Solar Power Brisbane – Objective Solar Panels Review For Brisbane Residents
12 November 2015. Welcome to the Brisbane Solar Information website. We attempt to offer impartial information on residential solar power installation in Brisbane, provide updates on the seemingly ever changing solar incentives offered at a State and Federal Government level and suggest ‘common- sense’ but important pointers to consider when considering the viability of solar for your home and some useful tips when evaluating various solar power system offers. You can promptly receive, without any obligation, free solar system quotation for your home. Click here or fill in the form below.
Attention: All Solar Panel System buyers in Brisbane
The Renewable Energy Target (R.E.T.) ‘review’ in November 2014 from the federal government has recommended leaving the current rooftop solar program as is. This is good news if you are considering installing solar panels in Brisbane. The SRES, or small scale renewable energy scheme, is the government program that effectively offers households a ‘subsidy’ for the initial cost of installing solar power systems. It had been feared by the solar installation industry that the renewable energy target review would most likely call for the abolition of this scheme, meaning that solar system pricing would have risen by several thousands of dollars.
The Case For Solar In Brisbane:
The ‘Short Term’ picture for Brisbane residents considering solar has been somewhat ‘muddied’ by the Queensland solar feed in tariff roller coaster ride in recent times. A ‘feed tariff’ is simply money you are credited for when your solar system puts electricity back into the ‘grid’ – this happens when the solar panels produce more power than your house is currently consuming. There is currently no S.E. Qld. feed tariff payable by the Queensland. Government however some electricity retailers (like AGL for example) are offer a feed in tariff or 6-8 cents. Whilst this is way below the previously available 44c/Kwh, the case for solar remains compelling in our view. The short term drivers for solar installation in Queensland include:
- Cutting your daytime electricity usage from the grid. The relatively low available solar feed in tariff means that if you are considering solar then maximum benefit will be derived from matching the solar system size to your daytime electricity load / usage. In other words it is beneficial to be using all or as much as the power that the solar panels system produces in your home – ie: ‘offsetting’ the power that you would otherwise draw from the electricity grid with power from your solar system, saving you money.
- Given the above strategy, it is important to first examine your electricity usage. Remember that this varies seasonally – for example many Brisbane home owners will be running air-conditioning throughout the warmer months, so power bills are probably higher for many people during the summer months – look at your power bills over the past 18 months and look at your electricity usage. Most reputable solar companies will be able to assist in the assessment of the optimum size of system for you.
- Reasonably good ‘pay back periods’. Correct system design and sizing can still offer pay back periods (ie the length of time required to re-coup the outlay of your newly installed solar system) of around 4-5 years.
- As discussed above, as of November 2014 there are still federal government subsidies in place to make solar installation more affordable.
In our view the long term drivers for solar installation in Queensland will be:
- Expected increases in electricity costs
- Ongoing increases in ‘affordability’ of solar installation
- Solar system efficiency increases mean higher effective financial returns
- Trend for solar power integration with home energy efficient design
You can promptly receive, without any obligation, free solar system quotation for your home. Click here or fill in the form below.
Purchasing a Solar System in Brisbane – Tips and Thoughts….
Brisbane Solar Installers – Profiles (Make Sure You Read This)
The nature of the Queensland solar market over the past few years has been very cyclical in nature. There have been ‘boom times’ for solar installers, when, for example the Government rebates are about to drop and typically there is then a consumer ‘rush’ to sign up so as to qualify for the current incentives (like the previously available 44 cent feed in tariff). Similarly, when the Federal Government announced the introduction and subsequent implementation of the Carbon Tax, hence creating some concerns about possible electricity pricing increases, the Brisbane market for solar power took off.
