How Solar Works
● The Sun’s energy hits the panels.
● The Solar Panels convert the sun’s energy into DC power. This DC power travels to the inverter via the installed DC cable.
● The Inverter converts the DC power to usable AC power and distributes it to either the house or back to the grid.
● Your household appliances utilise the AC power from your solar and would only draw power from the grid if your usage surpassed what your solar was producing.
● Your Meter reads the excess solar production being fed back to the grid so you can earn money from it. It also reads what you are drawing from the grid.
● During periods of low sunlight where your system isn't producing power, the grid supplies your household with electricity generated from power stations.
Why do I want solar?
Firstly, in order to achieve the correct outcome, you need to determine your goal. Do you want to lessen your carbon footprint? Reduce or eliminate your bill? Increase the value of a property? Having one or more of these goals can change what type of system you get installed.
Don’t stress about warranties.
Most panel manufacturers offer at least a 12-15 year warranty, which is ideal – anything beyond that is great but not overly essential. When I look at a panel manufacturer offering a 25-year warranty on a specific panel, all it does is fill me with confidence that the panel may/will last 25 years. I certainly don’t think “If this panel fails in 23 years time I get a free replacement!”, because chances are, if that panel fails at that specific time, there won’t be a like-for-like replacement and the current panel of that time may very well be incompatible with your current system. The more important thing is the terms of those warranty periods. Some manufacturers make you jump through hoops to honour those warranties. Make sure you check whether certain levels of maintenance are required for warranties to be honoured.
Current and future energy usage.
Most people fail to think about the future and just want to cover current bills. However, it’s important to look ahead. It doesn’t make sense to get a large system if you have three kids moving out in the next 2 years or visa versa. It doesn’t make sense to get a small system if you have a young child with plans for another one or two. So base your system size on your projected usage over a 10 year period. If you don’t know how, ask an installer.
Forget about FIT.
FIT stands for Feed In Tariff. Feed In Tariffs are what your energy provider pays you for the generated power that you feed back to the grid. FITs are great now but they won’t be available forever. I see a lot of people using FITs as a big consideration when choosing a system size. Don’t base your system on it – think of it as a nice, handy little benefit. The reason it won’t be around forever is the more that solar becomes prevalent in communities, the less likely energy providers are going to allow exporting to the grid. Once they start denying exporting, this essentially means whatever you produce will either supply your house or be wasted.
Optimised systems vs string systems.
If you have a property that has potential shading issues such as trees, etc, an optimised system may be more beneficial to you. An optimised system also offers exceptional consumption monitoring down to the panel level to the point where if there is an issue with a panel, it alerts the installer.
A standard string system reduces its output if a panel is shaded and has no output if there is a fault in the circuit. The reason for this is that string system panels are wired in a series while in an optimised system, the DC optimisers are wired in a series and the panels are wired in parallel to them. This allows the circuit to bypass a faulty panel because there is another path.
You still need a smart meter
After an installation is done, most people are unaware that you need to get your meter swapped over or reprogrammed by your energy retailer. The installer will take care of the required paperwork but the process generally takes 15 working days and the installer cannot do it on site. It needs approval after the solar installation is completed. We are meant to leave your system off until the meter works have been completed because your provider is not yet able to read what you are feeding back to the grid.