23 Violet Street, Gympie QLD 45708:30am - 5pm Monday - Thursday, 8.30am - 4pm Friday
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23 Violet Street, Gympie QLD 45708:30am - 5pm Monday - Thursday, 8.30am - 4pm Friday

FAQ – Solar Power

I am interested in Solar Power – what should I do?

  • Contact us to arrange an obligation free site inspection and quote – at this stage we will ensure your home is suitable for solar power, discuss your needs and design the appropriate system for you. We will complete all the necessary paperwork to enable your system to be connected to the power grid.

How much power will I get from my system?

  • There are a number of factors that will affect how much electricity a system will produce. The orientation of the panels, where you live in Australia, any shading of your panels and the amount of sunlight on a given day will all affect how much energy the solar PV system produces. You should refer to the product specifications of the solar power system you are considering, or talk to your installer.

How much roof space do I need?

  • Each 1kW of panels requires approximately 8m2 of roof space.

What happens if there is a power failure?

  • For safety reasons all residential solar power systems are shut down in the event of a power failure.

Will my system produce power on overcast or rainy days?

  • The performance of the solar PV system is affected by cloud cover. When there is not enough light to produce electricity, you will use electricity from the grid.

Do I need to maintain the system?

  • Solar power systems work silently, efficiently and require little maintenance. Keeping the panels clean of dust and dirt will maximise your power output. You should also ensure that solar panels remain unshaded by regularly trimming trees and shrubs around the array.

What about hailstorms?

  • All of our solar panels are made using toughened glass that can withstand most hail storms. In the unlikely event of damage your household insurance should cover replacement costs, please check with your insurer for coverage.

How does a solar PV system work?

  • When sunlight hits a solar PV panel, direct current (DC) electricity is produced and the inverter changes the current from DC to 240V alternating current (AC). This electricity can be used immediately within the home or fed into the National Electricity Grid (grid).

What is a photovoltaic system?

  • A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is made up of solar PV panels, an inverter, racking and wiring. Solar PV systems work very simply to provide a household or commercial structure with usable, renewable, clean, green energy. Flat solar PV panels are mounted to a roof and convert energy from sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. A device called an inverter then changes the DC into 240V alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be used for a household’s electrical needs such as lighting and operation appliances.

solar-diagram

What is the national electricity grid?

  • The National Electricity Grid is the network of wires that delivers electricity from generators to homes and businesses. When you install a solar PV system you become a generator of electricity which can be fed into the grid. As this electricity is generated from the sun it is clean renewable energy.

What are the different types of PV panels?

  • There are many different types of solar PV panels currently on the Australian market. The three main types are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film panels. A range of materials can be used to produce a PV panel, the most common is silicon. But there are now newer technologies which are proving to be effective in Australian conditions.

What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline?

  • The typical monocrystalline solar cell is a dark black colour, and the corners of cells are usually missing as a result of the production process and the physical nature of monocrystalline silicon. Polycrystalline, on the other hand, is identifiable by its signature light or dark blue colour, but not uniformly so: some patches are lighter than others. The differences in appearance come about as a result of the manufacturing process.When solar PV first boomed in Australia in 2009-2010, monocrystalline solar panels were thought to be superior to polycrystalline solar panels. There were a number of reasons for this thinking. Monocrystalline solar cells have historically had a higher peak efficiency, and were more readily available than polysilicon solar cells. The blanket statement that monocrystalline panels are better than polycrystalline cells, however, is not accurate. Each panel and its manufacturer should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

mono-vs-polycrystalline

How are they made?

  • Solar Energy Cells are made out of a semiconductor material, which is a special type of material that conducts electricity at certain conditions. In the case of solar energy cells, the condition is dependent on the different amounts of wavelength of light that it accepts, which it then converts into electricity. There are several types of materials that can be classified as semiconductors but the most common one used in the Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Panel Industry is Silicon. This is primarily because Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earths crust and because of the existing infrastructure developed by the Information Technology industry and their accumulated experience of using this material. To a lot of industry experts this means that, in the long run, silicon based solar energy panels should be the most affordable method of generating renewable electricity from the sun.1) Monocrystalline
    Chemical Definition: This type of Silicon has an ordered crystal structure, with each atom ideally lying in a pre-ordained position and exhibits predictable and uniform behaviour.
    What-that-means: This type of Silicon goes through several cycles of slow and energy intensive filtration and separation processes and thus is the most expensive type of silicon.
    Interesting point: These cells are usually created in a circular shape or a ‘square-without-corners’. This is because, when they are grown from an ingot, the only way to create high purity crystal structures is to extruded the molten liquid and gravity does the rest with respect to creating a cylindrical block out of which the smaller cells are cut. Usually manufacturers will leave cells in a circular shape however due to advances in recycling, the cells are being chopped into squares-without-corners to maximize the packing density of the modules.

    2) Multicrystalline/Polycrystalline
    Chemical Definition: This type of Silicon contains several regions of crystalline Silicon kept together through covalent bonding and separated by ‘grain boundaries.’
    What-that-means: This type of silicon goes through a lower number of cycles of the energy intensive filtration and separation processes that monocrystalline cells do and therefore are a less expensive material for manufacturers to use.
    Interesting point: These cells are usually grown in a square shape. This is because the molten liquid in the (square) ingots does not to be extruded or go through another process to produce the big block of silicon out of which the little cells are cut. (Grain boundaries can have an interesting effect on efficiency and this shall be covered in a later article)

Does the orientation of the roof affect whether or not a home can successfully install a solar product?

  • Although it is optimal to install solar products on the north-facing side of a roof, it is also possible to install a solar PV system on the east or west facing side of a roof, as long as there is sufficient space. However, this will not produce the same results as a north–facing installation

Is mains electricity still needed?

  • Because solar PV systems only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight, at other times another source, such as mains electricity or a generator, will be required. When there is no sunlight, no electricity is produced, so you will need to draw electricity from another source such as the grid.

Is it possible to increase the size of a solar PV system in the future?

  • This depends on your roof space and the size of the inverter. If you have sufficient roof space and additional capacity in the inverter you could increase the size of your system. Or you could add a second system to your roof. Please note: At this time, the solar feed-in tariffs in each state have limits on the system size to which they apply. Increasing the size of an existing solar PV system could affect your eligibility for a feed-in tariff.

What will happen during a blackout?

  • For safety reasons, in the event of a blackout, your solar PV system will stop producing electricity. This safety measure is mandatory and has been put in place to protect anyone working on the blacked-out grid system. As soon as the grid is back online, your solar PV system’s ability to generate will be restored.

 

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