The nature of this seemingly attractive ‘market’ has attracted and created a very diverse range of Brisbane solar panel companies. Some of these companies are excellent in terms of their knowledge, both of solar power and installation compliance issues, their ethics – offering the ‘right’ system to their customers that will meet their needs and their ongoing support for their products and installations. There have also, without doubt, been a number of dubious solar companies emerge that have looked to ‘cash in’ on available solar incentives and make fast money, without due consideration to solar system quality, back up, installation compliance and honouring warranties etc. So what types of Solar companies are operating in Brisbane:
1. Full Subcontract ‘Sales’ Solar Companies
These are companies that are generally founded by ‘entrepreneurs’ looking to ride the solar power installation market while it is buoyant. Typically these companies will operate a call centre, manned by commission telephone sales people. They often try and assess your solar needs by doing a study of your homes roof through google maps / google earth and come up with a proposal and try and ‘close the sale’ (usually fairly high pressure, ‘don’t miss out on the rebate’ etc) over the telephone. There have been numerous instances where the brand of solar panels and inverters is not disclosed, meaning that low quality parts may be supplied. These companies often carry no inventory of solar components and ‘back to back order’ – ie; they only order from suppliers once they have secured customer orders. They may source from a variety of suppliers which again, can lead to very different degrees of quality of the solar parts supplied to you. Installation of the solar system is carried out by a third party. A ‘kit of parts’ (typically being the solar panels, solar inverter, circuit breakers and electrical isolators and the solar racking system ) is supplied to the installer by the sales company. In general this type of company is to be avoided.
2. Appointment Setting Solar Companies
Again, these solar companies are very much ‘sales driven’. These companies may replicate the sales tactics of ‘Holiday Time Share Apartment’ and the likes. There approach is to generate enquiries through media campaigns and then insist on visiting you in your home to give you a ‘presentation’ about solar power. Once in your home you will be given a presentation and then have the ‘hard sell’ applied to try and get you to sign up for a solar power installation ‘on the spot’. Again, to be avoided in general.
3. Electricians / Electrical Engineers
Many electricians and electrical contracting companies have become involved in solar installation in Brisbane. With the correct licencing and accreditation and long standing presence in the area some of these companies have gained good reputations for the quality of their installations. These companies may be less impacted by the ups and downs of the solar industry (as discussed above) as they also do diversified electrical contract work.
4. Energy Retailers
Energy retailers (like AGL etc) have been offering solar systems in Queensland for a while. There are mixed views in buying solar power through Brisbane energy retailers. Benefits include : financing generally available, strong company likely to be in business for many years to come, if support or repairs are required. Negatives could include: use subcontract installation generally (again, could be good or not!), you need to ensure the manufacturers of the solar panels and inverter are stipulated in any solar quotation they offer.
5. Full Service solar power installation company
This could well include the Energy Retailers and Electricians / Electrical Engineers. These are companies that employ in house solar designer and accredited installers , have a leaning towards quality, ‘brand name’ solar components and are preferably based in Brisbane, with many years (verifiable) design and installation experience.
Receive , no obligation solar power quotation from Brisbane based solar power installers. Complete this form below and be contacted quickly by us:
Solar Quotation – What to look For:
1. We strongly recommend you insist on a site visit, to assess your roof space and give you the opportunity to discuss in detail the installation and options available
2. Any quotation should include an electrical power output summary. This should clearly show what the proposed solar system will generate (including variables like time of year etc)
3. Full Solar component listing. For the solar panels, solar inverter, racking systems etc you should ask to have specified the names of the manufacturer, the warranties offered and how a claim is made should a warranty issue arise
4. Documentation supporting the installers licencing and accreditation for solar power installation in Brisbane. Will the installation be done by the quoting company or by sub-contractors.
5. Will the installation company organise with your energy retailer the new solar meter required after installation and is that cost included in their quotation?
6. When will installation take place and how long will it take.
7. Can they offer references – other solar installations in your area you can contact?
8. Post installation, will the solar company explain how to read the inverter digital read out and how to check system operation.
9. Is there a follow up inspection 6 or 12 months after installation and can they offer or recommend a solar panel cleaning service if required?
Brisbane Solar System Design Thoughts
As discussed above, in a low feed tariff environment, as currently exists in Brisbane, from a solar system design perspective it is beneficial to export as little solar power back to the grid and use as much of that power in your home. The often touted approach to this is to consciously set appliances like swimming pool pumps, chlorinators, clothes dryers, washing machines to run during the daytime (when your solar system produces power). This is good advice, however solar installation really goes hand in hand with introducing and implementing effective energy saving strategies in your home. By looking at home insulation, possibly replacing outdated, energy usage devices like old pool pumps, where some users have been able to use a pump with 50% the wattage rating yet still retain the same pool performance, replacing inefficient refrigerators with more a more energy efficiency one and possibly considering new generation solar air conditioning and solar hot water systems, you may be able to purchase a smaller solar system. Installation of L.E.D. lighting can save over 70 percent of the power consumption of halogen lighting for example. The C.S.I.R.O’s Saving Energy In The Home site has further tips on this.
