Your Complete Guide to Grid-Tied Solar Heating

Solar power is among the many indigenous renewable resources in New Zealand. According to data from the Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment, solar energy use has significantly increased from 2002 to 2019. It can be attributed to the decreasing cost of solar energy systems and the rapidly improving innovations in the tech industry. 

There are different systems used to harness the power of the sun, namely, grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid. Among the three, the grid-tied type is the most widely used, both in residential and commercial applications. This is mostly because the off-grid type does not use batteries which helps consumers save a lot of money money. 

Additionally, as its name suggests, it’s connected to the grid. Hence, if the system produces excess power, it gets exported to the national grid and you get credits that can be subtracted to your electric bill.

Are you considering to use an on-grid system to generate electricity for your property? Learn more about how the system works and how you can benefit from it on the guide below.

Grid-tied solar heating – how does it work?

Photovoltaic systems generate energy in the same manner: by using the panels to transform the power of the sun into direct current. However, for the grid-tied model, there are some minor distinguishing factors:

  • It uses a power inverter to enable the transfer of energy from the installed panels to the grid and vice versa.
  • In the absence of a battery storage, the system relies on the grid for back-up.

With it installed, you can generate enough energy to power your property and make sure that surplus energy doesn’t go to waste. You also ensure that you never run out of power because you have the national grid as your back-up source.  

Here’s how a grid-tied solar power system works:

  • The PV panels collect sunlight to produce DC.
  • The power inverter transforms DC into AC so your household/property can make use of the energy.
  • In case your system produces excess energy, it sends it to the grid. Then, your meter spins backwards to credit your contribution.

Is on-grid solar heating the right choice for me?

Even with the overwhelming number of benefits that solar energy offers, a lot of people still aren’t sure if they should use one for their homes. Their biggest concern is whether New Zealand gets enough sunlight to power solar heating systems in he first place. 

So, does it really make sense to install one? Based on the exisiting evidence, the answer is yes. 

The climate in the country tends to vary a lot, but most places get around 2,000 hours worth of sunshine per year. NewZealand.com shares that areas like Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty and Marlborough receive more than 2,350 hours of sunlight.

Besides these sunny areas in NZ, reports from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research claim that the country has been getting more sunny days compared to the previous decades. This is why installing solar panels, like grid-tied solar heating systems, presents a practical solution for those who want a cleaner and more sustainable source of energy.  

Aside from helping you minimise your carbon footprint, on-grid solar heating systems also allow you to save money through buy-back rates or feed-in tariffs. Buy-back rates or feed-in tariffs are what the electric retailers pay customers when they have excess solar energy.

How many PV panels should I install?

Ready to start setting up your grid-tied solar heating system? The first thing you need to decide upon is how many panels you need to power your house. How big do you need your solar heating system to be? To do this, you need to consider the following factors:

    • The size of your roof – Determine how much space you have for the panels. Do you have enough space for large panels? For 3kWp systems, you may need to have around 24 square metres of space for the installation. If the roof area is limited, you may need to install smaller and more energy efficient PV panels. 
  • How much solar power do you need – Look through your previous utility bills to check your average energy requirement. Then, multiply that by the peak hours of sunlight then divide it by the wattage of your chosen solar panel. 
  • The panel’s wattage – Check the wattage of the solar panels so you know how much energy they can produce. Generally, installers offer 2kW on-grid systems for small households, but the size can reach up to 10kW, depending on the energy requirement. 

If you need more help or guidance in selecting a panel to use, you can call for a quote from a local solar heating installer. This way, you can have a more thorough assessment of the property. Also, if you’d like to test the waters first, you can start with a small system, then scale up after two years.  

Cost of installing a grid-tied solar power in New Zealand

The installation cost varies depending on whether you need it for a residential or commercial property and the wattage of the system. 

For example, if you want to power a household that has an energy requirement of around 5,200 to 6000 kWh per annum, you need a 4kWp grid-tied solar system. The cost would start at around $12,000 inclusive of GST. For homes with lower energy consumption rates, you can opt to install a 2kWp solar power system which costs around $7,200 with GST.

If you are eyeing on a solar PV system designed for commercial properties such as warehouses, adventure lodges, schools, dairy farms or vineyards, you may need to prepare around $22,990 for a 10kWp system or $98,990 for a 50kWp system. 

Using the factors discussed above, your expected return of investment, and the installer’s advice, you can pinpoint which option would suit you best.       

Ready to install on-grid solar heating?  

There are plenty of reasons why a grid-tied system makes a good energy source for a commercial or residential building. Are you ready to install an on-grid solar heating system today? 

Your best choice to help you with the job is a professional solar heating system installer. With the help of an experienced installer, you can have the system reconfigured according to your needs. Get in touch with our team at Esolar today to get a quote for your grid-tied solar heating system.