G-Store Solar - Greener, more energy efficient homes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is electricity generated from the sun?
A:

When sunlight hits specific types of silicon, a small amount of electricity is generated. This is known as the photoelectric generation effect in which the surface of a photovoltaic (PV) solar cell ejects electrons as a response to sunlight. Therefore, transferring sunlight into electricity.

Sunlight is made up of photons, which are then reflected or absorbed by a solar cell when meeting. The photons that are absorbed will generate PV electricity. A system with increased efficiency will aim for more cells being absorbed as opposed to reflected.

The electron will move along the current that flows through electric ribbons that connect the solar panels together, in order to generate direct current (DC) electricity. This DC electricity will then be converted into alternate current (AC) electricity by your inverter, making it suitable for household energy.

Q: Should businesses use solar panels?
A:

Despite the growth in residential solar systems, commercial solar has only become popular in relatively recent times. The first question most business owners ask is when they’ll recoup their investment, given the significant upfront cost. For businesses with a relatively high electricity cost per kWh, the system pay back becomes faster, for example, hospitals that are open 24/7. It is more important for commercial systems rather than residential systems to choose the greatest quality panels and inverters, as well as ensure there is a quality warranty system in place, as there is a greater amount of money involved as opposed to with cheaper panels and inverters. Furthermore, not all grids will be able to sufficiently connect to a large system anymore, as solar is becoming more popular.

Q: The history of micro inverters
A:

Micro inverters have been used since the mid 1980s in the solar industry. However, the main recurring issue of micro inverters were their price, as they were never deemed as cost competitive. This has changed since 2011 with brands using smaller components entering into Australian markets now enjoying a small percentage of market share, yet micro inverter systems still remain the slightly more expensive option. Micro inverters are advantageous for specific residential sites such as those who require panels to be facing different directions, or those sites with partly overshadowing.

Q: What do I do when my solar system stops working?
A:

Here are the following steps for troubleshooting and repairing your system:

  1. Ensure that no solar generation is being measures on your inverter
  2. If the solar circuit has tripped you should turn it back on at night. If it trips again then there may be a serious fault.
  3. Call your original installer/ supplier to check the system
  4. Ensure you have the original paperwork if you want to make a warranty claim

5. Check that your original system has not closed down due to being a bankrupt company

Q: What do I do with my old solar system?
A:

Some people wish to add to their solar system, however due to the following reasons, it is not possible.

Some people wish to add panels to an older system in order to:

  1. Uphold the potential of their inverter as oversized, expandable, or upgradable as their sales person would have promised, yet due to the government’s changing installation standards, older modules cannot be made compatible with newer modules;
  2. Expand any spare room there may be on their roof;
  3. A change of circumstance causing for greater electricity consumption by the household;
  4. The inverter died and is looking to move forward with the best option;
  5. Homeowner realises the existing battery size is not adequate

However, due to the following reasons, upgrading a solar system is a difficult option due to:

  1. Modern panels not being compatible with older style panels;
  2. Older panels do not have the same fire rating standard and will therefore burn if too hot, unlike modern panels which will not burn;
  3. There are different rules for installation which make it harder to install new panels with old panels;
  4. Some state feed-in tariffs will not be eligible for expanded systems

So, what are your options?

  1. You can replace whatever is not working (ie. The inverter) with the exact model of equipment. This may require finding second hand panels etc…
  2. You can get a brand new system.

When getting a new system we recommend investing because it has been shown that the cheaper ones have a shorter life span and are of a lesser quality than the more expensive ones.

Furthermore, most households which have systems older than 5 years will find that it is not large enough in kW to supply the household and a sufficient battery. So we recommend keeping the battery charged in the day so that it has full capacity at night. The best solution we can offer is to add a second system with batteries which would include a hybrid inverter which can charge the battery. In some cases the new hybrid inverter can take power from you r older system to charge the battery.

It is important to note that if you change the old system with anything other than the same model you will need to change the entire system, as per the legal requirement.

Q: How much solar power do we use and how is the output affected?
A:

There are a range of factors which affect how much energy is generated from solar systems- things that make a big difference, versus the things that make a smaller difference.

The factors that make a big difference include:.

  1. The efficiency of the panel
  2. The location of the panel (ie. Northern panel’s generate the most electricity)
  3. The season/ brightness of the sun
  4. The time of day (ie. Midday generates most electricity)
  5. Shade (ie. From buildings or trees; too much shade reduces electricity)

The factors that make a smaller difference include:.

  1. The positioning of the panels (ie. Angles and orientation whereby facing 30 degrees North is 100% efficient)
  2. The amount of time the sun is out (ie. Summer has longer sun than winter)
  3. Inverter quality and efficiency
  4. The air flow around the system
  5. Build up of dirt (ie. Bird droppings)
Q: What are all the components of a solar system?
A:

There are 3 key components:

  1. The solar panels;
  2. The inverter which transfers DC electricity into AC electricity that is suitable for household use;

3. Mounting frames, safety switches and cabling, etc that balance the system

Q: What are micro inverters?
A:

Micro inverters are attached to each solar panel in a system, and is used to convert solar panel power from DC electricity to 240v AC electricity. This is used instead of conventional string inverters which connects to a string of solar panels and converts Direct Current (DC) power into Alternate Current (AC) power electricity.

Q: What are the key components of a solar system?
A:

The key components of a solar system form together to generate electricity, regulate the system’s flow and electricity quality, and connect the system to your home/ building. Each component is designed to work together, while making sure that no component compromises the performance of another.

A system that is connected to the grid is comprised of panels, a string inverter or micro inverters, a roof mounting system and other electrical accessories.

Stand alone/ off-grid systems use charge controllers which store energy in batteries. These batteries feed the inverter which provides the home with energy in periods where there is no sunlight.

Q: What do I do if my solar system is not working properly?
A:

If your electricity bill is higher than usual, your monitoring system seems funny, or your inverter appears to be permanently switched off, then perhaps your system is not properly working.

If you find that your inverter is permanently switched off then you must call your original installer to visit the site and check on the issue. You should also agree on call out fees prior to the installer showing up.

However, if your system is working yet you feel it as though it is not working up to its full potential, you should try to assess the amount of energy being generated versus the amount you consume over the billing period. Compare the predictions of your consumption by your supplier with the amount you are actually being billed. Yet, if your inverter is measuring an amount close to the predicted amount, then the issue may be in relation to a change in the time or the rate you are being charged, and should discuss this with your electricity retailer. Maybe try comparing your latest electricity bill with an older one.

If less is being generated than predicted, your inverter should be able to describe any faults or errors through its red of green flashing function to indicate performance.

Also check that there are no new objects causing shadowing, ie. A new tree.

Overall, please call your original supplier or installer to check on the system if the latter do not work, and DO NOT attempt to fix anything yourself.

Q: How can I tell if my solar system is working?
A:

To check if your system is functioning properly, you can check the inverter to see if the indication lights are on, and if the display panel shows how much electricity you have generated so far. If your inverter is dead, is not showing any lights or display, then your system has probably shut down for safety precautions, or sunlight levels are too low to operate. If your inverter seems to be turned off, check your power meter is on. Also, try comparing your current electricity bill with a previous bill.

Q: The benefits of a micro-inverter solar system:
A:

Micro inverters are beneficial where there are issues with shading across the solar panels, or in cases where the roof design requires the panels to face different directions. The purpose of micro inverters is that they enable panels to work individually, so that if one or some panels are shaded, it will not affect the output of the entire system.

In order to maximise your solar systems efficiency in situations where there may be a small roof that can only fit a few panels, or the roofs face different directions, a micro inverter would be your best option for solar installation. Micro inverters enable for panels to be mounted onto differing directions, as opposed to string inverters which require all panels to be facing the same direction.

Micro inverters also monitor each panel individually, rather than as a collective, which makes system faults or poor performance easier to identify and repair. Furthermore, unlike a string invertor which, if it fails to work, the entire solar system will stop working, if a micro invertor fails to work, only that panel will stop working, whilst the others remain unaffected and will continue to convert power.

Additionally, if you are wanting to expand your solar panel, micro inverters allow for additional panels to be used, even if it is adding a different size or brand of panel. String inverters make it harder to expand, as specifications of added panels must match the existing panels.

Q: What is the payback period on solar systems?
A:

There are variations in the payback period on a solar system depending on the electricity usage pattern, the amount of local sunshine, and the local electricity prices. The greater the input of electricity relative to the output of electricity on the grid; the quicker the payback period on the solar system.

Generally, the payback period ranges from five to eight years depending on the latter factors, demonstrating how important quality and reliability in equipment is, as the solar system owner will only receive payback after their initial outlay has been paid off. For example, if it takes you more time to pay off a system than the system even lasts for, you have lost some of your investment. Conversely, if it takes you sometime to pay off your system, but it lasts for years, you have more time to receive payback. As such, a poor quality system will not be beneficial for a long term investment.

Q: What size should my solar PV system be?
A:

The sizing of your system will depend on:

  1. The amount of unshaded area available on your roof for installation
  2. The amount you are willing to spend (a cheaper system will unlikely to be a great quality)
  3. The amount you wish to generate or offset in relation to your consumption

In order to calculate what size your PV system should be, you must work out your household electrical consumption. You generally only require your system to produce the electricity at the time you are going to use it. Ie. Systems are better suited for households which will be home during the day when electricity will be generated, or households which have an electrical storage system in place.

