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Solar energy is all the craze these days, with simple water heater systems which use solar energy to heat water you use to shower to Elon Musk’s revolutionary solar roof tiles technology, it would seem that solar is the way of the future. But should you jump on the bandwagon? Well here are 6 reasons why you absolutely, should not install solar panels.


1. It could make you too lazy to work for money

Did you know that solar panels could earn you RM700 a month without you having to even lift a finger? Pft! Who’d want a passive income? Wouldn’t you rather earn it with blood, sweat and tears?

And to think that the Malaysian government even encourages this laziness is outrageous! Under a Feed in Tariff (FiT) policy, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) of Malaysia will pay you for any additional electricity generated by your solar panels that your home doesn’t use. And this will be continuously for the next 21 years after applying and getting approval for the FiT!



2. Installation costs are so high that banks are even willing to give you loans for it

Banks are tricky when it comes to getting your money. They know that installing solar panels could cost you at least RM60,000 in the beginning, but earn you more than what you paid. As such, many banks offer low interest rates for you to take a loan for the installation of solar panels and then earn the interest from you! How sneaky of them.



3. It’s an investment for cowards

Some people say that solar panels are a form of investment. But after putting in the high installation costs, it could take about 7 years for you to earn back the initial sum of installing solar panels.

Surely that’s too slow for most of you brave souls, bet you’d rather take the chances with high-risk-high-return stock investments. So what if you could earn RM100,000 today and lose it all the next? It beats sitting safely on a gradual though certain return of investment from installing solar panels. Solar panels are an investment for the faint-hearted!



4. You could lose a friend or two

Solar panels have the ability to generate enough electricity for your household needs, so much so that you probably won’t need to pay for electricity anymore in the future. Imagine how heartless you’d seem when all your friends are talking about how expensive their electricity bills are these days, and you go, “What’s an electricity bill?”. Not a great way to keep friendships going.



5. Solar panels take up lots of precious roof space

For homes with average electricity usage, it could take at least 20 solar panels to produce the amount of energy needed, while households with high usage could require up to 100 pieces! And where do these shiny, rectangular pieces of technology go when you install them? On your roof of course!

The roof of your home is the most feasible place to ensure that the panels get enough direct sunlight. What an utter waste of space! Whatever will you say to the stray cats that enjoy lounging on your roof?



6. You’d have to act like you did it for the environment, not to save on electricity bills

Generating energy from solar power produces no emissions whatsoever. Traditional power plants on the other hand, burn non-renewable fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity. These plants release a range of harmful discharge such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and more into the environment!

By using solar energy, you will be playing a part in helping the environment, even if you only installed solar panels because you wanted to cut down on electricity costs. Shh! the world only has to know that you did it for the greater good of mankind.

Well, in case you didn’t know that we were being ironic here, solar panels are GREAT! Though it won’t exactly replace your salary, it sure is a good way to cut down on electricity costs in the long term while helping the environment.

So if you completely understood our sense of humour and would love to consider installing solar panels for your home, here are some useful things that you should know:



What is a solar system and which should you install?

Firstly, you should know that residential solar systems generate electricity which power the home by converting energy from the sun using photovoltaic (PV) cells. There are 2 types of solar systems which do this, namely Grid-tied PV System and Stand-alone PV System.

Grid-tied PV System is the more affordable and commonly used system. It is connected directly to the electricity grid, which, will enable straightforward transfer of excess electricity your home solar system produces to the grid.

Long story short- the Grid-tied PV System is the system to install in your home if you intend to sell the extra electricity produced! Payments are based on the FiT Rate (which you will learn about later, just continue reading).

The other is the Stand-alone PV System, which is literally, “off the grid”. This system is much more expensive and may only be relevant to you if your house is located somewhere remote and there aren’t any power lines to connect to. More importantly, you can’t sell the electricity produced by this system to SEDA.



Factors to consider before installing your solar system

1. Project budget

Solar systems vary in terms of capacity (the amount of energy it can produce) and of course, price. These technologies can range between the prices of RM45,000 to RM100,000. As such, determining how much you can or are willing to invest into the installation of your home solar system is important in determining whether you want to install a system to partially offset your electricity usage or produce way more than what your household needs in order to sell the energy to SEDA.


2. Daily energy requirements

In order to profit from your solar system, you will have to install a system which can produce more energy than your home requires. To start off, it is best to determine the energy your household may need on a daily basis. To do this, take note of the kilowatt per hour (kWh) usage of your home for the past 6 months of even 1 year (for added accuracy).

Next, sum up the amount of kWh of each month and divide by 180 days (for past 6 months) or 365 days (for past 1 year).

