How do solar panels work with your electric bill?

By: Miles Hingston


How do solar panels work with your electric bill (1)

With the Ballarat Government’s Net-Zero Goals, solar energy is becoming more popular, especially as people look for ways to reduce their impact on the environment and save money. But how do solar panels work with your electric bill? 

This article will explain how solar panels can change your electric bill. We will also look at the difference in electric bills before and after solar panel installation. We’ll explore if solar power actually saves money and look at what happens to your average monthly electric bill with solar panels.

Basics of Solar Panel Technology

Solar panels, made of many solar cells, convert sunlight into electricity. Sunlight hitting these cells generates an electric current, which is then converted from direct current (DC) to the alternating current (AC) used in homes. Modern solar panels are efficient at converting sunlight, helping to lower electric bills.

There are several different types of solar panels: 

Grid-Tied Systems: These connect to the electricity grid and can provide extra energy back to the grid.

Off-Grid Systems: These are standalone systems with batteries, ideal for remote locations.

Hybrid Systems: These combine solar panels with other energy sources, often including batteries.

Community Solar: These are shared solar panel setups used by a group of people.

Solar Energy Systems in Ballarat

Solar Energy Systems in Ballarat (1)

In Ballarat, solar energy is becoming more popular. Here’s a quick look at the typical solar setups and how the local weather affects them.

Typical solar setups in Ballarat involve grid-tied systems. The system size varies with residential setups usually having 3kW to 5kW systems, while businesses might have larger ones. Solar panels are mostly installed on rooftops, facing north to catch more sunlight.

There are several factors affecting solar panel efficiency in Ballarat, from sunlight exposure, to temperature, cloud cover, rainfall, and seasonal changes. Ballarat gets a mix of sunny and cloudy days which means it mostly has mild temperatures, something that solar panels love. However, some days can be very hot, making the efficiency drop a bit. Additionally, on cloudy or foggy days, solar panels might not work as efficiently.

Ballarat gets its fair share of rainfall too. This helps keep the solar panels clean, which makes them more efficient. In winter, with shorter days and less sunlight, solar panels will produce less energy than in summer.

Despite the changing weather, solar energy is a good choice in Ballarat for saving on electricity bills and helping the environment.

Feed-in Tariffs and Their Impact on Energy Bills

Feed-in Tariffs and Their Impact on Energy Bills (1)

Feed-in tariffs are payments you receive for the extra electricity your solar panels produce and send back to the electricity grid. It’s like getting paid for any surplus power you don’t use at home. This system encourages the use of solar energy and lets solar panel owners earn some money back.

In Victoria, including Ballarat, the government sets the rates for feed-in tariffs. These rates can change each year. There are two main types:

Single Rate Tariff: You get paid the same amount for all the electricity you send back, no matter the time of day.

Time-Varying Tariff: The payment varies depending on when you send electricity back to the grid, with higher rates during peak hours.

Feed-in tariffs can lower your electric bill in two ways:

You Earn Money: When your solar panels make more electricity than you need, you get paid for sending this extra power to the grid.

You Use Less Grid Electricity: Using solar energy means you need less electricity from the grid, which reduces your overall electricity costs.

Feed-in-tariff is the answer to your question: How does solar power save money?

Net Metering and Smart Meters

Net metering and smart meters are important for homes with solar panels. They help manage and track how much electricity you use and make.

Net Metering: Only Pay for What You Use

It’s a system where you only pay for the electricity you actually use from the grid. If your solar panels make more power than you need, you send the extra to the grid and get credits. With net metering, if your panels produce a lot of power, your electric bill can be really low, sometimes even zero.

Smart Meters: Keeping Track of Electricity

Smart meters keep track of your electricity use and how much power your solar panels are sending to the grid. They give up-to-date information on your energy use, which helps in calculating your electric bill correctly. Smart meters are key for net metering because they accurately record how much energy you’re using and making.

Understanding Your Electric Bill After Solar Panels in Ballarat

Once you install solar panels in Ballarat, your electric bill will change. Here’s a simplified explanation:

Your bill will still have the daily supply charge, which is a fixed cost for being connected to the electricity grid. However, the part of your bill that counts how much electricity you use will likely be much lower. This is because the power your solar panels create is used first, reducing the amount you need to get from the grid.

If your solar panels make more electricity than you need, this extra power goes back to the grid. You’ll get credits for this, known as feed-in tariff credits, which can help lower your bill even more. 

Keep an eye on your bill to see how much you’re saving and to make sure you’re getting the right credits for the power you send to the grid.

Potential Savings and Payback Period

Homeowners in Ballarat can expect significant savings after switching to solar power. On average, with a 4kw solar panel system, households can save up to $890 per year on their energy bills. The typical payback period for such a solar panel investment, especially for those receiving a state government solar rebate, is around five years.

To calculate your savings and payback period, you need to follow the following steps: 

Step 1: Calculate Yearly Energy Output

To calculate the yearly energy output of your solar system, you can use this formula:

Yearly Energy Output in kWh = Capacity of Solar System in kW × Efficiency Factor × Average Daily Sunlight Hours

In this formula, the Efficiency Factor (typically between 0.75 and 0.85, with an average of around 0.80) reflects how efficiently your solar system converts sunlight into electricity. The Average Daily Sunlight Hours, which is about 4.0 to 4.5 hours in Victoria, account for the typical amount of sunlight the region receives each day. 