Q: Why are solar systems a good investment?
A:

With electricity being essential for any home or business, the cheapest option is preferred, with that being Solar Electric Power.

Some benefits of Solar include:

  1. Reduces green house gas emissions
  2. A one-time investment over a long period of time making it cost effective
  3. Can last up to 25 years or more

4. Can get paid for the surplus of energy that is exported back onto the grid

Q: How many systems are currently installed in Australia?
A:

The 1.5 millionth system was installed in 2016 in Australia, with a predicted increase by 50% of homes in the next 15 years having installed one.

* Data provided by the Clean Energy Council & Solar Business Services 2013.

Q: How will dirt, leaves and twigs affect my system’s efficiency?
A:

Any obstructions such as dirt, leaves, twigs, etc. will reduce your system’s output as it does not allow the sunlight through the panel, making your system lose efficiency. The difference between a dirty panel and a clean panel is that output can decrease by 5%. Heavy rain can assist in cleaning the panels which will maximise its output.

NOTE: Please do not try and clean your panels yourself, but rather get them cleaned professionally every few years.

When panels are being cleaned there should only be water being used, and no abrasive tools. If you live in a typically polluted area or a high traffic area, you may require cleaning once a year.

Q: Micro inverters vs. string inverters
A:

For situations where there is shading over the panels, or where the panels are required to face different directions, micro inverters will be your best option. However, this is the more costly option.

Conversely, string inverters will be more likely the better option in situations where shade is not an issue and all panels can be installed in the same direction on the same roof surface.

Traditionally, strings of panels would fail to work where there was shade, as if one panel did not work, it would damage the output of the rest of the panels. With bypass diode in higher quality panels, individual cells that are negatively effected will no longer affect the overall output of the system.

Q: What is the amount of solar systems that have been installed in Australia?
A:

* Data provided by the Clean Energy Council & Solar Business Services 2013.

Over the next 15 years there is estimated to be a further 50% of all homes having had installed a solar panel, with there being 1.5 million solar systems installed by 2016.

Q: How is delamination in a solar panel caused?
A:

Delamination is caused by a separation in the plastics on the back of the panel, to the glass on the front of the panel. This can cause corrosion and a failure in the solar panel to function, as it allows for air and moisture to enter the panel.

Ways to avoid delamination:

  1.   Use high quality products (ie. Inferior plastics will cause delamination)
  2.   Ensure the thermal properties of the plastics are correctly understood so it melts exactly as it should
  3.   Ensure both the plastics and the glass are kept clean
  4.   Check the laminating machine is correctly regulated for any pressure and temperature
  5.   Look out for bubbles or imperfections on the plastic to detect delamination
Q: How much extra energy do micro-inverters produce?
A:

There are a number of factors which determine the extra energy produced by micro-invertors, including the system design, the specific issues of the site/ roof, and the actual solar module efficiency. In comparison to string inverters, micro inverters are said to increase yield by 25% in heavily shaded areas, but in most cases yield would be 5-10% for areas with no shading.

Q: What do I do if I am getting low output from my system?
A:

Some reasons as to why your system is producing low output could be due to: a defected inverter; build up of dirt on the panels (ie. Leaves, bird droppings, dust, etc); the panels were not installed on the correct angle to maximise efficiency; and there may be a lot of shade during the daytime.

For all the above situations, and potential other cases, it is best to call the original installer to organise for them to check your system.

Q: What is a solar power system?
A:

Solar power systems are panels that are placed on the roofs of houses or buildings to help convert Direct Current (DC) energy to Alternate Current (AC) energy, helping to convert the sunlights energy into the electricity used in everyday households.

A system is comprised of multiple photovoltaic (PV) panels, an inverter (power converter) and a rack system which holds the panels together. The panels should face either the East, North or West and should be tilted in order to obtain the maximum amount of sunlight. The conversion process within the panels and requires no movement.

Solar panels differ from solar hot water systems in that the heat from the sun creates hot water for the household.

 

Q: What will solar power look like in the future?
A:

With the decrease in solar panel costs by 20% as the volume of production increases, the future of solar power looks bright with the industry continuing to grow and costs continually reducing. There has also been a steady increase in the efficiency and reliability of solar systems. Additionally, the distribution model will change with the implementation of electricity storage solutions in the next couple of years. If this continues down the same trajectory, the future of solar energy will likely become the cheapest form of energy.

Q: Micro-inverter V. string inverter V. central inverter
A:

Micro-inverters convert solar panel power from DC electricity to 240V AC electricity whilst being attached to each individual solar panel. These are best suited for systems that require installations in differing directions/ roofs, or for roofs that are predominately shaded, as if one panel is affected, it will not impact upon the rest of the system. Micro-inverters are the more pricier option as instead of installing one central inverter, each panel requires its own. However, there are greater risks of inverters failing as there are more inverters that can stop working.

String inverters are connected to a ‘string’ of solar panels, whilst converting DC power into AC power for the entire system. String inverters are usually located in a sheltered location between the solar array and the switchboard. These are the most common inverters used in residential and small to medium commercial systems in Australia.

Central inverters are high capacity inverters typically designed for large commercial or utility sized systems. These are used to handle greater power and offer economies of scale. These are generally not used for residential systems.

Q: What are the applicable Australian Standards to the installation of solar power systems?
A:

The Australian Standards for the installation of solar systems are set in place to ensure that installers follow the specified rules and regulations. Some standards which apply are:

  1. AS/NZS 5033 Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays
  2. AS/NZS 3000 Electrical Wiring Rules
  3. AS 1768 Lightning Protection
  4. AS/NZS 1170.2 Wind Loads

5. AS47777 Grid Connections of Energy Systems via Inverters

 

Q: What will happen to my system in the case of a blackout?
A:

In the case of a blackout, any system that is connected to the grid will turn off automatically and cease power. This is a requirement by law to ensure the safety of those working on the power lines do not get electrocuted. When the grid’s connection is back, the system will reboot automatically.

If your system is run on batteries, the battery will be able to power the site until the grid’s power reboots, or until the battery runs out of power.

Q: Why choosing a good brand of solar panel is important?
A:

The most important part of any solar system is the quality, as any high quality system will be able to endure any weather constraints and extremes, ensuring a long lasting system. Any cheaper brand with poorer quality will be unlikely to withstand all weather conditions, and will most likely collapse.

Q: How do I clean my panels?
A:

Having clean panes will enable for your system to operate at its greatest capacity. Any dirt or nature which may cover the panel will ultimately cause for the systems efficiency to drop. A dirty panel is estimated to lose 5% efficiency when compares to a clean panel. As such, if you live in a relatively dusty area, your panel may require cleaning every few years. Unless however your area receives enough rainfall that can enable for you panel to be self-cleaned.  

We do not recommend clients to clean their roofs themselves, as a qualified tradesman should clean it for you.

When purchasing your system we advise you to ask for follow up visits after the installation in years to come to check up on your systems maintenance and cleaning.

A few things you should consider when getting your panels cleaned:

  1. Make sure no abrasive cleaning products are being used that may scratch the glass
  2. Only soft cleaning utensils with a small amount of biodegradable soap should be used, if the panels are regularly cleaned, water on its own should suffice
  3. Advise your tradesman that it will get slippery once they begin the washing process
  4. For more than two storey houses please ensure a scaffold or a harness is being used
  5. Make sure your panels are not being washed on hot days as the change in temperature when cold water is used may shock the glass
  6. Ensure that no high pressure washing equipment is used as it may cause leakages

7. Keep safety a priority!

 

Q: Which system is beneficial for me?
A:

A range of factors which help determine the benefits of a solar power system include house size, number of household appliances, lifestyle, number of home occupiers, electricity use, pool pump use, and air conditioning use.

The most efficient use of solar power is to use the generated electricity then and there. This can be achieved through the use of timers which can sequence household appliances to perform their tasks back to back, maximising the generated solar power. For example, instead of turning on the dishwasher at night, turn it on in the morning so that it can be powered by your solar system.

Q: Will my system require maintenance?
A:

Generally, solar systems should be maintenance free. When a system is installed at an angle of at least 10 degrees, rainfall should be able to self clean the system, therefore requiring little to no maintenance. However, it is a good idea to keep your system checked and cleaned every 1-2 years by a professional.

Q: Will string inverters be replaced by micro inverters?
A:

Whilst micro inverters are becoming increasingly more popular, it is likely that both inverters will continue to be used as each work better in different situations.

Q: How does the system’s output vary if the panels do not face North?
A:

For the utmost output, panels should face True North on a 23-30 degree tilted roof. However, this may not always be possible, and the next best available roof space is North West, West or East.

Both Australia and New Zealand have good sunshine hours, so when the panels are not placed in the perfect position, the loss of output is not that great. For example, instead of 100% of efficiency on a North facing roof in Sydney, if the roof is 15 degrees on a North West angle you will still receive 97.1% efficiency.

 

Q: What are the cost of solar panels?
A:

With the differing government incentive schemes, increase in supply through growing manufacturers, diversity in the output of panels, and types of inverters and installation companies on the market; there are a range of factors which assist in the changing of solar panel costs.

