Many houses across Perth enjoy the benefits of solar power, but what about if you live in an apartment? Unfortunately, solar power is not as straightforward for apartment blocks and other strata properties as it is for standalone homes.
But there’s good news too. Thanks to developments in technology and innovative solutions from solar companies, solar power could soon be accessible and advantageous for apartments in Mandurah and Perth.
In this blog, we take a closer look at solar power for apartments and aim to answer the questions:
1) Can you install solar panels on apartment blocks?
2) What are the challenges you need to overcome?
3) What are the benefits for landlords and tenants?
4) What are some possible solutions?
Theoretically, solar panels can be installed in apartments, units and other strata properties. How solar power works – converting energy from the sun into useful electricity – is the same for apartments as it is for detached housing.
According to Dr Jemma Green, buildings with five storeys or below could potentially supply all the residents’ power needs with solar power. Then why are hardly any apartment buildings in Australia using solar power?
The difficulty lies more with managing and paying for the solar power system rather than how effective it would be. Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord of an apartment, there may be a number of challenges you need to overcome before you can power your apartment with energy from the sun.
Unlike standalone houses, there are a number of challenges with installing solar panels for apartments. These include:
a) How to track solar usage – Each apartment typically has its own electricity meter connected to an individual electricity account. If you install solar panels in the apartment block roof, you will need to find a way to split up and track the electricity usage fairly between all apartments.
b) Available roof space – The typical flat, concrete roofs of apartment blocks may require extra work to install solar panels. Additionally, with so many apartments in the one block, there may not be enough roof space for the ideal size solar power system.
c) Lots of people involved in the decision – Apartment blocks usually have multiple owners and so coming to a consensus may be much more difficult than with a single household.
d) The layout of the building – For tall buildings, there may be significant extra costs involved to provide long cable runs, hire specialised equipment and transport the solar panels.
e) Who gets the benefits? – It’s often the case that landlords pay for solar panels but get none of the benefits. After all, it’s the tenants who see the savings on their power bills. Landlords may be reluctant to invest in solar if they can’t see what’s in it for them.
For some landlords, the benefits of solar power to the environment is enough to convince them to invest in solar. But for many other landlords, investing in solar power for their rental property can seem like an unfair deal. After all, the tenant reaps all the benefits. Or do they?
Installing solar power on your rental property can make your property more appealing to tenants, increase your property’s value and help it to stand out in the rental market. This can allow you to raise your rental price which will cover the solar power installation costs.
There are also solar companies out there who act as an intermediary between the landlord and tenant. The tenant will pay for the solar electricity at a rate that is lower than power from the grid. Some of this money is then paid onto the landlord.
There have been a number of innovative solutions to help apartment blocks overcome the challenges and make the most of solar power. Here are a few:
Use solar to power the common areas – Stratas usually have a shared meter for the common areas like lifts, hallways, pools, gardens etc. Solar panels installed on the roof can be used to power these shared areas and reduce costs for all owners.
Separate metering for each apartment – If there is adequate roof space, it may be possible to have separate solar power systems installed for each apartment.
Shared Solar System – Although this is a relatively new approach, it may prove highly effective. A single solar power system is installed on the roof and then delivered to individual apartments using smart diverters. Of course, robust monitoring software will also be needed to monitor the usage of each apartment.
While we still have a long way to go for solar power in apartments, there have been many exciting advancements already.
Looking for advice about solar panels in Mandurah? Get in touch with the team at iBreeze. We’d be happy to help.
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