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Solar panels use the sun to produce power through the silicon wafers and travel through specific Solar DC cabling down to and inverter that changes the power from DC to usable AC – 230 Volt power that can be used in a domestic house and of commercial building. The Power produced in most cases will be used in your premise to reduce the demand of power from the grid and an excess power that cannot be used in the premise will be then exported to the grid for other citizens to use.
The major benefits of solar can be Broken up into economic and environmental. Solar energy will be created from your own roof in most cases and used in your property, the energy will not have to be purchased from the grid and save direct costs of having to buy your power from other generation sources. Any further production in most situations can be solar back to the grid at a nominal amount and counteract some of the other costs incurred through being connected to the grid. Environmentally if you can use a renewable source of energy from your own Photovoltaic generation source (solar system) will be counteracting and reducing the reliance on non-renewable energy sources like brown coal. Reducing carbon Dioxide emissions. The sun is largest energy source and does not cost anything to be produced, harvesting this has minimal impact on the environment.
The only way that you can store power from your solar system now is through the usage of some style of batteries. The premise is that you use the power from the solar panels on your property and this is used for all your loads. If your system is still producing more power than you can use in your house then the extra power can be redirected into a storage device / battery. The inverter with require a battery charger component and metering to know when to charge the system and at what frequency and amounts. Once your batteries have enough charge and the meters installed note that your solar system is now not producing enough power to supply all your loads in the property then is will start to discharge your battery o help cover the usage.
The major components of a grid connected solar system if first most the solar panels that produced the power. For this to come through the other end in AC usable power for your household a Inverter is required. This converts the DC voltage into AC 230-240 Volt power the same as the power that you would buy from the grid. The railing that mounts the panels is an integral part of the system as there needs to be railing that suits tin roofs, tile roofs, flat roofs and commercial tilting. Other components that are needed include DC isolating switches located at the panels and the inverter, AC isolators to isolate the inverter and the DC cabling as required to the panels from the inverter.
Yes, In the last year we have seen the introduction of 2 systems that are AC coupled, this means that they run off AC power and do not require a DC supply to the batteries to make then produce power. In basic terms, most on systems had simple inverters that didn’t have the functionality to charge a battery and the batteries that were being installed were not smart enough to work by them self. This caused issues and extra components to retrofit your solar battery, this is still an option available but now with the AC coupled systems are a lot easier and additional components are not as required. The two companies that have smarter batteries with their own inbuilt battery management systems are Enphase and Tesla. This new technology will change the battery sector in the market. Not there are still a lot of other options available and there is no one size fits all in this area of the industry.
Very difficult to answer what size system should be installed, this is definitely a case by case decision that needs to be made in conjunction with a solar specialist and or designer. There are two major factors in installing solar power on your property economically and environmentally. This will alter the amount of solar needed. Please give us a call on (03) 5243 8364 so we can take you through our Free in-house consultation which will us to answer the “What size solar system should I buy? with absolute certainty.
Not all houses are set up for solar as well as others. There are many offerings now that allow for panels to be mounting in all sorts of manners and in all sorts of angles and pitches. Also shading is now less of an issue with the ability to install power optimisers or micro inverters to avoid a lot of the losses that would occur. A qualifies installed will talk you through your options and whether solar will work unfortunately some instances will not be conducive for solar but most houses should be quite acceptable for a solar energy system.
A lot of people now are asking whether there shed will be a feasible option for their solar system. There are factors that need to be looked at before saying yes but in a lot of cases the answer is yes. The main factors that need to be looked at on sheds are the structural integrity of the shed and whether the materials can support the solar system. Sheds also will need to have the correct wiring to allow the system to be able to feed back into the grid. If the able running to the shed is to small it will not be able to carry the current from the solar power, secondly if the cable it to small it may not meet the AS regulations stating that all solar systems from now onwards must meet a maximum of 2% voltage rise from point of supply to the inverter location. These calculations and inspections will be easy to clarify with a site inspection from a qualified installed and or electrician.
