Will my solar system work in a power cut?
The systems we install are grid-tied which means if the grid goes down, the solar system will automatically shut down. This is a regulatory requirement to protect the repair crews working on the power lines in the blackout area. However, if you have battery storage, it can give you a backup supply to run when the grid goes down.
What happens if my solar system produces more than I can use in my home?
Any surplus solar power that's generated is exported automatically back to the grid via the import/export meter. This surplus energy will be purchased by your retailer. Ensure to ask Solar Orb about hot deals available for premium export rates.
What does PV stand for?
PV stands for photovoltaic. This is the technology whereby solar cells are used to convert sunlight into electricity.
What are the different types of solar panels?
What are the different types of solar panels?
There are three main types of solar panels available, each of which has its own advantages. These are: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film. At Solar Orb, all of our solar energy systems are monocrystalline or poly-crystalline as they are the most efficient and require the least roof space.
Mono crystalline (monocrystalline c-Si): Being used for over 50 years, these highly efficient panels produce a given amount of energy even only with a few panels. They have a very slow degradation, generally losing 0.5 - 0.7% per year.
Poly crystalline (polycrystalline c-Si): These panels are slightly similar to mono crystalline panels. However their performance remains steadfast at higher temperatures, making them suitable for use in Australia.
​Thin film: These panels have the lowest efficiency so to produce a certain amount of energy, the size of the panels must be doubled. However they tend to perform better than crystalline panels in places where there is a lot of cloud-cover or where the sun's irradiation is weaker. Research is continuing to improve the performance and manufacturing process of thin film panels.
What affects the energy output of my solar system?
The energy output depends on your system size. The larger the system, the more energy it generates. Additionally, the solar system's energy output depends on your location in Australia, the direction your panels are facing (with north being the best), the tilt angle, and also the day and season.
What are the optimum conditions for a solar system to operate?
Solar panels produce most power when they are pointed directly at the sun. In Australia, solar modules should face north for optimum electricity production. For grid-connected solar PV power systems, the solar panels should be positioned at the angle of latitude to maximise the amount of energy produced annually. Most Australian homes have a roof pitch of 20° to 30°. If your roof's slope is not ideal, our solar installers can create an appropriate mounting frame to correct the orientation and elevation of your panel.
How much sunlight should the panels receive?
The amount of sunlight that a solar panel receives over a day is expressed in peak sun hours. As the amount of energy generated by a panel is directly proportional to the amount of energy it receives from sunlight, it is important to install panels so they receive maximum sunlight. One of our solar energy specialists will calculate the amount of energy generated by the solar PV panel from the peak sun hours available. Peak sun hours vary throughout the year.
Does shading affect the performance of the panels?
Yes, shading definitely affects the performance of your panels. Shade from trees, roof ventilators, or antennas changes the flow of electricity through the panel, thereby reducing the performance. To maximise their energy-storing capacity, PV panels must be in full sun from at least 9am to 3pm and must be kept free from shade, dust, and other impurities. ​
Fortunately, the Suntech and LG Solar photovoltaic modules used in Solar Orb's solar energy system are created with a bypass diode that minimises the power drop caused by shade. In homes where there are shading issues or panels have to be installed in different directions or roof orientation, we suggest you explore the AC panel – micro-inverter range. Ask us if they are suitable for your requirements.
Does the temperature affect output?
The amount of electricity a solar PV panel can generate is reduced as temperatures increase. Solar panels operate best at ambient temperatures up to 25°C. However, if the temperature is higher, the panel’s output declines.
Is hail likely to damage my panels?
No. The panels are tested to withstand hail. A hail test is conducted with a 20 mm diameter ice ball at 23 m/s (82km/h), directed at 11 impact locations.
What's the difference between single phase and three phase electricity?
Electricity is either connected at 230 or 240 volts (single-phase, which accounts for the majority of domestic situations), or 400 and 415 Volts (three-phase). The latter is better suited for powerful appliances. A single phase connection is common in small to medium sized houses that use an average amount of electricity. Three phase connections are more common in larger houses that utilise a lot of electricity, or in rural areas.
How long will the process take to have my solar power system installed and producing energy?