December 2013 – Solar Panel and Inverter Reviews
Over the next few months we will look at various solar panels and inverters used around Brisbane in solar installations.
ET Solar Panels Review
ET Solar is a German based solar company offering Crystalline Solar PV Modules and Solar solutions. With manufacturing operations in China, ET Solar has joint ventures or tie ups with Solar PV Panel manufacturing companies in China for producing Solar PV Panels in ET Solar brand name. ET solar has worldwide offices in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. ET Solar panels are certified by various world class recognized institutions like TUV Rheinland, Arizona State University, CE, Intertek, VDE and UL. It is noteworthy that ET Solar has established a partnership with UNICEF to integrate solar into sustainable housing projects globally.
ET solar has a wide range of module offerings under the crystalline module range. ET solar produces modules using both Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline cells of size 5 Inches and 6 Inches. The power class of ET solar modules range from 180 W – 305 W with various cell configurations and cell sizes.
Features of ET Solar Panels:
High module conversion efficiency, through superior manufacturing technology – uses the highest efficiency solar cells to produce the highest power module in that series.
0 to +5W positive tolerance for mainstream products – ET solar offers positive tolerance on certain power class modules. This helps the EPC companies and system integrators to optimize their efficiencies during Engineering and Design.
Withstand high wind loads and snow loads (5400Pa) – As per IEC and UL standards for safety and performance.
Anodized aluminum improving corrosion resistance
Aesthetically appealing for residential and commercial systems with black back sheet and frame
Anti-reflective highly transparent, low iron tempered glass.
Excellent performance under low light conditions.
Lower light induced degradation (LID)
Certified as per International Standards (IEC, UL, VDE, CE)
Linear Performance Warranty – for the first year from the shipment date of the module, any photovoltaic module under normal application, use, installation and service condition as specified in ET Solar installation manual, will exhibit a power output no less than 97% of the Pmax, from the second year to twenty-five years from the shipment date, the power output will decline annually by no more than 0.65% of the Pmax at Standard Test Conditions. So by the end of 25 years, at least 81.4% of Pmax can be achieved.
PV Cycle Member – ET Solar is also a PV Cycle member and hence customers buying solar panels from ET solar do not have any issues with disposing of solar panels after their lifetime.
Benefits of ET Solar Panels:
25-year linear performance warranty
10-year warranty on materials and workmanship
Enhanced design for easy installation and long-term reliability
Complete the form above to get 3 totally obligation solar power quotations for your home, from C.E.C. (Clean Energy Council) Brisbane Solar Power installers.
Sharp Solar Panels Review
Sharp Solar is a Japan based solar company offering Crystalline and Thin Film Solar PV Modules and Solar solutions. Sharp solar is a global solar company with marketing and manufacturing operations spread across the globe. Sharp Solar manufactures both Thin Film and Crystalline technology solar cells and panels. Sharp solar has worldwide offices in Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia Pacific. All sharp Solar panels are certified by various world class recognized institutions as per IEC international standards.
Sharp solar in Australia offers only Solar Panels based on crystalline technology. The power class of modules range from 130W to 220W. The 130 Watt modules are of Nominal 12 V rating and are useful for battery charging applications.
Features and benefits of Sharp Crystalline Solar Modules in Australia :
High-power module (130W – 220W) using 156.5mm square multi / mono-crystal silicon solar cells with (13.0% – 14.24%) module conversion efficiency
Photovoltaic module with bypass diode minimizes the power drop caused by shade
Anti reflection coating and BSF (Back Surface Field) structure to improve cell conversion efficiency: (14.7% to 15.99%)
White tempered glass, EVA resin and a weatherproof film, plus aluminium frame for extended outdoor use
Nominal 12 volt output for battery charging applications and higher voltages for other applications.
