The Missing Piece of the Solar Power Puzzle

The Missing Piece of the Solar Power Puzzle

Setting aside the small minority of people who bought an expensive system that was over-sized for their needs, or had a faulty system they weren’t aware of, solar panels have provided countless benefits for many Gold Coast residents. However, we often hear that homeowners believe they aren’t getting their money’s worth – and this is usually because their power bill doesn’t give them the full story.

When your system generates electricity (obviously only in daylight), one of two things happens:

1) If your household is using any electricity while the panels are generating it, the inverter will ensure it uses your solar power FIRST before it draws any excess power needed at the time from the grid. Whether it’s a fridge, washing machine, TV or computer, all of these items need power when switched on, so the inverter’s job is to supply it to them as needed.

2) It exports the unused power back to grid, for which you get paid some sort of feed-in tariff (note: tariffs may have ended in some places, so check your local energy retailer’s current rates first).

The inverter is kind of the ‘traffic cop’ of your power system. It directs power in the right direction at all times, to ensure you use as much of your own generated solar power as possible, and wastes none of your unused power by selling it back to the grid.

The key element to realise here is that when you use your own solar-generated power, you are not paying your energy retailer to use their power (unless your power requirement is above the production capacity of your solar, in which case it draws the difference needed from the grid).

The big trick in all of this is that the total amount of power you generated for the day is NOT shown on your bill. Only your total consumption of grid power and amount fed back into the grid.

Therefore, the only way to work out how much you really saved is to record your total daily production of power from your inverter (at night time, after it stops generating power) – across a full bill period – and then total that number and subtract the amount you sold back to the grid.

You will end up with a figure of x units for the bill period (your NET benefit), which is then multiplied by your normal rate for grid power, and that gives you a figure you saved for the bill period.

Here’s how to read your power bill, to show you what we just discussed:


Let’s say our example 90 day bill comes in at $500.

The usage on the back of the bill shows that the client sent 10 units a day back to the grid on average (90 x 10 = 900 units). At 6c per unit, the feed-in tariff would equate to $54.00 in credit. In this example the bill would have been $554 minus the credit = $500.

If, during that same period, the solar inverter showed that the system produced 20 units per day on average, then the house would have used 10 units from the inverter and 10 was sent back to the grid as excess (or unused) power.

This is where the bill does not show that your solar power system saved you from having to purchase an additional 10 units per day.

10 units x 90 days x 25c/unit = $225 in additional savings that they can’t see.

The total benefit from solar for this bill would be $225 + $54 = $279. So this is why some customers who have solar think they have saved very little – because their bill doesn’t tell them everything!

Source: The Solar Market

Would you like to discuss how much you are saving with your solar panels, and how you can save even more? Contact AMP’D Electrical & Solar (your local Gold Coast electrical and solar specialists) on 0475 415 414 or at [email protected]. You can also read more about our solar services here.

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