Get the most from your solar system

Find out how to get the most out of your rooftop solar system and battery.

Getting the most out of your solar system

1Sangita regularly monitors her rooftop solar system to check it is performing as expected and to help manage her electricity use.

2The best way to save money is to use electric appliances when Sangita's solar system is generating electricity.

3Sangita is at the office 3 days a week. She uses timers to turn on her appliances during the day.

4Sangita often uses a slow cooker. It uses electricity during the day and she gets a delcious meal in the evening.

5Sangita gets an accredited solar installer or qualified electrician to service her solar system.

6To maximise bill savings, Sangita regularly checks she is on a competitive electricity pricing plan that suits her needs.

Use electricity generated by your solar system

The best way to save money is to use more of the electricity generated by your solar system and less from the grid.

As much as possible, use electric appliances when your solar system is generating electricity. Typically, the best times are:

  • Summer: 10am–4pm
  • Winter: 11am–2pm

Check your monitoring app to see the best times for your solar system.

Read more about self-consumption.

Run appliances during the day

As much as possible, run the following appliances during the day:

  • washing machine, dishwasher or clothes dryer: most machines have a built-in timer so you can choose what time they turn on
  • pool pump: set the timer to run during the day
  • cooling: run air-conditioners during sunlight hours and keep heat outside by closing doors and windows
  • heating: run electric heaters as much as possible during sunlight hours and keep heat inside by closing doors and windows
  • slow cooker: schedule your evening meal to cook during the day
  • electric vehicles: plug in and charge during the day or get a smart meter or app to schedule charging when there is excess solar generation.

If you have a time of use tariff, the biggest benefits come from reducing use during peak periods. If you have a demand charge tariff, avoid running lots of appliances that use electricity from the grid at the same time. Read more on electricity plans and tariffs.

Electric hot water

A lot of electric hot water systems are timed to run overnight, sometimes controlled by the distribution network service provider as a 'controlled load'. Shifting these to use solar generation can be a good idea, but not always.

If your electric hot water system uses more power than is generated by your solar system, it will import electricity from the grid to make up the difference. So, the costs and benefits will depend on your electricity pricing plan. This is more likely with large traditional ('resistive') electric hot water systems than with modern heat pump systems which use less electricity.

Be aware that converting hot water from controlled load to solar self-consumption needs an accredited electrician. If you're getting a new hot water system, a heat pump system is also most efficient and cost-effective.

Ask your solar retailer or accredited installer about the options.

Electrification

When old gas appliances need replacing, buying energy-efficient electric ones can help you get the most from your solar system.

Solar tip: When upgrading to electric appliances, get the most efficient appliances possible. Before purchasing, check their energy rating.

Monitor your system

Monitoring your system helps you to know whether it is performing as expected.

If you have a monitoring app that also tracks your electricity use, you can use it to:

  • see when you are self-consuming the electricity generated by your solar system
  • help manage your electricity use.

Learn more about monitoring your system.

Get the best electricity deal

Electricity prices and deals change all the time. Regularly use a government-backed comparison website to see what deals are available.

To maximise your bill savings, make sure you are on a competitive plan which suits your electricity usage and generation. Learn more about electricity plans and government-backed comparison websites.

Batteries

Adding a battery to your system will help you increase your self-consumption and maximise your bill savings, and can provide back-up electricity supply during power outages if designed and configured to do so.

It may also let you participate in a virtual power plant to access more financial benefits.

However, the purchase cost of a battery means it won't make economic sense for everyone. Read more about batteries.

Energy-efficiency upgrades

You can reduce your electricity usage and bills by making simple changes to your property and appliances:

  • replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lighting
  • install drapes or blinds on your windows
  • add insulation to your roof, walls or under the floor
  • seal or block draughts.

More expensive efficiency upgrades, like double glazing windows, may reduce your electricity bills but come with a high upfront cost. Others, like replacing a traditional ('resistive') hot water system with a heat pump, may only be worthwhile if you need to replace the system anyway.

You should weigh up the investment costs against the bill savings and other benefits.

For more tips, see: