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Solar Energy Systems
Undoubtedly, one of the most effective investments you can make for your home is to install new solar power systems. If you recently decided to get solar panels for your home, you might be wondering what the next steps are.
So, if you're not sure what to do after getting your solar panels, this article is for you! Here we will outline different guidelines to help you maximise your investment and also make the most out of it, so keep reading.
Understanding How Solar Power Works
Solar power is becoming increasingly popular across different parts of the world, and this is primarily due to solar energy being one of the most effective sources of clean power today. It's worth mentioning that the amount of solar energy reaching the earth within two hours is sufficient enough to power the whole world for more than six months.
The sun is basically a natural atomic furnace that constantly releases photons, and when they come in contact with different solar panels, their electrons become loose. Solar cells feature conductors that comprise the negative and positive sides and help generate electrical circuits.
One exciting thing about solar cells is that they are mostly fixed and comprised of different wires, which are all put together to form the solar panel. Another thing to note is that these other panels are put together to produce a greater output for larger applications. With more panels, your solar system can generate more energy.
This is basically how solar works, and with that said, you can be sure that getting one is a decision you won't regret.
What Next After Installing Solar Panels?
After installing solar panels, you'll need to do a couple of things before you can start using them. Here are some of these things:
Meter Change and Connecting to Power Grid
With the solar panels already installed, the next thing to do is to replace the existing meter, as it will need to be exchanged with a new import/export meter. Only after doing this will you be able to connect the solar panels to the grid. You may also need to notify your energy distributor immediately after installing so that they can quickly arrange for your meter change.
It's important to note that the time for the energy distributor to respond after requesting a meter change varies depending on the state. For example, in QLD, Ergon and Energex may take up to two business days to respond and install a new meter. Also, for NSW, a meter change is performed by Level 2 Electricians.
This is the term used to describe how much you pay for the electricity that your solar PV (Photovoltaic) generates. You can also call it the electric bill. One thing to note about feed-in tariffs is that most of them are usually on net feed-in tariffs. This implies that your home will first benefit from the electricity that your solar panel generates, after which the remaining will be exported to the grid.
Interestingly, you can easily earn more from the amount of electricity that is exported to the grid. Another thing to note is that the feed-in tariff that each state offers is different, and it also differs for different solar companies and retailers. For some states, the government regulates the minimum rate, while you can negotiate a convenient deal in other states, especially those states with deregulated electricity.
No government-regulated minimum retailer payment exists in states like Southeast Queensland and New South Wales. Therefore, the feed-in tariff of the retailer is lesser than the exact amount you pay for the electricity per kWh. With that said, you'll need to use power all day so that only a minimal amount of electricity is sent back to the grid.
What To Ask Your Electricity Retailer
After the solar installer installs your solar panels, you may need to ask the retailer a couple of questions, and we have outlined some of these questions below:
- What is the form of payment for the electricity they produce? This is to know whether they will take credit or cash on the electric bill.
- What are the penalty clauses, if any, and administration fees?
- What are the daily charges after connecting to solar?
- Will the cost change after connecting to solar, or will you enjoy the regular off-peak rates?
- What is the exact price you pay for electricity?
As stated earlier, installing solar is one of the best investments to make. However, even though this is an excellent investment, you still need to ensure your protection, and for this, you may need to contact your insurance company for further advice on the key things you should know about your new solar system. This will also help ensure that the complete value of the solar system is covered, especially in unforeseen circumstances.
Reading Your Inverter
After installing your solar panels, you must always check the solar inverter display to know how much power your solar panel is generating. You'll need to check the amount that is produced daily (E-Today), the amount produced after the inverter is turned on (E-Totals), and the solar PV system's average daily production.
It's worth mentioning that the power output generally depends on the solar PV system's location, size, and efficiency. In addition, you should never forget that you're the owner, and as such, you have to always check the inverter weekly. Doing this is an easy way to ensure that the green light stays on and works properly during daylight hours.
Facts About Inverter Reading
Here are a few facts about inverter reading that you should know:
- An easy way to stay up to date with your solar generation is by regularly checking your E-Today and E-Totals.
- Most Australian homes generally consume up to 18kWh daily. Therefore, any 2kW system will displace up to 40% of your average electricity bill.
- The solar panels generate less electricity during winter than in summer.
In addition to these facts, it's generally advisable to always go back to the user manual of your inverter, especially whenever you encounter any problem.
Maintaining Your Solar Power System
No investment ends after paying for it, and this also applies to investing in solar panels. You'll need to put in the extra effort to maintain the solar panels to continue to function efficiently. Fortunately, solar systems usually don't require much maintenance.
You only need to ensure that you clean them regularly to prevent dust from accumulating. In addition, you'll also need to keep away bird droppings and leaves from the solar panels, as these can alter its efficiency. You wouldn't want to be at any value loss due to poor maintenance.
