How does a solar power system help me save money?
A properly designed and installed solar power system saves you money by offsetting the amount of electricity you purchase from the grid. A well-designed system will try to closely match your daytime power usage with your potential solar production. By using premium components and compliant installation methods, maintenance costs and or replacement parts will be minimal and your investment could pay for itself in less than 4 years.
Is there still a discount available to help buy the system?
Yes, based on legislation known as the Renewable Energy Target . An eligible system can create “Small-scale technology certificates”. These certificates are traded for money and usually offered as a point of sale discount. It is important to understand that the value of these certificates is not fixed as they are traded via a market-based mechanism. Here is an example of what the certificates are trading for today. Certificates can only be generated once the system is up and running
What’s included in a typical solar power system?
A typical solar power system would include. Solar Panels, A mounting system, an Inverter and a monitoring system. Balance of system components would include AC/Dc wiring and circuit protection as well as safety signage and an installation compliant to the Australian Standard AS 5033 and to the accreditation design and Installation guidelines determined by the Clean Energy Council
Do I need permission to connect a solar power system to the electricity network?
Yes, specifically, you need permission to connect the inverter to the electricity network. There are rules associated with max system size, electrical system infrastructure and the use of approved products that need to be adhered to. We assess all of these factors and take care of the Grid Connection application on your behalf.
Do I need to contact my electricity retailer?
As of 1 December 2017, your electricity retailer will also have the added responsibility of providing you with metering services. Typically the retailer has been contacted to confirm the Feed-in tariff i.e. Amount you will be paid per kWh for energy put back into the grid. Their role after 1st December may be more involved, but at the time of publishing this, not enough detail is available to provide a complete answer. Please check with us to confirm
How much solar can I connect?
This depends on several factors. The obvious one, being, how big is your roof? The Network can also have a say in this depending on your electrical infrastructure to the street and the saturation of solar power systems on the network. This amount can also be affected by whether you have single or 3 phase power at your premises. The actual size of the system should firstly be a consideration of your energy consumption. We are experienced at assessing all of these factors and will come up with a design that is compliant and will meet your expectations.
How big is a solar panel?
The typical size panel used for a residential and or small commercial building is approximately 1.65m x 1m. Panels of this size range in power class from 270watt to 330watts. Higher power class modules use a more efficient solar cell to produce more power from the same size footprint. That is not to say that less efficient panels are of lesser quality. It is important to look at the panel manufacturers overall build quality rather than an efficiency rating when assessing solar panels.
Can I install the equipment outdoors?
Yes, most inverters have an IP ( ingress protection) rating of at least IP 55 which makes them suitable for outdoor use. It is this IP rating which is the 1st consideration of whether an inverter can be installed outside, following that, other factors such as adequate ventilation, access, the degree of direct UV radiation should also be considered. Emerging battery technology is a different case as they would usually not have an IP rating. The Central Tablelands has a cold climate and temperature extremes should be considered with equipment specifications. Correctly addressing all of these factors will lead to an installation that has the highest degree of safety and longevity. We can assess the best location for the equipment at a site visit.
Do installers need special training to properly install a system?
Yes, all systems that work at voltages above 50Va.c or 120V d.c. need to be installed by a licensed electrician, furthermore, the Clean Energy Council has a scheme that accredits people for Design and Installation of solar power systems. We have a full accreditation to design and Install Grid Connected and Standalone Solar power systems as well as being licensed electrical contractors.
Can batteries be retrofitted?
Yes, there’s more than one way to kill a cat, and in our opinion the most suitable way to install a solar power system that is future proof, does not require you to install a hybrid inverter from the outset, in fact, there is a risk in doing so, as technology changes and industry players jostle for position, hybrid inverters built today might not be suitable for tomorrows batteries. We suggest building a system based on standard technology. Later on, batteries can be retrofitted in numerous ways.
How can I effectively monitor my system?
Effective monitoring provides you with a useful tool for optimising the self-consumption of the solar array, as well it can provide you with means of an alert in the event of a system malfunction or fault. Professional monitoring systems can be purchased as add-ons and usually provide data via a web browser. Most good inverter manufacturers supply these add-ons. It is important that a monitoring system measures energy flow in and out of the grid as well as information on your solar power system. Third party platforms like SOLAR ANALYTICS, provide an additional level of data and are more flexible with tricky sites.