Solar systems are long term investments, with the ability to live up to at least 25 years. So it is essential that you are informed about your investments by ensuring you are getting the greatest quality for the greatest possible price.

The difference in prices also relate to what type of system you require, whether that be one that works for 5-10 years and then requires an upgrade, or one that can live up to 25 years.

Q: What do I do if there is a problem with my solar system?
A:

A defect may arise in either the installation, the panels themselves or the inverter. Yet typically, 80% of defaults are related to the inverter. That is why we recommend getting a high quality inverter to match your system.

Do not try and fix the issue yourself as it could be hazardous. Get in touch with your original installer.

Q: When to not buy a solar system?
A:

There are some instances where we would advice it is best to NOT install a solar system. These include:

  1. Your roof is made from asbestos
  2. There is no available roof space facing the right way (ie. North, North East, North West, West or East)
  3. If the cost of running the electricity outweighs the investment return (ie. Installing from a distance on farms)
  4. You are unable to use the solar power as it is being generated due to not being home most of the time

5. Your North East or West facing roofs are strongly shaded

Q: Can LG panels be repaired?
A:

Often a complete replacement is recommended as panels are all sealed units and a repair to one panel is not always possible.

Q: The future of solar power
A:

With the decrease in solar panel costs by 20% as the volume of production increases, the future of solar power looks bright with the industry continuing to grow and costs continually reducing. There has also been a steady increase in the efficiency and reliability of solar systems. Additionally, the distribution model will change with the implementation of electricity storage solutions in the next couple of years. If this continues down the same trajectory, the future of solar energy will likely become the cheapest form of energy.

Q: The history between humans and solar panels:
A:

The relationship between humans and using the sun as energy has existed for centuries. Dating back to 7th BC century, humans used glass to magnify the sun and start fires, whilst in 212 BC, Archimedes would use his shield to set fires. The timeline continues with Roman bathhouses (4th century) using windows to heat floors; Anasazi people faced homes towards the sun to keep warm; and the initiation of ‘sun rights’ to protect the suns energy from individual access (6th century).

In 1767 de Saussure, a Swiss scientist created the first solar collector, and in 1816 Robert Stirling patented an engine that was generated by the sun. This saw the discovery of new photo-conductive materials throughout the rest of the 1800’s and the early 1900’s.

Into the 1930’s, Einstein discovered more processes and materials that are used in today’s solar systems, as well as wrote many papers explaining photovoltaic effect.

Bell Laboratory’s developed in 1954 the silicon solar cell which converted 4% of sunlight into usable electricity, which saw a launch in solar powered portable radios. These developments continued to grow with the first solar powered satellite being created in 1959; the largest earth based solar system was installed in 1963; and a decrease in solar costs by 80% in the 1970s.

Today, approximately 40,000,000kW of solar panels are produced each year around the world with around 16% efficiency, with the future showing that the solar industry will only continue to grow.

Q: What is an inverter?
A:

The solar inverter is the most important part of the solar system. The role of the inverter is to convert the Direct Current (DC) power of a photovoltaic (PC) panel into Alternating Current (AC) power (240V AC). This AC power can then be used in homes anyway you would normally use electricity.

The extra electricity that has not been used in the home is then either supplied back into the electrical power lines (the grid) or sent into the home battery storage. Newer models of inverters have an integrated battery management system.

Long lasting solar systems require high quality inverters and as such, low quality inverters have failed in Australian climate.

Q: Will my system help me reduce the amount of green house gas I generate?
A:

By using a solar power system you can avoid the use of Green House Gas (GHG) as you will not emit any Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

The Australian Energy Market Commission recorded that on average Australian homes use approximately 6.1 Tonnes of CO2 a year. In order to reduce the effect of climate change, green house gas emissions need to be mitigated, and as such, using a solar system will assist in doing so.

 

Q: Will my system help me reduce the amount of green house gas I generate?
A:

By using a solar power system you can avoid the use of Green House Gas (GHG) as you will not emit any Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

The Australian Energy Market Commission recorded that on average Australian homes use approximately 6.1 Tonnes of CO2 a year. In order to reduce the effect of climate change, green house gas emissions need to be mitigated, and as such, using a solar system will assist in doing so.

Q: Are LG panels compatible in commercial systems and solar farms?
A:

Many commercial projects have used the perfectly suitable LG solar panels.

Q: How does solar power work?
A:

There are to main forms in which we receive solar energy- heat and light. Some functions of solar power include: photosynthesis (giving plants life), warming homes, heat up water, and most importantly can create electricity.

Electricity is generated through photovoltaic cells which essentially absorb the sun’s light energy and create a flow of electricity.

However, it is important to note that the cells’ performance worsens when the temperature is too hot.

Q: How is solar energy measured?
A:

Your electricity meter will measure how much electricity is consumed and how much the solar system generates. There are National Electricity Rules to ensure metering practices meet their requirements. The measured data by your meter is provided to the market operator (the Australian energy market Operator), and your electricity retailer. This data is then calculated by your electricity retailer to work out solar bonus payments and consumption. The meter measures your consumption in kW/h, in three monthly readings so that it can be stored for billing purposes.

Q: Is a license required to install a solar system?
A:

Yes, you need a certification to install a system and in order to be eligible for government rebates. Both the designer and the installer must be accredited by the Clean Energy Council.

Q: Will home insurance cover my system if it is damaged?
A:

As the system is installed to your roof, many insurance companies will classify it as part of your home, and therefore cover it under your home insurance policy.

Please note that different companies will have different policies, so make sure to ask your insurance company prior to installing your solar system.

Q: Is bright sunshine required for solar systems to work?
A:

Solar panels generate clean electricity by converting it with the sunlight’s energy. More electricity is generated by receiving more sunlight energy. As such, the brighter the sun, the greater output of electricity is generated. Yet, overcast weather can still generate electricity- just at a lesser output than on a bright day. It is not necessarily about the heat of the sun, rather just the brightness.

Q: What are solar panel mounting systems?
A:

Solar systems are installed on roofs using railings, frames, tiles or tin feet. These systems are generally made up of aluminium with stainless steel hardware, with the purpose of accepting a variety of solar modules on a variety of roof types.

Better systems will use high grades of aluminium and stainless steel, which often leads to less weight on the roof, and therefore lower levels of corrosion over time. Moreover, these better systems enable for effective design which makes installation speedier. Most systems have aluminium rails which attach to solar panels with clamps.

When purchasing your system, check that the mounting frame warranties are the same or more than the warranties of the panels and the inverter.

Q: What is the future for solar power?
A:

Moore’s Law was established in the mid 1960’s, and generally explains how solar costs decrease by 20% for each doubling of the volume of manufacturing. Now that solar cells and semiconductors share the same material, that being silicon, both evolution and cost reduction tend to be quite similar.

If costs continue to fall, and demand continues to rise, solar power will become the cheapest source of energy in the next 10-20 years, helping to achieve even further growth.

There are also increases in efficiency, performance and reliability helping to reduce waste and become even more popular. Furthermore, there are also new experiments to create solar power such as through Nano Technology.

Some likely predictions for 2036 include:

  1. Solar costs to be s low as $0.20c/Watt (a quarter of today’s price)
  2. Solar costs to be the lowest of all energy sources standing at $0.05c per kWh
  3. A significant increase in efficiency of solar technologies
  4. Technological advancements allowing for solar to be integrated into other materials (fabrics, paints)

While some examples may not seem possible, many are actually being trialled.

Q: What time and days of the year does a solar system work?
A:

Generally the sun is shining the most between the hours of 11am and 4pm, making it the most effective time for your system to work. Moreover, the sun shines longer in summer days, enabling for it to generate twice the amount of electricity in the Summer seasons in comparison to in Winter.

Q: Why does my bill only have a small solar income?
A:

The meter only measures the surplus electricity that is exported back onto the grid after what your site has used.

Q: An overview of solar today
A:

By the end of 2012, there had been 100,000,000 Watts of solar energy installed around the world (International Energy Agency). This is equivalent to enough power for an entire country (Australia alone runs on 5,000,000 Watts), evidencing the continuous grow of the solar industry.

In most countries, solar electricity tends to be charged at the same, or closest to the price conventional sources. This is known as a ‘grid parity- when the cost of solar and conventional sources match.

Previously there were government incentives to acknowledge the benefits of solar energy. Some benefits for the environment include its low embodied energy, and its mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Q: How badly will shading affect my solar system’s outcome?
A:

The more shade there is covering your system, the less efficient your system’s outcome will be. This is due to the generation of electricity being caused by sunlight, and therefore having more shade will generate less electricity.

Even the slightest shadow or antenna can decrease the performance of your system. This is why it is important to ensure that your site is located in a suitable place (ie. Does not have a lot of tree coverage).

Thanks to technological advancements such as micro-inverters on individual panels, rather than one large string inverter, each panel can be individually managed to ensure maximum output is achieved.

Q: How to maximise the financial return of solar systems:
A:

In order to ensure that your financial return is being maximised, it is essential to check that your system is of the highest possible quality so that it is reliable and efficient for at least 25 years. The solar system should be correctly fitted onto your roof, and sized in accordance to your household electricity usage and consumption. If the solar system is too big for the amount of usage, it will produce too much electricity which will in turn lengthen the payback period and ultimately reduce the rate of return on investment.