Output terminal: Lead wire with waterproof connector
Certifications: IEC 61215 & IEC 61730
SHARP modules are manufactured in ISO 9001 certified factories
Features and benefits of Sharp Thin Film Solar Modules:
Tandem-junction structure (amorphous silicon/ microcrystalline silicon) captures a wider part of the solar spectrum, converting more sunlight into electricity.
HIGH VOLTAGE ADVANTAGE
Proprietary design increases reliability by minimizing losses caused by module output variation.
Microcrystalline layer provides superior long-term stability and higher module efficiency. 25-year limited warranty on power output.
Two glass layers laminated with a high performing vapor barrier encapsulant.
The front glass has low iron content and the back is tempered for greater strength. The encapsulant has a low moisture vapor transmission which eliminates the need for an edge seal. Modules are sized to optimize the greatest amount of power.
With a low temperature coefficient for output power, thin film generates greater energy than its crystalline silicon counterpart in geographic regions where temperatures are high. In warm climates, this translates into more kilowatt-hours per kilowatt.
The following are articles we have put together on brands of solar inverters used commonly in Brisbane. The Brisbane solar power market is probably offering over 100 different types of inverters currently, so we look at some of the more commonly used inverter brands. Don’t get confused by the technical nature of these articles – remember the inverters job is to convert the DC electricity produced by the solar panels on your roof into the AC electricity used in your home and fed back onto the electricity grid.
SMA Solar Inverter Technology is widely used in Australian solar panel installations and is a globally recognized brand name for Inverters in solar PV applications both off-grid and On-grid. SMA is also the world leader in Inverter solutions for PV applications. SMA has a portfolio of products that covers a wide range of applications that include
Medium Power Solutions – Inverter solutions for small to medium size solar power plants.
Off-Grid Solutions – Inverter solutions for solar power plants that are in remote locations and have no grid connectivity or very limited grid connectivity.
Large Power Plant solutions – Inverter solutions for MW size large solar power plants.
Wind Energy Inverters – Inverter solutions for wind energy applications
Fuel Cell Inverters – Inverter solutions for Fuel Cell applications
Monitoring Systems – Provides monitoring solutions for all kinds of inverters.
SMA inverters for grid connected power plants range from a 3 KW String Inverter to an 800 KW Central Inverter. SMA inverter solutions are very flexible and modular in nature. It provides the system integrator maximum flexibility during engineering of the solar power plant. The different series of inverters offered by SMA are
Sunny Boy Series – Sunny boy is the high quality transformerless String inverter series from SMA, commonly used by Brisbane solar installation companies
The power rating of these inverters range from a small 0.5 KW up to 10 KW.
Few of the inverters in this range are customized for the US market and other models for different markets.
Sunny Boy 700-US is the lowest power rating inverters of the entire series starting 575W up to 875W and are UL approved.
Sunny Boy HF series inverters are the transformer based inverters with High Frequency technology and provides the maximum yield among the transformer based inverters. Available in ratings of 2KW, 2.5 KW and 3 KW.
Sunny Boy 3000TL, 4000TL and 5000TL series of inverters comes with Reactive Power control feature for seamless grid integration and management. These inverters have a high DC Input voltage of 750 Volts and hence fewer parallel strings.
All Inverters have an IP65 and IP54 Degree of protection.
Sunny Mini Central – Sunny Mini Central inverter series are transformerless inverters which have the highest efficiency and provide the highest yield. These inverters have a very good price performance ratio compared to other inverters in this class.
Sunny Mini Central Inverters in the power class nine to eleven KW have the feature of Reactive Power control.
Highest efficiency of 98%.
The power class of Sunny Mini Central inverters range from 4.5 KW to 11KW.
The Sunny Mini Central 4600A, 5000A and 6000A are installed wherever galvanic isolation is required. 6000A and 5000 A are suitable for use in 3 Phase systems.
Sunny Mini Central Inverters can be used to build solar PV plants starting 18 KW up to MW size. Megawatt size plants both Ground Mounted and Rooftop have been built using these inverters.
Aurora is the brand of inverters produced by Power-One’s Renewable Energy Solutions division. Power-One is one of the world class reputed companies offering the best-in-class inverter solutions for the solar industry and the wind industry. Power-One’s broad range of Aurora products offers industry leading efficiency and reliability, providing customers with high energy yields. The Aurora range of Inverters for solar PV applications includes the following series.