Your location on relation to the equator will have a large impact on your solar production. The average Peak sun hours, the amount of electrical energy (kWh) a 1kW grid connected solar PV system will generate on an average day (kWh/kWp.day) in Victoria will be around 3.5kwh and up to 4 kwh and in Queensland your would expect closer to 4.5 kwh up to 5 kwh.
Over factors will be the amount of solar panels and total of solar production that the panels in your system have the facility to produce, as a 4 kw soar system will produce twice the amount of a 2 kw solar system. Smaller but relevant other factors would be the angle of the panels and the pitch of the panels, whether there is any shading issues to work and around and the efficiency of the panels and inverters are other items that will alter your production
Yes but this is dependant on what the prospective buyer wishes to accomplish. A general rule of thumb to note is that the closer to north the greater the capacity to get the greatest yield possible over the whole day. If going east or west then depending on the area expect a loss of around 10 – 15%.
It really depends on the clients standard energy usage patterns. In general we this will be losses in the total yield that can be produced during the day but depending on your usage if your not at home in the middle of the day and you can not use the power then there is a good chance that this power may be feed back into the grid and subsidised at a much cheaper amount then that of which you have to pay your retailer. If you can use the power from the east in the morning and you get home and use most of your production during the afternoon between 4 and 8 pm then you could use this power from your roof and minimise the amount that you have to rely on the grid saving you money.
Once again there is most likely going to be an optimal pitch for your solar panels but this will depend on where in Australia you live. The higher up in Queensland the flatter that the panels can sit without losses and the closer you are to Victoria the greater the tilt should be to get the panels to match the angle of the sun. in general, the flatter the panels are on the roof the more production you would expect during summer and less in winter. If you pitch up to match the suns angle in winter than you will get greater yield in Winter and let in summer. So, it’s a matter of designing the correct system for the correct site and clients requirements.
There are some differences in Monocrystalline (Mono) and Polycrystalline (Poly) solar panels. These differences don’t necessarily mean that one is better than the other but Mono solar panels are denoted as being a better technology in the ability to create a larger efficiency out of the cells of the panels. What this means is that if you had 2 solar panels with the same footprint (Size, width and length ) a mono solar panel can have a cell efficiencies of 20% and higher and poly solar panels are more likely to be around 19% of less. To put into a wattage, difference a mono panel could be up to 320 watts and Poly solar panels closer to 275 watts.
As a guide only as there is not a golden rule mono solar panels are more likely to have a lower Temperature co-efficient then poly panels allowing for less loses then poly panels in warm conditions. This however is only as relevant as the quality of the manufacturer, As I would recommend a Poly panel from a reputable solar compony over a mono solar panel from a lesser known solar company.
A standard solar system will have different prices depending on rebate structures and certificates that vary across Australia and most importantly the quality of the solar system that you are looking to install. There can be a variation of $5000 between an entry level 5kw solar system and a top of the range solar system. Every system should be looked at on its merits. The better the quality the more you may have to pay. In most cases we will receive what you pay for. As of April 2017 the variations in costs of solar systems across Australia showed Pricing from as low as 70 cents per watt and up to above $3 per watt. Equivalent to a 5kw solar system costing anywhere between $4000 and $15000. For a more accurate solar quote for your specific area, give us a call on (03) 5243 8364.
Some of the additional costs that could be allowed for and possibly charged for include Tile roofs Vs Tin roof with tile roofs requiring more material and time to mount the fixings, The layout of the panels, If a panel is mounted in landscape format then this will take a lot longer for the installer and may be charged at a higher rate. If the panels were located over several roofs then extra isolators and equipment would be required and if a double story or above then access equipment may be required and extra labour costs to install. These are all small extra costs that may or may not be charged depending on the installation company.
The major cost though in variation costs of a solar system outside of the major components would be the inclusion of installing tilt framing of the system. There are different framing systems but most tilt framing can and does cost anywhere between $50 and $300 extra per kw of solar panels installed.