Another important step to ensure that our financial return is maximised is to use any power during the day, while the system’s electricity is being generated. The greater the consumption of electricity in the day, the greater the benefit financially of the system. Returns will be maximised if you use up more power in the daylight.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Pre-cooling or pre-heating your home from 3pm onwards so that your air conditioner is primarily supported by the solar power.
  2. Iron clothes during the day.
  3. Items that consume regular electricity should be put on a day cycle.
  4. Turn dishwasher on in the morning rather than at night.
  5. Doing laundry during the day (washing machine and dryer).

The latter examples demonstrate how you can maximise your return by adjusting electricity consumption to daylight.

Q: Is bright sunshine required to make my system work?
A:

Yes, a brighter sun is required to create the convert the sunlight’s energy into everyday household electricity. It is the brightness of the sun which is helpful to create more output, rather than the hotness of the sun.

Q: What are solar panels made of?
A:

Silicon is the main material used to make solar panels. It is a non-metallic chemical element (Si), making up almost 30% of the earth’s crust. Solar cells are made up of crystalline silicon that is cut into a few millimetres thin wafers.

Solar panels are made up of either 60 or 72 solar cells which are electrically interconnected between glass and plastics and then framed. A 60 cell mono-crystalline solar panel produces approximately 250-300 Watts at 38 Volts DC.

A group of solar panels connected together is known as the solar array.  As such, a solar system is a solar array which is connected together by inverters and other equipment.

Q: How will the shading of trees or buildings affect my system’s performance?
A:

Prior to installation it is recommended that your installer undergoes a shading analysis of your property in order to assess if there are any large trees, neighbouring buildings or chimneys which may impact your system’s performance. A professional installer will be able to accurately assess whether or not the shading of your roof will have a significant impact or not on your system’s output, as well as if a micro inverter or a string inverter is better suited.

Due to solar panels generating electricity by converting sunlight into energy, the more shading there is over your panels, the less efficient your system’s output will be.

It is also important to note there are variations in shading as the seasons change (ie. Shadows get longer in winter). Additionally, due to the way that systems connect together, if there is shade on even one panel, the whole system can suffer a loss in output.

For cases where one or two panels are shaded, micro-inverters can assist in ensuring that each individual panel maximises efficiency. Conversely, string inverters can only work for the complete system, and will therefore be limited by one not working panel

Q: The basic functions of solar power inverters
A:

There are four main functions that solar power inverters perform:

  1. Monitoring: Inverters can display and measure information so that you can check on your systems’ performance, and even recognise faults if any occur. When wanting to access the recorded data, you can look at the inverter’s display screens, applications online or on smartphones, monitors and more.
  2. Power maximisation: All solar panels have a ‘maximum power point’, which is the maximum power they can produce under certain circumstances. All inverters have ‘maximum power point trackers’ (MPPT) which are equipped for locating the maximum curve in order to create the utmost energy available.
  3. Conversion: Inverters are able to convert the Direct Current (DC) electricity that is produced by solar panels, into 20V AC electricity which is used in Australia. Therefore the inverter converts the electricity into an alternate usable source of electricity.
  4. Regulation: Inverters can synchronise and regulate the various variables that impact upon the quality of power including sunshine, output and grid conditions, so that power is maximised and quality is within specifications. Furthermore, in the instance of malfunction or other safety requirements, regulation also involves disconnecting and monitoring the invertor and system from the grid if need be.
Q: What sort of panels do I buy?
A:

We recommend Mono Crystalline solar panels due to the below reasons:

  1. Tried and tested for a long time; they have been around since the 1970s and are continually being updated so that they can withstand all conditions, and can reach a 25 year minimum longevity
  2. High efficient technology whereby the solar cells can convert the highest amount of solar energy into electricity
  3. Solid warranty support by diversified manufacturers
  4. Aesthetically pleasing due to their black frame and surface colour

5. Operate efficiently in high temperatures; despite still becoming less efficient as the temperature gets too high, it is still better than the efficiency of other panels

Q: Will a 2kW system produce 2kW of power every hour?
A:

It is rare that a 2kW solar power system will produce 2kW/h of electricity due to considerations such as weather and inverter efficiency. Even good sunlight can create a 10% loss on average. Generally, around 1.7 and 1.8 kW is generated through a 2kW system in sunny conditions, with a quality inverter. Through the implementation of flash tests, we can compare the output of solar modules.

Solar cells can heat up to 40-90 degrees as they are dark in colour. At 40 degrees, in general, solar cells can produce around 5-8% less power then they would at 25 degrees. At 75 degrees, solar cells can lose up to 15% or more. If there are the right conditions, peak power could gain or exceed, as it is not very hot days that produce the best result, but medium temperature days. Therefore, solar output is best used on a clear bright day of moderate temperature. Using high quality backing sheets and sealants is essential in ensuring the longevity of your solar panel. The electricity output generation of a solar cell can therefore be determined through the amount of light and the operating temperature, with Australia’s greater sun irradiation producing higher electricity output compared to Europe.

Additionally, an accumulation of dirt on the panels over time can erode the panel and create a decrease in potential output.

Q: Do solar modules become less efficient each year?
A:

For LG Mono X2 and NeON 2 panels, the efficiency drops by just 0.6% per year, with the maximum efficiency loss being 16.4% over 25 years. Over the years, all solar modules do become less efficient.

Q: What safety features are built into an electric solar system?
A:

Most modern solar systems have safety features in place, such as the requirement that there be cut off switches and circuit breakers on the roof beside the panel, next to the meter board and the inverter (differs according to each State). The inverters also have their own safety features.

Q: What will happen to my system in the event of a power outage in the area?
A:

By law, in the event of a power outage, all solar systems that are connected to the grid must turn off. This regulation is in place in order to ensure the safety of linesman that are repairing the wires, and negate any opportunity for electrocution or hazard. Your system will turn on automatically in daylight then the power returns to the grid.

If you have a battery system, then some household appliances such as your fridge may still run, depending on the wiring. In years to come, smaller size storage systems for energy will be available, as many households are interested in storing their generated energy for rainy days or night-time, rather than to export it back onto the grid.

Q: Will I need a new electricity meter after my solar system has been installed?
A:

Yes, you will need a bi-directional meter that can import and export electricity so that it can facilitate the solar power that enters the grid.

However, it is important to note that if you have a three phase power home you will require a special poly bi-directional meter. This is to ensure that the solar will be available to all phases of your home and you do not miss out on maximising your generated solar electricity, as if you have a three phase home, and the incorrect meter, the system’s benefits will only go to one phase, whilst the rest will be exported rather than used for the rest of your home. 

Q: Are the silver lines in a panel important in determining its quality?
A:

The silver lines you seen in a panel are a tin coated copper, flat, conductive ribbon which connect the solar cells within the panels.

In order to acknowledge the quality of the panel, quality manufacturers should know how to connect the solar cell to the ribbon in a way that maximises conductivity without creating stress on the solar cell. Cheaper panels tend to be made manually causing for variations in the consistency. Conversely, automated and manufactured panels are more uniform in consistency.

If the panel is of a poor quality, there can be micro cracking in the solar cells caused by thermal expansion and stress, or even a breakage. The worst possible situation is where a poor connection sees an art or damage to the panels due to it opening and closing with thermal movement.

Therefore, when attempting to assess a solar panel, you should observe the alignment, size, quantity and neatness of the interconnectors.

Q: How and where are the mounting rails attached to my roof?
A:

On metal roofs, the mounting rails are typically connected to the battens of roofs with roofing screws, straight through the metal, or clamped to standing seam metal roofs.

Tile roofs however, clamps and aluminium rails are used with stainless steel or galvanised hooks which are connected by long timber screws to rafters which are hooked to the front edge of underneath the tile.

There are different types and methods for tile roofs, whether that be going around the tile or going through the tile to attach the rafters, as well as ensuring that the hooks match your tile type.

If you have a poor quality system, you will find that it will rarely fit well which will result in failure to seal the tiles properly. This becomes especially important for tin roofs as it may cause a galvanic reaction if insulated materials are below the L shaped aluminium feet.

Q: How will a boom erupt in solar systems in the future?
A:

A few predictions for the future include:

  1. The electric car taking over from fossil fuel vehicles as fossil fuels become more expensive which will in turn create a greater demand for cheap power, resulting in greater demand for solar systems
  2. Systems will not be connected to the grid anymore, and instead will be charged with batteries and/ or directly by the EV

3. Batteries will become cheaper which will accelerate demand for solar systems

Q: How to determine whether you have a good quality inverter or not?
A:

When determining as to whether or not you have a good quality inverter, you should look at the manufacturer. It is important to make sure that the manufacturer of your inverter is one of the 2 or 3 top leading manufacturers, as then you can be assured that they have the required expertise, skills, knowledge, regulations and warranties.

Additionally, take a look at the materials used and ask yourself if they are of a high quality. A high quality inverter should be able to resist insects and all weather conditions, as well as have a reliable set of features.

Generally, it is good to believe that you get what you pay for, so if you are willing to spend, then typically you should be purchasing a good quality invertor.