Do I receive a feed-in tariff for the energy I export into the grid?
In NSW, feed-in tariffs are no longer mandatory, nor are they set by the government. Most retailers will offer you a feed-in tariff as part of their energy plan. There is some real competition in this space, and Feed-In tariffs of more than $0.15/Kwh are available. The acceptable minimums are around $0.12/kwh. You should carefully consider what energy plan you subscribe to when installing solar as the dynamic of your usage, will be different. In some cases, a Time Of Use Tariff might be a smarter choice than a flat rate. Also, it would seem that the highest feed-in tariffs are available when you opt for the least discount for the power you purchase…food for thought.
What is a Nett Meter?
The vast majority of solar power systems in Australia, are connected via a Nett Meter. A Nett meter is a meter with a digital display that has an additional register that records energy sent to the grid. When a solar power system is connected via Nett metering, the meter can determine whether or not energy is flowing into the grid (buying electricity) or being exported into the grid ( selling electricity ). This happens in almost real-time as measurements are taken and recorded every few seconds. As these import and export counters start to accumulate, the internal registers advance. Most Nett meters are also Time Of Use Meters, in other words, they have more than 3 registers for energy bought from the grid i.e. depending on what time of the day you are buying energy will determine which one of the 3 registers are advancing. Retailers can use this information to offer a special Time Of Use Tariff whereby different rates apply for different times of the day.
What is a Smart Meter?
Whilst smart meters do provide other more detailed information, for the purposes of providing a simple definition, a smart meter is a Nett Meter that can be read remotely. It will usually have a Cellular modem connected to it, and use the cellular ( mobile Phone ) network to provide information about what it is reading. According to Power of Choice Legislation, smart meters will become mandatory for all new and upgraded metering installations from December 1, 2017.
Do all battery systems provide power in a blackout?
No, some on-grid battery systems will also not work during a blackout, they are designed purely for load shifting i.e. using stored solar energy for evening consumption. Other systems will offer limited power in a blackout with a few seconds lag between the blackout and the switch to battery power, these systems are designed to offer limited power in a blackout and could, for example, keep a fridge and general lighting running. Other systems that incorporate a fully featured inverter charger like the Australian made Selectronic SPPro series of inverters or the range of products from Victron are designed to offer load and peak shifting and the ability to run your home on or off the grid. These inverter chargers can be paired with a growing list of new tech batteries as well as more traditional lead-acid types. A Hybrid inverter like the models made by Redback is also capable of providing backup solutions.
Can I add batteries to an existing solar power system?
Yes, it doesn’t matter how old or new your solar power system is, there will always be a way to add storage batteries later, in fact starting off with a system that uses the traditional inverter/solar technology will allow you more flexibility and choice when it comes time to add storage batteries later on. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only way to retrofit batteries after your initial purchase is via a hybrid inverter. We have been gaining many certifications and training with the latest technology and will be able to advise you on which is the best way forward for you.
Will my roof require any modification to hold solar panels?
Very unlikely, a 5kw solar power system weighs approximately as much as 2 people but that weight is spread over 25M2. So most roofs in reasonable condition will not require any sort of bracing. There are specific guidelines set out by the mounting system manufacturers that prohibit installations within certain zones of the roof. We often see installations performed by others not aware of these rules. In a case of a warranty claim, it is important to ensure all installation procedures, manuals are strictly adhered to.
Can we install off-grid systems?
Yes, in fact, this is our specialty. Over the past 10 years, we have installed over 100 Off the grid solar/wind powered systems. We are fully accredited to do so by the clean energy council. Our experience has been to focus on engineering and premium products with a high degree of autonomy built into our designs. These systems can be remotely monitored and enable us to provide remote assistance in the event of a problem. A typical system would include both AC and DC coupled solar arrays, the 48Volt battery bank that provides up to 3 days of autonomy, an inverter charger capable of supplying all continuous and surge loads and a generator programmed to auto start when required. A typical new home can be connected to an off-grid system for less than the cost of running a grid supply and transformer.