Residential Solar Power Systems

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Homeowners that invest in solar technology reap significant financial and environmental rewards from reducing their energy bills and carbon footprint to boosting the capital value of their home and increased independence from energy suppliers. EnviroGroup’s long-standing relationships with some of the world’s largest solar technology companies ensure that the systems we install meet industry standards as well as our customers’ expectations.

Services Include

  • Grid Connect Solar Power
  • Battery and Off Grid Solutions
  • Solar System Monitoring
  • Upgrades, Maintenance and Repairs
  • Site Assessments and System Design

FAQs

Is there a financial incentive for installing solar power?

Absolutely! A new generous rebate system has been introduced called the Solar Credits Scheme, which significantly reduces the upfront cost of installing a solar power system. This rebate is not means tested, which means that any property that has not claimed a solar rebate is eligible.Under the Solar Credits Scheme, a number of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), formerly known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are awarded as an effective rebate. The larger the system the more STCs are awarded. Click here for more information abut STCs.Another significant financial incentive is the ongoingpremium feed-in tariff.

Are solar rebates really reducing?

Yes. The solar credits scheme will be phased out in four stages between July 2011 and July 2014. Each stage of the phase out will significantly increase the upfront cost of installing solar. The Feed-In Tariff is also limited to the first 100MW of solar installations. What does this mean? Households who install solar sooner will benefit from a smaller upfront cost, shorter payback period, a more extended period in which to benefit from the feed-in tariff and greater long term savings.

What is a ‘Feed-In Tariff’ and how does it affect me?
All Victorian electricity retailers must now offer a minimum of $0.60 for every kilowatt hour (kW/h) of electricity exported from home to the grid.

Some electricity retailers will pay you for your exported power, while others will simply credit the value of the power you produce against your bill, to be used at another time. Be sure to check with your current energy retailer and shop around for a better deal if you are not happy as some offers from electricity retailers are better than others. Once you choose your retailer and notify them of your intention to install solar, they will arrange the installation of a bi-directional Smart Meter. This Smart Meter will monitor the electricity used in your house as well as the electricity you export to the grid.

How long does it take to install a solar power system?

Most 1kW and 2kW systems are normally installed within one day. Some larger systems can take up to two days, however installation on houses with a tin roof normally involve faster installation than houses with a tile roof. With the old rebate system, the longest delay was approval of the rebate itself, which involved a wait of up to 12 weeks. With the new Solar Credits Scheme, installation can occur much faster.

How many solar panels do I need to power my home?
The amount of panels needed for a household will depend on several factors. It’s almost like asking “How much fuel does my car need?” It all depends on how much you intend to use your car and how you drive.

In the case of solar power, the number of panels you choose depends on:
1. If you wish to be carbon neutral or if you just want to reduce your electricity bill to zero;
2. The average daily electricity consumption of your household;
3. The amount of electricity consumed between the hours of 11am and 3pm.

On average throughout the year, a 1kW solar power system will produce approximately 3.8kW/h of electricity per day. A 1.5kW solar power stem would therefore produce an average 5.7kW per day. If you wish to be carbon neutral you simply need to divide your daily usage (in kW/h) by 3.8 to work out the kilowatt size of your system.

For a typical Victorian household consuming an average 18kWh per day and only 2kW during daylight hours, the installation of a 1.5kW solar power system would result in a major reduction in power bills but would not offset the household’s power bills entirely. A 3kW or higher system however, would export power to the grid to offset power bills entirely, reduce the system’s payback period and increase the system’s return on investment. Of course in order to significantly reduce your solar power system’s payback period and thereby maximise the return on your system, it is important to reduce your energy consumption so that you can feed more electricity back into the grid. In addition to assisting you in choosing the right size system for you, we can help you to identify and improve the inefficient aspects of your home by providing advice, eco audits and a wide range of energy-efficient and energy monitoring products as part of a holistic sustainability solution. This will help to slash your power costs and make your home more green.

For more details on how to decide on the right system for you, please refer to our information document “Maximising Your Solar Power Investment” or visit our web site.

Can I mount the panels on any roof, no matter which way it faces?
Facing due north is the ideal orientation for solar panels, but panels facing more east or west can still provide a high percentage of available power. The optimum tilt angle of the solar panels in Victoria is around 25 degrees which makes standard roof pitches ideal, but if you have a low angle or flat roof we can use adjustable tilt frames to bring the panels up to the ideal angle.

The solar modules used in the higher quality systems are relatively compact. A typical 1.5Kw system involves eight panels and an area of approximately 6.4m wide and 1.6m high for a landscape layout and 3.2m wide and 3.2m high for a portrait layout.

Are the panels fragile?

No. The panels are specifically designed and certified to withstand impacts harsh weather such as large hailstones. The aluminium frames are anodized for extra durability and long life. A direct lightning strike is about the only weather likely to create significant damage to a solar power system.

If I sell my property, do the solar panels affect the sale price?

