Common Kiwi myths makes for poor adoption of solar energy in NZ

Feb 8, 2023

New Zealand is far behind Australia in home solar panel installation due to a couple of pervasive Kiwi myths that are slowing the adoption of solar energy by households.

Vital Solar director Cameron Dick said today that about 30 per cent of Australian suburban homes now have solar panels installed on their roof, compared with only two per cent of New Zealand homes.

Dick said Australia has government incentives in the form of rebates for installing solar panels while in both Australia and New Zealand the major banks are offering to clip home mortgage rates if homeowners choose to install photovoltaics.

Nevertheless, New Zealanders don’t seem to be getting the message about the efficiency of home solar panels and the possible savings to be had.

“As the cost of living rises, it makes sense for homeowners to install solar panels to partially ease the expense of electricity usage. They can even be paid by the lines companies for feeding some of their excess sunlight energy back onto the grid, further adding to the money savings.

“Instead we are having to dispel the same myths about solar power over and over. Of course, once our clients understand the benefits, they are excited to get solar panels installed,” Dick said.

One of those persistent myths is that New Zealand doesn’t get much sunlight, or that solar panels need clear, blue skies to generate electricity.

“It’s a false premise to assume New Zealand lacks sunlight hours. Multiple Australian cities are on a similar latitude to this country and experience similar weather patterns, but the level of solar panel installations is a magnitude higher over there,” he said.

Dick said solar panels don’t need bright conditions to generate power. Even on cloudy days, in the peak sunlight hours (11am-2pm) a quality solar panel system will still gather plenty of UV rays, turning them into usable electricity, albeit at a slightly diminished rate.

“For example, even during the rainy days of January by 12pm in Auckland, many of our clients had generated 10.5 kilowatt hours of electricity – more than enough to power a house for a day.

“Across a calendar year, most panels will absorb over 2000 hours of sunlight, or 5.5 hours per day. Any UV light will still produce power – some days more, some days less. But any electricity from a free source like the sun will mean a household saves money,” Dick said.

Another myth is that the installation of solar panels must be tied to a wall-mounted battery pack, which can be expensive. For instance, a 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall costs about $16-19,000 including installation. Many people keen on solar panels are put off by thinking they also need battery packs, Dick said.

“Clients are often under the impression that solar is very expensive because of the need for batteries. But storing excess electricity is only useful if the home is prone to power cuts. 

“The way the New Zealand grid system is set up means excess electricity from solar panels can be delivered back into the main grid. Homes with photovoltaics can run off the main grid during the evening while using the sunlight during the day,” Dick said.

Installing solar panels on a home is a great way to save money, is great for the environment and by selling excess electricity back to the grid can also be a tidy little earner for households.

Dick said good management and scheduling to run appliances in the most efficient manner is key. He offered some tips for homeowners interested in solar panel installations.

1. Pick the right power company

While the national grid can receive excess electricity back into the system, only some electricity companies offer “buy-back” packages to facilitate this and remunerate homeowners.

“How much money you can make selling electricity back to the grid will vary between suppliers. So, there’s no set dollar amount that you are guaranteed. But it is a smart idea and therefore it is good idea to look around,” Dick said.

2. Pick efficient appliances

If unexpected rain showers hit, diminishing the electricity gathered by solar panels, then a great safety net is to also to choose the most energy-efficient appliances throughout the home.

“Solar panels generate electricity no matter the weather conditions, but it’s good practice to own the most efficient appliances so you never need to worry about energy usage,” Dick said.

3. Manage appliance use

Furthermore, to get the most out of electricity from solar panels during the day it can be smart to schedule the use of appliances for off-peak hours and when the sun is shining, rather than during peak times (6am-10 am and 3pm-11 pm) to both lessen the load on the grid and save money.

“From about 5pm to 9pm is about when people use the dishwasher is very common. But during the winter the sun won’t be shining so you will be drawing on the grid. It’s far better to use a timer that starts major appliances in the late morning or early afternoon at the solar peak,” Dick said.

