130000 Aussie Householders Switching To Net Metering!
Let us hope everyone has done their homework when the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme [SBS] ended on 31st December 2016. Everyone meaning distributors, retailers and householders, so as to reduce any unwanted bottleneck from occurring.
It will certainly pay to be at the front of the wave for meter changeover requests! Making the switch from Gross to Net metering could mean your options are:
A compatible Gross meter is been re-programmed for Net metering
A Net meter is replacing the Gross meter
Mechanical meters such as spinning disk / clock face are replaced with a Net meter
The current rate [March 2017] for net metered exported power is anywhere from five to twelve cents depending on your electricity retailer's offer.
What Will This Meter Changeover Cost You? : Currently anywhere from $260 to $600 to switch.
Why Householders Come Unstuck With Net Metering
Simply stated as A Lack Of Knowledge And Information!
Alarmingly the average Aussie householder seems to have little or incorrect knowledge on how to really use the solar on the roof to maximise electricity savings. Many times we see a large 5 kW system go on the roof, then the electricity bill arrives reporting the majority was exported for little return. That is NOT the way to make the best of a net metered solar system.
What is your total consumption now after the installation? : Interestingly this question cannot be answered, without some form of energy monitoring installed for both the consumption circuits and the solar.
Offsetting Imported Power Makes You Money : With any net metered solar system, your money is best made by reducing imported power during the sunny hours of the day, by using your own solar power. Offsetting imported electricity worth 25 cents, is worth far more than exported power at 6 cents! As we have been saying for years now
Use It OR Lose It!
Solar Excess Usage Versus Export : It sure has been a challenge over the years, trying to explain to far to many Aussie householders, that installing the biggest solar system on their roof, is NOT necessarily the secret to making the most money, from solar power!
In A Net metered environment any home using little power in the sunny hours of the day, with little gain for exported power, simply has the solar power investment return on 'trickle feed'!
Over 400% More Financial Return When Used!
With the those kind of figures what are you waiting for? Download our USING SOLAR EXCESS VERSUS EXPORTING IT data table and then start thinking of how you are going to use more of free solar power.
Confusion Over Solar Power Net Metering And Billing!
Our research in Sydney and on the NSW Mid North Coast, shows there are a lot of people with a NET metered Solar PV system still confused!
Our findings are telling us this is both from a energy angle and a financial one. And if they are not confused, often their idea of what their solar system is doing, is not correct!
All stemming from the all to common fact, the householder was not informed correctly in the first place.
After reading this page visit SOLAR PV METERS IN NSW for a more detailed insight to specific NET meters.
Gross Metering Versus Net Metering Comparison Table
Yes we have created a data table to help you understand what to expect when your first Net metered electricity bill arrives.
Even if you use 100% of the net metered solar power [extremely unlikely for Mr. Average], then there is still going to be a 41.5% drop in solar investment return, when compared to the NSW Government's recent 60 cent Gross scheme.
Now that 41.5% gets a lot worse for those of you out at work, where there is little use within the sunny hours of the day. Yes those of you with only the fridge / freezer on at home, plus a few other basic appliances such as phones, clock radios and AC control panels. Shockingly up to:
Basics Of Solar Power Generation & Net Metering
Solar Panels create DC Power
Solar Systems are rated via DC Power output
DC power is fed into the inverter, which converts it to AC Power
This AC Power is fed into your home first for use to offset imported power costs
Excess solar power is exported back to the grid
A Net Meter is a bi-directional meter recording imported power from the electricity grid and exported power fed back to the grid
Net Meters DO NOT Record Generated Power! : How can it? Your solar power is fed directly into your home, where you could have used some or all of it! The solar power has not passed through the Net Meter! Only what you DO NOT use will be registered by the NET meter. With no real-time energy monitoring in your home the only way to see your generated power is to read your inverter's screen.
Net Meters DO NOT Record Total Consumption! : With a Solar Power NET metering installation, your appliances will be using a mixture of solar power and imported power during the sunny hours of the day. Your Net meter will ONLY show you imported power and exported power.
If you are monitoring your solar and total consumption power then you will be doing your best to reduce the import power during the sunny hours of the day.
Helping You Understand Your Solar PV Net Metering
Importantly Understand Your Billing And Usage : The reason you need to understand your electricity usage, is because any electricity savings you are going to make, are directly related to your electricity usage, when connected via Solar Power NET metering. As said before Net metered Solar Power powers your home FIRST!
Could This Be Your Home?
Understanding 100% Your Solar Investment & Your Electricity Consumption
What You Need To Know About Your Sunny Hour Electricity Usage
Before the process of installing a Net metered Solar Power systems begins you importantly need to know:
1. Your daily electricity usage, measured in kWh. Common on a lot of electricity bills, this is highlighted where you may see 25 kWh per day. If the daily usage is not shown, then find the kWh total for the period of the bill and divide by the number of days in the bill.
