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How to make the most of your solar power panels?

For years, we've been used to using power at night because that's when there's a nuclear energy surplus. With solar energy, it's an entirely different story …

If your roof has solar panels, you need to consume as much solar energy as possible precisely when it's in abundance.

Why is it more cost-effective to use the energy generated right away?

Easy on the wallet

Solar energy is by and large generated at times it can't be consumed immediately. For instance, on a working day when no one's at home using electricity. Or during summer, when you are away on your holidays.

So as to establish the actual consumption level, private installations in Flanders and Wallonia are fitted with a meter that runs backwards. The principle is simple:

  • You consume more electricity than you generate:
    The meter runs forward and you're supplied with power from the grid.
  • You generate more electricity than you consume:
    The meter runs backward and the surplus power is fed into the grid. So in effect, what you're doing is using the public grid as a battery; you pay a grid fee or a prosumer rate for this, since you're both a consumer and a producer of power. 

In Brussels, this rate is determined using an electronic meter.

Wherever you live, it's in your best interest to consume the power generated by your solar panels immediately, meaning it's a good idea to get into the habit right away!

Good for the environment

Most people who have solar panels installed on their rooftops partly do so due to environmental considerations. To make sure you use the power generated on your roof, you're better off switching on as many appliances as possible during the day, when the sun is out. This is unlike the old days, when the day and night rate made it profitable to wait until night time or the weekend to do your washing and drying.

Nowadays, you still need to switch on the major energy guzzlers around the house yourself manually,  although there are trial projects with appliances aware when the sun is shining and which only then switch on. That means your freezer provides extra cooling during the day, and a signal's sent to your mobile telling you you can charge the car.

Tips for using your self-generated power to the max

Step up your day-time consumption

  • Run the tumble dryer, washing machine or dishwasher when your panels are generating power.
  • Consider getting an electric scooter, bicycle or even an electric car.
  • Replace your petrol-powered lawn mower by an electric model.
  • If you cook using a gas-fired stove, consider switching to electric.
  • Program your electric boiler to produce hot water during the day. Consider installing a smart power-control system so that hot water is produced as soon as your photovoltaic generation exceeds a set threshold level.

Reduce your night-time consumption

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