Getting solar: from research to install

north-facing array

Getting solar may be common, but when you’re doing it for the first time it can be a bit of a mystery. Stephen Zuluaga explains his research to get the best system for his house.

UNTIL recently, I’d thought solar wouldn’t work well on our house. With little north-facing roof to speak of, I just assumed that solar wouldn’t be worth it. But then I began to read about some of the good outcomes possible with an east/west array—our roof has lots of east/west space and shading issues only at the extreme ends of the day.

Although an east/west array will produce less overall than a north-facing one, it can extend generation hours, both earlier in the morning with an east-facing array and later in the day with a west-facing system. Long generation hours are important if you don’t have battery storage and the gravy train of premium feed-in tariffs has left the station. It means you can match more of your generation to usage, particularly before and after work usage, and hence increase your ‘self-consumption’ of solar—this will mean lower grid imports and a shorter payback period.

Modelling the economics
Before committing to a solar purchase, I was interested to more fully understand the financials. I found ATA’s free Sunulator tool ( which helped me model a scenario based on my actual electricity consumption and the combined north/east/west PV configuration I was contemplating. Sunulator is a great tool—if you’re planning solar you should use it. [Ed note: ATA also has a simpler tool available to give you an indication of the financials without the full modelling of Sunulator, see] The energy analysts at the ATA helped with understanding the Sunulator results as one of the ATA member benefits.

Read the full article in ReNew 142.

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