WHY GO SOLAR?
Solar power in Australia
Solar energy is one of the most easily available and harnessable forms of solar power in Australia as were receive 10,000 times the sun rays we require to meet our energy requirements. Not only is it renewable but it is also an absolutely clean source of energy.
By switching to solar, you are becoming an integral part of the movement to switch to sustainable forms of energy that do not pollute the environment during production.
Also, solar energy in australia is your shield against the rises prices of other form of energy. By going solar, you are saving on thousands of dollars you would otherwise be shelling out on future electricity bills. This is also your path to freedom from dependence on electricity from the grids to meet your demands.
Going solar also has a lot of monetary advantages. Incorporating solar energy panels on to your property increases its value. So basically its an investment that shall pay for itself. Also, the Australian Government is now encouraging all homes and businesses to go solar with STC incentives and tax offsets that you can avail.
IS REDUCED SOLAR ENERGY DURING WINTERS HOLDING YOU BACK?
A lot of people worry about reduced power production during the winters. There are several steps you can take to ensure the maximum use of those reduced sun rays during the winter months. The most basic step is to have your solar panels cleaned. Simply dipping a cloth or a sponge in warm water and cleaning the months of dust and grime that accumulates over the panels can work wonders when it comes to up keeping your system’s efficiency. Also, you need to ensure that your panels receive maximum exposure to sun rays. Hence, having tree branches or shrubs blocking the panels trimmed in time is also required.
Like every other piece of machinery, your solar system needs regular servicing for its upkeeps. Having all its components regularly checked out would be a good idea to ensure everything is working smoothly. Monitoring your energy production and consumption very closely can also help you combat the reduced sun rays during winters. While many solar inverters offer wifi- supported energy production information, switching to Smart energy platforms to get a detailed analysis of your energy consumption is recommended.
HOW LONG DO SOLAR INVERTERS LAST?
If you are investing in a Solar Inverter powered energy system, its lifetime is probably what concerns you. It has been over seven years since setting up solar systems in households was first introduced. While earlier inverters lasted upto three or four years, we now have several inverters that come with 10 to 15 years warranties. Some even offer upto 25years of warranty. But there are several steps you can take to ensure its longevity. Inverters should always be stored in cooler areas and ensure they have proper ventilation to keep their temperatures down. Many inverters now come with built in fans to help with its cooling. Water, dust and moisture are also factors that harm inverters. Hence, it is best to keep the inverters indoor and prevent damage due to environmental factors. Also, ensure that the surface that the inverter is mounted on is not subject to several vibrations as they too damage the inverters.
SHOULD YOU INTRODUCE A BATTERY IN YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM?
Solar batteries are used to store electric energy with the utilization of solar panels to capture sunlight and convert it to renewable energy.
The process by which electricity is made possible by solar batteries is simple, it absorbs solar light, collects proton energy, and triggers electrons that eventually creates energy. Electricity is then stored in these batteries allowing energy to be used whenever it is needed.
You may be wondering why you should even consider shifting from traditional sources of electricity to those powered by solar batteries. There are important factors which you should consider, thus allowing you to appreciate its advantages:
Low electricity bills
Rising costs in electricity bills only get worse in time. The reason for this is that resources are becoming scarce and the population of people is not getting any smaller.
Solar batteries are able to supply electricity to appliances needed to survive everyday life. Examples of these appliances are cooking stoves, cooling systems for houses, heaters, lights for both indoors and outdoors.
Low contribution to pollution
Solar batteries do contribute to pollution. They are renewable energy that does not emit harmful toxins that destroy our environment. It collects energy that is needed by you and collects once more when energy is depleted.
Unlimited supply of solar batteries
With the integration of solar batteries used by homes today, electricity can now be stored in greater numbers. These batteries have the capacity to store certain amounts of electricity depending on the model you purchase from your local dealer.
Free source of power
Sunlight is the main source of energy which solar batteries derive their power from. As long as the sun keeps shining, your batteries never run out of power.
The beauty of sunlight is that companies cannot create the business from everyone using sunlight. If you do not receive a billing for your electricity, then it is probably free.
