How should I choose my system size?
Depending on your energy consumption and your current financial situation, Australis Solar can discuss and supply different solar packages which fit your needs and budget.
How can I be sure the system size I have ordered will fit my roof space?
With each enquiry we perform a free aerial measurement of your roof space to provide you with an accurate visual assessment to ensure the system requested will fit comfortably on the roof. Our customers enjoy being able to visualize where their system will be placed before we even get on their roof. This also allows us to identify any shading issues caused by nearby trees or obstructions, which can be rectified before installation.
How do I figure out how much electricity I consume?
On the front right hand side of your Synergy bill you can see a comparison graph. Below, it states your average daily consumption, indicating how many units per day your household consumes. Looking at your average daily usage, we can recommend a system that suits your requirements.
What are the government rebates and how do they work?
Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme
The Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme is still available. Currently, if you feed excess energy back into the grid, you will receive 7.135 cents per kWh. (N.B.: as of September 2014)
Renewable Energy Certificates (STCs)
The government created the RET (renewable energy target) in a commitment to achieve a 20% renewable share of Australia’s electricity supply by 2020. To meet this target, the government introduced the Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) program (N.B.: the scheme was replaced on 1 January 2011) and is still an umbrella term covering both small-scale and large-scale certificates.
Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC)
Small-scale technology certificates (STCs) are created by eligible installations of solar water heaters, air source heat pump water heaters and small generation units (small-scale solar photovoltaic panels, wind and hydroelectricity systems).
Large-scale Generation Certificate (LGC)
Large-scale renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms, and hydroelectric schemes, are entitled to create LGCs.
Renewable energy certificates are a stock or share that is traded on the STC market. Certificates can be created for every 1Mwh of electricity generated by a small-scale renewable generation unit. The price of these certificates fluctuates in line with the sharemarket.
To make things simple, Australis Solar handles all the paperwork for you. We also factor the savings from the STCs directly into our prices.
For more information, visit the website for the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator.
How long does the installation process take?
Once we start with the paperwork, it may take between one to four weeks to have your panels operational. For residential properties, it generally takes around two to three weeks for grid connection approvals to come through. We will work with you to get the system installed as quickly as possible if you have any specific timing requirements.
Do I need to be home for the installation?
Yes, though you aren’t required to be there for the whole installation. Generally you’ll be needed for approximately the first half an hour to allow the installers access to the premises and to confirm the location of the panels and inverter prior to commencement of the works. At the end of the installation, our installers will do a handover with you to show you how the system works and to sign off documents.
Depending on the size of the system and the accessibility of your roof space, installation can take anywhere between three to eight hours. On a standard installation, the installs are generally completed on the same day.
Who will install my solar system?
An Australis Solar team member or selected certified subcontractor will install your system. Our company is a proud Clean Energy Council member and use only accredited CEC installers. Your Solar PV System will be installed by our team of professionally qualified installers and electricians.
For our solar hot water installations, we also use carefully selected and certified subcontractors who have been approved by Australis Solar’s strict quality standards.
We are locals! Australis Solar is a West Australian owned and operated business, based in Perth Western Australia.
Do I need to change my meter?
To sell the unused excess electricity your solar system produces, Synergy requires a digital meter to track the amount of energy your system feeds back into the power grid. If you currently use a digital meter, then the meter can be reprogrammed for a fee of $66. Installing a new digital meter costs between $176 and $268, depending on whether the meter is a single or three phase meter. Synergy also charges a $40 administrative fee and all charges will appear on your next Synergy bill.
Warranty & After-Sales Service
What warranty and after sales service is provided?
Australis Solar is committed to providing the highest quality in material and technical support. We purchase system components from internationally renowned manufacturers, specifically for photovoltaic and solar thermal applications.
All solar panels have a 10-year product warranty and a 25-year output warranty. For inverters, please refer to the specific products page for details about the warranty conditions.