For example:

With that, you can now determine the size and capacity of solar system that you may need. With this rough idea in mind, you can better understand what size and requirements you need before consulting with solar system installation companies.


3. Peak sunlight hours

Solar systems can only produce energy with ample sunlight. As such, the location and thus, the total number of hours your system can be exposed to sunlight will determine how much energy your system can produce. In Malaysia, the amount of peak sunlight hours vary between 4 to 6 hours. However, other aspects like pollution, rainy season, dust, and energy loss can also be cause for reduced production of energy.



SEDA’s Feed in Tariff policy and rates

In order to be able to sell energy produced by your home solar system, you will have to first apply for “Feed in Approval”. Check out how to this at SEDA’s official site here.

Upon approval, you can then sell the energy to SEDA for the next 21 years from the date of FiT commencement! This will be based on the FiT rates, which vary according to the capacity of your solar system. As of 1 January 2016, the FiT rates are as follows:

Estimating returns

So let’s say your home requires 20kWh per day. As such, your home would need a 7.15 kW capacity solar system in order to produce the amount of energy needed. If gaining profit from your solar system is what you need, you could install a 10kW capacity system. With that, your monthly energy production would be:

10kW x 5 hours (of sunlight) x 30 days = 1,500 kWh/month

If your home uses about 600 kWh/month (based on 20kWh/day), then you will have a surplus of 900kWh. A such, the approximate returns you will gain (based on SEDA’s FiT rates) is:

900 kWh x 0.8048 (RM) = RM724.32

However, the amount may vary given other aspects like energy loss and seasons etc. as mentioned earlier. But either way, that’s give or take RM 700 in returns per month without having to do anything!



Conclusion

Don’t be intimidated by the numbers and complexities of terms like kWh and photovoltaic cells, and just know that home solar systems are a great way to cut down on electricity costs and even earn from it, all while enabling you to do good for the environment. With these basics in mind, find your nearest residential solar system experts and take that first step to a cleaner (and not to mention, more profitable) form of energy!

Have you seen solar systems installed in homes around your neighbourhood? Does your neighbourhood use solar energy to power street lamps or lights in public areas? Head on over to the review page of your neighbourhood and let us know if where you live is going “green” enough!



(Written by: Looi Jing Er, 28th March 2017)

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Thanks for the calculations. For a 10Kwp system that costs about RM70,000 on the solar tech, and with a return of RM700 per month, it will take me over 8 years to recover my cost. And that's assuming peak efficiency for the 5 hours you estimate.

Another this that is rarely mentioned is that there is a limit to how many households are approved for the Feed-in Tariff system in Malaysia. According to this article and this one, only 80% of the quota goes to commercial set-ups, and in 2014, there were only 1,900 homes generating energy this way. 

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I have heard that FiT quota is full now... only left with NEM scheme.

One of the contractors who do installation give me an explanation as follows:

"Net metering is for self consumption, no incentive to sell back to TNB, you can produce only 75% of your usual consumption"

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I wouldn't install one, unless i stay in Sahara or some kind of dessert. I would rather put the money into something else, just my personal view.

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@Zara agreed, if gurantee profit making then TNB and bank should not hesitate to provide loan to owner to install then charge back slowly

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@Nic. Agree. I believe it is just some publicity stunt by the government. Just so they can say they are going "ECO FRIENDLY"

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Is this common in Malaysia?

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@james_bob 

Not really. More common sight in Malaysia are those solar panels which is used for heating a reservoir tank. In order to supply hot water in a centralised system to the home. 

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Good to know about these solar panels, costs and benefits 

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It's good to treat the environment more friendly but the cost of fixing and the installation will cost you a bomb and it takes year to regain the saving without excluding the expenses needed to maintain it.

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I've a relative who've installed it at their home. Super saving and yes, they do earn back from TNB

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@clara_patro 

When and which location did your relative install the solar panels?

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@domng 

In Klang. Could be about 5 yrs back i think

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@clara_patro 

Recently i have checked with the authorized solar panel installers. Currently there are no more quota to install the solar panels and sell back the generated electricity to TNB grid...

Unless somebody wish to uninstall and free up the quota.

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@domng Didn't know they impose such quota though.

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@Zara 

I think the fad around installing solar panels, has cooled down since the scheme was introduced by the government more than 5 years ago. 

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More and more developments now have this concept though.... Especially the new ones.

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@veron 

I guess those solar panels are installed for water heating purpose. 

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@domng Is that the only purpose? Why's that?

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@veron 

Heating is just one of the functions of roof top panels.

By the way, do you know of any developments which pre-install roof top panels?