The performance of inverters is measured through conversion efficiency, its features, and its ability to create output in a range of conditions. To learn more, it is recommended that you read the inverter datasheets and ask for advice.

Q: The future for commercial solar in Australia
A:

Commercial solar is expected to increase largely in the upcoming years, as financial returns are more attractive and businesses are made more aware of the benefits.

Q: What happens in cloudy weather/ at night?
A:

When there is no direct sunlight (eg. Cloudy weather or at night-time), your system will generally not be able to generate sufficient power for your household. During these times your power will be transferred automatically from the grid. In some cases there may be available output on cloudy days, however none at night.

Q: What are the Australian standards on solar panels?
A:

All solar panels and inverters must comply with the Australian Standards in order to be eligible as an approved product. If the product fails to live up to the required standards or is installed by someone who is not certified with Clean Energy Council, then the system will not be allowed to connect to the grid, and therefore will not be eligible for Government rebates. However, it is important to note that despite being recognised under Clean Energy Council, the product may still not be of a top quality.

The difference between quality and cheap solar panels are:

  1. Weight
  2. Chemical stability of seals and sealants
  3. The backing sheet’s UV resistance
  4. Wafer and solder quality
  5. Plus and junction boxes quality
  6. The frame’s corrosion protection
  7. Efficiency and output
  8. Warranty
  9. Input materials
  10. Testing
Q: What is Potential Induced Degradation (PID)?
A:

Potential Induced Degradation (PID) is an undesirable impact on some solar modules. PID can be caused by heat, humidity, voltage; all three of which modules are exposed to during their life. However, not all, or even majority, of solar modules will experience PID.

PID may occur when the module’s voltage potential and ion mobility within the module between the semiconductor material and other elements of the module cause the module’s power output capacity to collapse. Both the maximum power point of the module and its open circuit voltage will reduce when faced with PID.

PID is caused by the interaction of the solar system and its surrounding installation environment. The install environment cannot be changed, so therefore in order to avoid PID it is easiest to chose a solar panel that has inbuilt PID resistance. Studies have found sodium to be a causing factor of PID, and therefore the choice of glass, encapsulation, and diffusion barriers is important in negating the likelihood of PID. Therefore, in the long term, quality panels with solid diffusion barriers and encapsulation will offer greater protection against PID.

Q: Why is the Back-to-Grid system popular in Australia?
A:

The back-to-grid system (also known as the On Grid Solar System) is popular in Australia due to regular supply of electricity and the extensive network that has developed over the years.

This system involves connecting your household solar system to an existing power grid, where electricity is then imported and exported accordingly. This assists in reducing costs and removing complexity as there are no need for battery components. Inverters are used to convert the produced electricity by solar panels to the required voltage and frequency that makes up the electricity that the grid uses. There are safety systems in place to ensure that the solar system can still work if the grid shuts down. This is why a high quality inverter is essential.

Q: Can solar power be generated and used for other applications?
A:

Solar electricity is meant to be used in the same way that conventional electricity is as supplied by the grid, being used for running homes, businesses and for manufacturing.

For recreation, solar power is being increasingly used for:

  1. Security systems
  2. Billboard lighting
  3. Isolated telecommunication receiver stations
  4. Street lighting
  5. Calculators and watches
  6. Laptop computes
  7. Mobile phones
  8. Camping, boating and caravanning

9. Household appliances

Q: How can I monitor solar generation and home energy consumption?
A:

There are now monitoring devices which can either monitor individual circuits or power points within your home, helping you maintain your system and reduce your consumption.

Q: What is a grid-connected solar power system?
A:

Australian suburban homes are connected to the power lines, also known as the electricity grid. Our electricity system uses alternating current electricity and 240V, however, solar panel generated electricity is direct current. This means that solar systems connected to the grid use a central invertor or micro inverters to transform the direct current electricity into alternating current electricity that is suitable for the everyday household.

Households that have a grid connector system will consume the solar electricity first, and then if more is required than is created at that time, the rest of the household’s electricity needed will be sourced from the grid.

Q: Do commercial systems and solar farms use LG panels?
A:

Many large commercial projects in Australia and across the globe have used LG panels as they are perfectly suited for solar projects.

Q: What are the electricity rates and tariffs?
A:

There is a Flat Rate for each kW per hour used which is the same price 24/7, and there is a Time of Use rate (TOU) that varies costs at different times of the day. TOU rates usually have a high peak, an off peak and shoulder peak, where night is generally off peak, daytime until early afternoon is shoulder peak, and peak from middle afternoon to evening. The charges can go up to 50c per kW per hour in some areas. Generally, the rates of the two are very similar in the end. Some retailers may only offer one option, however if you are offered both, it is advantageous to calculate you use more electricity during certain times of the day, and if one tariff is better off.

For example, if you are able to offset your own electricity use through a solar system and batteries, the TOU rate may be better suited, whereas if you only use electricity after work and into the night, the Flat rate may be better.

Your solar provider should be of assistance when deciding what tariff option will produce the best outcome for you in accordance to your electricity consumption.

Q: What is solar power/ solar energy?
A:

The heat and light that the sun produces is what we call solar energy. This energy is then converted into electricity that households and businesses can use, which is known as solar power. This conversion process is achieved by Photovoltaic (PV) which essentially is broken down into ‘photo’, meaning ‘light’, and ‘volt’, relating to the unit of measurement used for electric potential.

PV cells, also known as solar cells, are used in solar systems to create electricity from sunlight, meaning that only daylight is required in order to generate electricity. Generally they are made up of silicon but there are other compound semiconductors that can be used. Solar systems are able to renew themselves by utilising a source of energy, as well as not making sounds, and most importantly being environmentally friendly by creating zero pollution and waste!

Q: Do mounting systems cause damage to roofs?
A:

If installed currently, mounting systems should not cause damage to the roof. The brackets are spaced out so that the weight of the solar system is spread across a large section of roof area.

The most common complaint is that the roof tiles were damaged during installation or there was poor quality mounting systems that were fitted which resultantly lead to water access and therefore a destruction to the home.

It is important that the roof mounting is cleaned, in particular, when the rails have been cut on the roof, holes have been drilled or tiles have been ground to fit hooks. Your installer should assure you that there will be no foreign particles (ie. Aluminium offcuts) entering your rainwater system and that no corrosion will occur due to foreign particles being left on your roof.

Q: Is solar more expensive than conventional energy?
A:

In Australia, there exists a ‘grid parity’ which occurs when the cost of solar matches conventional energy costs. This is happening in many areas, especially areas with high electricity costs.

With the recent increase in electricity prices and the simultaneous decrease in solar system costs enables for solar systems to be paid off in 5-7 years, with a high quality system being able to live up to 25 years (notwithstanding replacements of inverters over time).

Moreover, the help of government subsidies have helped make solar systems more affordable. As well as the technological improvements and economies of scale enabling for production costs to reduce.

Q: What is the difference between solar hot water and solar electricity?
A:

Both solar hot water and solar electricity use sunlight as their energy source, as well as both using solar panels.

The difference is that one technology will generate hot water by using the two foreground panels, whilst the other will generate renewable electricity, by using the six background panels.

Q: Can any roof in any direction hold a solar PV?
A:

Most roofs can hold a solar PV, unless they are southern facing or generally shaded. This is due to Australia seeing the sun rise from the East, and the sun set in the West, with the sun sitting in the North during the middle of the day.

When deciding where to locate your system, it is important to take into consideration your own electricity consumption, especially due to Australia having Net Metering systems. For example, a household that generally uses most of their electricity in the morning should mount their system on the East of their roof. Conversely, if you have a 4 or 5 KW system, you can get one solar module string on one side, and another string of panels on another direction, enabling for a whole day of solar power to be supplied.

Whilst the North side will produce between 5%-15% more electricity than the eastern or western roofs, the time you most often use the electricity is an important consideration where deciding the placement of your panels.

Q: Is solar energy the more expensive energy option?
A:

When solar electricity becomes the same price as conventional energy, this is known as a ‘grid parity’. With solar electricity becoming cheaper due to technological improvements and economies of scale, as well as the subsequent rise in electricity bills, a ‘grid parity’ is almost apparent in some areas of Australia, with others having already met this goal. This has enabled most households to pay off their solar systems in 5 to 7 years, with quality panels being able to generate power for at least 25 years.

The government has shown recognition towards the importance of solar systems in reducing the use of fossil fuels, by in the past, providing households with rebates and other means of financial support. Government incentives have slowed down due to the solar industry becoming more stable.

Q: What are the Australian Standards in the solar field?
A:

The Australian Standards regulate the solar industry in Australia and its installation and maintenance.

Quality solar installation companies follow the below standards:

PV & Inverter Standards

  •         AS/NZS 5033:2005, Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays.
  •         AS 4777 Inverters
  •         AS 1170.2 Wind loadings.

Grid Connected Solar Electric Systems

  •         AS/NZS 3000:2007, Wiring Rules.
  •         AS/NZS1768:2007, Lightning Protection

Standalone Solar Power Systems

  •         AS/NZS 4509:2009, Standalone Power systems, Part 1: Safety & installation.
  •         AS 4086.2:1997, Secondary batteries for use with standalone power systems, Part 2: Installation & maintenance, wind system. AS/NZS 3000:2007, Wiring Rules
Q: Can solar panels be damaged by extreme weather conditions?
A:

Whether it be hail, extreme heat, frost or any other extreme weather event: solar panels are made to withstand such conditions for years on end.