In addition to the product warranties, Australis Solar provides a two-year workmanship guarantee from date of installation. An extended five-year workmanship guarantee from the date of installation is offered if the system is maintained by the recommendations set out in the AS/NZS 5033 standards (maintenance recommendations for PV arrays; which recommends an annual inspection of the wiring integrity, electrical connections and mechanical protection of wiring).
Upon completion of your installation, you will be provided with an installation pack, which includes an owner’s manual, product specification sheets and factory warranties for panels, inverters and railing. It also contains general information on the operation of the solar system, safety instructions, shutdown procedures, maintenance checklist, troubleshooting and numbers for technical assistance.
Australis Solar is committed to providing the best customer support and can be contacted for technical support and service.
How much maintenance is required?
A grid connect system requires little maintenance because there are no moving parts or components. Generally, the solar panels are self-cleaning with rainfall. However, if there is a noticeable amount of dust or debris on the panels, due to long periods without rain, we recommend you to wash them to gain maximum output. Prune trees and bushes that may shade the panels.
The Clean Energy Council, the peak body representing the clean energy sector, has released a recommended maintenance schedule for PV arrays in the AS/NZS 5033 Standards. They recommend an annual inspection of the wiring integrity, electrical connections and mechanical protection of the wiring.
What do you need to clean your photovoltaic panels?
Although most of the panels are very resistant, you should do your best to avoid scratches on the surface. That’s why we recommend to use the following items:
- microfiber cloth or sponge
- squeegee with a plastic blade
- hose (no high pressure)
- non-corrosive cleaning products
- clean water
Before you start: Safety first!
Working at heights can be dangerous. We therefore advise against working on roofs unless you are suitably trained and wear appropriate fall-arrest harnesses. Please follow OH&S recommendations to avoid accidents when cleaning your solar panels. Also please follow the “system shut down procedure” to isolate the power to avoid possible electrical contact.
Otherwise, contact our maintenance services.
What you should avoid using while cleaning solar panels:
We recommend caution with high-pressure water jets. The high pressure could cause water ingress in junction boxes and terminations of the photovoltaic system.
Avoid detergents, especially powders and abrasive cleaning products, which can scratch or make the surface dull.
Even if dirt on the panels is hard to remove, we advise not to use cleaning materials such as steel wool or abrasive cleaning pads. If it’s more than dust covering your panels and you are not sure how to clean, send us an email we will give some tips.
As recommended by (AS/NZS 5033 “Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays”), we also advise that you clean and maintain your panels at least once a year, to guarantee the best possible efficiency. Visit our maintenance services section on the website or contact us for more information.
What are the benefits of solar energy?
- Look forward to a great return on investment. You will see immediate reductions in your power bill and could possibly even eliminate your energy bill completely! If you install a system equal to your current power consumption, you can completely wipe out your power bill and save hundreds of dollars every year.
- Reduce your carbon footprint. Greenhouse gas emissions are, without doubt, a serious issue. Installing a solar energy system is a positive way to help reduce your carbon footprint, whilst feeding clean energy into the grid system for others to use, while being paid through the energy buyback scheme. Plus, installing a solar panel system and becoming a self-sufficient mini-power station is the best way to avoid being hit by rising energy costs.
- Increase your home’s value. While eliminating your power bill and helping make the world a greener place, you’ll also increase your home’s value in the process. With the cost of power rising, installing a solar panel system will help eliminate a large bill, which is a valuable asset and valuation feature when assessing your property value.
Why is my solar system output lower than its rated input?
Your solar system size is rated by the solar PV input (i.e. 10 x 250 watt panels = 2500 watts or 2.5 kW input). The important thing to remember is that this rating of 2.5 kW is the rating under STC (Standard Test Conditions). This means that exactly 1000watts of sunlight hits 1 square meter at exactly the correct angle and at a cell temperature of 25°C in a controlled test environment.