Yes! Recent property sales have proven that a solar system loses very little value over its life, and when the Solar Credits and Feed-in tariff are considered, your solar power system will probably be worth more in the future than you paid for it. It is possible to remove the system and reinstall it on another house, however this is a costly and difficult procedure and it is not recommended. A solar power system is a very wise financial and capital investment, especially given the rising price of electricity and the growing demand for energy efficient homes.

Will the installation involve any significant alterations to my house?

All hardware is installed with virtually no alterations to your house. For tin roofs the frames are mounted directly to the roof and for tile roofs, a few tiles are removed, the frame is mounted into the rafters and then the tiles are replaced. The cables are normally installed inside the roof and walls and conduit is used as a last resort, ensuring minimum aesthetics impact to your home.

What happens if the panels are shaded?

Solar panels obviously require sunlight to produce electricity, but a certain amount of minor shading won’t dramatically reduce your system’s performance. We always design our systems to avoid shading throughout the day. This is one reason why we prefer to conduct a free assessment at your home before we provide a quotation. Ask us you are concerned about shading.

Do I need to clean or maintain the panels?

Your solar panels rarely need to be washed or cleaned, but it is advisable to wipe them down with water perhaps once a year to avoid dust build-up from affecting performance.

Can I install solar panels and disconnect totally from the electricity grid?
It is not feasible to install a ‘stand-alone’ solar power system if you are located in a suburban grid-connected area. The cost for batteries and other components for a stand-alone system is significantly more expensive than a grid-connect system. Installing a grid-connect system also means you can ‘export’ your excess solar electricity.

If you live in a remote area, you can install a stand-alone Solar Power system and claim RECs under the Solar Credits Scheme.

What happens when the power company has a failure?
Your solar power system will instantly shut off if the grid fails. If your system continues to produce electricity, it can risk the lives of the power line workers. This automatic shutdown also protects any electricians conducting electrical work within your home.

If required, we can design a small backup system, incorporating a solar panel, battery and inverter, that can provide you with backup power in emergency situations. Please note however that these systems are generally expensive.

What are the warranties provided for the system?
A standard 25-year performance warranty is provided for the solar panels. A five-year workmanship warranty is provided for the installation of the system and a five-year warranty is provided for the inverter, which can be upgraded to a 10-year warranty. Other premium or tailored warranties are also available.

Click here to read more about the warranties EnviroGroup offers.

How Solar Power Works

solar_house_vectorSolar panels are installed in an orientation that maximises energy gain as to off-set electricity usage within the house. When the sun is shining the solar panels generate DC power, which is sent to an Inverter and converted to 240V AC.

How the system works from there depends on whether your solar power system is grid interactive (grid connect) or stand alone (utilises battery storage).

Grid Connect Solar Power

Grid Connect solar electricity systems allow the export of excess electricity during the day whilst still being able to buy electricity from the grid during times of inadequate solar production (ie on cloudy days or at night). Once installed they are simple to run and require no maintenance.

If you are not home during the day, or not using all of the power from your solar panels, the excess power you make feeds into the electricity grid, registering as “exported” energy on your meter.

If you require more power during the day than your solar panels can supply, your system will automatically supplement your electricity requirements by buying power from the grid as per usual.

To learn how to get the most out of your grid connect solar power system, click here.

Grid Connect Solar Power – Main Components

1. Solar Panels
Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electricity.

2. Grid Interactive Inverter
An inverter is the heart of a solar power system. It takes the DC electricity (produced by the solar panels), and converts it to a more common AC form (like the power that your use in the home).

Positioning

Ideally solar power works best when positioned on a roof area facing a northerly direction, or a flat roof where we can tilt the panels up to face north. But we can also install your system on a west facing roof if that is all you have available, with a small amount of energy loss.

How much energy will I produce?

In southern Australia, a Solar Power system will produce approximately 3.6 kWh of electricity, per kW of Solar Panels installed. These figures are averaged across the year, as you will obviously produce more energy in summer, and less in winter. This means if you install: 8 x 180Watt Solar panels = 1440Watts of installed Solar Panels (1.44 kW) So you will produce: 1.44 x 3.6 = 5.2 kWh per day

Metering

To enable you to access the Premium Feed-in Tariff you need to be able to meter how much energy goes in your house, and how much goes out (is exported). Most existing meters cannot do this. Instead we when you purchase a Solar Power System through EnviroGroup, we will send off the paperwork on your behalf to get a new bi-directional meter installed in your home.

Click here for Important metering info

Stand Alone Solar for Off-Grid Areas

The other main type of solar power system is what’s called a Stand Alone System, also known as a RAPS (Remote Area Power System). A stand alone solar system uses solarpanels to charge large batteries which are then used to power the building during non-daylight hours. Stand alone systems are normally only suitable for non-grid connected areas however, in some situations a battery backup system is essential in case of power outage. Ask our solar experts about battery backup if your home or building requires it.

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