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Solar Power Frequently Asked Questions

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How does solar power work?

The sun's energy in the form of photons release electrons from their bonds in the silicon semiconductors that make up the solar cells. The flow of these electrons makes up the current that will ultimately be utilised in your home or business. DC electricity is created. This is then fed to an inverter which converts the electricity to AC 240v.

What is a Grid Connect System?

A grid-connect solar power system is an array of solar panels with an inverter which is connected to the main power grid by means of an import/export meter. A Solar Choice Australia grid-connect solar power system will help your family to reduce its carbon footprint and minimise or negate your electricity bills. Any surplus energy created by your solar power system is exported to the grid in return for credits paid at a premium rate by ETSA and your electricity retailer.

What is an inverter?

The inverter is the apparatus that monitors and converts the DC electrical power created by the solar panels into the Australian standard AC 240v. The inverter not only monitors and converts the electricity but provides direct information such as the total amount of energy being generated. The inverters that Solar Choice Australia install are of the highest quality and accredited for outdoor use. As a result they can be installed close to your electricity meter in the garage or on an outside wall of your home. Your inverter will safely stop the solar power system if there is a power failure.

Is solar power a good investment?

Yes. Over the course of its lifetime, a solar power system is a great investment. It is a low-risk, high-return investment that is very competitive with other types of investments (stocks, bonds, and property). Solar Choice Australia can look at your specific situation and calculate your approximate return on investment and how much you will save over the life of the system. As electricity prices continue to rise, your investment in solar power just gets better and better!

How much money can I save?

The amount of money you can save is determined by 3 factors: the size/output of your solar power system; your electricity consumption; and your State feed-in tariff conditions. Under South Australia's net feed-in tariff scheme, you will greatly increase the overall benefit you receive from your system if you minimise daytime electricity usage and export excess solar power to the grid.

Can I say "goodbye" to electricity bills?

Provided you have enough appropriate roof space, you can install a solar power system that will produce as much electricity as you use, leaving you with a minimum utility service charge.

Will it add value to my property?

A low carbon house is an increasingly attractive proposition to potential home buyers. Like any home improvement, a solar power system should increase your home re-sale value by at least the value of the installation. So even if you move from your present home, your solar power system will have reduced your monthly utility bill and increased the value of your home if you do decide to sell.

Do I qualify for the STCs rebate?

The current solar power rebate is called the Solar Credits Scheme and is available to everybody. Unlike the old rebate scheme, it is not means tested. The rebate is available for systems installed on domestic dwellings, rental properties, business premises and community buildings. Should you wish to install a solar power system on more than one residential or commercial building, you can receive a rebate for each one.

What is the Feed-In-Tariff?

Different Australian States have differing feed-in tariff arrangements. See Rebates & Incentives. South Australia has a net feed-in tariff. This feed-in tariff ensures that owners of solar power systems are credited at premium rates when they feed excess energy from their solar power system back to the grid. Excess energy automatically flows to the grid when solar power production is greater than consumption at any given time.

Important Note: The SA feed-in tariff will not be paid to any new solar power customers after the target of 60 megawatts of solar power output in South Australia is met. It is expected that this target will be met in late 2011. Those who have had a solar power system installed prior to this target being met will continue to receive the feed-in tariff until 2028.

How much power do I use?

You can find out how much electricity you use by looking at your utility bill. Your average daily usage is usually stated on your power bill. Your bill should also state your usage over the last 12 months, in kilowatt hours (kWh).

What happens when we are on holidays?

While you are away, your solar power system continues to create electricity. Because you are not using any or much energy in your home at this time, the excess energy will be fed into the grid. Under a net feed-in tariff you will be credited for this electricity at premium rates by ETSA and your electricity retailer.

What happens on rainy days and at night?

Your solar power system will not produce electricity without direct or diffused sunlight. On rainy days and at night-time, you will draw electricity from the grid. Through the feed-in-tariff you can build up credit on sunny days and draw from these credits on rainy days and at night.

Which appliances can I power with my solar power system?

You do not designate electricity to any specific appliances. The electricity produced by your solar system functions in the exact same way as the electricity from the grid. Your solar electricity will provide general power for all of your uses.

Why do I require a new meter?

A new import/export meter must be installed to measure the amount of solar electrical energy that is fed into the grid, so that your account can be credited by your electricity retailer. Your current meter will only measure electricity that you import from the grid.

How much maintenance is required?

Solar Choice Australia solar power systems are designed to the very best standard and should provide at least 25 years of free solar power. However, some simple maintenance is required. Solar panels will need to be occasionally cleaned of leaf litter, dirt, dust, bird droppings etc. as this can inhibit sunlight from penetrating the cells.

Are batteries required?

You do not need batteries if you are connected to the grid. Essentially your utility company stores your solar electricity for free and compensates you at a premium rate, for the privilege! Batteries would only be necessary if you are not connected to the grid.

What direction must my solar power system face?

In South Australia a North facing system is ideal, offering the most annual production. A solar power system will still work and generate lots of electricity facing East or West, but with a reduced efficiency.

Is my roof suitable for solar?

A solar power system can be installed directly onto a pitched roof or on a flat roof using angled frames. To maximise efficiency of your solar power system, the roof face on which it is mounted should be free of shade all year round. Solar Choice Australia can install solar power systems on most roofs. However, there are some exceptions. Your roof will be inspected for structural integrity and appropriate roofing material prior to you placing an order.

Can my roof support the weight of a solar array?

A solar power system adds very little load to your roof, relative to the surface area covered. Virtually all modern construction is designed to support loads far greater than this. Some older homes may require some structural work prior to installing a system. However, this is very rare and is still an exception even for older homes.

Is a 2 storey home OK?

Yes.

How much roof space do I need?

Approximately 12 square metres per 1.5 kW

Are shady trees a problem?

Any shade from trees, chimneys, air- conditioning units etc. can have a significant compromising effect on solar energy production. Your solar power system should be situated in the most shade free area for optimum electricity production.

Can the Solar panels be damaged by hail or wind?

Solar panels are designed and manufactured to be located in and withstand hostile conditions for extended periods of time. They are tested for extreme conditions and are manufactured from quality-hardened materials.

How long is the warranty?

The panels that Solar Choice Australia supply have a 25 year performance warranty and a 5/10 year product warranty, according to which panels you select. We only use solar panels from world leaders in the industry who will be able honour your warranty into the future. Warranties are held here in Australia.

Can I install solar power myself?

The installation of solar panels should always be carried out by specially accredited installers. This is an electrical installation on one of your most valuable assets and subsequently needs to be handled by certified solar panel installers with Clean Energy Council (CEC) accreditation. STC's rebates will only be paid for systems installed by a CEC accredited solar electrician.

How long does it take to install?

A solar power system of 3kW or less will usually be installed within 1 day. Larger systems can take 2 days or more.

How do I organise a quote?

Contact Solar Choice Australia for a free quote.

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