Single Phase Inverters – includes Aurora Micro, Aurora Optimizer and Aurora Uno
Three Phase Inverters – includes Aurora Trio, Aurora Lite, Aurora Plus and Aurora Ultra.
Aurora Micro – The new Aurora 300 W inverter is a new Micro inverter from Power-One which can be used at each Module level or with a couple of modules combined. Micro-inverters have certain advantages over String inverters as they allow you to control the output from each individual module and also can do Maximum Power Point Tracking at module level.
Outdoor Inverter for use under extreme weather conditions
Increased Energy harvesting due to MPPT algorithm at each module level.
No DC input current ripple.
Up to 10 micro inverters can be directly connected in a string.
High redundancy because only one module will be affected in case of a component failure.
Aurora Optimizer – The Aurora 300W optimizer uses a DC-to-DC booster technology to maximize energy output from each module. Normally in Solar installations, solar panels are connected in a serial pattern and there by failure or reduction of output in any one module affects the entire array output.
Modules mismatch can be optimized.
Better tolerance during module shadings.
Distributed MPPT for energy maximization
compensation against natural modules de-rating
Highest efficiency up to 99.5%.
Aurora UNO – The Aurora Uno series of inverters have both Indoor and Outdoor models. The power class range from 2 KW up to 6 KW.
The PVI-2000 and PVI-3600 are the only two indoor models in this series.
UNO-2.0-I-OUTD & UNO-2.5-I-OUTD are outdoor inverters with a HF Transformer for Isolation. UNO-2.0-I-OUTD-US & UNO-2.5-I-OUTD-US are the models for the US market.
PVI-2000-OUTD is an outdoor transformer less inverter.
PVI-3.0-TL-OUTD, PVI-3.6-TL-OUTD & PVI-4.2-TL-OUTD models are transformerless inverters for the world market.
PVI-3.0-OUTD-US, PVI-3.6-OUTD-US & PVI-4.2-OUTD-US models are transformerless inverters for the US market.
PVI-3.8-I-OUTD & PVI-4.6-I-OUTD are outdoor inverters with a HF Transformer for Isolation. PVI-3.8-I-OUTD-US & PVI-4.6-I-OUTD-US are the models for the US market.
PVI-5000-TL & PVI-6000-TL inverter models are available for both US markets and non US markets separately.
Each inverter has specific grid codes and is field selectable.
Wide DC voltage input range.
Precise and high speed MPPT algorithm for real time tracking.
RS-485 communication interface.
Aurora TRIO – Aurora Trio is the series of Three Phase Inverters for outdoor applications. The power class range from 10 KW up to 27.6 KW. They are available in different models for US and Canada market.
The different models are PVI-10KW & 12 KW with Isolation transformers.
PVI-10.0-TL & PVI-12.5-TL are the transformerless inverters.
TRIO-27.6-TL & TRIO-20.0-TL are transformerless inverters with efficiency ratings up to 98.2%.
Electrolyte Free power converter for longer life.
True Three Phase bridge topology for DC/AC output converter.
Integrated string combiner box
Every inverter has specific grid codes that are field selectable.
High speed and precise MPPT algorithm for real time tracking and higher energy yields.
Dual MPPT’s for better energy harvesting from two different sub-arrays at different orientations.
Outdoor design for use in extreme weather conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Has Solar Power Uptake In Brisbane Changed Over the Last Few Years?
Interesting question. It has been widely reported that Australia has (of April 2013) over one million homes with solar panels installed now on their roofs. So clearly solar power uptake has been incredibly ‘successful’ in this country. Regardless of your political view point, much of the ‘credit’ for the solar roll out over the last few years has to be put down to Federal Government initiatives to offer reduced start up costs for solar panels installation via their Solar Credits scheme and their Renewable Energy Target, which sets a goal of reaching electricity produced in Australia to hit twenty percent by the year 2020. The Queensland state Government certainly further ignited the interest and subsequent number of Brisbane solar installations when they bought in their possibly over generous 44 cent feed tariff, as discussed above. This had its definite pro’s and con’s’:
Previous Qld. 44 cent Feed In Tariff Pro’s:
- Ignited uptake of solar panels installation in Brisbane
- Created over 22,000 jobs in Brisbane directly related to solar power installation
- Coupled with the Federal Government Solar credits scheme, the high solar feed in tariff created a very competitive market for solar. The upside being that solar system prices decreased by over 63 percent in just 4 years (to August 2012). In 2008 for example a 1.5Kw solar system (typically, the smallest system installed in Brisbane) would cost a homeowner anywhere from $5,500- $12,000. At the ‘peak’ of the market, in 2012, there were many Brisbane solar installers offering a 1.5Kw system for as low as $850!