However, in the unfortunate event that an extreme hail stone damages your solar system, most home insurance companies should cover it. We recommend checking if your solar system is covered by insurance, and the different rules that each insurance company has in relation to the latter.

Q: Do solar panels work better when it is hotter?
A:

Efficiency of solar panels is based not on temperature but on irradiance (brightness), with all panels being tested at 25 degrees Celsius. Efficiency tends to decline as the temperature rises.

Q: Will there be any electrical protection systems in my installation?
A:

Generally there should be a junction box and an isolator mounted on your roof which holds all the solar array cabling, allowing for disconnection at the roof if need be. These are usually plastic and of a very high quality to ensure there is no degradation which would cause danger. It is important to check the water proofing of the box to guarantee safety and quality.

It is also common that a couple of cables are routed near the inverter (which is typically located near your switchboard).

Q: In future, will there be an application of solar in other fields?
A:

It is likely in the future there will be:

  1. Batteries will store solar energy which will be used in vehicles and in other applications.
  2. Solar power will contribute to the energy generation mix
  3. Solar energy stored in batteries will be released during not so sunny days or at night
  4. Solar technologies that are more efficient and can therefore fit into more locations, be easily integrated, and more tolerant to shade.
  5. Advance developments in solar technologies allowing solar to be integrated into materials such as fabrics and paints

Many of these examples are currently being trialled and tested, with solar panel costs continuing to drop.

Q: Is an inverter important?
A:

The inverter, as well as the PV panel is the core of the solar system. The invertor has the responsibility of determining the quality and safety of the power the system generates, whilst most importantly, optimising the generation under the differing conditions to assist in the maximisation of generated energy.

The most important role of the inverter is its ability to convert DC electricity into AC electricity and feed it back into the home, export it into the grid, or store it in a battery.

The two types of inverters include a transformer-based inverter, and a transformer-less type. The latter are relatively more modern, and generally more efficient and compact. The transformer-based inverter have a higher power consumption when they are not producing power. This is due to them having a ‘maximum power point tracking’ (MPPT) function which enables the inverter to determines the maximum power that the panels can supply. Some inverters have two MPPT’s, which is beneficial for independently splitting output (ie. For panels that are placed on different sides).

Some inverters are better suited for internal use (ie. IP21 rating), whilst others are better for external use (ie. IP65 rating), as identified by their IP ratings. Inverters should not be placed on the North facing roof where it gets too hot, or any other spot that lacks ventilation. Usually the inverter is positioned next to your meter box to prevent from overheating.

Inverters also have ratings for humidity, as the greater the irradiance, the greater the DC voltage coming from the panels. The inverter will therefore have a minimum input voltage and thereby require a certain height or intensity by the sun before the inverter can turn on. We recommend looking for an inverter with a low DC input so that it can operate for as long a possible.

Q: Is the junction box important?
A:

Yes, the junction box is an important feature for your solar panels, serving many functions, including:

  1. Most junction boxes have sealant fillings in order to prevent moisture entering the panels;
  2. Junction boxes seal solar panel rears that home the interconnectors;
  3. They hold exit spots for cables which assists in connecting panels together; and
  4. Junction boxes also home diodes which help protect solar cells

When your solar panel is being assessed it is important to look at the junction box’s fit and seal.

Q: Does shading prevent a good solar outcome?
A:

The more that your solar modules are being covered by shade, the less electricity that your system can generate. This is due to the amount of generated electricity being related to the amount of sunlight the system meets.

Even the slightest antenna or shadow can affect the performance of your system, so depending on where you reside, some homes are less suitable for solar than others due to greater shadowing and unavoidable coverage.

In order to assist in shadowing, the new technology of microinverters instead of one large inverter allows for shading to be reduced by up to 25%, with each individual invertor being able to achieve the maximum output of electricity.

Q: How long will my solar panel last?
A:

Solar panels should last up to 25 years if matched with efficient maintenance.

Q: How to monitor the electric solar power system inside your home?
A:

Monitoring your solar system is essential for understanding what savings in electricity the system is generating for your household. This can be monitored by:

  1. Bluetooth/ Wireless Table Top Monitors: these can display daily profile, current output and energy yield
  2. Connecting via Bluetooth: connect your smartphone to your system
  3. Connecting to a laptop/ computer: enables you to download a specific software which displays all the information about your system
  4. Take daily/monthly notes on its performance
  5. Look at what it is producing at that specific time of day
  6. Look at the amount is has produced that day
  7. Look at how much has been generated since installation
  8. Reading the inverter daily: most inverters have a LCD display which provides information
Q: Does the LG NeON Black perform well in hot weather?
A:

Generally, full black panels would lose performance in hot weather due to attracting more heat. However, the 300W LG NeOn Black is one of Australia’s best performing panels, designed for those prestigious homes with a specific aesthetic. This model has up to 4 times more busbars than a regular panel (this has 12 whilst normal panels have 3 or 4). Additionally, this model also has N type as opposed to P type wafers which perform better in heat. Both the latter factors enable for excellent performance in hot weather conditions, despite its colouring.

To explain how this works, the cells become sticky when heated and then fly to the busbars which are essentially highways that carry the electricity. Due to this model having more busbars than other models, the distance each electron travels is less and therefore the heats effect on the performance of the panel is reduced.

When looking at the datasheet of a panel, the lower the number of their temperature co-efficiency, the greater the performance of the panel in the heat.

Overall, yes, this product was built to withstand hot temperatures.

Q: What are micro cracks?
A:

Micro cracks are the tiny cracks (invisible to the naked eye) which are caused by pressure or stress of the silicon solar cells wafers. These can be caused by poor handling of the cells during assembly (usually from manual installation), or installation damage from vibration if not handled properly.

LG uses Infra-Red scanning cameras to detect micro cracks as the naked eye cannot see them. If it is detected that there is a micro crack, the system should not be sold.

When assessing your system, ensure that the packaging is of a high quality, and was carefully transported.

Q: Who can inspect my solar system for safety?
A:
  1. Your local energy company
  2. An audit from a government nominated agencies
  3. For private inspections: Clean Energy Council or other certified installers
  4. The Clean Energy Council
  5. Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
  6. Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator

NOTE: these departments will only inspect systems that have been installed and manufactured by accredited persons.

Q: What do I need to buy before purchasing a solar panel?
A:

We recommend buying your system locally so that the installers can come onto your site and inspect what needs to be purchased/ done prior to installation of your system. By having installers inspect your property before installation, you can mitigate any added surprise costs that may be acquired had it come to installation and it is found that something is not right or missing. It is also helpful to discuss positioning and usage patterns prior to installation. Another tip is to ask for a written warranty of not only the panels, inverter and mounting frame, but also for the cabling and installation work itself.

Also, try make sure your installer has an in-house qualified electrician who can check your system in the event a problem arises, as well as ensuring that your installers are CEC accredited.

Q: Why do I need a site inspection?
A:

Any installer who will not visit the site before preparing a quote or before installing your solar system, should not be trusted, as it is unlikely that you are their priority, but rather just the amount of sales they can make. If the installer has not seen the property in person it is likely the quote/ installation will not be sufficient or accurate, nor will the end result fit in with your needs (ie. Facing the right direction in accordance to what time you are home so that your solar power is maximised).

Q: How does the inverter become system monitored?
A:

The most convenient method of monitoring your system’s performance is to look at your inverter’s screen. Most inverters should display how much electricity is being generated at any given time. A tip is to regularly monitor your system so you are able to point out if a fault occurs.

Some inverters are not packed with monitoring software, but it is a worthy $300-$400 investment on top of the original cost, as it enables for constant access to the performance of your system from your phone. This saves you from finding out that your system had an error for a while, as it is cheaper to fix any error when it first occurs, rather than later on down the track.

Q: What are the types of solar power technologies?
A:

There are many different types of technologies that have the photovoltaic effect, which are specifically suited for different circumstances (Ie. Efficient technologies if your roof does not hold enough space, or technologies for hotter climates with work better in high temperatures). However, silicon crystalline cells are generally the more popular option due to their ability to be a perfect mix between performance, robustness, low toxicity and cost.

When assembled into a solar panel, monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells, which are both made from silicon, and are the same price, now have the same performance. Monocrystalline cells are made up of a single crystal structure, which is known as a ‘bule’. This structure is more efficient due to the ability of electrons to move around more freely. However, these bules are round in shape and therefore need to be cut down in order to fit neatly in a solar panel. Polycrystalline cells are made with raw silicon that is melted into slabs that are cooled until the crystals align themselves randomly, which are then cut into the required shape to fit them compactly.

Some facts about solar power are:

  1. Solar cells are the most active part of a panel with each cell producing approximately 2.8 Watts
  2. A solar panel is made up of either 60 or 72 solar cells
  3. A solar panel can produce approximately 260W at 24 Volts DC
  4. A group of solar panels connected by a string is known as a solar array

5. A solar system is comprised of a solar array that is connected to electronics and other devices

Q: What are the differences between solar and conventional energy?
A:

These graphs show solar power to cost between $0.15c KWH t0 $0.28c kWh in 2012, and between $0.05c kWh and $0.20c kWh in 2030.

