There are a number of ways Aussies are getting the most out of their panels.
Making the most from your solar panels
- Getting them serviced. We service our cars, clean our homes and upgrade software on our computers and smartphones. When it comes to energy, we’re increasingly doing the same. For panels – that aren’t as obvious when they break down – getting a check-up now and again helps to ensure you’re getting the most from your investment.
- Being conscious of where they’re located. Neglecting your panels can lead to soiling – dust and dirt that can affect how efficiently they run. To ensure panels aren’t underperforming, make sure they’re free from shade and clean them. Be conscious of what’s happening around your home (if your neighbours are building, for example, there’s likely to be more dust in the air).
- Monitoring them. Some things will be out of your control, like potential induced degradation (also known as PID) and earth linkage. While these are uncommon (but known in the energy industry), some solar systems will suffer from these faults. According to Stefan Jamason, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Solar Analytics, keeping an eye on your panels through solar monitoring to rectify these faults when they arise, you’ll generate between 15–20% more energy over the lifetime of your system.
The influence of a data-obsessed society
We can track almost everything. We use Fitbits to tell us how many steps we take, health apps to tell us how many calories we eat and music apps to tell us what album to download next. And according to Jamason, solar monitoring is similar. It records and analyses your solar system’s performance in real-time and tells you how much solar energy you’re using and producing.
“What we have got now is the convergence of a few things,” he says.
“The first is that, we have huge computing power available in the cloud. So it means that through this, and through self-learning algorithms plus a lot of other sophisticated diagnostic techniques; we are able to process these very large volumes of data and provide useful information in real time.
“The second things is that the communication of that data through machine to machine 3G and Wifi is now much lower cost, and much more prevalent.”
What does this mean for the average Aussie? The connected home could be much closer than we think.
Analytics and data provide information to help us live our lives with more ease and control. This type of control can lead to savings, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of comfort.
“[Solar] monitoring allows you to optimise your energy usage,” says Jamason.
“It’s all well and good getting general energy advice that says “don’t turn on your air conditioner”, but we want to turn it on because that’s why we bought the air conditioner – to keep us cool.
“What the intelligent monitoring can do is actually help you by understanding how much it is using and whether you can shift its usage a little bit to save you money without actually decreasing your home comfort.”
There are other things we can do that aren’t reliant on solar. Simple initiatives like switching to LED lights are not only better for the environment, but our wallets too.
From 1941 to today
Advancements in solar have been consistent for decades – providing incremental improvements year on year.
“Solar is one of these technologies that for many, many years, people were predicting that there would be a big breakthrough,” says Stefan.
The reality has been a gradual process, but one that’s worth the wait.
“What we actually see is that through the last two decades, broadly speaking; every year efficiency has gone up by half a percent and cost has come down by a couple of percentage points.”
Stefan likens the process to the motorcar industry: there was never a radical shift, just organic improvements that when we look back represent a giant leap.
More bang for your buck
Retailers like AGL are passionate about technological advancements and how they improve the lives of their consumers. AGL partner with some of the best suppliers around the world to offer Australians the best. These relationships combined with data and analytics are transforming how and when we use power – helping you save with minimal effort.
“AGL are providing and pushing out a holistic service that will offer energy storage, customer advice and really helping people get the most effective price.”