Real world conditions have many variances in sunlight intensity, angle of the sun and cell temperature. In Australia, on a hot day it is possible for a solar panel to reach temperatures of 85°C; this is up to 50°C above the STC. Because all solar panels are made from a semiconductor material, usually silicon, they conduct electricity better the colder they are. Solar panels are derated from 0.3% to 0.5% per degree above 25°C. This means that on a hot day, a 25% derating in power output is possible (85°C – 25°C = 50°C x 0.5% = 25% derating). As well as derating due to temperature, there are also some small cable losses (1-4%), inverter conversion losses (3-5%) and dirt and dust on panel losses (5%).
Australis Solar quotes all customers with conservative output estimates, based on real world conditions, deducting all expected derating losses. We base the estimations on a location specific factor provided in the Clean Energy Council guidelines, who provide derating factors for all Australian cities. The output estimates are stated in kWh or units.
Will I still have power during a black-out?
No. For safety reasons, inverters are designed to shut down when there is a black-out, to prevent any issues for those working on the power lines to restore power. The system will automatically restart when power comes back on.
There are options available to keep power running in a home during black-outs, such as UPS systems with battery and/or diesel/petrol generators as back-up. These systems are generally costly but are rapidly coming down in price.
How does solar hot water save energy?
Electric hot water generally uses about 1/3 of the household power. Changing to an energy efficient solar hot water system will substantially reduce your electricity usage.
Other appliances using a lot of power in a home are air conditioners and electric heaters, swimming pool pumps, spa pumps, old refrigerators and freezers, halogen down-lights and large plasma TVs. Switching to energy efficient options where possible is recommended to save on your power bills.
Phantom loads, such as the little red lights and appliances on standby, all add up to substantial amounts of power as well. Switch them off at the wall where possible.
Change your halogen lighting to an energy efficient alternative, compact fluorescents or LEDs.
Can you install panels anywhere?
You can usually install solar panels wherever the sun shines. The direction the panels face in relation to the sun makes differences in power output. In the southern hemisphere, a northerly direction is best.
The angle in relation to the horizon also needs to be considered, as does the degree of latitude you live in, which equates to the perfect angle for panels. Perth is at 32 degrees latitude, so that’s the best angle to have your panels. Most roofs have an angle close to this, ranging from 15 to 45 degrees.
Will shading the solar panels affect the productivity of the panel?
In order for your solar system to work at full capacity, the solar panels must be free of dirt or shading from trees, shrubs, or any other obstructions. Even slight shading from roof antennas or exhaust fans can cause the panels to not function at their peak.
Will my solar system produce energy on cloudy days and be effective in winter?
Yes, it will, although the amount of energy produced will be less than on days with full sun.
Surprisingly solar PV systems actually work more efficiently in colder conditions. Photovoltaic panels rely on visible light, not heat for their energy production. In Australia, we have ideal conditions for solar in winter, with many sunny but cold days and generally no issues with snow on the panels. Naturally, though, there will be less total production in winter because sunlight hours are shorter and the sun is lower in the horizon.
Does my solar system need to be faced directly north to be fully-functioning?
Not necessarily. Ideally we would install your system on a north-facing roof, but we find that solar systems placed on either east or west-facing roof sections function quite well also, only losing about 5% to 10% of efficiency, depending on the angle of the roof. Anywhere from north-east to north-west is preferred.
How do solar cells work?
Solar cells work by converting visible light into electricity through a process called the photovoltaic effect. Photons in visible light hit the solar cell and are absorbed by the semi-conducting material (which in most cases is silicon), creating an electron hole which another electron must fill. This causes movement in the electrons, thus creating a flow of electricity.
How does a solar grid connect system work?
Solar grid connect systems work by connecting many cells and panels together to reach a desired power output, for example 1.5kw – 6.5kw. This needs to be converted to match the everyday electricity supply, typically 230volts AC. To do this, an inverter is used to filter the power to the correct values so it can be used for day-to-day power needs. Any excess is fed back to your energy supplier and is bought back.