Maximising solarZero®

solarZero® covers all of your home’s electricity needs by teaming up clean solar energy, with battery storage and access to wholesale spot prices for grid power. It also includes the solarZero® app so you can monitor and control how energy is used in your home.

Here are some things you can do to become an energy-conscious consumer. 

Solar basics

Typically, solar produces the most energy between 9am to 3pm. More power is generated during the long days of summer compared to the much shorter days of winter. With solar panels, the yearly electricity production graph usually resembles a bell curve. The low end of the curve represents the winter months and the peak is reached during summer. When the sun is not shining, your home is powered by the grid and our battery that’s programmed to buy and use power at times that deliver the best rates for you.  

Graph2

While the battery will store most of your surplus solar power, you can maximise your savings with solarZero® by aligning some of your electricity use with your solar generation. Here are some tips and tricks.

Making the link between solar power and appliance power ratings

The first step is to understand how much power the solar system is generating and how much power your electrical appliances are using. 

Here are some general numbers to give you a guide.

Table link between solar and appliances

The kilowatt (kW) figure is important as it is the maximum amount of power the system can produce when the sun is shining, or that can be supplied by the battery at other times. Now, compare this with the power rating of standard appliances in New Zealand.

Heating

heating table

Laundry

laundry table

Kitchen

kitchen table

Other

other table2

Wattage varies from model to model. Figures are examples only.

To calculate how much the solar system, or battery, can power in your home at any one time, start by listing the appliances that run continuously such as your fridge and the freezer. This is called the base load. You can then add other appliances that are used intermittently. This is the variable load which, ideally, is used during the daytime when solar power is being generated.

It is wise to stagger the use of high wattage appliances (like your dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer), otherwise you may exceed the system's capacity and start using grid power as well. In other words, if you are using a 3.5 kW rimu solar system and run a 2kW dishwasher and a 2kW washing machine at the same time, you will need 4 kW which is more power than the system can supply. This means the shortfall will automatically come from the grid.

Monitor your consumption

The solarZero® app lets you track how much electricity the panels are generating, the charge level of the battery, and how much energy your home is using. You can use this info to schedule the best times to run your appliances.

Use energy intensive appliances during the day

Even top energy rated washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers can easily consume 1 kWh per cycle, so it makes sense to run them when the sun is producing the maximum amount of energy - typically between 9am and 3pm. If you are going to be out, set your appliances to run while you are away by using the in-built timer, or by adding a plug-in timer for each device. Stagger their start start times so they are not all drawing power at the same time.

Cut your water heating bills

Did you know that about 30% of the energy used in your home goes into heating water? As part of our solar installation we wire your hot water cylinder so you can switch it on and off with the solarZero® app. That way you can schedule your water heating at times that make the most of your solar energy, or grid power when rates are low.

Swimming and spa pools

Set your pool pumps and water heating to run when solar power production is at its maximum.

Use a slow cooker

The slow cooker is perfect for making excellent use of your daytime solar power. With power consumption as little as 200 watts, it will save you money on cloudy days as well as sunny ones. 

Make more of your microwave

If you have a decent microwave, switch to cooking what you can in that, during the day, instead of your main oven. Your microwave uses less kW and will cook the meal much faster, saving more energy in the process.

Replace old appliances

Armed with above tips, even less efficient appliances may well cost you nothing to use during the day when the sun is shining. However, look for energy efficient appliances when it's time to upgrade. This is particularly important for washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. If you choose the most energy efficient appliances, you can use them earlier or later in the day, or when the conditions are not perfect, all without drawing power from the grid.