- An ‘indirect’ ‘pro’ of the high feed tariff and subsequent high solar uptake was the definite increase amongst solar users of an ‘energy saving awareness’. It is without doubt the case that more often than not, solar power system owners become far more aware of their energy consumption and often take new measures once solar is installed, to increase their homes’ energy usage matrix – that is seek to replace energy inefficient appliance 9old fridges, non-inverter technology air conditioners etc) with low electricity usage devices and they will often implement improved home insulation methods. This may well be one of the ‘unmeasured’ financial benefits of solar installation. Solar + Home Energy Efficiency = Very Significant Electricity Usage Reductions
Previous Qld. 44 cent Feed In Tariff Con’s:
- Its is fair to say, (at least in our view), that the high f.i.t. and resultant ‘surge’ in interest around Brisbane for solar panels, bought many business ‘cowboys’ into the Brisbane solar marketplace. A look through some of the consumer watchdogs (fair trading) website highlights cases where companies were accepting payments from solar customers and never getting the systems installed. Other unfortunate instances like non compliant, low quality installations have occurred. As more and more people saw solar installation in brisbane as a way of making a quick profit, the number of solar companies swelled and subsequently, in an attempt to capture as much market share as possible, particularly on having the lowest price, many of these companies started sourcing lower quality solar panels and solar inverters from china, sometimes with disatrous impacts on the customers who purchased systems using these parts. very high equipment fault rates were reported for some of these parts and in some instances the warranties were not honoured by the unstalling company.
- Reputation of Solar Power Impacted? – for a while, particularly after the wide scale reporting of issues highlighted above, the Brisbane solar market, many would say, was tainted by these complaints. In essence a solar system and its installation should be fairly ‘pain free’ provided quality panels, solar inverters and installation (compliant with regulations and done by accredited installers) is supplied. Because a solar system is a ‘static system’, meaning there are no moving parts, it should operate reliably and with minimal maintenance for 20 to 30 years, providing the electricity savings and environmental ‘carbon reduction’ for which it was designed.
How Do Weather Conditions In Brisbane Impact Solar System Output?
Ok, so you have your new solar system installed via a reputable local solar installer. So, on a day to day basis what kind of solar electric output could you expect, assuming the system has been properly installed with, correct solar panel orientation,correct pitch of solar panels, quality installation ensuring compliance and minimising system losses etc etc
Lets take an example of a 4.5 KWatt system. Weather conditions make a huge difference on a day to day basis, obviously, in determining how much power your system produces. In Brisbane, the often touted figure of 4.2 hours per day, average sunlight is a reasonable ‘average’ to work from, meaning, on average a 4.5 Kwatt solar system would produce 4.5 x 4.2 = 18.9 Kwh of power per day. Ok, so how much ‘variance’ can we get from this average?
- Rainy Days or Very Overcast Weather Conditions: It is interesting to realise that on a very overcast or rainy Brisbane day the same system may only produce a few kilowatts of power, literally 3 to 6 Kwh.
- Optimum Bright Sunny Conditions: At the other weather extreme, a perfectly clear day with full sunshine in summer could produce an output of over 24 Kwh on that day.
The seemingly changing seasons (which may or may not be attributed to global warming), can produce ‘unseasonally’ wet summers, meaning that the total annual solar output of your system may be less than estimated at the time of solar quotation (we strongly recommend getting in writing the expected output of the systems you are being quoted) or the reverse could apply. So we are dealing with averages, both in the short term (daily basis) and long term (yearly output).
Are The Solar Panels Mounted directly Onto My Roof?
