Frequently Asked Questions
How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?
Solar panels use layers of special materials called semi-conductors that create electricity when exposed to sufficient light. There are different types of solar panel construction. Some panels tend to perform better in high temperatures and low light situations, but take up around twice the space.
Will I be financially better off getting solar power?
In the vast majority of cases, getting solar power will help reduce your electricity bills through reducing the amount of power you buy from the grid and through the feed in tariff you receive for excess power you sell to the grid. The amount of electricity you have will depend upon a range of factors including the size of the system, whether the system has been installed in the optimal location and your individual electricity use patterns. Be wary of claims that you will never need to pay a bill again or can eliminate you electricity bills.
What Government subsidies are available for solar power?
The Federal Government subsidy for solar power in homes, community organisations and small businesses is the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). Under this scheme a solar power system can create Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) that may be sold to partially offset the price of the system. STCs have replaced the former Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Feed in tariffs are a different type of benefit that provide ongoing financial incentive rather than an upfront price reduction. Feed in Tariffs are usually applied to your electricity account via your energy retailer for any energy that if fed back to the grid from your Solar System. Be aware that Tariff rates vary so ask your retailer about what rate they provide per kW.
How long will it take for a solar power system to pay for itself?
The payback period of a solar power system varies widely depending on the initial investment for the system, the size of the system, the usage patterns of the consumer and the price received as a feed in tariff from the energy retailer. For homes that use small amounts of electricity and receive the premium feed in tariff, the payback period can be less than 3 years. For homes that use a lot of electricity and are not eligible for the premium feed in tariff, the payback period will be closer to 7 years.
How much electricity will I generate?
The amount of electricity that you generate depends on the size of your system, which way it is facing, whether there is any shading from trees or other buildings and the local climatic conditions. One of our consultants can provide an indication of the average generation a Solar Energy System will provide on your home.
Will I generate enough to sell power back to the grid?
In most cases there will be times that the solar PV system is generating more power than your house is using. At these times you will be selling power back to the grid. If your house has very high continuous electricity use (for example through running multiple fridges or having a number of people home at all times) then you may not export much electricity back to the grid.
Does the power I generate get used in my property first or sent to the grid first?
The electricity from the solar power system will get used in your property first. Any excess energy that your Solar System generates will be sent to the grid
What is the difference between net metering and gross metering?
Gross metering measures all the power your solar panels produce and all the power that you use in the house. This type of metering is used where there is a gross feed in tariff such as in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Under gross metering you are paid the gross feed in tariff for all the power you produce and you must pay the usage tariff for all the power that you consume.Net metering measures only the difference between what your solar power system is producing and what you are consuming. Net metering measures the amount that you import separate to the amount that you export and is used where there is a net feed in tariff such as in NSW and Victoria. Under net metering you are paid the net feed in tariff for the excess power you produce and you must pay the usage tariff for any power that you import.
How much will I be paid for the electricity I generate?
You will only be paid for electricity that you export to the grid. You are not paid for electricity that you generate and use in the house, but this will be reducing the amount of electricity that you need to import thus reducing the total cost of your electricity purchases. You should check the feed in tariff offered by your electricity retailer and compare offers from different retailers.
What is the expected lifespan of a Solar PV System?
A Solar System is expected to continue producing electricity for 25+ years if maintained. Solar Panel manufacturers guarantee that the system will continue to produce no less than 80% of their efficiency for 25 years.
Does the system require regular maintenence?
Provided the system components are manufactured to a high level of quality there should be very minimal maintenance. The surface of the panels are generally self cleaning depending on the degree of pitch. It is recommended however that periodically you consider a health check to ensure the system will continue to produce to its best for 25 years. You will be provided a maintenance schedule upon completion of the installation.
Is the system exposed to corrosion?
The frame and mounting system is anodised aluminium, they are coated in an anticorrosive agent. The Inverter is manufactured for exposure to the environment and provided the electrical components are manufactured to a high quality they to are built to withstand all weather conditions.
Will it help the environment if I get solar power?
Solar Energy is a Renweable energy. Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Solar power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution therefore are healthy for the environment and will assist the fight against Global Warming.