Solar power can help you become more self-sufficient, reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your energy costs.
Generate your own power
Innovation and new technologies have led to new ways to generate, store and sell electricity back to the grid. Solar panels, small wind turbines and batteries are becoming increasingly available and affordable.
Any household or business can generate power for their own use and sell the excess back into the grid. It's a great way to generate clean green energy and save on power costs.
How can you generate your own power?
You can generate your own power using solar panels, wind turbines, micro-hydro systems, biomass and biogas engines, diesel or bio-diesel generators.
Most people opt for rooftop solar panels to generate their own power, as they are relatively easy and low cost to install and maintain.
Why is solar so popular?
A solar system is relatively affordable, easy to install, and has low maintenance requirements.
Most people choose rooftop panels, an inverter, and sometimes a battery bank system to store excess generation. There are a lots of companies who can offer installation and support for custom solar systems for your home.
What are the benefits of solar?
There are many benefits to solar, but the main benefits are that:
- Going solar can save you money - you will generate free power to use. If you have excess electricity, you can sell it back to your power company and lower your power bill. If you don’t produce all of the power you consume, you will still reduce your power bill and save money. Also, it's likely that the price of electricity will rise, so a solar energy system will save you money in future.
- Going solar can increase your property value - research suggests that buyers are willing to pay more for a property with solar panels. Most of the expenses related to solar generation are upfront, so you can start saving money right away if you buy a house with solar panels.
- Going solar helps the environment - it creates clean, green energy and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Going solar demonstrates your commitment to sustainability and will help New Zealand achieve its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Is your property suitable for solar?
Solar is a great way to generate your own power, but solar panels are better suited to some situations that other. Here's some factors to consider:
- Solar output can vary significantly depending on the weather. Even modest cloud cover can reduce the output of the power generated by a large amount compared to direct sunlight.
- Solar power systems work across Aotearoa but perform best in regions with high sunshine hours eg, Nelson/Marlborough or the Far North. They are better value if you are at home during the day to use the electricity generated and can be big power users eg, your hot water, spas and electric car chargers. Or if you are a business with consistently high electricity demand during the day eg, air conditioning, tools.
- To use electricity when solar panels produce less (in the morning, evenings or in winter), you can buy electricity from your power company or install a battery system to store the energy generated during the day.
You will need to assess your property for its suitability for solar panels. Your panels need to face north to get the best power production. Your roof will ideally be north-east to north-west-facing, with a 15 to 45° pitch. Contact a solar company to assess your property for solar viability.
Are there rules and regulations to comply with?
Yes, there are rules and regulations that you must comply with for solar generation.
If you connect your solar panels to the grid to sell back power, you must comply with Part 6 of the Electricity Industry Participation Code 2010. This includes adhering to standards for the power inverter and rules around connecting to the distribution network.
Solar power systems can overload power lines. You will need to contact and work with your local lines company who will advise you of their network connection rules. They have established criteria and require approval when new systems are connected to the lines. They will help ensure you are connecting the correct type of power inverter for their network. Typically they require an inverter with the function to be remotely turned off in the event of an overpower situation.
The Electricity Authority doesn't require consumers with their own generation systems to register with us as generator participants, unless the system is capable of exporting more than 10 megawatts back into the grid.
Solar power systems typically don’t require council consent. However, check with your local council or ask your solar installer.
Solar generation versus usage
The energy output of a solar panel does not match the typical daily power use of a household or business.
Solar energy output rises and falls with the sun and the weather. Household peak power demands are typically in the morning and evening when the sun is low/non-existent and generation output is low/non-existent. If using solar power, you would benefit from shifting your use to match solar output or you may need to buy power from you power company during peak periods.
How to get started with solar
Here's our top tips on how to get started with solar:
- Evaluate your energy use - contact your power company to request your consumption data
- Investigate and research whether solar is right for your home/business - compare your power use with potential power solar panel output, use the SEANZ Solar Optimiser or Gen Less Solar power calculator.
- Decide if you need a battery system - if you don't use much power during the day, a battery can store your generation for use in the evening.
- Decide if you need an import/export power meter - if you would like to sell electricity back to the grid. Contact your retailer or metering provider for more information about meters and time-of-use plans.
- Get quotes for solar panels/batteries - choose products and an installer(s)
- Contact your retailer, metering provider and lines company - about connecting to the grid and selling back power and installing an import/export meter.
- Get your solar panels, inverter and meter installed
- Enjoy your solar generation and the cost and environmental benefits!