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Solar Buy back rates: What are they and what are you going to get paid?

Home » Knowledge Hub » Solar Buy back rates: What are they and what are you going to get paid?

In this article, we’re going to help you understand 

  • buy back rates 
  • import export meters 
  • energy retailers 



What are Solar Exports?

Solar export occurs when your solar panels produce more energy than your home consumes. Instead of letting this surplus energy go to waste, it flows back into the grid, essentially powering your neighbours’ homes. In return, you receive credits on your energy bill.


Understanding Buy back Rates

Buy back rates are how much you get paid for the excess energy you export to the grid. Basically, you are selling your energy back to the power company. The rates are typically measured in cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and vary depending on your energy retailer.  This will offset any power you purchase from the grid either at night or when you’re using more power than you are producing.


Import/export meters

To accurately measure your solar exports and ensure you receive the correct credit, you’ll need an import/export meter. This device monitors the flow of electricity in both directions – from the grid to your home and vice versa. Your solar installer should arrange this for you as part of the installation process.


The importance of self-consumption

Lots of people assume when it comes to solar that a high buy back rate is really important. But if you’re a high self-consumer, or you have a battery, you’re going to use most of the energy you produce. So a high buy back rate isn’t as important. On the other hand, if you’ve got a large solar system and you end up sending a lot back to the grid, the buy back rate will be more important.

We always say the best way to maximise your savings with solar is by maximising self-consumption. You can do this by shifting your loads into the daytime so that your solar feeds them directly, or by installing a battery to manage your power.


An example of how self-consumption can work out better 

Putting your dishwasher on at night might cost you 30 cents per kWh. If you instead put it on at noon and use solar it costs you nothing. You could have got 13 cents for the export so the difference is 17 cents. You are 17 cents better off self-consuming rather than exporting solar and using power later.


What solar buyback rates are on offer in New Zealand?

It is worth noting that rates do change often and you can change energy retailers throughout the lifetime of your solar system. 

So let’s look at some of the key players and what they’re offering at the start of 2024

Octopus: 13 cents/kWh

Electric Kiwi: 12.5 cents/kWh

Contact: 8 cents/kWh

Meridian: 17 cents/kWh (five-year plan) or 12 cents/kWh (standard plan)


Other factors

When evaluating energy retailers and plans, don’t just focus on buy back rates. Consider other factors such as:

  • variable plans, that’s where retailers will give you different pricing for different times of the day 
  • Free hours of power
  • Peak and off-peak rates 
  • Sustainability, for example, Ecotricity offers carbon-zero electricity.

What to consider for a solar-only setup:

Consider the night rate and the buyback rate.

What to consider for a solar and battery setup:

Consider a variable plan. You can use Tesla’s Time Based Control to buy power when it is cheaper and discharge when power is expensive.


Remember, when you get solar with us, we can help you find the best retailer for your setup.

Ready to explore your solar options? Contact us to discuss your options.

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