2. Your electricity usage during the sunny hours. Now there are three ways to work this out.
So let us take a look at these suggestions in more detail:
Reading Your Electricity Meter : Find your East, North or West facing roof and note when the sun starts to hit the roof. Note the reading on your electricity meter. In the afternoon when the sun starts to leave the same space, note the electricity meter reading again. Obviously there will be shortened sunny hours in the winter, longer in the summer, so adjustments to the figures will need to be made. This will give you the power you need to offset / generate with any solar pv system
Example morning reading 65700, late afternoon reading 65712. You have used 12 kWh
Install An Electricity Monitor : An electricity monitor in the home is always a great idea. As this has proven time and time again to help reduce electricity costs. For the purpose of Sizing A Solar PV System, the electricity monitor again proves it is a winner. By analysing the data it is easy to see the power used under the roof, on an hourly basis. More details on our SOLAR POWER page.
Look At Your Electricity Usage : This is the most difficult of the three, as it means you have to have an idea of what power appliances use in the first place. If you do know this, then it is a matter of noting what appliances are on and for how long. Then doing the maths. Maybe this, should be left to the experts, like us.
So by obtaining a good understanding of what your home uses during the sunny hours of the day, will mean you can correctly size a solar power system to your electricity usage, during this time. Now should you decide to feed excess electricity back into the grid, taking into account any NET feed in tariff, this is your choice and you will have an idea of the financial return.
You may also wish to add a value of kW to the sunny hour total for the additional charging of batteries and future additional appliances.
What Do You Need To Know About General Electricity Usage?
Every electricity bill itemises the electricity used for the period of the bill. Quarterly electricity bills, tend to be around 91 days. The daily averaged usage is worked out by dividing the total kWh used by the number of days.
For example an average Aussie home may use somewhere between 18 kWh to 25 kWh per day.
Now regarding NET metering, what you are ONLY going to see on the electricity bill, is the power sent back to the grid. WHAT YOU WILL NOT SEE is the power used from your solar power system, by your appliances.
Think about this for a moment!!! There is no way the meter can see this, as you are using the power first! And this is where people start to get confused. VERY CONFUSED!!
What every sales person should note and discuss with the householder, is the power used per electricity bill, before the solar installation. Making sure the householder knows and does not forget the kWh they use per bill, per day before solar is installed! Remember the meter can be read to calculate sunny hour usage.
Pre-Solar Installation Electricity Usage
Daily Usage 25 kWh Quarterly Usage 2275 kWh
Post Solar Installation Electricity Usage
Daily Usage 17 kWh Quarterly Usage 1561 kWh
Solar PV Misunderstandings And Myths
Solar Myth #1 My solar is not making money and not generating what I was told it would!
What most householders see on the electricity bill is the amount of unused energy that is fed back into the grid. This is itemised separately on the electricity bill, with the NET FIT in NSW being stated as 6 or 8 cents per kW. So for example if 300 kW has been fed back to the grid, then there is a total of $24 for the quarter at 8 cents per kW.
And most householders think this is the return on investment. The ONLY financial return! Classic misunderstanding!
BUSTED! As this is totally wrong! If you were not aware, your NET Meter ONLY records the energy you DO NOT use. So what about all the other energy from your solar pv system? Guess what? You have used it! This energy has been supplied to you for FREE from the sun and has been used by your appliances under the roof. This energy you would have normally paid for, before you installed the Solar PV System.
Now are you starting to get the picture? We hope so! YES you are SAVING continually by offsetting the electricity costs, you would normally have purchased! As electricity costs rise you save more!
Question : What is the maximum electricity savings per year created by a small 2 kW Solar PV System?
Answer : You will know soon and be pleasantly suprised.
OK back to those pre-solar figures.
Pre-Solar Installation Electricity Usage
Daily Usage 25 kWh Quarterly Usage 2275 kWh
Let us say you decided to install a 2 kW Solar System, averaging an output of around 7.85 kW per day in Sydney. Your next electricity arrives [3 months of solar for the exercise] and you see the following kWh figures.
Now we know you can see the figures are reduced, when compared to the pre-solar. The issue here is most people, do not pick this up! Because the electricity bill for many homes is a no go zone! And this bit of the maths was not discussed during the sale, of the solar pv system. But knowing you can see the reduced figures, let us further explain what we are seeing here.
A 2 kW solar system if averaged at 7.85 kW per day would have produced around 714 kW per electricity bill. This is electricity your home has used first. Meaning you have not bought in 714 kW of electricity. So what you are seeing is the daily & quarterly usage, minus the offset electricity your solar system generated. And this is where the MAXIMUM SAVINGS ARE!!!
Now if you are charged 30 cents per kWh, your savings are $214 per electricity bill. Per year this small 2 kW solar system is saving you a maximum of $856
This example shows a 2 kW Solar System saving you $856 per year!
