Solar design and installation
WHO DESIGNS MY SYSTEM?
Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle could have a team of highly qualified electrical engineers who are accredited by the Australian Clean Energy Council (CEC). Our accreditation could be for the design and installation of both grid-connected and stand-alone systems. Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle’s engineers could come from diverse backgrounds such as inverter manufacturers and international solar implementation companies. They apply their skills on Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle’s residential installations as well as large commercial and utility systems with megawatt power capacity.
Is the designer accredited by the Clean Energy Council (not just the installer)?
Yes, all most design engineers in Australia are CEC accredited, as are many installers, each of whom tends to be a registered electrician. Where required, a solar power installer will be licensed to install meters that allow grid-connected systems to take advantage of the feed-in tariff.
How much roof space is required?
Every kilowatt (kW) of a solar power system requires about 4 by 1.5 meters, so an average residential solar system needs less than 9 square metres.
Who does the electrical hook-up to the grid?
Fully qualified electrical service providers who are local to your area will complete your grid connection.
Does the price quoted include all the necessary metering changes and paperwork for my local electricity supplier?
We could provide the service provider connection cost as part of the solar installation. If the metering connection cost is included, it will be clearly shown on the quote and invoice. In most cases you will require a new or additional energy meter that monitors the power your system exports to the grid. We can probably arrange the installation of the meter on your behalf. In some situations we are able to install it at the same time as your solar power system. The meter is supplied by the energy utility operating your local network grid; in the majority of cases, they supply it free of charge, however some electricity retailers choose to charge for the installation. We should provide you with all the necessary paperwork and help you complete it. If you have any questions one of our Solar Consultants can assist you.
Does the mounting system allow airflow under the panels to help cool them?
Yes, it is essential that air flows under your panels to allow passive cooling and optimise power output (which is affected by temperature). All of our mounting systems are high quality anodised aluminium and stainless steel, ensuring your system does not rust or corrode. In addition, our mounting frames are manufactured and tested to Australian wind load standards. (AS1170.2) Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle takes great care that our mounting systems create at least 100mm clearance behind the panels, and all mounting points are properly insulated and sealed from the elements. On metal roofs like tin, Colorbond, steel etc we use insulating separators that prevent corrosion and protect the roof warranty. Any cable entry points use an externally rated industrial cable grommet to properly protect both the cables and the roof from the elements and damage. All cable points are sealed for long-term protection.
Solar systems performance and maintenance
How will I know if my system is performing to its maximum potential on a day-to-day basis?
All of the inverters we sell have a power output display. Some even have an LCD display that allows you to see power output to the grid in real time plus historical power production. For our SMA brand inverters we have an optional wireless power monitor available, which gives you real time and historical power generation information.
Do you give an accurate prediction of system production with your quotes?
Our solar power systems are chosen for their quality and power output over their lifetime. We can provide you with an estimate of power output from a system in your general area based on historical data from respected sources (e.g. Bureau of Meteorology). Actual power output depends on the roof angle, orientation, shading (e.g. trees, neighbouring homes), weather conditions and time of year. We make sure your system is set up to produce maximum power output for your circumstances.
What performance guarantees do I get for the system as a whole?
Our solar panels come with a manufacturer-backed 25 year power output guarantee that ensures the panels will be performing at 90% of its stated output after 12 years and 80% after 25 years. Inverters from Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle are backed by a full product replacement warranty of at least 5 years and can be extended to an optional 10 years. Some of our SMA brand inverters come with a full product replacement 10 year warranty as standard. The balance of system components used are high quality, ensuring low energy loss, and are rated to meet or exceed Australian standards.
Which guarantees/warranties are your responsibility and which are the manufacturer’s?
Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle’s 10 year plain English full replacement warranty is just that. If anything we installed becomes defective or breaks within the first 10 years, we come to you and fix it or replace it. Manufacturer’s warranties vary considerably, so we make it simple for you. Our solar panels come with a 25 year performance guarantee, so if the panels are not performing we replace them for you.
How frequently should I clean my solar panels?