This calculation will give you an estimate of how much energy your solar system can produce annually.

Step 2: Calculate Yearly Electricity Savings

To figure out how much electricity your solar system can produce in a year and how much it can reduce your electricity use, use this equation:

Yearly Electricity Savings (kWh) = Yearly Solar Energy Output (kWh) × Percentage of Solar Energy Used Directly

The percentage of solar energy used directly refers to how much of the solar energy produced you use yourself. This varies based on how you use electricity and the amount of solar energy you use when the sun is up.

Step 3: Calculate Feed-In Tariff Income

To work out how much you could earn from the solar energy you don’t use and send back to the electricity grid, apply this formula:

Income from Feed-in Tariff (AUD per year) = Surplus Solar Energy (kWh per year) × Feed-in Tariff Rate (AUD per kWh)

In this formula, Surplus Solar Energy is the amount of electricity your solar system generates that you don’t use and instead export to the grid.

Step 4: Solar Panel Payback Period

To determine how long it will take to recover the cost of your solar panels, use this calculation:

Solar Panel Return Time (years) = Total Solar System Cost (AUD) divided by (Yearly Electricity Savings (kWh/year) times Electricity Cost (AUD/kWh) plus Yearly Feed-in Tariff Earnings (AUD/year))

In this formula, the Electricity Cost (AUD/kWh) is the price you pay for electricity from the grid, which you can usually find on your electric bill. 

This calculation helps you figure out how many years it will take for the savings and earnings from your solar panels to cover their initial cost

Local Incentives and Solar Rebates in Ballarat

In Ballarat or Victoria more broadly, homeowners can access solar rebates through the Solar Homes Program. The current rebate value for solar panel systems is $1,400. 

These rebates are released monthly and aim to support Victorians in transitioning to solar energy, thereby reducing energy bills and contributing to a cleaner environment. 

By utilising these rebates, homeowners can significantly reduce the upfront cost of installing solar panels, making it a more financially accessible option. 

Factors Affecting Solar Savings on Electric Bills

Having said that, the savings on electric bills from solar panels in Ballarat are influenced by a few key factors:

Panel Positioning and Efficiency: The way your solar panels are set up matters. They need to be in a spot where they get the most sunlight. Also, the better the panels are at converting sunlight to electricity, the more power they’ll generate.

Maintenance: Keeping your panels clean and in good shape is important. Dirt or objects blocking the panels can make them less efficient.

Seasonal Changes: The amount of sunlight changes with the seasons. Summer brings longer days and more solar energy, while winter has shorter days and less solar energy production.

Wrapping up

To wrap up, installing solar panels in Ballarat is a smart choice for reducing your electric bills and helping the environment. 

If you’re considering solar panels for your home, getting in touch with our certified solar panel installers at Ballarat Solar Company is a great first step. We can provide tailored advice on how solar panels work with your electric bill and provide you with installation services to ensure you get the most out of your solar investment.

Get a quote today!

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Miles Hingston

Miles Hingston

Owner of Ballarat Solar Company and MJ Electrician Ballarat

I have been working in the electrical business for over 20 years, and have 5 years of experience in the solar industry. Ballarat born and bred, I am a very active contributor to the community and I’m also a member of Alfredton Rotary club.We look forward to assisting you with all your solar needs. So feel free to give us a call anytime.

Michelle Rigg
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This is the 2nd house I've put solar on. I shopped around enormously and Miles from Ballarat Solar was outstanding. They are a local company, nothing was ever too much trouble and he always answered any questions I had. Josh and the crew he has working for him are very professional, knowledgeable and helpful too, especially with the app. At the time of installation I couldn't feed back in to the grid but the moment he heard that I might be able to, he offered the assistance I needed to enable this to occur, and it was done in a very timely manner. I highly recommend Miles, Josh and the team at Ballarat Solar Company and will be referring them to my family and friends for any future solar needs. :)
Tony Cawood
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The Bacchus Marsh Lions Club chose Ballarat Solar Company to install a Solar System comprising of a 15kW Inverter and 57 Solar Panels on the local Scout & Guide Hall. The company was very professional to deal with. From quote to installation was carried out on time and the workmanship was first class. The certificate of Safety was issued without a problem. I would not hesitate in recommending this company for future installations.
Rob McDougall
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Ballarat Solar Company were great to deal with, attentive to our requirements and recommended a great system that suited our needs. Nothing was too much trouble, their workers were very polite, worked hard and even cleaned up after themselves.
Robert Floky
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My dealings with the Ballarat Solar Company was an excellent experience with from start to finish. The service was professionally provided and completed with a quick and smooth turn around and no issues. I would not hesitate to recommend them to all.
Dale Whytcross
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Ballarat Solar Company are a very professional company, they came as promised, the workmanship was first class and quote was very competitive. I would recommend Ballarat Solar Company.

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