purchases you will need to measure your energy usage as well as the times that you use it most (and least). This will help you buy the correct amount of panels. Using the energy generated by your panels is ideal as getting it off the grid is more expensive. Additionally, the more energy you produce, the more your electricity retailer is likely to pay you for every kWh you export.
You will want to shop around for a good feed-in tariff deal, as these can vary between 0c to 20c. Businesses that use most of their energy during the day are a perfect match for commercial solar, though it is still possible to make it work if you are more active at night – you’ll just get faster paybacks if you are busier in the daytime.
With commercial solar being cheaper than ever and electricity and feed-in tariffs higher than ever, there has never been a better time to stock up on panels. The only thing limiting how many you buy is your budget and how much space you have! Getting lots of panels also comes with the benefit of giving you extra electricity for rainy days. It’s also tricky (and expensive) to add more panels after the initial installation, so get as many as you can straight away.
There are a number of rebates and incentives for those looking at getting panels. Small businesses considering commercial solar might like to apply for a benefit through the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). This allows businesses which install renewable energy systems to get money back. Do your research online to read the fine print and apply.
Batteries aren’t worth it (yet)
The current price of batteries is so high that it will take around 15 years for them to pay back. The majority of batteries have a 10 year warranty, meaning you’ll probably have to replace them before they pay back. Your best bet is to stick with regular commercial solar for now and wait a few years for battery prices to drop. When prices are cheaper you can then start to invest in energy storage.