Solar - Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Does the orientation of the roof affect whether or not a home can successfully install a solar product?

Although it is optimal to install solar products on the north-facing side of a roof, it is also possible to install a solar PV system on the east or west facing side of a roof, as long as there is sufficient space. In some instances, it can be better to install on the East or the West roof to match the time of day the household is consuming their electricity. For instance, if the bulk of the homes consumption is in the afternoon, it is better to install the solar panels on the West roof so that there is generation in the afternoon when the sun is in the West.

What happens at night?

As solar PV systems only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight, they do not produce electricity at night. At night you will need
another source, such as electricity from the grid. Or with a hybrid system, draw back from your energy storage system (Battery Bank).

What happens on cloudy days?

The performance of the solar PV system is affected by cloud cover. When there is not enough light to produce electricity, you will use electricity from the grid.

Is it true that solar electricity systems are more efficient inland rather than on the coast?

There are many factors affecting efficiency. Inland regions generally have fewer cloudy days than the coast. Conversely, high temperatures, smog and dirt are more prevalent inland and can also affect performance. The solar radiation differs across the country and is factored into the design. In accordance with the Clean Energy Council Guidelines.

Will it affect my property resale value?

When you purchase a solar system, all of its benefits, including the warranties and electricity savings, are linked to the property. Even if you move, all warranties will remain with the system, meaning that the new owner will receive the benefits.

There is not yet enough data to accurately predict the effect of a solar energy system installation on property prices. However, anecdotally, a home with Solar P.V. will sell before a home without solar P.V.

 

Power Related Questions

What is a GRID CONNECT solar electricity (photovoltaic or PV) system?

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is made up of solar PV panels, an inverter, racking and wiring. A Grid Connect Solar PV systems work very simply to provide a household or commercial structure with usable, renewable, clean, green energy.

An array of solar PV panels are mounted to a roof and convert energy from sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. A device called an inverter then changes the DC into alternating current (AC) electricity.

With a NET Metering System, the inverter is wired onto the load side of the kWh meter. This free electricity can then be used for a household’s electrical needs such as lighting and operation appliances.

What is the National Electricity Grid?

The National Electricity Grid is the network of wires that delivers electricity from generators to homes and businesses. When you install a solar PV system you become a generator of clean renewable energy.

What is the difference between a solar hot water system and solar PV system? A solar hot water system uses the sun’s warmth to directly heat water.

A solar PV system converts sunlight into electricity for use in the home or to be fed into the electricity grid. The heat output of the sun is not important for solar PV systems, but the amount of sunlight available is.

Is mains electricity still needed?

The concept of a grid connect system is to work in conjunction with the grid. Solar PV systems only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight, at other times mains electricity or a generator, is required. When there is no sunlight, no electricity is produced, so you will need to draw electricity from another source such as the grid.Are batteries needed for a solar PV grid connected system?

No. Grid–connected solar systems do not store electricity – instead, any electricity that is not consumed at the time it is generated, is ‘exported’ or fed into the electricity grid, however, hybrid systems do utilise battery storage.

What is a Hybrid System?

A Hybrid system utilises an energy storage device, like a battery reserve, in conjunction with normal grid connection, so that the household has the ability to use their Solar Generated electricity, at the time that they need it. So, instead of any surplus power being exported to the grid, It is stored in a small battery reserve ready for use after dark. This is called “Tariff Optimisation”. Not all Hybrid systems are designed for this, as some are installed as a un interruptible power supply (UPS) ,designed to make the home black out proof.

The difference between being totally off grid and Hybrid, is that with Off Grid a substantially larger storage system is required and usually, a diesel generator for battery management. With Hybrid, we still have the grid available to us, so the storage unit need only be big enough to cover the after dark consumption.

What will happen during a blackout?

For safety reasons, in the event of a blackout, your solar PV system will stop producing electricity. This safety measure is mandatory and has been put in place to protect anyone working on the blacked-out grid system. As soon as the grid is back online, your solar PV system’s ability to generate will be restored, However, with Some Hybrid systems, the special hybrid inverter will isolate your home from the grid and provide power from the batteries until the grid supply has been restored. This is automatic and in some cases, the home owner will not be aware that there has been a black out.

Solar PV System Specific Questions

How does a solar PV system work?

When sunlight hits a solar PV module, direct current (DC) electricity is produced and the inverter changes the current from DC to 240V alternating current (AC).With a net feed in system, This electricity can be used immediately within the home or fed into the National Electricity Grid (grid).With a gross Feed in System, it is wired directly to the Grid via a separate meter. The home then needs to buy it back as per normal.

What are the different types of solar PV panels?

There are many different types of solar PV panels currently on the Australian market. The three main types are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin film panels and Hybrid blends of these three. A range of materials can be used to produce a PV panel (the most common is silicon). But there are now newer technologies, which are proving to be effective in Australian conditions.

Is it possible to increase the size of a solar PV system in the future?

This depends on your roof space and the size of the inverter. If you have sufficient roof space and additional capacity in the inverter you could increase the size of your system. Or you could add a second system to your roof. Micro inverters will allow system expansion regardless of the size of the original inverter. With this technology, panels can be added one at a time and on any available roof space.

Please note: At this time, the solar feed-in tariffs in each state have limits on the system size, which to they apply. Increasing the size of an existing solar power system WILL VOID your existing feed-in tariff.

Where do residential solar PV panels get placed?

Your installer should determine the optimal position for your solar PV system.
There are many factors to take into consideration when planning the placement – from orientation to the sun, to the area available and the distance to the meter. In an ideal situation, the panels would be oriented as close to north–facing as possible, in an area with no shading. If the home owners loads are in the morning or evening, then the solar panels might be installed on the East roof and/ or West roof, to provide generation at the time of day that the power is required.

How much electricity does a solar PV system produce?

There are a number of factors that will affect how much electricity a system will produce. The orientation of the panels, where you live in Australia, any shading of your panels and the amount of sunlight on a given day will all affect how much energy the solar PV system produces. You should refer to the product specifications of the solar power system you are considering, or talk to your installer.

STC Related Questions

What are Small – scale Technology Certificates “STC’s”? (Formally known as RECS)

STC’s formally known as “RECs” are part of the government’s commitment to renewable energy. Each STC represents 1 MWh (Megawatt hour) of energy able to be produced. STC’s are created when you purchase qualifying solar hot water, wind power systems or solar PV systems.
STC’s have been devised as the means to encourage Australians to take action to help meet the government’s 20% renewable energy target by 2020.

How much are STC’s worth?

The value of the STC’s you are eligible for varies depending on your location and zone rating, the size of the system you install and the market for STC’s. Websites such as the Government’s Office of Renewable Energy Regulator site have solar REC calculators, providing a guide to the number of STC’s your system could be worth.

Tariff Questions

Feed in Tariffs

Most State government run “feed in Tariffs” are now closed to new applicants. These where designed to reduce the payback period for those that invested in Solar P.V. The department of primary industries would pay you as much as 60c per kWh of electricity exported to the grid. These schemes have now closed to new applicants, as the cost of installing solar has decreased substantially over the last few years. In Victoria, households will only receive the wholesale price of 8c per kWh for electricity exported to the grid.

Gross versus net feed-in tariffs

A net feed–in tariff pays the solar PV system owner only for surplus electricity they haven’t used. A gross feed–in tariff pays for each kilowatt -hour produced by the system that is directly fed into the grid. The feed–in tariff schemes are set by the state governments and vary between the states.

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