The power produced by your home solar panels will vary depending on the season, weather, and how clean your panels are. In certain situations, dust and debris can decrease your solar production by 5% to 15%, for example after a bushfire or severe dust storm. Most debris that collects on your panels isn’t going to severely limit solar production and will be washed away by rain. It’s important to clean your panels if you notice a significant drop in electricity production. We believe, as a general rule, a professional clean once a year is sufficient. Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle does not recommend or endorse home owners cleaning their own panels, unless they are sufficiently trained in working at heights and low voltage and/or DC electricity. Please speak to one of our Solar Consultants about our Clean and Health Check service.
What kind of maintenance is needed for a solar system?
While solar power systems may not have any moving parts, they still benefit from regular maintenance. Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle recommends that yearly checks are performed on the entire system to ensure the panels are clean and that the system has maintained its integrity. We recommend checking things such as cable connectors, ingress points and mounting fasteners. Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle does not recommend or endorse unqualified persons working on solar power systems unless they are sufficiently trained in working at heights and low voltage and/or DC electricity. Please speak to one of our Solar Consultants about our Clean and Health Check service.
If I have to deal with the panel or inverter manufacturer in the future, do they have an Australian office?
All of our suppliers have an Australian office. Where there is a service or warranty event, Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle is responsible for liaising with the panel or inverter manufacturers.
How long do solar electric systems last?
Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle solar systems are predicted to last anywhere between 25 and 35 years. Our manufacturers guarantee that, in 25 years, your panels will still be making at least 80% of the electricity they did in the first year. Most inverter manufacturers offer up to a five year warranty, however Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle has an option to double it to 10 years, ensuring you will have solar power generated on your roof for years to come.
If the power goes out, will my solar system keep making energy?
No. For safety reasons and to protect any people who may be working on the electricity network, your solar system will automatically shut off if the power goes out. If this does happen, don’t worry. Your solar system will automatically restart once the grid power is restored.
Can I add solar panels later?
Depending upon the system you buy, you can add panels later. However this can become complicated, depending on when you may wish to add the panels. Inverters and solar panels are designed to “fit together” like puzzle pieces. This means that if you want to add panels at a later date, ideally they should be exactly the same panels as originally fitted – the whole system would be technically compatible and retain a consistent look. In many cases it’s better to oversize your system if you think you may want to produce more electricity in the next few years.
What’s the typical voltage of a solar panel?
The voltage of a single panel is usually between 20 and 60 volts DC. Panels are connected in ‘strings’ whereby the panels are connected in series together and, depending upon the configuration, strings in parallel. The maximum system voltage is 1000VDC. Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle configures your solar power system to ensure the DC output voltage efficiently matches the inverter’s input voltage.
Solar for my home
What size system do I need?
This is a difficult question to answer easily and it needs some discussion between you and our Solar Consultants. The size you need depends on how much electricity you use and cal also be driven by the type of feed-in tariff that is available to you in your state. They can have a profound impact on the economics of solar power.
What if I just moved and I don’t know how much energy I use?
If you have just moved, we would recommend that you base your consumption upon your previous energy use. Look through your previous power bills to gain a fair indication of your energy consumption habits. Obviously if your new home has more or fewer energy consuming devices such as spa pools or air conditioners, then you need to factor that into account.
What kind of roof do I have to have?
To get the most from your solar power system, the optimum is a true-north-facing roof. We have mounting frames suitable for almost all roof types including Colorbond, tile, Klip-lok, corrugated iron etc. We can usually tell from satellite images whether your roof is suitable for a solar installation.
How much weight will the solar power system put on my roof?
Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle’s mounting systems use lightweight but very strong aluminium mounting frames. In conjunction with the panels and associated wiring etc, the total weight loading for your roof is only 10-12 kilograms per square metre.
My roof is flat. Can I still install a solar system?
Yes you can. We can install wind-certified raised structures on your roof to help maximise the power being generated from your system.
Who installs my solar system?
We’ve sourced the best Clean Energy Council certified electricians to install your solar system. Because Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle provides a full 10 year installation warranty, we thoroughly vet our installers to ensure they are not only accredited but are the best. We are home solar service experts committed to delivering a quality product.
What happens if I move?
