More and more Filipinos are opting for green energy, and solar power, in particular, is fast gaining popularity. Living in a tropical country, it seems like the logical choice. But how much does it actually cost to have solar panels installed, and can you really end up paying zero in electricity bills?
For couple Paul and Ella Baes, it has all been worth it. While having their home constructed, they made the conscious decision to have solar panels installed at the same time. “I actually worked in France,” Paul tells the OG team. “Working abroad, nakakita ako ng mga solar panels with my French colleagues and tuwang-tuwa sila kapag nakakapag-harvest sila ng three or four months since sa Europe kasi ‘di ba four seasons so limited lang yung time for summer.” That’s when he realized that he wanted to give solar power a shot since the Philippines has more than six months of dry weather.
How it works
At the Baes’ home, they have an inverter device that converts the generated energy from direct current to alternating current, allowing them to use the electricity for household appliances. Paul explains the three kinds of energy systems: on-grid, which relies on the public utility grid; off-grid, which is usually used in the provinces where power sources may not be as reliable; and hybrid system, a combination of the on and off-grid systems which is the most expensive but also the most optical system.
What’s great about on-grid systems is that any excess harvested energy can be applied and deducted on succeeding electricity bills via Meralco’s net metering application. With off-grid systems, meanwhile, energy can be supplied the household rain or shine.
Before having their solar panels installed, Paul and Ella’s monthly electricity bill used to range from P12,000 to P15,000. Nowadays, it ranges from P0 to P2000 or P2500 despite running their air-conditioners 24/7.“ Sobrang nagulat kami how effective the solar panels na mag-reduce talaga ng bill,” Ella shares.
No challenges, zero-maintenance
The couple also noted that there weren’t any challenges apart from the solar panels being extremely heavy. It was advantageous that they had both the house and solar system contractors working at the same time so they could coordinate with each other on requirements like further reinforcing the roof. The contractor also takes care of assessing and recommending the best system and kilowatt-hour capacity for the customer’s house.
Ella also adds that the solar system is zero-maintenance, apart from the occasional checkups. “Never pa kami tumawag kay contractor na nagka-problem kami or kailangan magpa-maintain ng panels,” Paul says. “There’s also an application sa phone na puwede mong i-access.”
A worthy investment
All in all, they spent around P200,000 for the system: P100,000 for the solar panels, P50,000 for the installation, with the remaining cost for the net metering application. A hefty price, for sure, but a sound investment for long-term savings, Ella reassures. Their return-on-investment is projected at 3 and a half years, especially as they’ve had zero monthly electricity bills for six months already. Paul also emphasizes the electrical freedom it provides.“Hindi mo na iisipin talaga yung monthly electricity cost mo,” he says.
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