Solar batteries are capable of transportation for use in the most obscure areas. Unlike traditional power sources, solar energy can be used anywhere. As long as you have the solar batteries and the sun keeps shining then there would be no problem at all.
Since solar power is being promoted even more today, its design and effectiveness have been well thought off; however, it still has its downsides to it.
Like all great things invented, there is always a disadvantage to consider. There is only one disadvantage of solar batteries, high purchase price.
Depending on your electricity consumption, the cost of purchasing these batteries may cause a little at the start. The fact that it is a source of renewable energy, companies that manufacture these solar batteries do realize this and make profits from initial customer purchasing, installation, and eventually product maintenance.
Hence, the most sensible thing to do at present is to wait till price levels of batteries fall further since most batteries will cover their cost over a period of 10 years, which is around the time their warranties expire as well.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF HIGH INPUT VOLTAGE ON SOLAR INVERTERS?
Input voltages that are about 250V or higher can damaged your inverter very seriously. In many cases, the damage is not severe and you can simply reset the inverter and things would function again. In other cases, components of the inverter could get damaged. Some manufacturers do cover in the repairs in the warranty and many do not. Hence, the best solution is to have the faults in the grid supply system rectified. Also, consider installing a power factoring unit between the switchboard and the inverter. The unit will ensure that the voltage is regulated to 220v even during the spikes and hence prevent and damage to the inverter.
WHICH INVERTER DO I GO FOR- STRING INVERTERS OR MICRO INVERTERS?
String inverters are stand alone inverters. This basically means that you will have one or two inverters installed near your electricity meter. On the other hand, you will have a Micro-Inverter installed under each solar panel. Both these inverter systems have their advantages and disadvantages.
String inverters have a series circuit functionality. Hence, if anything goes wrong in the circuit, it would probably be a fault in the inverter which can be easily checked and repaired. But the string inverters cap the energy production of the entire circuit to the maximum output of the lowest performing panel. Hence, energy production efficiency of the system is low. These inverters have a warranty of 5 to 10 years only.
Micro Inverters perform in a parallel circuit. Hence, every panel’s energy production is harnessed to its full potential. These inverters are very useful in scenarios where different panels are installed in different directions and have multiple high performing panels depending on the time of the day. These inverters have warranty of usually 25years. But compared to string inverters, the cost of these inverter systems is about 1000$ more.
COULD I GO COMPLETELY OFF-GRID WITH SOLAR ENERGY?
It is possible for you to go off-grid once you have a solar energy system installed in your household. But that would require the installation of a battery to store a lot of electricity. As discussed earlier, batteries at the current rates are not a great investment. Hence, continue relying on the electricity from the grid to complete your energy needs when your solar system is not providing enough power. Invest in a battery on a later date.
DO ENERGY BLACKOUTS EFFECT MY SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM?
If you have connected your solar system to the grid(which most people do), then your solar system will shut down. This is primarily for the safety of personnel that might be working on the grid power lines, as the solar system sends excess power generated back to the grid and this may harm them. To prevent a complete loss of power, you can consider investing in inverters that provide energy backups during such incidents.
WHAT IS THE COST OF MAINTENANCE OF SOLAR PANELS?
Solar panels being manufactured these days are of very high quality tempered glass. If regularly cleaned with a cloth dipped in warm water, the performance of these panels remains consistent across 25 to 30 years easily. You just need to ensure no physical damage should be inflicted on the panels.
WHAT ARE THE PRECAUTIONS I NEED TO TAKE BEFOUR INSTALLING SOLAR PANELS ON MY ROOF?
The ideal roof location for installing solar panels is a south-facing roof with little or no shade on the panels to be installed. But you need not worry if that is not the case with your roof as there is always a work around to make it work for you. Incase you need to carry out any maintenance or repair work on your roof, ensure that you do it before the installation of the solar panels as these panels are meant to last for decades and there is a heady cost involved in the reinstallation of these panels.
WHAT ARE THE PRICES OF SOLAR SYSTEM?
The initial investment in a solar system for your household would be in following range:-
o 3kW : $4,000 – $6,000
o 5kW : $5,000 – $8,500
o 10kW : $12,000 – $16,000
This is the cost that you will incur after you have received the rebates.
