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.

Our guarantee

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.

Our commitment

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 start to finish, our solar journey with Vital Solar has been superb. We did extensive research and obtained 5 quotes before (easily) deciding on Cam, Maryann and the Vital Solar team. Cam (MD) is highly knowledgeable about all matters solar, and patiently answered all our questions. (Ours is a tricky South facing site, so there were many questions). Maryann was super helpful and kept the ball rolling with logistics and other queries. We decided to get Sun Power panels with Enphase microinverters and two Enphase IQ 5P batteries. Vital Solar’s installation and service team (including Sam and Keenan) was very professional, helpful and tidy. After the installation was complete, Maryann also helped us get the grid connection sorted. Such great people! We did our solar due diligence, and recommend the Vital Solar team very highly. Thank you guys!😊💯
Suki Harding
Suki Harding
For our small installation onto our villa the discussion, ongoing communication, installation, and final product was all excellent. We highly recommend this company
Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson
Vital Solar are awesome. They will listen to what you want, and educate you where necessary so that you can get a system that works best for you and your home. They take pride in their work and do a tidy job with quality equipment. I had a few extra requests such as a Solar hot water power diverter, and that was provided and installed with no hassle. I've asked for more information about extras (e.g. batteries) since the install, and have received friendly advice and follow up. I would recommend them over the big guys who you will either never hear back from, or they will quote something from their computer without even visiting your site.
Ryan Maxwell
Ryan Maxwell
Cannot recommend highly enough. Vital Solar took the time to understand our issues and come back with excellent information- waaayyyyyy more information than the original installer had ever shared. Which meant we could make good decisions. GREAT service, fantastic communication and just lovely individuals to work with. Highly recommended.
sandy pearson
sandy pearson
Cameron and Maryann are engaged and knowledgeable. Dealing directly with the owner is a distinct advantage, and the fact that Cameron visited and assessed the site before quoting was a key point in our choosing Vital Electric.
Alan Merry
Alan Merry
Had vital come through for a consult, and ended up going with an Enphase system, knowledge with the whole process and incredibly happy with total install.They truly went above and beyond my expectations a awesome crew
Andrew Dick
Andrew Dick
Vital Solar really know their stuff. I appreciated the education on solar as part of the sales process. The Vital Solar installation team, in their Vital Solar uniforms, were professional and kept us well informed as the installation progressed. Having a 25 year guarantee backs up the quality of both the product and the service from Vital Solar, giving us peace of mind. It's been worth paying a bit more with Vital Solar than some of the other providers we approached, to get quality. We're delighted with our new system. Did someone say power prices just went up again - not for us. Thanks Vital Solar.
David Schischka
David Schischka
Cam and his team at Vital Solar were recommended through a mutual friend. Definitely made the right choice to go with them for our residential PV install. A pleasure to deal with.
Luke Gowing
Luke Gowing

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