Frequently Asked Questions

(STEP 1 SOLAR POWER REPORT) How do I know if a system will fit on my roof?

Nearmaps Solar Power Report

Nearmaps

1) An Ariel picture showing the virtual panels in scale on the roof.

2) The efficiency of the system.

3) Maximum estimated savings.

EXAMPLE   NEARMAPS REPORT

How much money does solar save me?

Your solar power system will run at maximum power for a total of 4.2 hours on average each day over the year for the Gold Coast and surrounding areas. This includes any losses that may incur. If the system is facing directly east or west then you will get 90% of these figures. To help alleviate any confusion a solar power system facing north runs for around 8 hours each day but starts slowing and increases each minute until the suns over head then slowly decreases. however to calculate your total power produced daily multiply the total panel kw by 4.2 hours of sunlight.

6kw system x 4.2 hours of sunlight = 25kw per day

Now if you use all the power you will get your maximum savings. e.g. 25kw per day x 0.28c = $7 per day ($2555 p/yr.)

If you use Zero power during that day and send it all back the grid you will get your minimum savings. e.g. 25kw x 0.10c = $2.50 per day ($912.50 p/yr.)

So you know that you will always get between $2555 p/yr and $912 p/yr for a 6kw system facing North.

On average a 6kw solar system customer on the Gold Coast will usually save around $1800 to $2000 per year.

Who Can I choose for my Energy Retailer and how much do they pay for solar?

If your looking for a solar panels system for a Gold Coast home or business that is supplied by Energex your limited to a 5kw inverter for imitate approval. You could apply for a 10kw inverter that can take up to 13.3kw of panels but there will be up to a 60 day wait time, although applications usually only take 2-3 weeks.

You can choose your own energy retailer, here’s a list of some popular companies.

Origin 0.06c 132 463

AGL  0.08c 131 245

Red Energy 0.09c 131 806

Click Energy 0.10c  1800 775 929

Up to a 10kw inverter Urth Energy 0.10c  1300 698 784  

(Supreme Power recommends you confirm these prices with each company before you decide to use them as your new retailer.)

Will I still have power during a black out if I'm a solar customer

On-Grid System – No, for safety reasons solar generation systems are configured so that they automatically shut down so that electricity isn’t been fed back into the grid during repairs. This would obviously make it dangerous for the electricians repairing the network. Hybrid system – Yes, Hybrid feed excess power into battery’s not into the Grid so you would still be able to draw power during a blackout. Off-Grid System – Yes, Off grid Systems are an entire independent source of power that is not affected by the electricity grid.

Is it worth going completely off grid using batteries rather than being connected to the mains?

It is not usually financially viable for most customers to disconnect from the electricity grid. The reason for this is simply cost. Batteries can cost around $2000 to $3000 per/kw meaning that in order to run a property Off-Grid can end up costing around 2 to 3 times more for the same volume of power that you would get for an On-Grid solar system. The only time off grid systems become financially viable is when a rural property isn’t currently connected to mains power and the quote from the electricity supplier to connect that property to the grid is substantially more than purchasing an Off-Grid solar PV system.

Why should I get Solar Power?

The 3 biggest reasons people buy solar

  1. To safe guard yourself from rising costs of electricity.
  2. To help reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.
  3. To invest in renewable energy by capitalizing on government incentives.
How do solar panels work?

Solar panels contain a substance called crystalline in the form of thin wafers. Crystalline naturally creates a small electrical current when exposed to Ultra Violet light that’s radiated from our sun. Each cell on the panel, (usually there’s 60 cells) is connected by a thin conductive ribbon that collects this created electrical current. This then is conducted through a cable.

How Many Volts are solar panels?

Solar Panels that are sold in the domestic and commercial markets in Australia are usually 24volts. Smaller more portable panels used for camper-vans, caravans and motor-homes are usually 12 volts. Mini pocket size panels are also available for portable devices such as IPhone and IPad and other small portable hand held devices. These mini panels are usually 3, 6, or 9 volts.

Do solar panels use only light from the sun or do they need heat as well?

Solar panels only need light to produce electricity providing the panels are  working within the recommended coefficient temperature ranges.Solar panels only require heat from the sun to maintain operating temperature. This range is roughly around -35 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius. If the solar panel is exposed to sunlight outside these temperatures then the efficiency of the panel seriously diminishes.

What does the difference between gross feed and net feed solar?

There are three different configurations that your solar power system can physically be set up as by the electrician who is installing your solar system. Two of them are On-Grid setups and the other is an Off-Grid setup. The two On-Grid setups are called:

Gross-Feed Net-Feed

Gross feed sends all the electricity back to the electricity grid with none being used in the house. Net feed allows the power generated by the solar system to be used in the property first then sends the excess back to the grid where you usually receive a credit.   Finally Off-grid feeds power into battery’s to then be used at a later date.

What happens if my solar panels receive shade?

Keep Solar panels out of shade as much as possible. Remember each the string or bank of solar panels have to have enough power to keep the inverter running or the inverter will not run. There are ways around this. Option 1 get an inverter with 2 trackers, this will split your system into 2 independent banks of panels so if one cuts other the other will still keep on working. Option 2 even better is to get 2 x smaller inverts with dual trackers this can then split the system into quad banks. Twice as good this will split the whole system into 4 generation banks. Finally Option 3 get micro Inverters, this will allow every single panel exposed to sunlight to run at its maximum capability entirely independent of every other panel.

What does an inverter do?

