Getting Paid For Your Solar Energy

You get paid for your solar energy in one of 2 ways, and usually at 2 very different prices!

How much you get paid for your solar power depends on whether, at any moment in time, you are:

a) consuming all your solar electricity in your home (using more then you generate)

or

b) exporting your solar electricity out to the grid (generating more than your house can use).

To get an idea of how much solar power is exported in a typical Aussie home with solar, have a look at this graph:

A Graph of Electricity Demand vs Solar Power Output

The blue line is the electricity use over 24 hours for an average home.

The yellow line is the typical output of a 1.5kW system.

By looking at where the 2 lines cross we can see the 2 modes of electricity generation quite nicely:

1) Using the solar electricity in your home (aka “Offsetting”)

The yellow area shows you the solar energy that is used up by your home’s appliances. At these times of the day your home will use any solar electricity that is coming out of your panels before it draws any electricity from the grid, so you save money by using less grid electricity.

The financial value per unit of electricity (or kWh) is simply what you pay per kWh for grid electricity. Typically [28]c per kWh at time of writing (April 2012).

But what about the solar electricity that we don’t use in the home?

2) Exporting your electricity into the grid, building a credit.

The orange area in the graph above is the solar power that is exported out to the grid.

At these times of the day your solar panels produce more electricity than your household is currently using. That electricity flows backwards through your electricity meter and into the electricity grid.

If your meter is configured to export energy (which it should be!), then as your meter “spins backwards”, your bill is credited. By how much? Well that depends on the laws in your particular state and when you get to exporting electricity the rules change in most states. If you are getting a pittance for your electricity, then you want to try and export as little as possible!. 

It’s really important to compare electricity retailer feed in tariffs, which may vary from utility to utility. It’s also vital to get a written quote from your installer on how much energy they expect you will offset and export, at what rates, compared to what you consume.

Check here to see the latest state by state solar feed in tariff information.

If you want to see how the feed in tariff in your state will affect the payback of a quoted solar system, have a play with our Solar Payback Calculator

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