Micro Inverters (AC)
Designed to converter DC solar panels straight into usable ac power from directly underneath the panels. Most are installed with one panel for each micro inverter. If you have 10 panels then you will most likely have 10 micro inverters. The cabling required for micro inverters is AC and a safer option with less likelihood of fires through DC arcing from string inverters. Once the power leaves the inverter it adds all the micro inverters in the string and goes back to the switchboards to run all the loads in the house. This is newer technology and will produce a greater yield from individual inverters then a string inverter controlling all panels. A premium product but has a increased price tag to reflect the benefits of the system.
String Inverters (DC)
A central inverter located normally on a wall. This inverter required a string of panels to be connected on the roof and ran down to the inverter. The inverter then converters all the DC power from the panels and turns if into AC usable power. This is the morn conventional manor and the way solar has worked for many decades. It used DC cabling through the roof and required additional requirements on top of the micro inverter systems. This is a more cost efficient and proven system.
Yes, The governments still have feed in tariffs, IN saying this it is a state government incentive and not federal so the incentives across many states will vary quite a lot and offer different systems to work with. Please check your local government incentives with your installation company to confirm before choosing to proceed with a solar installation.
Feed in tariffs are the amount of money that is paid back to the owner of the solar system and or client as arranged for any power that is not used in the property at any given time and pushed back into the grid to be used by others in the general vicinity. The rate of which tariffs are paid has changes significantly over the years. In the beginning rates were as high at over 60 Cents to feed back into the grid and over the years reduced to around 5 cents on some states, The good news is that some states including Victoria is set to lift the feed in tariff by over double as of July 1 2017. The feed in tariff will never be as good as using your own power from your solar panels moving forward but can make a good financial benefit to clients. On a case by case basis this needs to be assessed to decide on the correct system for the clients.
The good news is that for some people around Australia they got in early when feed in tariffs were quite enticing and have put themselves in a situation where they will receive credits each year moving forward until the rates are changed. Upon asking for your refund you should be entitled to receive the credit back in the form of a cheque or other payment methods. If you install a system that can feed back enough power to counteract the service to property and energy used outside of daylight hours, Or even have batteries that minimise you energy usage from the grid then you may be yourself in a situation that you can become cost neutral with the retailers and possibly receive payments back you yourself. In most situations this will not be a feasible option but note that it is doable.
Rebates were introduced into the Solar industry many years ago and have changed significantly over the years. The rebate scheme is set to slowly diminish over the years to come but there is no expectation of the rebate being completely removed from the industry any time soon. As costs of solar systems have reduced so has the rebate scheme. There are still large savings that can be claimed though and these will change over the states as well so please check your local entitlements before installation of your solar system.
Industry standards and expectations show that most solar panels in the market should expect to have a life span of at least 25 years with some panels still fully operational closer to 50 years after they were installed. There will always be exceptions to this rule with lower quality panel manufacturers that have taken shortcuts and shown issues well before this timeframe. Therefore, installing a reputable solar panel manufacturer is very important and highly recommended. Inverters are more involved in the technology required to build them and have more components that have the ability to fault in the future. The more you stick to a reputable manufacturer the better chance you have on having less issue in the future, there is no real timeframe of expectations of lifespan of the inverters as some inverters may only last a couple of years but better quality inverters lasting closer to 7-15 years.
There are some parts of a solar system that you should never have to worry about and other parts that are more likely to fault. From an experience as an installer writing this FAQ I have replaced less than a handful of faulty solar panels yet somewhere between 300 and 500 inverters since 2010. Solar panels are manufactured with minimal components and the major issues that can arise from solar panels is earth leakage from the panels. This is where moisture gets underneath the glass panel and allows voltage from the panel to get out onto the frame of the panel. This and connection issues this MC4’s (terminals to join the panels together) being not installed correctly are the major issues that you may find with a solar system.
Inverters though have a lot more components that can cause an inverter to fault and stress on the components. If installed correctly there is not a lot you can do to prevent issues but note that installing a better quality inverter will give a lot more confidence in the reliability of the inverter. The other major component is the railing which if installed correctly should not show any signs of issues with in the 10 to 15 year warranty which most have.
