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Payment from electricity providers for solar feed-in?

I’ve been trying to absorb all the info on solar panels, batteries, installers, FiTs, etc. etc., and one thing I haven’t seemed to see mentioned anywhere is any confirmation that if you end up putting more into the grid than you use then the provider gives you that money back.

I’ve seen people comment that their bills are in credit, but do the providers actually refund the customer this money ever? If not, then what do people do with the credit they build up over time?

The responses to this will most likely determine the number of panels I get and possibly even whether i get a battery of not (in the next 2 years when they’re cheaper)

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Yes, the credit is refunded usually to the customer’s nominated account (or cheque), when a refund request is made. The timing of refund can be up to the customer.

Some providers also allow the credut to also used for payment of other utilities, such as gas, if they are with the same provider.

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That’s great to hear. I was concerned that the energy providers might have some sort of ridiculous policy around not giving money back to people.

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Thanks for that, too.

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It’s not that simple- they charge you more for the energy they sell to you than they pay you for energy you sell to them. The days of high Feed-in Tariffs are long gone for new contracts, so even if you export a bit more than you import, you are unlikely to be in credit. You will have a much reduced bill total if you aim to minimise energy imports though.
To get paid, these days you need to oversize your system to maximise your feed-in credits, and minimise your imports. This means using as much of your own generation as possible, and making full use of your battery overnight and at other times of little of no solar generation.

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In most of our jurisdictions there is a max of 5KW you can connect to the grid and feed-in. That is the inverter(s) spec not the panels spec, so that would equate to 6500w of panels and a 5KW strong inverter, or 17 x 290W micro inverters w/290+ watt panels.

Well stated

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If you have 3phase, you can go larger, but not many residences have 3phase.

Also, with some inverters you can set the export limit to 5kW, even though the inverter capacity and PV array are quite a bit larger.

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Thanks for that. Yep, I know it’s an unlikely scenario (i.e. oversizing my system, having a battery for night-time use, etc.) that I’d actually be making money, but just wanted to know the answer to the hypothetical.

Also just wanted to know all my options, as in my house it’s just me and a 10 year old, and even then I use below the “average usage” (as claimed on the bill) for a household of 1. (Current usage 8.232 kWh per day as of last bill)

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Considering you have such extremely low electricity consumption, you obviously stand to not save much on your electricity bills.

On the other hand, you may even end up in credit if you have a reasonable size system

Here is a link to the best solar savings calculator I have come across which will provide calculations for a no battery system and a battery system which may help you in deciding what to install.

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The usage average can be a bit deceptive. If you are away most weekday daylight hours and only use most during the evening and weekends (whatever day they might fall for you), then your usage during non solar hours could be the majority and as such as you may be paying for that usage at a much higher rate than your fit actually offsets during daylight hours. The battery in this case could be what you then benefit from as it might supply the power you actually need during those times. You might be best to study when you use most of your power and plan your needs around that to get the best benefit.

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Here in Darwin, I have been supplying the grid from my solar for several years on and off due to technical issues. In that entire time the feed in rate has been identical to the usage rate. The local provider was also the water/sewerage supplier, so any excess solar supply credit would be offset against my water/sewer. In the last few years the suppliers have separated the businesses, so now I can redeem my solar credits by sending in a form and the money is credited to my bank account. We have only recently had the introduction of an off peak option, that is not applicable to solar. I think we are probably one of the last bastions of equivilant feed in tariffs left.

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Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

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Thanks for that. My biggest usage by far is on the shoulder, which is predominantly daylight hours for my supplier:
9pm-10pm M-F
7am-3pm M-F
7am-10pm S-S

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There area variety of feed in tariffs. I was fortunate to put up a panel about 9 years ago and my generous feed in still has a way to go. Mind the cost was high back then. Now some of the feed in returns are pretty small.

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I’m with Jacana and have their ‘Switch to Six’ off-peak tariff billing and solar - so it actually works out better for me to use power from the grid at night as the house is typically empty during the day and the feed in tariff is higher than the nighttime tariff - is this the one you are referring to?

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According to the fact sheet from Jacana, the feed in tariff from solar does not change ?.

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Correct - My latest bill says my FiT is 0.2359090 - where my peak is 0.2782727 and off peak is 0.2121818 …

So the way I read it - they are paying me 0.2359090 when the sun shines and (for me) typically nobody is home and charging me 0.2121818 at night and weekends …

All tariffs on the billare ex-GST …

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Yeah, right. It would be fairly marginal for me I think. I typically use about half of the amount I export for a quarter. What cost was involved to modify your meter? I have the twin read digital meter, but they mention some sort of time calibration.

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Mine is an EDMI Mk 7C meter - the whole meter thing in my opinion is a scam - depending on what you want the meters cost vastly different amounts and yet all EDMI Mk 7C meters do the same thing and if they weren’t previously all programmed for total/peak/offpeak/feedin then they are now and to suggest ‘reprogramming’ is a cost is lunacy by Jacana - but they do it.

If you currently can extract registers 3,4,10 and 23 from the front panel then you need no meter change or reprogramming - mine didn’t - but they were happy to charge for it until I challenged them. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t actually fraudulent …

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There are a couple of things to be aware of in terms of how your supplier calculates your FiT - Gross or Net.
The first method means you purchase all power from the Grid and get paid the FiT for what is fed back.
The second method is you use what you generate during daylight and any excess is fed back to or drawn from the grid. I have the latter.
The other thing to factor in is the daily supply charge which you pay each bill.
During the hot weather I have been running the aircon as necessary during the daylight to be as self sufficient as possible then switching off late afternoon which will minimise what I draw from the grid.
My last two bills have been in credit but the current one could be marginal as a result of the weather but I am extremely happy to have fitted the Solar and not paying greedy power companies as much or at all.

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