Solar panels convert sunlight into free electricity that you can use in your home. Any electricity that is unused is diverted to the national grid and you'll be paid for it. During periods when the sun isn't shining or if you're using more power than the panels are generating, your needs will be supplied by the grid, and you'll be billed for what you use.
This means that in order to capitalise on the energy generated by your home solar panels, you may need to rethink your daily electricity consumption and routine. Read on to find out how to make the most of your domestic solar energy production.
Understanding energy production
When the conditions are perfect, your solar panels will produce electricity up to their capacity. This means that if you have a typical 2000W setup of panels, you'll enjoy 2kW of electricity production. Perfect conditions can be defined as:
- a sunny day
- no shade over the panels
- the panels are south-facing and positioned so that they slope towards the sun
Therefore, on a brilliantly sunny day in high summer, your panels will yield around 2000W, whereas on a miserable, wet day in winter they might only manage 100W.
Appliance energy usage rates
The electrical appliances in your home use different amounts of electricity, depending on their function and power. For example, your washing machine can eat up a massive 2.5kW of power each time you use it (possibly more, depending on the model and capacity), whereas your laptop uses about 150W and your energy saving light bulb roughly just 15W.
Using your 'inverter'
In order to make the most of your solar energy production you'll need to check your inverter regularly during the day. The inverter is a device supplied with your solar panels that converts the power they generate into useable electricity for your home. The inverter has a display that shows how much electricity is being produced by the panels at any time.
It therefore follows that if you know how much electricity each of your domestic appliances requires, you can time their use to make the most of your free power. For example, you could use your washing machine at the sunniest part of the day when the most free electricity is available, but wait to start up your dish washer until after the washer has finished.
It is possible to maximise the power produced by your solar panels simply by thoughtfully adjusting the timing of the use of your domestic appliances as described above.