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FAQ | Solar

What is an inverter?

Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels are placed on the roofs of homes and businesses to generate clean electricity. The solar panels contain photovoltaic cells, also known as solar cells. When sunlight falls on the cells they convert the sun’s energy into DC (direct current) power.

In most cases solar panels are connected to the mains power supply through a device called an inverter.

What happens to the power I don't use?

Once your solar system has powered all of the load (what power your house is using) It will be exported to the electricity grid where. Depending on your retailer and feed-in tariff, you may be given a credit towards your electricity bill. Talk to us about how we can make this work for you.

What are feed-in tariffs?

When installing a solar system an agreement is made between you and the electricity retailer on the rate ($) at which you are paid for exporting excess electricity generation back to the grid.

Will I require a new meter?

That depends on what meter you currently have. A bi-directional smart meter is needed to support solar. These are very common in Victoria. In most cases, EnergySpec Electrical can organise this for you.

What does it take to be Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited installer?

EnergySpec Electrical are a fully qualified CEC Accredited Installer. To obtain the accreditation first of all, we must be a licensed electrician. Then we have our electricians complete a certified training course and pass assessments under the National Training Scheme. We then had to submit case studies and complete ongoing professional development to retain accreditation. We also must have public liability insurance.

What standards and guidelines must be followed for solar installations?

Every installation carried out by an accredited installer is required to meet the following Australian Standards:

AS477 Grid-connections of energy systems via inverters

AS/NZS 3000 Electrical wiring rules

AS 1768 Lightning protection

AS/NZS 5033 Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays

Clean Energy Council Guidelines must also be followed.  Installers are required to install the system in accordance with the Clean Energy Council’s Installation Guidelines for Accredited Installers and Supervisors.  These guidelines are updated regularly to reflect current industry best practice.

Are the products we use approved by the Clean Energy Council?

Yes, all accredited solar installers must use products that meet Australian Standards. The CEC has compiled a list of approved products – including solar PV modules (panels) and grid-connect inverters – that meet these standards. In order to qualify for government incentives for the solar PV system, installers must use equipment approved and listed by the Clean Energy Council.

What size solar system should I install?

This will always depend on your situation and needs. As a checklist, your solar PV system will depend on:

  • The physical unshaded area available for the installation of your panels
  • What portion of your electrical consumption you wish to generate
  • How much you are prepared to spend

Before we talk to you about a system one of our representatives will go through the following checklist with you:

  • We analyse your household’s daily electricity consumption
  • We will analyse your monthly or quarterly electricity bill which measures your household’s electricity consumption in kilowatt hours
  • From here, we can help you calculate your average daily electricity consumption, and the average amount of electricity your solar PV system needs to produce to cover your electricity needs

If you want an assessment for a Solar System you can fill in the relevant form: – Go here to fill in the form.

This process will be completed by us in the design and specification stage, as part of our load analysis.

Why does my solar not produce full power?

This is a very common question, lets use a 5kW system for example. If it does not produce 5kW as a peak value it does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your system. There are a few reasons why the peak value may not reach the output you expect.

1. Orientation and tilt angle | You may have strings of panels with different configurations. For example an Eastern and a Western array. These would not peak at the same time and therefore the total peak value could be less than 5kW.
2. System losses | All systems have energy losses. A good installer will ensure this is kept to a minimum by selecting the right components, using correct design techniques and installing equipment in the right places. Generally speaking systems do not operate at 100% unless there are abnormal weather conditions which are brief and not sustained.
3. Weather | Most people are aware that sunlight is the key but many are not aware that the solar panels are less efficient in hot weather. 4. STC and NOCT values | What does this mean? If you have a system installed you should have the details of the equipment and data sheets. On the data sheets there are two sets of performance data. STC (standard test conditions) is basically lab conditions and provides a consistent testing platform. The other, NOCT (normal operating cell temperature) is a more realistic set of parameters for real world conditions.
5. Shading | There could be shading issues which may or may not have been explained to you.

In saying all this it is important to know what yield you should expect from your system. This is rated in kWh. Your installer should have provided a graph which outlines the performance yield for each month of the year. When comparing this against your actual performance the numbers should be similar. If you still need help then please let us know.

FAQ | Solar & Batteries

What is a Solar Hybrid power system?

A Solar Hybrid system is a Solar Power system that has the capability to produce energy and store it for use at a later period. It combines several elements (Solar, Batteries and the grid) to produce an energy system to power your home or business. The system also has an intelligent management system that balances battery levels, household or business power usage and grid back up without any input from the home owner.

So how does a Solar Hybrid System work

It works very similar to a grid tie solar system however with the addition of batteries it gives you more control over what you can do with your power. It works like this, as you make energy from the solar panels the new components, (inverter charger and batteries) allow you to either store the energy in the batteries, use the energy for your appliances in the home or feed the energy into the grid.

What is energy storage?

When we say “store the energy” we mean that the energy produced from the solar panels is used to charge the batteries so that they are ready to be used whenever they are needed. We call it storage because the batteries if fully charged can be called upon at any time to power your home appliances. Thus we say we are storing the solar energy.

What is an off-grid system?

An off-grid system is an energy system that is completely non-reliant on the electricity grid. It is often more complicated than a grid connected Solar Hybrid system as they use more components to compensate for the grid not being there. Because there is no grid, a backup energy supply (generally a generator) is needed so that you never run out of power. Also, it will generally require more batteries so you can store more energy.

What is the difference between a Solar Hybrid System and an Off-grid system?

A Solar Hybrid System will normally remain connected to the grid for additional energy supply, where an off-grid system is completely shut off from the grid. Another difference is the components needed for the off-grid system are more comprehensive and will generally cost more to set up because there is no reliance on the grid.

What are the components of a Solar Hybrid system?

Solar Hybrid systems need the following:

  • Solar panels to draw the energy from the sun.
  • An inverter to convert the DC current to AC current for your home to utilise.
  • A battery bank to store power for later use.
  • A battery management system. This device autonomously manages your power system, delivering power required to your home, keeping the batteries with ample charge primarily with solar power and secondly with grid power at nonpeak times. This is a specific battery inverter/charger to use the energy from the batteries and recharge them.
  • A monitoring system. This works with the management system to coordinate supply and storage of power for your individual home needs.
Why a Solar Hybrid system?

Solar Hybrid systems are the best of both worlds: You get the guaranteed (well, 99.9% of the time) electricity supply of the grid, with the ability to store your excess solar energy for use when the sun isn’t shining. You can also switch over to your own battery reserves if the grid goes down. Grid connected solar hybrid systems are also much cheaper than an off-grid system and don’t require diesel generator backup. They’re still more expensive than a purely on-grid system, but the benefits of those batteries are persuading an increasing number of people to pay the premium.

Do I still need to use the grid if I have a Solar Hybrid system?

Yes, particularly during prolonged periods of poor weather. A Solar Hybrid system couples energy storage capability whilst still being connected to the grid as a backup, so power produced through the day can be used during the peak evening period. Whilst this enables people who are not at home through the day to benefit from solar power, it does not mean you will be completely independent of the grid.

STAY CONNECTED

03 9885 0386

EnergySpec Electrical Pty Ltd

PO Box 1077
Ashwood, VICTORIA 3147

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