How Solar Works
What is Solar Energy?
The sun is an incredibly powerful source of sustainable energy. Solar energy is created through the heat and light the sun creates. By installing solar panels, you are able to harness this light and heat, and convert it into usable energy in the form of electricity. Through this transformation process, you are able to power your household and heat your elements (water and air).
Switching to solar energy is becoming a more popular decision, especially in Australia. In 2017, there were over two million Australian households recorded as having solar system installations. As technology advances, solar systems have become more affordable, and more convenient for households. With the advancements in energy storage, batteries now allow you to store your excess solar energy during the day so that you can use it a night. This reduces the need for you to rely on drawing power from the grid, meaning your solar system can eventually pay for itself.
How do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels produce electricity directly from the sun’s energy. The panels are connected to an isolating switch, then to an inverter which converts the DC power produced by the panels into AC power that can be used at home. The power is then directed into the electricity grid unless you have a battery storage system. The grid will feed electricity into your home at times where energy usage is higher than solar energy production (which in most cases, will be at night).
In most Australian states, electricity produced by the panels is first used in appliances that draw power within the home during the day, including your air conditioner, refrigerator, microwave, etc.
How do the Benefits of Solar Panels Work in Different States?
Queensland and New South Wales offer Feed-in Tarrifs for solar systems. Feed-in Tariffs reimburse the owner of a solar energy system a premium rate (which will vary between energy retailers) per kWh of solar electricity they feed into the grid. Currently there are two models running in both Queensland and New South Wales.
In states with a net Feed-in Tariff, power produced by the panels first reduces your electricity bill at the standard rate. Excess solar power that is fed into the grid earns the premium Feed-in Tariff. As Queensland lost its premium .44c Feed-in Tariff on July 1st, 2012, most home and business owners will get the most out of there solar system by utilising the energy that produce (or storing it) rather than sending it to the grid.
In states with a gross Feed-in Tariff, the metering arrangement is slightly different. All electricity generated by the solar power system flows out your solar power meter in your meter board (fuse box). The electricity you use in the house then either comes from the solar panels or the grid. Any excess solar power is used within the neighbourhood.
What Happens to Solar Panels in a Blackout?
In any scenario, during a blackout, the inverter disconnects itself from the grid to protect the lives of personnel working on the affected power lines. For this reason, a separate inverter and battery bank are required if you wish to have a back-up power supply. Most people purchase a standard system without batteries though. Please contact us if you wish to use a battery bank to be off the grid.