A lot of different factors will change the repayment time of a solar system. A general statement would be that in most cases there should be a good likely hood that most systems will have a repayment time of under 10 years and most likely closer 6 to 8 years with some commercial systems as low as under 5 years. This will depend on the quality of the system and extra costs that may arise with the installation. Feed in tariffs from the retailers and rebates will also alter the benefits of solar and a good quality solar installation company should be able to give a realistic expectation of savings. As for the warrantees there is very little panel manufacturers that don’t offer a 10 year warranty on the panels they install, if your not getting a 10 year warranty then it may be advisable to not use them. Inverters will normally come with a minimum 5 year warranty and some more reputable companies are happy to offer a 5 year additional warranty to here standard like the Fronius Inverter and even a straight 10 year warranty on micro inverters like Enphase.
A solar panel is designed to withstand a reasonable size hail stone but not necessarily a 25 mm hailstone. All solar panels are tested and rated for a 1 inch (25mm) hailstone at 88 kms per hour, because solar panels are usually on a pitch of 10-30 degrees it also means there is less likelihood of the hailstones hitting the panels perpendicular In general, a solar panel glass front is very similar to a windscreen of your vehicle in its strength. One difference though is that a solar panel have tempered safety glass that will not crack but will shatter for safety and in most cases, keep out moisture for a reasonable timeframe.
If a panel is broken then you may be able to cover on your home and contents for the property but this wold have to be looked at on a individual basis with every insurance provider. Panels are built robust and are also rated to be loaded with snow of around 1 meter of coverage before seeing any stress on the panels. If a cricket ball was to hit a panel then there may be a good chance that it will smash but if a tennis ball hit the panel then most likely the solar panel would be ok.
There is always going to be options that allow for your solar system to be increased in the future. There is different way to accomplish this after a solar system is installed and or when being designed. A common way to allow for extra panels to be added in the future is to install a larger inverter than what is required and only use one of the maximum power point trackers (MPPT’s) This will allow for another string of panels to be added to the system in the future. Only issue with this arrangement is that if you never end up installing a larger system then you have overpaid for the inverter that has been supplied. Other options are to install micro inverters on a new install or even add another system with micro inverters. Micro inverters allow for small quantities to be added to an existing system as there is no minimum amount of panels that needs to be installed and they can be installed over different roof profiles with minimal effort.
If you run a 10 panel system and wanted to add another 5 panels it would be as simple as joining on the the existing cable on top of the roof and adding more micro inverters and panels. Now extra wiring would be required in most cases. If your system is already installed though and old enough that al regulations have changed and system would need to be bought up to today’s standards then it may be a better option to install a new system in conjunction with the existing system. So there are many options and its really depending on what the client wishes to accomplish. This should be discussed with a qualified solar designer and not just a sales man though for the best result.
Solar panels will work nearly all day every day between sun rise and sunset. It will take a small amount of time for your solar system to have enough solar production to make the inverter register the output but when up and running solar panels will still produce power even if it’s raining all day. It will not be the best production but a 250-watt solar panel in rainy conditions will still output around 10-20 watts. If this was a 5kw solar system then the production would still be around 200 to 400 watts of power in the most unsuitable conditions. Ideally panels do work there best when in full sun and this will always be preferable. I wouldn’t be turning on the Spa and hopping that the solar production would cover the energy usage on a cloudy day but it would cover most of your idle standby power in the house and reasonable amount of lighting in non-ideal conditions.
For solar panels to be able to be called a renewable energy source the energy that they produce needs to be reimburse from the manufacturing process. In mid 2006 , many years ago the International Energy agency concluded that to recover all the energy used in the manufacturing of and recycling of solar panels would take 16- to 1.8 years. Over the past 10 years manufacturing practices has reduced this time frame even more. If you factor in that solar panels should last around 25 to 30 years a solar panel has the capacity to produce 15 times that amount of energy that it cost to produce the same panel.
