What’s the difference between a solar hot water system and solar electricity?
A solar electricity system uses PV (Photovoltaic) technology to convert the light emitted by the sun into DC electricity, which is then converted into usable, clean and power. Solar thermal technology (solar hot water), uses the heat produced when the sun’s radiation comes into contact with a series of copper pipes carrying water. This heat directly warms the water which is than diverted into a storage tank for later use. You can tell the difference between the two as solar hot water systems have a tank placed directly above them, while PV systems are easily recognised by the white lines which criss-cross the surface of the panel. It is possible for a PV system to heat your hot water in the same way a kettle does. This is often cheaper and more efficient as you only need to install and maintain a single system.
What is the best side of the roof to install solar?
The best side of your roof often depends on the orientation of your home. In an a ideal world every home would run from east to west and face north to south. This means that the panels receive direct light from the time the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, rather than being shadowed by a slanted roof for half the day. That being said, during the winter when the sun rises and sets on a lower angle (it moves closer north). Therefore, if you were to have a east to west orientation the north face of your roof receives the optimum amount of light.
My roof isn’t north facing, is it still worth getting solar?
A north facing roof maximises the power output of your solar PV system, not all of us are so lucky to have a house running perfectly parallel to east or west. So what if your home runs north to south? Will you have to choose between morning light or afternoon light? To get a better idea of how the sun passes over your location check out the [Sun Calculator].
It may surprise you to know, after all things considered, it can come down to whether the weather in your area is clearer in the mornings or the afternoons. Often the afternoons have clearer skies meaning a west facing system could generate a greater amount of electricity. On top of that, often peak consumption occurs in the afternoon. There is always the option to split your panels across the east and west face of your roof. This will give you the best of both worlds with consistent energy production throughout the day.
So in conclusion even if your roof is not north facing it is still worth getting solar!
What size system do I need?
This is one of the most common questions people ask and the truth is without a proper assessment it’s difficult to accurately predict what your household requires. However, if you have your electricity bill handy, with today’s prices, a good rule of thumb is for every 1kW of solar power it will roughly cover $100 of your electricity bill per quarter.
I’m hardly ever home during the day, should I get solar?
Solar Panels need light to produce electricity. Yet, we seem to use the most electricity during late afternoon right up until late at night. However, while it is true that feed in tariffs have dropped dramatically as the energy industry and the government try to juggle the growth rate of solar, the money you save by selling the electricity for the majority of the day outweighs the few hours of peak usage during the night. As well as this, we underestimate the amount of energy we consume during the day. Most homes will have entertainment systems, refrigeration, climate control as well as any appliance with a standby setting all contribute to making your quarterly bill. A solar system can work by offsetting your appliances on standby. A timer can also be used to heat your hot water or run your pool timer during the day off your solar system. A free home inspection can tailor if a solar system is right for your family.
How much money would I save by going solar?
After a full in home assessment is conducted, the aim is to get as much energy as possible from After a full in home assessment is conducted, the aim is to get as much energy as possible from your solar system and therefore save you the most money in the long run. While it is difficult to give you an exact figure, many people report saving anywhere from 50% on their bills, right up to 100% plus surplus. Therefore, if you have a $500 quarterly bill and save 50% you could be looking at an annual saving of $1000. Optimally, your system will have been designed to completely cover your bill, meaning you could be looking at a saving of $2000 (plus any surplus you may earn). The example used here is a fairly conservative, whereas most people looking at investing in a sustainable energy solution will have experienced much greater electricity expenses. Once your bills exceed the amount that a standard grid connected system can offset, your next step is to look at energy storage. A hybrid solar solution provides your home with battery storage capacity without going off grid, enabling you to benefit from your system even after the sun has set.
I’m a pensioner and I get a discount on my electricity bill, will I lose this if I go Solar? Fortunately, any rebates or concessions
that one might receive as a pensioner are not affected whatsoever by the installation of solar. So you will still be able to receive those concessions on top of the savings made by having a system installed. Fear of losing these benefits could prevent some people from adopting solar but in reality these benefits only add to the value of solar energy as an effective renewable solution to meet your energy requirements.
What is the difference between on-grid systems and off-grid systems?
There are two options for those looking to install solar; either grid connected systems which connect to the electrical grid, or off-grid systems which are independent and often rely on battery storage during low light periods. There are pros and cons to both. The most commonly installed systems are grid connected systems which are able to consume electricity from the grid during low light periods as well as feed electricity back into the grid when surplus power is produced from the sun. However, grid connected systems are restricted by the fact that if the grid has issues and there is a power outage, grid systems become inactive for safety reasons. As well as this they are simply not independent from energy providers. Off-grid solutions however are separate electrical circuits which are powered solely by solar energy and require battery storage to provide power during the night or low light periods. Off-grid systems commonly utilise deep cycle home batteries and therefore store energy produced during the day, which is then used during periods when the solar system is unable to produce its own power. By combining the best of both worlds, many people opt for a hybrid system.
What is a hybrid solar system?
If you would like a solar system capable of meeting all your energy requirements by utilising additional energy storage solutions, but you would also still like to sell back to the grid or have the grid connected as backup in case of unforeseen emergencies, then you would look at installing a hybrid system. Hybrid systems either have battery storage units attached or if you are future proofing, they are designed to have storage installed whenever you decide the time is right. This means that during the night your home doesn’t have to pull power from the grid, saving you more in the long run. Furthermore, the battery acts as an emergency backup system as it is able to switch from the live solar panels to the battery system in the event of a power outage.
My roof doesn’t have much space, can we use the shed?
If it is structurally sound then of course. Really there is no real limit on how far you can place your inverter from your panels or your inverter from your home. However, the general rule is that the further apart the components the further the power has to travel, meaning less electricity can actually make it to your home and appliances. If you have to choose between the inverter being closer to the panels or the meter box it is wise to choose the meter box. This is because the greater the distance, the greater the voltage drop. The power from the panels are sitting at around 300-600V DC while the power from your inverter is at 240V AC. When positioning solar panels your installer will consider optimum tilt, potential shade issues, and all of the usual factors taken into consideration when placing panels on the roof of your home.
I already have solar hot water, should I bother getting Solar PV?
While solar hot water systems are great for minimising your hot water and electricity bills, that’s all they really do. If you are looking to reduce your bills for the entire home or even eliminate them completely, solar PV or other sustainable solutions are the only way to go. Solar hot water doesn’t actually produce electricity, or if it does, only on a very small scale that would never be able to power your entire home. Majestic Earth always suggests using a timer on your electric hot water system to get the best of both worlds; hot water and household electricity, all free from the sun.
How can I use my Solar PV electricity system to heat my hot water?
Interestingly, while solar hot water pioneered as a way of reducing your hot water bills, as solar PV becomes both cheaper and more efficient we are seeing a steady decline of hot water system installations. In fact, solar PV is actually the most cost-effective way of heating your hot water in both upkeep and outlay costs. And, not just against solar hot water systems, solar PV is the most efficient heating system coming out in front of gas and on-grid electric hot water.
The solar PV system heats your hot water during the day via a timer which directs your solar electricity to heat your cylinder.