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It's not just individuals who can stick a few solar panels on their roof and save money on their power bill while feeling good about the environment. Businesses can get a lot out of solar power too, but have some special considerations to go through that residential customers don't.
In this guide, we cover most of what you need to know to get started on your journey to cleaner energy and cheaper electricity bills.
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For a solid system between 30kW and 100kW , you'll be paying around $1,300 per kW, or about $700 per kW for a system smaller than 30kW. Adding micro-inverters for optimum efficiency and control may increase your total cost by around 20%.
Make sure you run a rigorous cost analysis for your solar system before going ahead with it, which a good commercial installer can assist you with. Many businesses pay several fees and charges on their electricity bill that aren't just from usage.
You'll not only need to check that these costs can be reduced by using solar, but also figure out what tariffs your power company will be providing you for the system in question and on what contract. Try to think less of the return on investment of solar and more of its impact on cash flow in your business. Once again, your installer can provide this, but check it over with your own accountant to ensure it makes sense.
Solar systems can save as much as 80% on a monthly electricity bill according to the Solar Savings calculator on SolarMarket.com.au, depending on your current energy bill, location and provider.
We tested out monthly bills of $250, $500 and $1,000 (with AGL or Origin) in Sydney and Melbourne and found a savings of 39-84% with solar energy.
It is worth noting that solar does come with an upfront installation cost, but if you're in it for the long haul, this can be paid off in just a few years.
Businesses anywhere in Australia can access the following benefits if they install solar panels:
There are also some government schemes available to businesses in the following states and territories:
Obviously, this will depend upon the size of your business and its power needs, and will be something to discuss with your solar installer. However, there are generally four size categories.
|Energy required||Less than 30kW||30kW-100kW||More than 100kW||More than 250kW|
|Suitable for||Smaller businesses||Retail businesses, medium offices and clubs||Hotels, large offices and small factories||Large shopping centres and solar farms|
|Need to know||Falls under the same legislation as residential installations.||Require special measures to protect the grid from the power they generate.||Not eligible for STC rebates and need regitration and monitoring to claim LGC rebates.||Recommended to get specialist installers.|
Remember, you'll require official approval from your local electricity distributor before installing any system greater than 30kW in size. There may be requirements placed upon your approval, such as limiting how much power you can export to the grid, which may affect what equipment you need and any projected savings.
It's possible you may need approval from local councils or other authorities. A good commercial solar provider should be able to help you with this process.
There are three main differences between commercial and residential set-ups. These are size, inverter type and rebate type.
Businesses will have not only a bigger solar system in general, but they also tend to use larger solar panels, too. Residential panels are usually 60 solar cells, while business installations use 72-cell panels. This results in lower installation costs because fewer panels are required.
Houses usually use micro-inverters, one for each individual solar panel, but this is a huge expense for a business, and one large, single inverter has its own problems. Instead, it's normal in the industry to use a string of regular residential inverters connected together for efficiency, ease of access and adjustment, and redundancy in case one burns out.
Solar systems smaller than 100kW (which includes all residential ones) are governed by STC rebates. These are paid at the time of installation and are based on how much energy your system is expected to produce over the next decade and a bit.
Commercial systems over 100kW have to deal instead with LGC rebates, where you essentially register your business as a power station with the Clean Energy Regulator. This requires you to track, report and claim for your production each year and is more involved. This means you won't really get an up-front rebate like a small residence would.
With a professional commercial installer, you should get a thorough energy profile analysis of your property. This will involve:
Business solar systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size. If you can't afford to purchase the system outright, you can consider other financing options like:
Apart from the environmental benefits, businesses have many incentives to go solar. Here are just a few:
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