From the road, looking at solar panels mounted on Brisbane roofs, it often appears that the solar panels are mounted flush onto the roof. Actually, it is important that this is not the case in practice. Because there is an inverse relationship between solar p.v. output and temperature , we want the solar panels to ‘run’ or operate at as low a temperature as possible. By having correct installation of the panels, where there is space between the back of the panel and the roof surface, this allows for air circulation behind the solar panels allowing for cooling of them. This is another reason why ensuring that the quality of the installation of the solar system is given priority and that buying ‘on price’ alone may well be an unwise decision.
If Sunlight Is Blocked By Surrounding trees Will This Effect The Output Of My Solar System?
The efficiency of a solar system is, in part, reliant on the solar panels receiving the maximum possible amount of sunlight to achieve their rated output. In Brisbane, commonly used mono-crystalline panels are generally sized from 190 watts up to 250 watts, with expectation that in 2014 300 watt panels may become more commonly used. Solar system design should always include maximising the ‘system efficiency’ and taking shadow cast onto your solar panels is absolutely critical at the ‘design stage’ – ie: well before you sign a contract to purchase and proceed with the installation of the system.
Most reputable solar installers in Brisbane will offer a full shade analysis of the roof area where the proposed solar system will be installed. Remember shadows cast on your roof area move throughout the day and it is very important to ensure that the proposed area for the installation of the solar panels has no shading at all if at all possible, but, as a bare minimum, receive no shade from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If this is not the case, then installing solar probably is not a good idea for your home, unless an alternative location for the panels can be found. The introduction in the last couple of years of ‘micro-inverter’ technology may be able to assist in the case of minimal shading. Micro-inverters are small inverters that are used separately on each and every solar panel installed in a system. The benefit (amongst others) are that they can maximise individual solar panel efficiency and maximise the entire system (ie: all panels) performance, in that, for example, a solar panel effected by part shading will not ‘drag down’ the other panels receiving full sunlight. This may be an option for some systems where shading could be an issue, but tread carefully. micro-inverters generally add cost to the overall solar system cost and the more components used in the system, the higher the potential for failure there is.
If I do not have a North facing Roof are there any other options ?
It could be worth discussing with solar installers the pros and cons of having the panels installed in an Easterly and Westerly direction. Over the last few years there has been increasing interest in this type of solar panel orientation. It can work to meet some of your homes electricity demand in the mornings and late afternoon if you have a reasonable electricity usage during those periods. When you plot the output from a solar system with this dual panel orientation, the output tends to be more flatter – ie: more constant throughout the day than with the traditionally installed north facing panels. This needs to be carefully thought through and discussed in detail with prospective installers. Issues such as your roofs pitch, morning or late afternoon shading onto the panels, prevalence of afternoon thunder storms etc could make this arrangement untenable. The inveter needs to be able to accept the split panel locations and the available feed in tariff needs to factored in as does your pattern of electricity usage. Still it may be an option if a north facing roof is not available and may offer benefits depending on your situation.
I’m building a new house – Can the Solar Panels be Built into the New Home?
The next generation of integrated solar panels for residential housing will likely be through the application of organic photovoltaics or O.P.V.’s (see our recent article describing this emerging technology here). The C.S.I.R.O. has, this year, commissioned Australia’s largest (to date) facility for printing these ‘thin film’ solar cells and the current sizes available range up to A3 size (297mm x 420mm). As mentioned in the C.S.I.R.O.’s video below, initial target applications are consumer electronics and integrated electronics. O.P.V.’s lend themselves perfectly to ‘on board battery charger applications. The application for this technology in integrating it into roof tiling and sheeting , home walls and even windows will possibly make the types of solar panel installations currently seen, a thing of the past, certainly for newly constructed homes, within a few years.
How Does Queensland Compare With Other States In Solar Installations?
As of the end of 2012 the Clean Energy Council reported that 31 percent of solar capacity was installed in Queensland. Compare this with 22 percent in N.S.W., 18 percent in Victoria and 15 percent in South Australia. Queensland’s climate and relatively long periods of sunshine, coupled with the previously available generous 44 cent feed tariff have driven this phenomenal solar uptake. Whilst the market in Brisbane (as of November 2103) has slowed the trend for solar uptake is likely to continue well into the future, driven by increasing energy costs.
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