Solar Panels & Solar Electricity
1. What is a solar panel?
A solar panel converts light energy into electricity without causing pollution. Solar panels are also referred to as a photovoltaic or PV modules (photo = light, voltaic = electricity).
2. What is the difference between a solar power system and a solar hot water system?
A solar power system uses silicon cells and light to produce electricity. A solar hot water system uses black pipes and the sun’s heat to heat water.
3. How long have solar panels been around?
The first solar cells were made in the 1880s. Modern solar panels were developed during the 1950s.
4. What is a grid connected solar power system?
When the solar panels on your roof are connected to your existing commercial electricity supply, the solar system is said to be grid connected.
5. What size solar power system should I buy?
Any size Grid Connect solar power system will make an impact on reducing pollution and decreasing your electricity bill. However, for most people the maximum return on investment occurs with a 1500 watt system. This is because under the Federal Government's Solar Credits Scheme, small generation unit customers receive 5 times the number of RECs for the first 1.5 kW of system capacity. The 1500W solar power system can be expanded at a later time subject to future incentives and personal finances.
6. How much will it cost?
For a simple 1500W system you take advantage of the Government Solar Credits Scheme and involves the least amount of your own money.
This size solar system is a total bargain and will instantly add more value to your home than your initial investment.
7. How much will a 1500W grid connected system save?
The average home uses about 20 kilowatt hours per day. The system will produce on average about 6 kilowatt hours per day. This will reduce your electricity bill by about $100 a quarter while reducing the amount of CO2 in the environment by about 2.4 tonnes each year. The solar system will also cushion the impact of future electricity price increases. If your state offers a feed-in tariff, your quarterly electricity bill could reduce by anything up to $1,450 a year in today’s dollars if you lived in NSW where the feed-in tariff is set at $0.60/kWh for every kWh your system produces.
8. What is a feed-in tariff?
This is the price the government says must be paid to you for the power produced by your solar panels. Most state governments have introduced a NET feed-in tariff that pays up to 4 times the retail price for the solar electricity that you don't use and export to the grid. NSW and ACT have introduced or are planning to introduce a GROSS feed-in tariff that pays up to 4 times the retail price for the solar power for all the solar electricity you produce regardless of whether you use some of it yourself.
9. How does the electricity retailer know how much to bill me when I am producing some of my own electricity?
In most cases the electricity meter records the electricity your solar panels send to the grid as well as the energy consumed from the grid. However, in some cases it may instead record all the energy produced from the solar panels as well as all the energy consumed by the house. Your electricity distributor reads the meter and determines your balance. Your electricity retailer then bills for the energy consumed OR makes payment for the excess production.
10. Will my grid-connected solar panels continue to power my home during a blackout?
No. For safety reasons your solar PV system will automatically and immediately turn off.