If you were to install a 5kw grid connected solar system on your property you may expect to prevent 8.25 tons of carbon dioxide discharge annually. To put this into a tangible amount a standard vehicle will travel around 20000 km annually and this would discharge approximately 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide discharge. As a generalisation, each 5kw solar system that is installed in Australia will counteract the equivalent usage of 2.5 cars per year.
A contentious question that is hard to answer. In general, the cleaner you keep your panels the more yield you will receive from the solar panels, the cleaner the surface and less dirt and or dust or debris on the panel the greater power that the panel is able to produce. Panels are within reason self-cleaning, If a panel has a relative pitch then the general weather conditions will offer a reasonable amount of cleaning, it won’t clean the backed on or hard to remove dirt and pollen but will clean most basic dust on a regular basis when it rains. Most installers and or companies suggest that every year or every second year is a good timeframe to get your panels cleaned. The only thing to note is that it costs money most of the time to get your panels cleaned and you need to make sure that the cost of the cleaning doesn’t out way the benefit of cleaning the panels.
In general no. Most of the major components can be set and forget items. Solar panels may need to be cleaned but will function without fault if they are never touched. Most solar railing systems will only need to be touched if they are close the salt water and corrosion accrues or extra panels are required. Solar inverters nowadays are mainly made in a fashion that if anything ever goes wrong with the inverter it will require a replacement inverter to be installed or a service technician and no attention from the client will be needed for this as well. I general check-up of the system is advisable roughly every 3 years in conjunction with letters that some DNS (electrical distributers) send out advising that its good to make sure your system is safe and that all components are in good working condition.
If the electricity / power goes out on a grid connected solar system the setup of nearly all inverters is to stop any delivery of power to loads throughout the house and grid. The purpose of this is for safety, if you can image that a linesman is fixing a fault on the High Voltage lines and has isolated power to the bloke and then a solar inverter was pushing power back through the system if would be a very deadly situation. Because of this inverters by regulation must disconnect from the grid. There are more specific inverters like Selectronics that are designed for storage capacity that can come with a changeover switch and allow power production but these are not the standard inverters in market and will require a most larger quantity of money to install.
A lot of the electrical distributers now have a limited size solar system that they allow to be connected to the grid, If this is not the case they will offer a limit to the amount of power that they allow you to feed back into the grid (export limitation). This may mean that even though the distributor may offer a Zero or negligible export limitation, you are still allowed to install a solar system. The annoyance of this is that you will need to spend a little bit more and put in a Zero export device that has the functionality that allows it to monitor your usage. The power from your roof will still get used in your property but depending on how much extra is to be exported you may or may not be allowed to feed this power to the grid and your solar system will ramp down to match your consumption.
Solar Power is the use of Photovoltaic cells that use the direct sunlight to move electrons on the cells of the solar panels and allow voltage to be produced. This voltage is then converted into usage power.
Solar Hot Water
Is the use of a flat solar panel or evacuated tubes to push water through a seels system and use the suns radiation to heat the panels or tubes to convert cold water into warm / really hot water which is then sorted for use at a later date.
Back in 2015 this was an easy question to answer as a rule of thumb for every 1kw of solar panels you would install 4 panels at 250 watts each. Therefor a 5kw solar system would require 20 solar panels. This is still a good concept and rule of thumb. The main different now though is that solar panels are more efficient and can range from 250 watt solar panels still although not many in the market all the way up to an excess of 320 watts. This can change the number of panels required, If you your using a 320 watt solar panel you would only require 16 panels for a 5kw solar system.
There are still a few different specified solar panels on the market some from specific purposes and others for commercial purposed. For this question, approximately 90-95% of all panels used on residential installs are of sizes approx. 1660 mm High and 992 mm long. When it comes to weight there is limited changes in the weight due to the thickness of the panels and specifications. As a good guide, most solar panels are around 20 kilograms or just below.