This will depend on your meter change and grid connection which is done by your energy provider. Solar Orb will help you with the application but it can be from three weeks up to two months until your system is grid connected. We will keep you in the loop regarding the progress. The installation itself will take up to one day, depending on your system size.
Will it cost money to change my meter over?
Additional charges for (smart-) meter installations and/ or connection fees might apply and vary between States and Energy Retailers. Check with your energy supplier.
Can you install panels on the flat roof?
While we can install on a flat roof, ideally we install panels with an incline (or tilt), as most roofs have an incline of 22°. As you start to tilt the panels upwards, you begin to point them toward the sun, therefore they "catch" more sun, improving the amount of energy produced. In addition, when you tilt the panels they become self-cleaning, as dust is cleaned off when it rains. If you don’t tilt them, then any dust/dirt will not be cleaned off easily, so you will have to clean them periodically. There are companies that provide this servide and they will charge between $150- $250 to do so, therefore cutting down your savings. So, if you have a flat roof we recommend we install tilt frames to incline them toward the sun and maximise your energy efficiency.
If I purchase a Solar PV system from Solar Orb and later add a battery storage device to the system, will it affect my warranty with you?
As long as the system components are not tampered with during the installation of the battery system, the warranty is still valid. All of our systems can have batteries added to them, which is the same for all systems, however they will all need to have additional hardware added. It's best to have current usage data so the system is designed to ensure the batteries charge and discharge correctly to maximise the battery life and increase your economic benefits.
What is the Renewable Energy Target?
In August 2009, the Australian Government implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme. This is designed to deliver on our nation’s commitment to ensure that 20 percent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020.
What are STCs and how are they calculated?
The Australian Government has issued Small-scale Technology Certificates or STCs, an electronic form of currency and tradable like a share. Their value is used to significantly reduce your system's upfront cost. The more renewable energy your solar system is generating, the more STCs you will be rewarded. The final amount of STCs you receive depends on the size of your system and your location in Australia. Every system size has a number of STCs allocated to it based on the Zone it is in. An example of the STC's generated by a 1.5kW system is given below for reference. The final amount of STCs you receive depends on the size of your system and your location in Australia. This is divided into four climate zones based on the strength of the sun. To check the number of STC for your system, we request you to visit the Govt. of Australia Clean Energy Regulators website..
What is the Solar Credit Scheme?
Solar credits are effectively a multiplier of the STCs that your system is eligible for. Solar credits are only available for solar systems - so as to make the system purchase more affordable and to have more Australians contributing to our Renewable Energy Target.
Should I keep and trade STCs myself?
This is certainly an option. In order to trade STCs and be paid a spot rate at the market, you have to register with the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER). For details, please visit http://ret.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/solar-panels. We currently handle STCs for you to ensure eligibility and payment. We reduce your solar system price upfront and collect the STC value from ORER later. We employ dedicated staff who look after the administration and paperwork of STCs to ensure we can pass on maximum benefit to you.
I heard the value of one STC is $40?
This is not exactly right. STCs are sold on a spot market which functions like the stock exchange. Depending on supply and demand, the price varies. Historically, the price per STC has been between $10 and $39. However, besides the spot market, STCs can also be traded in the ‘clearing house’. The clearing house is a virtual entity. Here, sellers will have to wait up to three months. Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that nobody buys from the clearing house because the spot market ensures you get the upfront discount on your system and reduce your out of pocket expense. Once your solar system is installed, we will also work with you, training you on how everything within your solar system works. We also provide you with a comprehensive hand-over pack that includes all of the details of our Solar Orb backed warranty - as well as all relevant contact details. As promised, we are with you throughout the entire life of your system.
The amount of solar panel 'rebate' you can claim depends on where you live:
The lower your zone number the better your rebate!
Here are some examples for the approximate STC value for a 5kW system based on a $37 STC price:
Zone 1: incentive = $4477
Zone 2: incentive = $4255
Zone 3: incentive = $3811
Zone 4: incentive = $3256
Financial solar incentives are changing at the end of 2016
As a result of 2015 RET (Renewable Energy Target) review, the STC deeming period will be dropping by 1 year every year after 2017. (The current deeming period is 15 years). This means any installation done after 31stDecember 2016 will have a reduced government rebate. If you're interested in solar you should act fast and take advantage of current STCs before they change.