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If you’re looking to save even more on your energy bill, then a solar upgrade might be the most logical decision. While upgrading your system might be great for maximising your savings and becoming even more self-sufficient, there are a few important things to consider before going bigger.

How much are your bills currently?

Depending on when you had your system installed or if there’s been any changes to the household energy habits, the system may no longer be big enough. Not so long ago, the maximum system size was 5kW. Grid connected solar systems in Queensland can now go up to 10kW of inverter capacity on a single phase home and up to 13kW of solar panels, so you may still be able to go bigger.

The first thing you need to look at is how much energy you are drawing from the grid on top of what your system is already providing. Going bigger will undoubtedly provide extra savings on your power bill. But how much is too much?

The easiest way is to check your monitoring or turn to the second page of your electricity bill and look at how many kWhs of solar you are exporting every month and how much you are using. If your export amount is minimal and you’re still using a lot of power, then adding more panels or an additional system might be a good solution. For example, if you’ve got an existing 5kW system and you’ve still got power bills of $350 or more, then it would be a good idea to consider going bigger. 

How much is your Feed-in Tariff?

If you’re on a high feed-in tariff (FIT) then going bigger may not be the best solution for you. A good rule of thumb is that if your FiT is higher than what you are paying for grid power, you should export as much as possible back to the grid to get the FiT. The agreement you’ve made with your energy retailer may also prevent you from installing additional panels if you wish to keep your FIT. If you are sending very little back to the grid and not seeing much benefit from the high tariff, it would pay to talk to your local solar installer about other energy saving ways to ensure you are getting the highest return. 

If you are on a low FIT, you will likely save more exporting the energy to the grid than installing a battery, so going bigger may be a great option to reduce your bills even further. 

How does the return on investment look?

Like any investment, it’s important to analyse your return. Sit down and work out how much you’ll save against how much you’ll spend and determine how long it will take you to recoup your money. It’s also important to take into consideration how you’re going to pay for it. If you’ve got the money sitting in the bank, then it might be more viable than taking out a loan and paying interest. It may also give you a better return on investment than leaving it in the bank.

The system was already in place when we bought the house…

While it’s very common these days to purchase a home with solar, a lot of people have not purchased a solar system and are unsure what to expect to see on their bill. The FIT will automatically be moved across to the new account holder, so there is nothing you would need to do in regards to your energy retailer. Often though, the new homeowner is unsure if the system is working as it should and what savings are to be expected. It would be a good idea to get in touch with the company that installed the system to discuss the savings expectations from the system and how many kilowatts it should produce each day on average. If the company is no longer in business, then look for a quality local installer that has a strong service department. They will be able to go through the savings expectations and also make any recommendations for possible upgrades. 

Just like going solar for the first time, purchasing an additional system or upgrading your existing system should be well thought out. It’s important to do your research and make sure that it’s the right choice, the right size and you are installing it with a company you can trust.

For any more information or to talk all things solar, call our team of local experts for an obligation-free chat.

Author Kon Flaherty

Kon has been a key solar consultant in the North QLD region for over 10 years. He was one of the founders of Green Energy Technologies and has assisted thousands of locals to save money.

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