Take control of your solar electricity
In the past, if your solar panels produced more electricity than your household used, it made good financial sense to export that excess electricity back to the grid. In return, your electricity company would pay you anywhere between 20c-50c/kWh of electricity.However, lucrative feed-in tariffs like that are now a distant memory, with power companies only paying around 5c-12c/kWh these days. Given that you’ll be paying much more than that to buy electricity back off the grid at night (between 25c-40c/kWh depending on your electricity supplier), you’re probably wondering how you can make better use of your excess solar energy during the day, instead of exporting it to the grid.
Use it or lose it
In an ideal world, you would schedule your washing machine and dishwasher to fire up during the middle of the day, when your solar panels are most productive. However, unless you work from home or your whitegoods are on a timer, this may be easier said than done. A better option is to store your excess energy in a battery or similar storage device.
While battery storage is now a much more viable option than in the past, this technology is still quite new and may currently be too expensive for many homeowners. This is why products like the iStore are worth considering.
How does the iStore work?
The iStore improves your home’s energy efficiency in two ways. Firstly, it extracts energy from the air around it to supply hot water to your home. Secondly, by timing your iStore to run during the day when your solar power system is most productive, you are storing your excess solar energy to use later in the day, instead of sending it to the grid! Interested? Let’s investigate both of these benefits in a bit more detail.
Heat water for your home with an iStore
In a process known as thermodynamics, the iStore extracts heat energy from the air around it to heat the water inside. The iStore follows the same ‘heat transfer’ principles as your household freezer, except in reverse. Instead of transferring heat out of the freezer to keep it cold, the iStore transfers heat into the water, making it hot. According to the Melbourne Energy Institute and the ‘Beyond Zero Emissions Report: 2013’ this method of heating water is 80% more efficient than conventional electric or gas hot water systems. An added bonus is that, the hotter the climate you live in, the more efficient the iStore becomes, as it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat your water because the ambient temperature will be higher.
Store your excess solar energy in an iStore
The iStore consumes around 4000 watts of energy during a 4-hour heating cycle. If you set it to run in the middle of the day during peak solar production, you are effectively storing your solar excess energy for later use. By powering your iStore with energy produced by your solar panels, you have the potential to achieve free hot water, all year round! You just need to check your last electricity bill to see how many kilowatts your system has returned to the grid. If you need help working this out, give Solargain a call on 1300 73 93 55 and we can talk you through it.
To give you an idea, though, it only takes four 270W solar panels to run the iStore. The average 5kW solar power system has 20 panels. This leaves you with 16 panels to generate electricity for the rest of your home. The iStore has comparable storage capacity to a traditional 6kW battery storage system, but for a fraction of the price. Plus, it supplies your home with hot water.
Does the iStore meet your needs?
Since everyone’s energy consumption is different, we always recommend you speak with a solar power expert to help crunch the numbers and to choose the best energy storage device for your household. The team at Solargain is happy to work with you to determine if an iStore is the best option for you, based on your excess power generation and the size of your solar power system. If you’d like to find out how an iStore can save you money and make your home even more energy efficient, contact us now or give us a call on 1300 73 93 55.