How does solar power work?

When sunlight hits the PV (Photo Voltaic) cells in a solar panel, electrons are knocked loose and move around. These loose electrons can be captured so they move in the same direction around a circuit. An electric current is formed by this flow of electrons in the same direction.
By connecting many PV cells to each other in a panel and wiring a number of panels together (called an array), a flow of electrons is created and produces direct current (DC) electricity. The more panels in an array, the more electricity is made.
In our homes and businesses we use 240 volt alternating current (AC) electricity. Therefore, a box called an inverter is used to convert the DC electricity to AC so it can be used in your premises.
What power is not used in your premises flows out to the grid.

Is it still necessary to be connected to the grid?

Yes and No.
There are 2 types of solar systems – On Grid and Off Grid.
Although they are beginning to become more popular in urban environments, Off Grid systems are usually used in rural or remote locations. These systems consist of PV panels, battery storage and back up diesel generators for when the battery drains. They are not connected to the power grid and are therefore at the mercy of the elements – poor sunlight, poor performance.
On Grid systems comprise the bulk of Australia’s PV baseload. The rapid uptake of battery storage solutions is certainly reducing reliance on the grid for electricity needs, however we suggest to stay connected to the grid (if your battery empties or the sun goes down) and invest in a professionally designed system that will maximise your free power opportunity.

So, during a blackout, my premises will still have power?

Again, yes and no.
In the event of a blackout, if you have sufficient energy stored in your battery, you may be able to continue to run a couple of circuits in your premise if you’ve invested in battery backup. You may keep your fridge running or your computer system on.
However, any grid connected system, either with or without batteries and without backup, will switch off. In the event of a blackout, your solar power system will switch off and remain inactive until power returns. This is a mandatory safety feature of your solar power system. It is designed to protect those who may be working on the blacked-out grid system.
You must ensure that all of the switches on your solar power system are set to ‘on’ when the grid returns to normal. If your switches are turned off, you will not generate solar electricity.

What happens at night?

As its name would suggest, a solar system will tirelessly produce electricity while the sun is shining. At night it switches off and ceases to produce power. If you choose to invest in battery storage, your battery will fill with your surplus solar power during the day and can then be dispatched at night, minimising your reliance on grid power.

What about cloud or shade?

Cloudy days do not stop solar production but reduce the systems output. Shade, on the other hand, can greatly reduce a solar systems performance and care must be taken by your systems designer to avoid any shading issues as effectively as possible. Shade is the enemy of ‘string’ solar systems. You should position your panels in an area free of shadows from things such as trees and buildings.

Does my roof need to face North?

Not necessarily. In Australia, a North face is preferred but East, West and even South facing roofs will still generate power. It’s vital, while in discussions with your solar consultant, to determine clearly when the bulk of your power is needed during the day. If, for example, your business operates from 8am to 4pm with peak demand occurring at midday, do you really need a substantial array facing West? Will the long summer afternoons when the sun doesn’t set until 8pm be of direct benefit to your business? You finish at 4pm. Is this late afternoon power a waste?

What happens to the excess power generated but not used?

If you invest in battery storage the excess power fills the battery for overnight consumption. When the battery is full, any further excess goes out to the grid. All excess power produced from a system without battery storage goes to the grid. In both cases, you will receive an itemised credit on your electricity bill from your electricity Retailer. This is called a Feed In Tariff (FIT).

How much will I be paid for the Feed In Tariff?

When you invest in a solar system, you need to think of yourself as small power station. You are now generating electricity and are feeding power into the NEM, the National Energy Market, just like the big guys. There are rules in place to ensure you get paid for providing this service. The rules keep changing however.
The price you are paid for exporting power to the grid varies according to what state you are in, who your electricity Retailer is, who your electricity Distributor is and the size of your solar system. Each separate State Government sets the mandated minimum price a Retailer must pay per kilowatt for exported power. This figure is re-assessed every 12 months by each State Government. Currently, (4th Qtr, 2017) this price can be zero cents (for large systems) right through to 20+ cents per kW for residential systems. Further, as battery storage continues to roll out in the market, there are some emerging monitoring software companies who have a 100 cent per kW FIT offer for power exported from the battery as part of ‘demand management’ modelling.
Your Powervault consultant will explain in detail all the pro’s and con’s of scaling your solar systems size around potential export earning opportunities. Generally, we advise to scale a system around maximum solar power usability, not export, because you will never be paid the same price for your power as you are being charged for theirs.

