Solar Power and Solar Hot Water Frequently Asked Questions
Solar Power and Solar Hot Water Frequently Asked Questions
Solar Power – FAQ’s
How do solar modules (panels) work?
Solar, photovoltaic, modules use a special kind of silicon to convert light energy (usually sunlight) into electricity. The electrical output of a solar module is directly affected by the intensity of the light – the brighter the light the greater the output.
Different Types of Solar Panel
At this point in time there are two basic types of solar module commercially available – thin film (or amorphous) solar modules and crystalline modules. Within the crystalline category there are two primary sub groups – multi (or poly) crystalline and mono (or single) crystalline modules.
Solar Panel and Inverter Brands
At Adelaide Solar Systems, we supply and install quality solar panels and inverters from the world’s leading manufacturers. All companies well known in the solar industry for their performance and reliability. Click here for further reading on our product manufacturers.
Effect of Shading
Thin film and crystalline modules behave differently when partially shaded. If a crystalline module is partially obscured by heavy shade then some of the module may cease to provide any output. Thin film modules on the other hand will continue to provide an output under such conditions, proportionally reduced by the area exposed to shading. Potential shading is an important factor in determining the best type of system for a particular application.
Solar modules can be fitted to almost any roof type – Steel (galv/colorbond), tiles (terracotta, cement, aluminium).
Aspect and Inclination
Ideally, the best arrangement for solar modules is north facing, inclined at an angle equal to the latitude of the location (nominally 33 degrees for Adelaide). In practical application, alignment within approx. 15° of north and an inclination of between 20° and 40° has only a small effect on output (less than 3%).
Locating photovoltaic modules directly on east or west facing roofs will substantially reduce their output. [East and west facing roofs can sometimes be accommodated by using an ‘offset’ stand to orient the solar modules back to north facing.]
Solar Module Life
Life expectancy of solar modules varies enormously depending on the type and quality of the module.
We recommend the use of thin film or crystalline modules with a performance warranty of better than 25 years which have been sourced by branded manufacturers with over 10 years history manufacturing PV modules.
What’s the best size system for me?
There are a number of factors which influence the ideal size of a system – household electricity consumption, available roof space, budget considerations. Where practical, we would recommend that you aim for a system size that meets somewhere between 40% and 100% of your household energy needs. With some planning and forethought systems can be designed to be expanded at a later date – so you can start with a smaller system and build it up over time if desired. In Adelaide every 1kW of solar power will provide approximately 1500-1800 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.
Operation, Cleaning and Maintenance
Once installed, solar electricity generating systems are generally fully automatic systems and require no day to day input from the owner of the system. Once or twice a year the surface of the solar modules should be cleaned with water to remove any build up of dust or dirt.
Grid Shut-down / Battery Back-up Systems
For normal operation our grid-connect systems don’t need and are supplied without battery back-up. This is the most economical configuration. However, it must be pointed out that grid connected solar energy systems usually shut down during a grid blackout. This is so that power generated by the solar system isn’t fed back into a potentially damaged or faulty grid.
But if you want, or need to power on when the grid goes down we can custom design and install a system with battery back-up to meet your needs.
Installation of a grid connected solar energy system usually means changing the electricity meter installed at your home. If you have either the old ‘rotating wheel’ type or a ‘one-way’ digital meter, this will be changed to a digital ‘import-export’ meter which measures both the energy you consume from the grid and any energy your solar generating system exports to the grid (you should only have to pay for the net energy you import from the grid, plus the inescapable supply charge). ETSA Utilities levy a fee for changing over to the import-export meter.
If you are building a new home and are considering installing a solar energy system, you can request an import-export meter be installed from the outset. There should be no additional charge in this case.
Solar Hot Water – FAQ’s
How much will a Solahart water heater save me?
This will vary depending on which part of Australia you live in, your current hot water system and hot water usage patterns, and the model of Solahart you install and of course your fuel tariff. For example, by installing a Solahart 302Kf Free Heat, one of our most efficient models, you can cut your water heating energy consumption by up to 90%* in the hotter parts (Zone 2) of the country, up to 75%* in the temperate parts (Zones 1 & 3) and up to 60%* in the cooler parts (zone 4).
What are the environmental benefits of a Solahart water heater?
Water heating accounts for almost 30% of the average household’s energy usage. Getting your hot water free from the sun not only saves energy, it also saves the greenhouse gas emissions that would have been produced in the generation of that energy. By replacing an electric storage water heater with a Solahart you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3.5 tonnes a year depending on the system and your situation. That’s the equivalent of taking a small car off the road. In fact solar water heaters are so good for the environment that Renewable Energy Certificates and some government incentives exist to make it easier to get into solar hot water.
What are Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs)?
Each STC represents the equivalent of one megawatt hour of electricity generation from an accredited renewable energy source. For solar and heat pump water heaters each STC represents the displacement by solar energy of one megawatt hour of electricity generation.
The installation of a solar or heat pump water heater in your property may be eligible for the creation of STC’s. The financial benefit from assigning your right to create STC’s for your solar or heat pump water heater installation can be used to reduce the purchase price of your new Solahart.
The number of STC’s which may be created varies with the model of solar or heat pump water heater and the region in which the unit is installed. The value of a STC is not fixed and varies from ‘time to time’.
How long does it take to pay for itself?
Financial payback will vary depending on your circumstances, but with the available incentives plus the ongoing energy savings you can begin to recoup your additional investment straight away when you remain connected to the same fuel tariff.
After you recover your initial investment, the savings are yours to spend on yourself and your family, year after year.
Which Solahart is right for us?
The best Solahart unit for your needs will depend on the following key factors:
- The amount of available sun
- Is the area prone to frost?
- The water quality in your area
- How many people in the home & their typical hot water usage
To choose the best water heater for your family, call your local Solahart expert who will help you pick the right unit for your current and future circumstances.
Does a Solahart take long to install?
If your current hot water system breaks down Solahart can have you back in hot water within 24 hours in most instances. Why do solar water heaters have boosters? All solar water heaters include gas or electric boosters to ensure you have hot water even during the colder, darker days of winter and on those rainy days we have from time to time. By selecting the right Solahart model for your area and your family’s hot water usage patterns, you can ensure you minimise the need to use the booster.
Is there an alternative to putting the tank on the roof?
Solahart’s revolutionary range of Streamline Split System solar water heaters allows you to enjoy all the benefits of Solahart’s advanced solar technology – without the tank on the roof.
The Solahart Streamline system locates the low profile collectors on your roof, with the tank installed at ground level. Alternatively you can choose the Solahart Synergy heat pump. The heat pump technology extracts heat from the surrounding air, there are no solar collectors at all.
What is Solahart SmartPay?
Solahart SmartPay is a simple payment plan, which allows you to spread your payments over 12 or 18 months and Pay no interest – EVER. There are no credit checks and a quick over the phone approval process then, with a deposit of just 25%, you can be enjoying all the benefits of Solahart hot water while you make convenient fortnightly or monthly payments over the following 12 or 18 months. Solahart SmartPay is provided by Certegy Australia to approved customers.