If you have purchased your solar system outright, then you have the option of leaving the system with the house and factoring the benefit of low cost solar generation into the price of your property. Where you have participated in one of the plans through our financial partners, you have the option of paying out the loan through the proceeds of your house sale. You may have the option of taking the system with you, which would require the services of a qualified installer to perform the move. Where you have taken advantage of any government rebates or grants, then of course you will need to comply with the rules set out in relation to that program.
Will my household insurance be affected?
Before the installation of your solar power system from Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle, we recommend you check with your insurance provider for any adjustments to your policy that may result from installing a small generation unit at your home or business.
If new technology is released, will that make my system obsolete overnight?
No, it will not. Unlike computers or other equipment that produces a better product as technology improves, electricity is a commodity. If the system has been sized properly to meet the electricity needs of your home, new technologies will not offer any production advantages.
Feed in tariffs, cost savings and rebates
Do you handle all the rebate and Small Technology Certificate (STC) paperwork for me so I only have to pay the difference?
Yes, we do. We have lots of experience with this and our goal is to make it as simple as possible for you.
Do I have any exposure to the price of the STCs when I sign with Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle?
No. Any exposure to the changing price of STCs is taken care of by Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle. Once you sign with us your solar system’s price is guaranteed, even if the price of STCs may change between the time of order and the time of the installation.
What is the payback period for solar?
The payback of your solar system depends on many variables and in Australia can vary from state to state. Your payback could be anywhere between five and 15 years depending on how much energy you use, whether your state has a gross or net feed-in tariff, and how much sun your roof gets. It is best to contact our Solar Consultants to discuss your specific situation.
What is the difference between a gross and a net feed-in tariff?
A gross feed-in tariff is where ALL the power generated by your rooftop solar system is fed back into the electricity grid and you are paid for the total amount. A net feed-in tariff, as used in NSW, Qld, Vic and SA, is where you are only paid when the solar system is generating more power than is being used by the house at that point in time. Any ‘excess’ power is exported to the grid and you are paid for this amount at a tariff rate. In this situation it is very important to maximise the power flowing back to the grid through good energy management practices, increasing the return from the tariff.
What is the lead time from my payment to getting electricity from the panels?
Our goal is to have an installation completed within 3-4 weeks of all approvals being received. If finance and government approvals are not required, it would generally be within 3-4 weeks of receiving your order. From time to time some components may be out of stock or on a longer lead time from our suppliers. In these cases our Solar Consultants and our Installation Schedulers will work with you to discuss options.
Solar panels and the weather
What is a PV panel?
A PV solar panel, referred to in the industry as a solar module, is constructed by connecting photovoltaic cells (or PV cells) to produce electricity. The cells are a semiconductor-based technology that converts solar radiation into direct current (DC) electricity. Solar panels for grid-connected home or business use typically use 60 or 72 PV cells.
How much sun do I need?
The more sun your solar system gets, the better return you’ll get on your money. We can often tell by looking at a satellite image if your roof gets enough sun to make solar cost-effective. Other times you may have to get an onsite evaluation to have someone check out your roof in person.
What’s the best weather for my solar system?
The best weather for making the most solar power is a sunny but cool day.
What happens in rain and fog?
It doesn’t have to be sunny for your panels to work because it’s the UV rays that are used by the system. In fog or on a heavily overcast day your system may only produce 25-30% of what it normally would.
What happens when it snows?
Right after a snow fall (a rare event in Australia), if your panels are covered, they won’t produce power. Because solar panels are installed where there’s the most sun, that’s where the snow will melt first. Snow slides easily off panels and the reflection of white snow can even increase the amount of power your system makes.
What happens to solar panels in hail?
All of the solar panels Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle installs are certified to Australian and international standards IEC 61215 and IEC 61730. This standard tests the solar panels against hail damage by firing a 25mm ball of ice at them.
What happens if lightning strikes a solar panel?
Unfortunately there are very few electrical devices which will handle a direct or close proximity lightning hit. Our panels are designed to limit the impact of nearby lightening strikes but are unlikely to survive a direct strike. We strongly recommend you contact your insurance provider for advice on insuring your solar power system.
What wind rating is the roof mounting kit?
Green Energy Solar Power Newcastle has a number of different mounting systems available, all certified to AS/NZS 1170.2 (Wind Loads) as applicable. We use an appropriate mounting for the solar panels based on location and mounting surface.