Perhaps you’ve been unsure about investing in solar energy. Is it worth the investment? But now you’re hearing about the big savings that friends and family are making on their power bills. You can see the difference solar panels can make. And you want to benefit from those savings too! At Rite Price Roofing we make the process simple.
Solar panels have been installed on the rooftops of houses and other buildings in Australia since the 1970s. By 2013, over one million households had installed solar panels, delivering clean electricity safely across Australia. Congratulations on your decision to join the solar revolution!
So where do you begin? The process seems confusing at first. How do you know what sized system to install? Will you need to notify your electricity company? How do you choose a trustworthy installer? Have you got your head around what a feed-in tariff is?
Let’s start with a bit of background. The science behind solar panels is called photovoltaics, which is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. A solar photovoltaic (PV) system is made up of a mounting frame with PV modules and an inverter that converts the power from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current), so it can be used in your home or exported back to the grid.
We’ll quickly explain the types of systems and their components.
There are 3 types of solar roof top systems:
- GRID-CONNECTED SOLAR PV SYSTEMS
This is the most common form of solar system installed in Australia. Most suburban homes in Australia are connected to the electricity grid, which uses alternating current electricity (AC). An inverter converts the electricity generated by the solar system – which is direct current (DC) – into AC electricity so that the power generated is compatible with the grid and ordinary business needs. Most houses with grid-connect solar systems use solar power first before sourcing electricity from the grid. When the panels are not producing electricity at night, electricity is supplied from the electricity grid.
- GRID-CONNECT WITH BATTERY BACK-UP SOLAR PV SYSTEMS
Grid-connect PV systems with battery back-up (sometimes referred to as uninterrupted power supply or hybrid solar PV systems) are becoming increasingly popular. They use the electricity stored during the day to run your house at night. They also have the advantage of being able to supply power during power outages.
- STAND-ALONE SOLAR PV SYSTEMS
Stand-alone systems are not connected to the electricity grid and typically are installed in remote areas where there is limited connection to the grid, or areas of low electricity demand. Unlike their grid-connected counterparts, these systems must have batteries or back-up generation to provide supply at night. In many cases they will also include a diesel or petrol generator to supplement energy supply.
You can expect to pay more for stand-alone and grid-connect battery back-up systems with more in-depth design requirements and the added cost of batteries and equipment.
There are 3 main components in a solar rooftop system:
- SOLAR PV PANELS – these supply DC Power direct from the sun.
- AN INVERTER – changes the solar DC power into 240V alternating (AC) suitable for your household appliances and feeding into the grid.
- A METER – measures your electricity production and consumption. Any excess is exported back into the electricity network. Your home uses electricity firstly from the solar PV modules with additional demand supplied from the grid.
There are 3 things to check when assessing your property:
Your installer will need to visit your property to make a full assessment, because the following three factors are critical in designing the most efficient system for your household:
- Roof angle and roof type – roof (tiled or metal). The height and accessibility of your roof will also impact on the ease of installation.
- Aspect, sunlight and shading.
- Ensure your installer looks takes note of energy consumption trends in the household.
There are 3 things that determine the size of your system:
- What portion of your electrical consumption you wish to generate
- The physical unshaded area available for the installation of your panels
- How much you are prepared to spend
There are 3 things that should be included in your quote:
Make sure these things are included:
- Grid connection and/or metering costs in the quote
- Full installation, clean up of site
- Operational check and homeowner instruction
There are 3 things that will cost extra is required:
- Removal of trees or any other shading obstacles.
- Upgrades to your meter, switchboard or cabling.
- Repairs to your roof to accommodate the installation.
There are 3 things that should be included after sale:
- A warranty on workmanship for at least 5 years.
- A warranty on materials for at least 5 years.
- A system manual that provides operation, maintenance and safety information.
There are 3 things to know about feed-in tariffs:
- What is a feed-in tariff?
A feed-in-tariff is the rate you are paid for electricity generated by your solar PV system that you export back to the grid. Almost all feed-in tariffs on offer are now ‘net’ feed-in tariffs. This means that the electricity produced by your solar panels will be used in your home first, and then any extra electricity will be exported to the grid. Under a net feed-in tariff, you may earn money on the electricity that is exported to the grid.
- How do you get paid for the electricity you generate?
If you are eligible for a feed-in tariff and/or the minimum retailer payment and have exported solar energy to the grid, the feed-in tariff and/or minimum retailer payment will be credited to your electricity account and appear on your next electricity bill issued by your retailer.
- Are you getting charged correctly?
After your system has been installed, make sure your electricity bill reflects the correct tariff.
Rite Price offers 3 important after-sales services:
- SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
A solar PV system is a complex piece of equipment. Maintaining your system means much more than just cleaning your panels. To keep it operating efficiently and generating electricity a maintenance schedule is vital. Rite Price has the expertise to help you maintain system performance and can carry out any repairs necessary.
- SYSTEM INSPECTION
Rite Price can carry out regular safety inspections of your systems to ensure it remains compliant and safe as the years go by.
- SYSTEM UPGRADES
Rite Price can upgrade your system in the future, increasing the capacity and efficiency of your system as your needs change.
Three helpful links to visit:
At Rite Price our expert staff are happy to answer all your questions. Our sales and service staff are all very experienced and have all the information you will need concerning the solar installation process, together with a vast amount of product information. We can explain the difference between various components and brands and why we recommend some over others. If you want independent advice, you will find the following references useful:
- The Clean Energy Council
This is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. They represent and work with hundreds of leading businesses operating in solar, wind, energy efficiency, hydro, bioenergy, energy storage, geothermal and marine along with more than 4000 solar installers. The Council is committed to accelerating the transformation of Australia’s energy system to one that is smarter and cleaner. Visit www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au
Helpful information and contacts when installing solar photovoltaic systems. https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/water-energy-and-environment/energy/rebates-concessions-and-incentives/solar-photovoltaic-systems
- The Government of South Australia’s Energy Advisory Service
You can get free help and advice on a range of energy topics. The service can help you to save energy at home, find out about renewable energy, or if you are having trouble paying your energy bills, can give you advice about services that could help you. You can contact the service by phone, email or visit our offices to speak to a staff member in person. Phone: 8204 1888 or 1800 671 907 (Freecall from fixed lines only), Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/water-energy-and-environment/energy/saving-energy-at-home/check-and-reduce-your-energy-use/energy-advisory-service