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What You Need to Know About Adding Solar to Your SheShed

Guest Post by AASolar NZ

(SheShed receives no commission or affiliate/referral fee if you choose to purchase from the links in this article.)

Adding solar power to your SheShed is a clever choice for providing low-cost renewable energy to your kitset shed for the next twenty-plus years. Solar is low maintenance, generates no carbon emissions, and saves money on your electricity connection and monthly power bills.

Pricing varies depending on what you want to power and when. If you're only looking to power a few lights and maybe a laptop in a small shed like the Star Cabin, the solar kit could cost as little as $1,500 (excluding installation). 

However, if the SheShed is in a remote location and more power is needed like for a Tiny Home, an NZ$11,000 Off-Grid Solar Kitset is likely a great option. For example: The Waihi Kitset from AA Solar NZ (External link. Opens in a new tab), is suitable to power: LED lights, a small under-bench fridge (like an energy-efficient option from Dometic), an energy-efficient TV, a small washing machine and other small appliances with power ratings under 1000W.  It even provides a day of backup power for those dark and stormy days with little visible sunlight. 

When is Solar Energy A Great Option?

Unsurprisingly, solar electricity is all about access to daylight. Solar panels need unobstructed access to light, without shading from trees and buildings. The ideal configuration is a North-Facing Roof with a 40 to 55-degree pitch (the ideal pitch is impacted by latitude).  Still, many different configurations are highly successful as some solar panels are viable on roofs with anything more than a 3-degree pitch. All SheShed kitsets range from 6 to 26-degrees, with our most common sheds in the Star, Cabana, and Ranch all being at least 21-degrees, making them good options for solar panels.

What is less common knowledge, is that with the right setup, solar panels can generate electricity even on dull and rainy days! Overall, to get the most out of your setup, solar works best when combined with gas cooking and hot water, and energy-efficient appliances. 

When Should Solar Be Avoided?

Solar is not a great option if your SheShed is nestled under trees, in a deep valley with limited/reduced daylight exposure, or if it has a purely Southern aspect. The intensity of your power draw requirements also impacts suitability. For example, you would not use solar to power high-draw appliances like a pottery kiln or an induction oven.

Solar Installation Options

There are a variety of different solar installation options available; The simplest and most cost-effective option is to install solar panels on your SheShed roof, keeping in mind that your power generation is limited to the size and number of solar panels that can fit on your roof area. 90% of the time a SheShed roof is excellent, but if you are looking for more power or if your SheShed roof is impacted by shade, the Solar Panels can be installed on a neighbouring roof such as your home or garage, or if there is no suitable roof space, they can be ground mounted.

There are 3 main solar options to consider:

1. Grid-Tied Solar Systems

2. Hybrid Solar Systems

3. Full Off-Grid Systems

Which solar powered option is best for you depends on when and what you use your SheShed for, and on the availability of grid power at your shed location. Let's look at each of these options a little more...

1. Grid-Tied Solar Systems

Grid-Tied Solar Systems are the cheapest option because additional electricity is drawn from the Grid instead of batteries when solar energy is insufficient. A Grid-Tied Solar System is an excellent option if you use the SheShed mainly during the day as a home office or art studio and have ready access to Grid Power. However, if you have power outages or want to use the SheShed at night, a Hybrid option is worth considering, particularly if you would like to reduce monthly power bills even further.

Click here for more info about grid-tied solar systems from AASolar.
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2. Hybrid Solar Systems

Hybrid Solar Systems use a combination of Solar Power, Batteries and Grid Power which means using solar power day and night while having the security of Grid Power when your power needs are high or during prolonged periods of dark stormy weather. The great thing about a Hybrid System is that it can be programmed to provide emergency power when the Grid goes down for a few essential appliances. We often see this option for Granny flats, teenage retreats and home businesses.

Click here for more info about hybrid solar systems from AASolar.
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3. Full Off-Grid Systems

Off-Grid Systems provide the ultimate freedom where your SheShed location is not constrained by access to the electricity grid. And best of all, you will never get a power bill and will be completely unaffected when the Grid goes down. For anyone planning on living in their SheShed year-round, your Solar Specialist is likely to recommend a Solar System that includes up to 4 days of autonomy using battery power and potentially a backup generator. To ensure you have electricity even during the darkest/stormiest of weather.

Click here for more info about full off-grid solar systems from AA Solar.
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Selecting a Solar Provider:

Although the principles of Solar Energy are simple and the ongoing management and maintenance of a system are minimal, it is vitally important to ensure a quality system is specified and installed.

There are many companies who offer solar power sales and instalation in both Australia and NZ, so when it comes to selecting a solar provider, here are four great points to keep in mind when you're talking to a potential provider:

1. Proven Longevity – Check that the company has been in business for a long time.  You want a supplier who lasts as long as the product they supply.  (A good solar system will last over 20 years!)

2. Solar Specialist – Your local electrician’s experience and training have almost exclusively focused on supporting traditional Grid Power; even if they have installed solar before, their experience is not comparable to a specialist solar company.

(It usually costs no more to go to a dedicated solar company and get the very best advice and solar system within your budget.)

3. Bespoke Solution – A correctly specified system should be designed based on your specific power needs and the location of the SheShed.

Ensure a qualified Solar Engineer creates your system and that you are not buying an off-the-shelf solution that may leave you underpowered.

4. Breadth of Experience – Ask if the Solar Company offers: Grid-tied, Hybrid, and Off-Grid Solar Systems that can be roof or ground-mounted.

By asking about the breadth of their experience, you will know they can recommend a solution that is right for you, (not just the best solution within the options that they sell).

For our New Zealand customers, we suggest having a talk with the team at AA Solar. They are bespoke Solar Specialists who have been specifying and installing solar instalations for over 30 years. If you are looking for more information, you can click here to check out their website or call them at (09) 887 9767.

Do you have any questions?

We would love to help answer those for you!


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