An inverter does 3 main jobs. 1) It converts DC power into AC power. 2) It increases the voltage from 24 volts to 240 volts so that it is compatible with the mains power and it measures. 3) It also displays the statistics of the converted power. Some inverters have more options and settings than others, Also some inverters are wireless and can send this information to software downloaded on your computer so that it can be monitored.

Can I add more solar panels to my system at a later date?

Your inverter dictates the amount of panels that can be installed into that specific inverter. The maximum size system you can have is shown on the inverters data sheet as “Maximum Nominal DC Input” . For example if you have a 2kw inverter then the input might be no more than approximately 2200watts but each inverter is different. Note the name of the inverter doesn’t always represent the “Maximum Nominal DC Input”. Your data sheet for your type and size of inverter must be referred to before looking to upgrade your system.

How much does my electricity company pay for electricity that is sent back to the grid in Queensland?

Electricity that is sent back to the grid is called ‘exported electricity’. This is paid in the form of a credit off your next bill. The amount of credit you get in from your electricity retailer is: Ergon 0.06c Origin 0.06c AGL 0.08c Red Energy 0.09c Click Energy 0.10c Urth Energy 0.10c up to 10kw inverter. Rates are subject to change. Call your energy retailer and confirm.

Is solar worth it now that the 0.44c is gone in QLD?

Even though the lucrative Payback tariff has finished solar power is still definitely worth it. The technique used to maximize the potential savings for Solar PV System is to now use a high percentage of the electricity produced during the day saving you around $0.24c inc GST per kilowatt in Urban QLD, $0.29c in Urban NSW or whatever you get charged from your electricity company. This is why it’s important to not produce much more power than you will use during the day or hours of production.

What is the life expectancy and warranty for Solar Panels in Australia?

The life expectancy of solar pv is around 35 years. All certified panels sold in Australia and many other countries around the world come with a 25 year power output warranty. This warranty guarantees the panels to produce a minimum of 90% of their total wattage expectancy for the first 10 years and 80% of their total wattage expectancy for 25 years. some warranties are higher

Electricity Credits or Cash?

There seems to be a little confusion in this area with many customers. Many are asking – Is the price for exported electricity paid in cash or credits on your electricity bill? Well, if you have a bill of $500, and your solar credit is $600, this would mean your’d certainly be $100 in credit. As soon as the value of Credits supersedes the cost of your bill, it becomes cash. Also, if at the end of the qtr. if your bill is in credit, then that’s your money and can be credited back to your bank account. If however, you sign a contract with an electricity retailer that stipulates any credit accumulated up and above your bill can be retained by your electricity retailer then you will immediately forfeit the right to claim these credits back as cash. Most Electricity retailers will not proactively pay this money out each qtr. but prefer too after the end of the financial year (31st June). A customer would usually have to contact their electricity retailer to get them to reimburse this money early. Just be careful the electricity retailer doesn’t have anything in their terms and conditions preventing you from getting these funds.

How can I tell if the difference between good or poor quality racking?

Racking if usually made from aluminum so that doesn’t rust however it could corrode if it’s not been iodized, this prevents the aluminum from corrosion and gives the racking a longer life. Ensure that the bolts are also made from marine grade aluminum. Stainless steel comes in several different grades 304, 308 and 316. 316 is the only grade that has all the impurities removed to prevent rusting, any cheaper grade of stainless steel can rust over time.

How much credit will my system generate?

5kw system x 4.2 hours sunlight (21kw per day)

If you use all of the power 21kw x 0.28c = $5.88 per day

or

If you send it back to the Grid with Origin 21kw x 0.06c = $1.26 per day

It all depends on how much power you use during the day and how much you use at night.

If you use a majority during the day you will get more savings.

City

Hours of sunlight per day

Adelaide

4.2 hrs.

Alice Springs

5.0 hrs.

Brisbane

4.2 hrs.

Cairns

4.2 hrs.

Canberra

4.3 hrs.

Darwin

4.4 hrs.

Hobart

3.5 hrs.

Melbourne

3.6 hrs.

Perth

4.4 hrs.

Sydney

3.9 hrs.

Step 3) Multiply the size of the system with the amount of sunlight hours you will get. (E.g. 5.0kw x 4.2hrs sunlight = 21kw per day) This means that your solar power system should put out 21kw each day on average over the year. There is an inverter loss but an average inverter draw is calculated into the hours of sunlight you get on average. Step 4) The next stage is to work out how much you will get for your 21kw you generate each day. If you use some of the electricity, you will save what you get charged from your retailer for each kw. Although, if you don’t the power it will go back into the grid for the price you have agreed with your electricity retailer a) Used Electricity b) Exported Electricity In order to work out the next part you need to know the following –

Question

Answer

Example

How much do I get charged for my electricity?

0.23c

How much will I get for my exported electricity?

0.08c

What percentage of solar power will I use?

90%

What percentage of solar power will I export?

10%

Step 5) If I use 90% of the 21kw produced (which is 18.9kw) and send the other 10% or 2.1kw back to the grid then the equation is quite simple. Used Electricity 18.9kw x 0.23c = ($4.35c per day saved) Exported Electricity 2.1kw x 0.08c = (0.17c per day credit) Then by adding how much you save with how much you get as a credit you can work out the total savings. (E.g. Total Return $4.52 each day) This is only relevant as a quick guide to how much you will receive. There are other factors involved such as degradation of the panels and DC cable losses. These aren’t that much of a concern for most customers buying solar power as they are minimal and don’t create much fluctuation reflected in the returns. Nether the less, if you want a more technical accurate calculation to work out how much solar will give you then please see the answer below. This simple equation should reflect within 10% what you will actually save on average each year.

What does yield mean?

Yield measurements gauge the total amount of electricity produced over a given time period.