You need to know that the final prices are determined by many factors, such as which rebates are you eligible for, what is the design of your house, whether you go in for micro inverters or string inverters. These costs estimates would increase by 20-30% incase you decide to go ahead with micro inverters. We would also recommend not going to a distributor quoting a price lower than these estimates as they would most likely be using components of inferior quality.
IS GOING SOLAR RECOMMENDED FOR ME IF ALMOST 95% OF MY ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION IS AFTER 6PM?
Through years of data that has been collected and analysed, it is said that to get a good return on your investment in a solar system, you need to utilise at least 30% of the energy being produced. However, earlier the feed-in tariffs were not very good. Now, the feed in tariffs have risen in proportion to the per unit costs of electricity. Also, you now have solar powered batteries to store the solar energy produced. Hence, even if your consumption is in the after hours, you are likely to make huge savings.
DOES YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM INSTALLER NEED TO HAVE ANY KIND OF LICENSE?
It is always recommended to have a licensed installer put up your solar system. Some of these essential licences are Electrical Licence and for some states, a Building License is required too. Also note that ti claim solar rebates, your installer must have been accredited by Clean Energy Council(CEC) on either of the 2 levels: On-grid and Off-grid, depending on which design are you going for. Also, you should get your solar system designed by a CEC accredited designer and ensure you get a design document with their signatures.
HOW DO YOU CONFIRM THAT YOU ARE GETTING THE SAME SOLAR PANELS WHO’S PRICE?
The first and foremost step would be to make the purchase from a trusted company, who are known for living upto their name. You can also check the backside of the panels for a label that has the company name, rating, barcode and serial number. If you have a doubt that these labels are counterfeit, then you should confirm the label details with the manufacturer.
CAN A SOLAR PANEL BE INSTALLED ON ROOFS MADE OF SLATE OR ASBESTOS?
Installing a solar panel on a roof required some drilling. This cannot be done on a roof that is brittle, as is the case with slate roofs. Your installer demand extremely high prices for the installation as they would have to be extremely careful and slow with the process of installation.
When it comes to asbestos roofs, most installers would refuse to install panels on it as any kind of disturbance to asbestos roofs poses many health hazards. It is recommended that you replace your roof before proceeding with the installation of the solar system.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED SIZE OF SOLAR PANELS THAT I SHOULD BUY?
As a rule of thumb, it is said that higher the output, higher is the efficiency of the solar panel. Few years ago, panels of the 170-190kW range were considered the most efficient. But at present, the recommended panels have and output of about 260kW. This is because greater amount of solar energy can be produced by using smaller roof space. But, you also need to keep in mind that the prices of these panels increase in proportion to their outputs.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE IF THE SOLAR PANEL IS OF GOOD QUALITY?
Solar panels spend their lifetime in harsh climatic conditions such as sun rays, rains and winds. To be able to endure these conditions and not sacrifice on their efficiency and last for over a decade is a tase that requires the use of good quality input materials combined with extensive research. The companies that go to every extent to ensure the quality of chemically treated glass, chemically treated silicon cells, various plastics, protective films, aluminium, sealants and interconnecting wiring also ensure that they have ISO accreditation.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF SITE INSPECTION BEFORE AGREEING TO INSTALL THE SOLAR SYSTEM?
Having an installer inspect your household and installation sites is extremely crucial. Their expertise is important to get a highly customized solar system installed in your household, and it will ensure that the returns on your investment are also maximum. They can give valuable inputs in terms of suggesting the perfect size of inverter required by you, the number and positioning of solar panels to be installed etc.
IT IS ADVISABLE TO PURCHASE SOLAR INVERTER AND PANEL DIRECTLY FROM THE SUPPLIER AND I PROCEED TO INSTALL IT ON MY OWN?
Since solar energy systems deal with live electricity at high voltages, the task installation should not be undertaken by a novice. There are also many issues such as wind loading and voltage compatibles between different components of the solar energy system that can be handled by professionals only. Also, to be eligible for rebates, it is a pre-requisite that you system should have been installed by a CEC accredited installer