Is there still a Government rebate?

Yes. For solar systems smaller than 100kW, the Federal Government offers generous rebates to the purchaser in the form of Small Scale Technology Certificates (STC’s). The number of STC’s issued varies according to the system size and the year the system was bought. The purchaser can choose to pay for and hold on to these certificates (and trade them later if the market price goes up) or simply re-assign them and take the discount/rebate at the point of purchase.
For systems larger than 100kW the rebate takes the form of Large Scale Generation Certificates (LGC’s) and operates differently to STC’s.

What are the benefits to my business by installing solar?

Many! Obviously, you’ll save money on your utility bill. You’ll also have a depreciable asset on your roof that you can factor into your P&L’s. You’ve added value to the re-sale price of your building AND your business now has an emissions reducing machine on your roof, giving your business vital ‘green credentials’, essential in todays environmentally aware society.

What system components do you use?

Powervault Global strictly adhere to consultative based business practices, so are committed to the best outcomes for our clients. We are wanting our clients to enjoy hassle free solar performance for 25-30 years. That means investing in quality.
We have no affiliations with any products or brands, freeing us to offer and provide industry best components. We are determined to maximize our clients ROI’s so work with the industry’s best performing, most efficient and longest lasting solar panels, inverters and mounting/racking kits.
Because we use the best, we can offer longer product and performance warranties, giving our clients further peace of mind when investing in our solar systems.
Our current product range:

                

What kinds of warranties do you offer?

Every solar PV panel we sell is covered by a performance warranty, usually spanning 25 years. Additionally, manufacturing warranties can cover your entire solar power system for up to 10 years. As we stock a variety of brands, warranty specifications will differ from product to product.

What do my warranties cover?

Generally, most mechanical defects will be covered during the warranty period as long as they are deemed a manufacturing fault. Most suppliers also guarantee 80% power production for the first 25 years of your solar power system’s life. Further, Powervault provide a 10 year installation and workmanship warranty so for at least the first decade of your systems life, you have a watertight unconditional cover, giving you even greater peace of mind.

What about hail and extreme Australian conditions?

Tier 1 or best in class solar panels and mounting kits cannot be sold in Australia without rigorous testing for Aussie conditions. All Tier 1 solar panels have operating temperature ranges of between -40* to +80* Celsius and are hail tested with 25mm hail stones travelling at 80km per hour. In addition, all panels are tested for hair line cracks via electroluminescence screening and all components are corrosion tested for salt air.

Do I need to maintain my solar system?

We would suggest a clean and system test once every year or two, perhaps more frequently in overly dusty environments, like the Outback, where there is less rain, or certain manufacturing environments. In addition, our consultants will explain the importance of investing in system monitoring software, synchronised to your inverter array, which gives you real time and historical data regarding your systems performance, your premises usage and export figures, all in kW’s. This will not only help you easily stay on top of your systems output but also give you a valuable tool when analysing your Retailers bill.

Can I add more panels in the future?

The short answer is yes but it’s important to consider several factors when investing in a solar system. It’s never easy to predict, but do you think your business will grow substantially in the future? Do you have enough roof space for additional panels? Are you thinking of increasing the systems size in the future to incorporate battery storage when it becomes more affordable? What are advantages of ‘over-sizing’ your solar array? Will you need to upgrade inverters when you add panels?
Your Powervault consultant will address all of these issues while liaising with you. For most people, an investment in a solar system is an important decision and should be appropriately investigated. Powervaults’ consultative approach will cover every concern and question you may have and address each in a professional, transparent manner.