In most situations a solar system may only require one space in your switchboard. If your house has a older fuse board it will require a newer Circuit breaker to be installed as per regulations. If there is enough space available in your switchboard or meter box for this to be installed then a small retrofit circuit breaker is all that would be required. If there is room in the switchboard then there is no need to add additional costs to the client. If there is no room then there may be no other option but to install a new switchboard but this will be a case by case basis and should be decided in conjunction with a qualified electrical contractor. Although not required a lot of the old switchboards do not have safety switches and installing solar may be a good opportunity to update your switchboard and make your installation safer, this is also a viable option for clients.
When you’re trying to decide which location to place the inverter on your property then it’s important to make sure that you meet requirements from the manufacturer and the Clean energy council and Australian standards. As a general rule of thumb most of the good quality installed work on a philosophy that they never install a inverter on the north side of the premise to avoid any undue street from the direct sunlight during the peak of the day and also dislike placing the inverter on the front of someone’s property unless no other options at the are not the most cosmetically appealing product to have on your house. In most cases, you will not go wrong by installing in a garage of the property but nearly all grid connected inverters are weatherproof and designed to be installed outside in the weather. Your qualified solar technician should be able to work with the client and provide sound advice on where they believe would be advisable if you’re not sure.
Unfortunately we hear this question quite a lot, and even worst clients call us advising that they have seen there last energy bill and its showing ZERO export of solar to the grid. There are many different option that could explain the reasons for your system not working, Hopefully this page helps give clarity on what options are available.
Depending on when your solar installation was completed and which solar installation company installed your system, As per regulations you should have received a complete set of solar documentation that should advise what size and components were used and then should have definitely been given a copy of a Certificate of Electrical safety. With this documentation hopefully you also have warranty documentation for the solar panels, rails and inverters. Hopefully if you have a problem with your solar system it is still under warranty when the system occurs and the company that manufactured the system also if still in operation.
Most warrantees for solar panels will be around 10 years for the manufacturing side of the warranty, there is a performance guarantee of 25 years as well on most panels but this is usually not a very measurable warranty and will not be covered if the manufacturing side of the system breaks down first which usually seems to be the case in the industry. The industry expectation is that solar inverters will have a warranty of 5 years standard and then option upgrade or even straight larger standard warranties of up to 10 years. This usually means that if you system is less than 5 years old your components should be covered under manufacturer’s warranty.
If your system was installed with in the last 5 years as mentioned above and your warranty should be in place and if your happy with the service you receive from the initial solar company that completed your work I would advise that you give them a call and see if they are willing to help you solar the issue that you may have. Unfortunately over the last 5 years well over 50% of all the companies that were installing solar now no longer exist and this may be hard to find and other solar companies are not interested in helping out in this situation because they don’t believe its worth while financially. At Velocity Solar we are more than happy to help out if you don’t get the service required at this level. Please note though that with nearly all solar equipment the warranty is with the manufacturer and not the solar installation company, this means that even if the company that installed the system does not exist you can still get your system replaced under warranty. There may just be a small cost associated with the servicing components of this. Lastly you also have the opportunity to contact the manufacturer directly and see if they are helpful in advising a service partner in your area to assist in your enquiry.
If you have tried to make contact with the solar installation company and the manufacturing company and you are having no luck getting any communication regarding your warranty enquiry then you next step may be to contact consumer affairs or fair trading depending on which state you live in.
At Velocity Solar we love helping people get there solar systems up and running again and in a timely manner. We understand that the client has made an investment in solar and that the system should see long term returns for them financially and environmentally. We will help you with the process of completing warranty documents through to organising components and replacements as needed. We are more than happy to help clients that we have not dealt with in the past as if we can get your system up and running this is the only important factor.
We have a dedicated service team that can help you through the process, when we know there is already an issue and a warranty is required we will need to get some specifics from the client such as model and serial numbers, size of system and inverter and possibly other relevant questions if you could have these available it will help our team to give you the information required to move forward in correcting any issues the system has.
Velocity Solar will complete all the warranty documents for you so that you don’t need to do any of the annoying communication with the manufacturers and we can arrange replacements units in a timely manner through our build relationships with most of the main reputable manufacturers. In general we take the stress out of the whole process. So if you want a hassle free experience and a team of qualified technicians with many years of fault finding experience to sort out your system