Here are more tips to guide you through effectively maintaining your solar system:
You'll need to check the solar modules every three months. More regular checks are usually not required as they are often clean, thanks to the rain. However, in extended or prolonged dusty or dry weather conditions, it's best to keep the modules clean by using a hose from the ground. Sometimes, you may need to apply soapy water and use a sponge.
When cleaning your solar panels, you'll need to ensure that you do this when the sun is not directly overhead. It is generally advised to do this in the evening or early mornings. Also, be on the lookout for visible changes or any form of discolouration in the solar modules.
Unlike solar modules, you'll need to check the solar inverters regularly or every week. To confirm that the inverter is properly functioning, you'll need to also check the display. Keeping the inverter clean is also crucial as it will help in preventing the build-up of heat.
Always check and ensure that the inverter is firmly secured to the wall, with all its connections intact.
Frames, Cabling, and Switches
For the frame, you'll need to check every 12 months and ensure that there are no signs of corrosion or rust. However, cabling and switches require checking every six months to ensure that the fixings and conduits are secured in place. Checking the switches is also essential, as it's a way of knowing whether the system is operating correctly. You'll also need to ensure that the switches are mechanically secure.
The last thing you should check regularly is the meters, and you'll need to check this at least every three months. You can see whether it's operational from the metering display. Do not allow any unauthorised person to modify or alter internal components when checking your meter.
Cleaning the PV array should only be done by a CEC (Clean Energy Careers) Accredited electrician that has been adequately trained and fully understands how to use different safety tools and equipment.
Understanding Home Solar System Pricing
If you haven't gotten your solar panels yet, you might be wondering how the pricing works. You should note that the price of the different solar power systems varies depending on the type. There are currently three different types of solar power systems; off-grid, on-grid, and hybrid solar power systems.
From the name, you can easily distinguish that this is a solar power system that is not connected to any type of electricity grid, and it only requires a couple of battery systems. The exciting thing about this type of solar power system is that it is the best option to use in places with dark winters or little sunlight.
The off-grid systems mainly operate using solar batteries and inverters, which is why it is likely a more expensive option, especially when compared to the on-grid system. Another thing to note is that the price of an off-grid system is directly related to the system's power capacity.
Therefore, you can expect it to cost more for a more extensive system. Moreover, the size and number of panels are also factors that can influence the cost of the system. The battery bank and inverter also have a role to play.
Many people refer to this as the grid-tie solar systems, and they are the most common solar systems that people use. They are primarily used in homes because they are more affordable.
On-grid systems don't require batteries for them to work and can either operate on solar inverters or micro-inverters. These inverters serve as a link to the public electricity grid. One thing to note about this type of system is that it can generate excess power, and this can be transported back to the grid. People use this to earn extra credits on their energy bills.
Power capacity is the main factor that determines the cost of on-grid systems, and the price is inversely proportional to capacity. Even though the systems don't require batteries, there are a few rare cases where batteries are used. On-grid systems are great for households, but they also have disadvantages. For example, if there's a blackout, the system may not be able to supply sufficient electricity for protection.
The last type of solar system is the hybrid system. This system provides a bridge between the two systems mentioned earlier, as they both have batteries and solar storage capacities and come in several forms and designs.
Hybrid systems can store enough solar energy during the day to be used at night until it's exhausted before it switches back to grid power again. These systems are designed for people to enjoy the benefits of both types of systems. As stated earlier, they are available in several designs and capacities, and they are generally the most expensive types of solar power systems.
Advantages Of Home Solar Power Systems
Here are some of the benefits your home solar power system will offer you:
Solar Panels Will Enhance the Value of Your Home
When people look for homes today, they tend to be more attracted to homes with already installed solar panels because it will help them avoid the troubles of going through the installation process themselves. A home with existing solar panels will cost more than a house that doesn't have solar panels installed.
Solar Panels Will Reduce Your Electricity Bills
There has been a steady global increase in the cost of electricity, and its currently on the high side. An easy way to avoid these high electricity bills is with solar power systems. The solar systems help produce a significant amount of electricity you can use at home, which will ultimately reduce your electricity bills. With solar systems, you will eventually control your electricity generation and energy prices.
It Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Unlike other unrenewable forms of energy, solar energy is clean and renewable. It helps reduce carbon monoxide production, which is harmful to the environment. Also, solar energy does not pollute the atmosphere in any way.
It's a Reasonable Investment
As different countries are fighting climate change, some countries have gone the extra mile to give incentives to people who help reduce their carbon footprint through solar panels.
These incentives can increase their payback period by using savings, profits, and regular payments. In all, this is an easy way to make their investment profitable.
Now, Enjoy Going Green!
So, you've got your solar panels installed, and thanks to this article, you now understand what to do to maintain them and use them properly. All that's left to do is enjoy your renewable energy source and the savings on energy bills. To ensure your panels are well maintained and running as efficiently as possible, be sure to work with professional solar installers.