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With extensive experience and certification by New Zealand Master Electricians, we are the trusted solar energy systems provider for Kiwi homes and businesses. With the highest level of compliance available in solar installation, we only work with products covered by a manufacturer’s warranty and we guarantee all our workmanship.

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Vital Solar is a proud member of SEANZ, the Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand.

SEANZ is an independent organisation that works hard to drive our sustainable energy future, leading the promotion, support and innovation of solar PV and energy storage technologies.

Because we’re members of SEANZ, we work to a strict SEANZ Code of Conduct. It also means you can apply for financing from your bank for solar energy systems from Vital Solar.

From the start, Maryann was extremely helpful and communicative! Cam was very knowledgeable and explained how everything worked. We had a great experience with Vital Solar and would recommend them to anyone!
Carly & Hannah Van Winkel
Carly & Hannah Van Winkel
After researching the market thoroughly, I settled on Vital to install our home PV system in 2022 and they did a very neat and professional job. Good assistance in working with the local lines company and excellent support in bedding in the control and monitoring systems. They know their stuff.
Grant Forsyth
Grant Forsyth
I've had the Enphase System now for a little over a year and I am just sorry I didn't get it installed sooner. We got 20 panels installed and glad we did that to make the most of whatever energy we are able to capture and use. Although I haven't changed the way in which I use electricity in the home, I have been able to see where I can maximize the solar energy and use it when I can although any extra is fed back to the grid (albeit at a piddly rate). Installation was seamless and the after sales service and support to change electricity service providers and respond to questions is second to none. Great service provided by the team at Vital Solar!!!
We heard about Vital Solar from a friend (a crusty old engineer who knows about stuff!) and he recommended them. We’re chuffed with the small system they did for us. Excellent service, convincing products and serious after sales service. Good work Cam and team! Many thanks.
neil keating
neil keating
We selected Vital Solar for our PV solar install because Cam was the only one to come to our place to view the site and wiring prior to quoting, which gave us confidence in their approach. The Enphase system was also recommended to me by a longstanding friend who is an electrician and Enphase also undertake some of their R&D in Christchurch with students from the University of Canterbury. On the whole, we were really impressed with Maryann, Cam and the team from Vital Solar and would highly recommend them to anyone interested in installing solar to their property.
Craig Campbell
Craig Campbell
Very happy with the service we got from Vital Solar. Even though they are not the original installer of our pannels, they were happy to replace a failed Micro Inverter, and provided extended afterservice when problems had to be resolved. I would highly recommend using their services
Chris Gelderman
Chris Gelderman
These guys supply a superior product and were the only ones to come and see us to have a look. They are very personable and kept us fully informed throughout the entire process. They personally install the panels and set up the power. Cam was great to deal with on site and Maryann was prompt with keeping us up to date and organising the inspector and power company. I was impressed in the way they left everything tidy and clean. We are very happy with our drop in power bills. They also have great after sales service. Would thoroughly reccomend Vital Solar.
Gary Lane
Gary Lane
Can't recommend this team more. We were nightmare customers (not they they would every tell us) with more questions than you can imagine and they were patient, accommodative and nothing was ever an issue. Even after the installation they are still there to help whenever we need. Truely the best.
Mark Collins
Mark Collins
We were virtually clueless when we started exploring Solar . Contacted a few companies including Vital Solar . We were so impressed from the outset with Maryanne responding to our myriad questions quickly & patiently . We decided to accept Cam & Maryanne’s offer to do a site visit to fully understand our requirements before quoting ( they were the only company to do this ) On receipt of the detailed quote there were still further questions from us . Never once were we fobbed off or made to feel stupid . We accepted the quote & the installation was pretty seamless after that . On go live , Cam & Maryanne did a detailed handover . Nothing has been too much trouble , their whole team have been friendly & professional . Cannot recommend Vital Solar highly enough - we are very pleased with the decision to go with them !
Excellent workmanship and what a fantastic crew. Thanks to the entire crew for making it so easy to get solar panels installed. Would highly recommend going with them.
Jayakantha Vijayakumar
Jayakantha Vijayakumar

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