Keep on reading as we are not finished yet!
So What Do You See On The Electricity Bill?
The example detailed so far is showing you what happens when you use ALL of the electricity generated. This is reality is not going to happen. Unless you have electricity usage far greater than the size of the solar system installed.
Research shows that many householders, often install a solar system based on 'the greater the usage, the greater in size the solar installed.
In the real world you may use two thirds of the power. Meaning one third of the power generated is fed back [exported] to the electricity grid. And guess what? This is what you see on the electricity bill! YES! Because this electricity has not been needed and passes back through the bi-directional NET meter.
You See Imported Power And Exported Power ONLY On The Electricity Bill!
Many householders mistakenly see Exported Power as their ONLY FINANCIAL RETURN!
You Will Not Necessarily Use All Of The Generated Power!
Why? Well as you will have used some of the power off the roof. You will see something like this on your electricity bill, which relates to the power you did not use:
238 kWh NET Feed In Tariff @ 0.08 cents per kWh $19.04
In the above example 238 kwh is a third of the 714 kWh from the previous example. We have used this ratio as it is quite common for homes to feed a third of the generated power back into the electricity grid.
So in this case, where you are feeding a third of the power back to the grid and using the other two thirds under the roof, we can forecast your Solar Electricity Savings per quarterly bill to be around:
Now remember the Pre-Solar Installation Electricity Usage figure of 2275 kWh?
Well the kWh usage after the solar is installed with the above 2/3 of generated power taken into account, means your usage [imported electricity] will be 2275 - 476 = 1799 kWh.
Note this is true if your usage has remained the same as before. If you have changed appliances, decided to cool or heat the house, or had family in the home for a few weeks then your usage will have changed. On the other-hand if your solar inverter is generating the expected power, then you can expect the kWh to come off the changed updated usage total.
YOUR COMMENTS PLEASE : Leave your input on our SOLAR NET METERING & BILLING CONFUSION blog post. All feedback is welcome.
Monitoring Your Net Metered Solar Power And Total Consumption
The icing on the cake for any Net metered solar system is the energy monitoring system. In a Net metered environment this is needed:
With no monitoring system installed in a Net metered environment, there is simply missing information and the lack of ability to know when to operate appliances, to use as much of the solar power without importing power.
Your electricity bill shows you:
Unless you are visiting the inverter on a daily basis you are not going to know of any issue either, where your solar power output may have dropped or ceased. Not until the electricity bill in three months time of course if you spot the error that is.
Remember Net metered maths is:
Total Consumption = Import + Generation - Export
Of The Four Above Elements How Many Do You Know? : If it is only import and export off your electricity bill then you sure are blind as to what is really happening. You only have 50% of the information!
The benefits of a Net metered solar power monitoring system, will result in you finally and importantly having a clear insight and better understanding of what is really happening above and below your roof. You will know in real-time know:
Imported power reduction during the sunny hours of the day resulting in savings
Exported power minimisation resulting in bigger savings by using your own free power
Better appliance load management and awareness, making better use of the free power
Better management of the Time Of Use tariff
Reduced wasted standby power
Ability to get email alerts to solar power outage, high consumption, thus creating action
Could This Be Your Home?
Understanding 100% Your Solar Investment & Your Electricity Consumption
Make it easy of yourself, monitor your solar power investment to reduce losses!
Winners And Losers
From what we can see here the changes will mean anyone with a large system whom is exporting a great percentage of generated power, will see a greatly reduced return, unless they learn to offset that imported power better.
Anyone with a small solar system such as 1 to 1.5 kW will most likely be using the generated power during the daytime, therefore offsetting imported power and exporting little.
Those homes with no-one in them during the sunny hours [working hours] and only a fridge running will be exporting the most! Those householders will need to learn to program more appliances to operate during the sunny hours of the day.
Making The Switch From Gross To Net Metering
IMPORTANT NOTES we would like you to take on board before talking to any electricity retailer, distributor or electrician are:
Most gross / net meters support all three electricity tariffs. Flat rate, tiered and Time Of Use. If you get asked to switch tariff type you need to make sure that a switch will not raise you electricity usage charges. The Time Of Use has been shown to raise costs, when not managed correctly or not the best option for certain household types. Young families and the elderly do not always keep costs lower when on a Time Of Use tariff
If your not being offered the desired tariff, then ask another electricity retailer
Shop around for electricians whom are able to install any required net meter, supposedly the pool of certified electricians is to rise to 30,000
Reprogramming a compatible Gross meter to Net metering is the cheapest option. Next is replacing a electronic Gross meter with a Net meter. Lastly where you have a smorgass board of mechanical meters, this may prove to be more expensive due to the layout of the meters, maybe having to be re-designed in the power box
Aussie Home Energy : Adding Clarity To Australian Electricity Net Metered Bills