When calculating the cost of your solar system you need to divide the predicted amount of energy generated over the system’s lifespan, by the price of the system. You should also take into consideration additional purchases such as inverters , as well as calculating the degradation of output by 25 years.

Now, when comparing the cost of solar to conventional electricity, you must consider the following factors:

  1. The type of customer (ie. Residential or business)
  2. The type of contract (ie. Flat rate, time of use rate)
  3. When (each year there are changes in electricity rates)
  4. Location (vary by state and sometimes region)
  5. Supplier (different rates and deals for different suppliers)

When looking at residential energy costs, you must note that there are fixed costs and energy costs. Solar energy generally only reduces energy costs.

Ultimately, solar energy is generated at half the cost off conventional electricity. When the costs of the two are the same or similar this is known as a ‘grid parity’.

Q: What type of metering systems are available?
A:

There are two mains steps when connecting a solar system to the grid network.

  1. Negotiating a rate for offset and exported electricity rates with your electricity retailer. Look for a retailer that offers a solar feed-in tariff, and then the electricity network company can assist in specifying what type of meter you require to measure your generation and consumption.
  2. You may need to pay for the added cost of a new solar meter or its installation. Ensure that the solar electricity meter supply and connection is in your solar power system quote.
Q: Insuring the solar system
A:

There are variations in insurance policies for each company, but generally companies will cover solar systems, and usually at no additional cost to your household policy. However, if there are extreme alterations being made in order to fit a system in, this may require extra certifications. If damage does arise to your system, the insurer will require evidence that it is a legible manufacturer and installer that are in accordance to Australian and New Zealand standards. That is why it is essential to ensure that you use a reputable source, to mitigate any future worries.

You should also try get in writing that your system is covered under your insurance policy.

Q: Will a new meter affect my electricity rates?
A:

We recommend checking with your electricity retailer as to whether or not there are any tariff changes that may arise as a result of installing solar, before coming to a decision. Some ways the electricity rates may affect you are:

  1. Switching from an off-peak tariff to a time-of-use tariff (TOU). A TOU tariff charges more for peak periods (generally 3-8pm weekdays).

2. If you move from an off-peak tariff to a TOU tariff it may affect your off-peak loads.

Q: How are solar systems installed on a metal roof?
A:

The use of special L brackets that match the roof’s profile assists in the mounting of the solar panel to steel roofs. Generally no drilling is required, but rather the use of the existing roof screws. It is essential to check that the screws and brackets are sealed properly after installation. Metal roofs are usually easier to install on than tile roofs.

Q: What happens when I sell my house?
A:

You will have to keep the system on the house it was originally installed on if you received a government rebate as per the solar rebate conditions.

When using LG panels, the warranty will stay for the original house and new owners, continuing from the original date of purchase.

Q: Is it recommended to stay on the electricity grid if I get solar?
A:

Systems that are battery operated can be disconnected from the grid, and are in fact known as off grid solar systems. These generally make more sense in remote areas due to the cost of requiring a battery bank being significant.

Since mid 2015, Lithium storage batteries have been on the market with pricing continuously reducing. In future, it is predicted that small storage system for homes will become reasonably priced, enabling for the use of stored solar power during periods of no sun.

In an urban environment there are some preconditions to disconnecting from the grid:

  1. Affordable long term storage of at least a weeks supply of power (approx.. 100-200kW of storage capacity), and 1000-2000kW of storage for winters less sunlight hours
  2. Large capacity, affordably priced solar batteries for night time consumption
  3. High productivity panels which can generate a greater amount of solar power per square metre

4. A large roof space that faces North, North West, North East (and potentially East and West)

Q: What is the difference between kW and kW/h?
A:

1,000 watts make up one kilowatt (kW), which measures power. Solar systems are generally measured according to how many watts are produced per hour. This number is not often achieved realistically due to factors such as dust and clouds which disturb the quality of life.

Your electricity bill is generally billed in kilowatts per hour (kW/h) as a measure of energy. Only on a extremely sunny day or a clear day will your 3.12kW system produce 3.12kW/h.

Q: How much green house gas does my system save?
A:

The amount of green house gas (CO2) that solar systems save is dependant upon the amount of conventional electricity that is replaced, and the variations in each State and generation technology. The only CO2 that is emitted from solar is during manufacturing and transport, but not after installation. But these emissions are offset by the solar panels within 16-18 months of first operating, making it carbon neutral after that time period.

Q: Why are there different sizes and outputs of panels?
A:

Due to the different applications of panels such as small gardens to satellites, there are different sizes required. Residential systems generally have large panels with outputs of 250W-320W.

Q: How are solar systems installed on flat roofs?
A:

Typically, the solar panels are installed on free-standing frames on flat roofs, which are highly effective installations due to their ability to provide tilts and change direction. The used frames and clamps are designed to match the roof, as well as to ensure no water gets in. The panels are usually tilted between 20-25 degrees, as anything tilting less (ie. 5 degrees) tend to collect more dust due to rain not being able to fall off the panel and clean it. This will therefore require more maintenance in future.

Q: Who/what are accredited solar installers/ designers?
A:

Both the designer and the installer of your solar system must be accredited by Clean Energy Council (CEC). These accreditations are set in place in order to ensure that installers and designers have undergone professional training, follow the industry regulations at best practice, adhere to Australian Standards, and update their knowledge and skills.

An accredited installer or designer should provide a solar system design and specification which includes:

  1. Establishing the location of panels (ie. Angles, sunlight, consumption pattern, shading, temperature)
  2. Recommended inverter/ micro-inverter
  3. Recommended size of solar system

4. Establishing your daily average electrical loads by using a load analysis

Q: Do I use ‘gross’ meter or ‘net’ meter?
A:

In most scenarios, a net meter will be best suited. Gross meters measure everything, whereby it considers both your electricity and the electricity that is exported back onto the grid.

When net metering, it considers the solar generated electricity which supplies to your home/ business. The rest that is not used is exported to the grid, which you should receive credit for.

Q: Will a solar system be suitable in a cyclone prone area?
A:

When installing in a cyclone prone area, there should be a cyclone certified mounting system. But yes, some systems (ie. The LG panels) can withstand harsh wind conditions, and as long as there is sunshine, the system will still work.

Q: Can LG solar panels withstand severe storms?
A:

Both NeON2 and LG’s Mono X2 panels are intended to withstand exposure to poor weather conditions due to their extensive testing.

Q: What are the different types of available inverters?
A:
  1. Transformer based solar inverters: The traditional inverter is mainly used to boost the electricity’s voltage to become the same as the grid’s electricity. They tend to make a humming noise and are relatively less efficient, as they are simple in make and heavy in weight.
  2. Transformer-less solar inverters: These inverters dominate both the Australian and New Zealand markets with the greater efficiency (between 95%- 99%) and faster reactions to power changes, as well as them being light in nature.

There are also micro inverters which are relatively new to the market. They are more detailed at monitoring data as each individual panel is monitored as opposed to string inverters which monitor the complete system. Yet this is the more expensive option, and requires more labour intensive work if the system requires fixing as it needs to be fixed at the roof, as opposed to at the switchboard.

Q: How do solar panels loose efficiency?
A:

There are a few phenomenon’s which try to explain how solar systems become less efficient. The first is Potential Induced Degradation (PID), which tests have found that panels which ae vulnerable can lose anywhere between 30%-90% of their rated power depending on the extremity of the case. This is supposedly caused by sodium enrichment which is caused by a leakage between the surface of the solar cell and the glass. The degradation’s intensity can be better or worse depending on the environmental conditions, the module type, and the panel’s position. When there is a drift of ions in the opposite direction from the glass towards the solar cells, there is believed to be a degradation in the solar cell.

Another phenomenon is Light Induced Degradation (LID) which suspects that when solar panels are first exposed to sunlight they degrade. If inside the silicon structure or on the surface layer, there are boron oxygen defects, this degradation will be more evident. This essentially means that there is less power flow due to greater density in material, making it difficult for electrons to move.

This is why starting off with a high quality and efficient panel is important, to ensure that any form of degradation is minimised.

Q: Where in my home is the inverter installed?
A:

Generally inverters are installed near your switchboard so that they are near the electricity meter and fuses. It is advised that inverters are not installed near bedrooms as some buzz or hum (yet transformerless inverters are quiet). Additionally, inverters should be installed in a shaded area as they become less efficient in the heat.

Q: What are Net Metering arrangements?
A:

Net Metering arrangements ensure that the energy you generate is used in your home first, with the excess supply being then exported onto the grid. This allows for a reduction in your electricity bill as you will require less electricity from the grid. As electricity prices increase, so will your bill savings!

Net meters are now the best measure of metering your electricity as it calculates the generation and consumption of your home.

Q: Are solar system electrical circuits safe?
A:

There are a few obligatory measures that must be conducted in regards to ensuring electrical circuits are safe. These must uphold the Australian Standards which require systems being cabled together with appropriate fusing, protection devices, labelling and operation manuals.

Some safety measures include:

  1. Solar array cabling must have “SOLAR DC” labelled on it so that it does not get confused with household wiring.
  2. Cables on the roof must be secured by metal clamps in order to avoid wind damage, rodents, and water damage.
  3. Cable connectors must be matched to its manufacturer/ brand.
  4. All plug connectors on panels need to be the same make

A certified installer should issue a Certificate of Compliance once ensuring all measure are adhered to.

Q: Where does the power that I don’t use go?
A:

Most solar systems today use the Net Meter Scheme, which sends the electricity you generate to the meter box and then into your house. This electricity becomes ‘free’ if you consume it at that point in time. If there is more electricity generated than what is consumed, the excess gets exported back onto the grid for other households to use.

The Net electricity meter will measure the amount that your households exports back onto the grid. You will then receive payment back for this exported electricity, known as the feed-in-tariff. It generally ranges between 11c- 15c per exported kWh. This amount is different for each State, and for each energy company. At night the Net Meter will measure your electricity consumption and adds it to the amount consumed in the day from the grid.

Another measure is the Gross Meter scheme which exports all the generated electricity by your system back to the grid. This is paid for as credit on your electricity bill as a feed-in-tariff. The Gross Meter will measure the output of the system separately to your consumption.

Q: What is the optimum angle for solar panel installation?
A:

Solar panels are most efficient when they are facing North, as Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, and therefore North points directly to the sun. The energy production will be greatly effected by the panels’ orientation and angle.

Whilst panels can be installed on any angle between 10 – 35 degrees, for optimum power generation it is recommended the roof pitch be between 20 - 30 degrees. In order to ensure that rainfall can self clean the roof it is suggested that there be a minimum of 10 degree tilt. If you do have a flat roof however it is possible to install, but regular cleaning will need to be considered as rainfall will be unlikely to reach excess debris.

Q: What are the Australian installation standards?
A:

A few of the Australian installation standards include:

  1. All panel frames need to be electrically bonded to their mounting frame, which is then tied with heavy duty cable (depending on the type of panel and the inverters there can either be negative or positive earthing)
  2. Your solar mounting frame and panel should not be too close to the edge of your roof in order to mitigate the effect of heavy winds.
  3. Try avoid the build of leaves as this can become a nest for rodents which will block air flow beneath the panel, decreasing electricity performance

A quality installer should ensure that your mounting system:

  1. Will not compromise the water proofing ability of your roof;
  2. Together with your solar panels are earthed;
  3. Is mounted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, is suited to your roofs construction and does not compromise your building’s certification;

4. Is no closer than 500mm from the edge of your room

Q: Where should a solar string inverter be installed?
A:

Generally string inverters should be installed near the switchboard, or sometimes on the outside walls. A high quality inverter is water proof, but should not be installed near direct sunlight as heat exposure can damage the inverter’s efficiency.

Q: Where should your inverter be mounted?
A:

The lower the temperature of the inverter, the greater its efficiency. Therefore, it is recommended that inverters be mounted in a cool and ventilated spot, so that output is maximised. As such, try avoid north facing walls as that faces into direct sunlight and well cause the inverter to heat up and loose efficiency. Installing inverters inside garages can be convenient, or in any shaded area.

Q: How to choose the best inverter?
A:

The inverter is responsible for the safety and quality of your solar power and ensuring the maximisation of power, making it an essential piece of equipment for your system.

There are four basic functions of the inverter:

  1. Monitoring: Inverters can display and measure information so that you can check on your systems’ performance, and even recognise faults if any occur. When wanting to access the recorded data, you can look at the inverter’s display screens, applications online or on smartphones, monitors and more.
  2. Power maximisation: All solar panels have a ‘maximum power point’, which is the maximum power they can produce under certain circumstances. All inverters have ‘maximum power point trackers’(MPPT) which are equipped for locating the maximum curve in order to create the utmost energy available.
  3. Conversion: Inverters are able to convert the Direct Current (DC) electricity that is produced by solar panels, into 20V AC electricity which is used in Australia. Therefore the inverter converts the electricity into an alternate usable source of electricity.
  4. Regulation: Inverters can synchronise and regulate the various variables that impact upon the quality of power including sunshine, output and grid conditions, so that power is maximised and quality is within specifications. Furthermore, in the instance of malfunction or other safety requirements, regulation also involves disconnecting and monitoring the invertor and system from the grid if need be.

A few tips to assist you in finding a quality inverter that will have a great life expectancy are:

  1. Look at rules of experience, transparency, size and commitment
  2. Look at construction: high quality materials? Will it keep it out insects? Weather resistant? Has cooling been considered? Simple and effective features?
  3. Generally those that are more expensive will work better than other cheaper options

Moreover, in order to assist in the longevity of your inverter, it is recommended that it be installed in a ventilated area to avoid overheating, as inverters become less efficient in heat. Another note is that some inverters tend to make some noises which could be distracting, so it may be best to avoid placing the inverter near any bedrooms, or on any light walls that could cause vibrations.

Q: How to know if my panel is Clean Energy Council registered?
A:

All Australian solar panels that are sold and installed must be approved and certified by Australian and New Zealand Standards 5033, photovoltaic installations. This standard is legislated in every standard under AS3000. These standards are put in place in order to ensure that all Australian/ New Zealand made solar panels are manufactured according to an acceptable standard of safety.

There is a registered database and website run by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) which lists compliant modules. You are only eligible for a Government rebate if you purchase from a certified CEC product.

Q: How does gross metering work?
A:

The Gross Meters scheme involves the solar generation being connected to the grid instead of your house. This entailed all of your systems generated output to be sent to the grid on a predetermined feed-in-tariff for you. Most states have discontinued this scheme, so it is advised to check with your installer if this system is available/ best suited for you.

Q: Are inverters noisy?
A:

A high quality inverter is generally quiet, whereas a cheaper inverter will likely create a hum or a buzzing sound which could be distracting- especially older models. You can find the noise data under your product sheet.

It is also advised to install the inverter near your switchboard and not near your bedroom or lightweight walls that would cause vibrations.

Q: How does net metering work?
A:

Net meters record how much electricity is generated and consumed which is then accumulated for the billing cycle. This meter system is the best way to measure your energy now that government sponsored feed-in tariff’s have stopped for new customers.

You receive “free” energy essentially, as the electricity you generate and consume in your home will not be paid for. When you generate more than you consume, this excess will be exported to the grid, enabling you to earn a feed-in tariff for this export. Check the policy of your retailers. Therefore, for every kWh you generate and consume in a billing period, you save the retail price per kWh to your retailer.

Q: Are inverters complex devices?
A:

Inverters are complex devices, and it is hard to know if the quality of the inverter will lead to a long life expectancy. A few tips to assist you in finding a quality inverter that will have a great life expectancy are:

  1. Look at rules of experience, transparency, size and commitment
  2. Look at construction: high quality materials? Will it keep it out insects? Weather resistant? Has cooling been considered? Simple and effective features?

3. Generally those that are more expensive will work better than other cheaper options

Q: What will happen to my electricity meter at home?
A:

Check with your solar dealer or electrician as to which meter system should be set in place for you, as you may be required a separate or an integrated meter. Generally with new installations a new meter will be required with a separate installation fee. We advise you to check that your solar system quote includes this process so that you know the installation company is responsible for your meter connection.

Q: What glass is used on LG solar panels?
A:

As of 2013, LG uses a high transmission tempered glass that has an Anti Reflective Coating. This glass increase the light making it easier to reach the solar cell.

Q: Will I require a new meter?
A:

In order to access a feed-in tariff you may require a bi-directional meter to be installed. This meter will measure the imported and exported electricity from your house, and can only be installed by a licensed installer for an additional cost. Solar system quotes should include meter cots either separately or included in the overall, and if not, you should insist it be included.

Q: Are black framed panels more advantageous than normal frames?
A:

Yes, black framed panels are more advantageous than normal frames. For one, they are far more aesthetic for your roof, whilst the coating gives added protection against natural elements. LG panels have 2.2ml of extra coating and protection, as opposed to other panels only having 1mm of coating.

Q: How do different panel sizes affect my system?
A:

The outcome of your system will not be affected by the size of your panel. A system can be made up of any size panels and still have the same outcome. However, different types of roofs may require a different wattage of panels.

Officially Rated #1 in Victoria for Customer Satisfaction by
Solar Quotes since 2009

Donvale, VIC

G-Store Solar have done a great job. Adam provided excellent advice during the quotation phase and his planning (positioning and orientation of arrays, prediction of generation) was very detailed. They use high quality products that do cost a bit more. We went with a 15.4 kW system consisting of 44 x...

Michael

Great prices and great service. They exceeded my expectations when Dale took photos of the unit and emailed them to me so I could claim my cashback. All communications were very quick. Glad to see an Australian business that understands how the online shopping experience should operate!!

John
Maribyrnong, VIC

We came across G-Store Solar through SolarQuotes and it was the fourth company we chose to obtain a quote for our residential home solar system. G-Store came highly recommended on SolarQuotes and in addition to being a Clean Energy Council approved solar retailer, G-Store Solar are also a LG Platinum...

Katie

Speak with one of our Solar Specialists on 1300 302 315

...or visit us at one of our Victorian offices in Melbourne or Gippsland

Close

Contact Us

Please add your details to the below form and one of our team members will get back to you.

* note, we only service Victoria