Beginners Guide to Solar Panels

The complete beginners guide to solar panels. Reposit Power brings you a ‘no-nonsense’ run-down of solar set-ups, and gives you the right questions to ask when it’s time to install your panels.

1. Introduction to solar panels

There are no two ways about it, electricity prices suck, and they have done for quite a while now. Our population is growing which is placing greater demand on unsustainable energy production, resulting in skyrocketing power bills for all.

Australians are a clever bunch though, and many are choosing to take back control and manage their home’s energy usage with smart solar setups.

2. What are solar panels?

Solar panels are the first step in setting up a smart solar system.

Solar panels are also known as photovoltaics (PV) and are made of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline. The panels are comprised of a large number of semiconducting solar cells that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.

Most commonly fitted to your roof, solar panels harness the sun’s rays and turn it into electricity which can be used to power your household. Before the energy can be used however, it needs to pass through an inverter. An inverter will convert DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the format required to power your household appliances.

3. How solar panels work

Solar power can be used in two ways:

  • Self-consumption – using the electricity your solar panels generate to power your home, and
  • Selling and exporting selling the electricity your solar panels generate to the main electricity grid.

What about the weather?

But what if it’s cloudy? What about night-time? These are very valid questions and questions we get asked frequently. The simplest answer is that solar energy production will be reduced or halted entirely during these times.

Light up the night

There are two methods of powering your home when it’s dark or overcast; from the electricity grid or by investing in a solar battery. If you have solar panels, it may feel counterproductive having to purchase electricity from the grid at night-time or on overcast days, which is why many owners are now turning to solar batteries to power their homes. Want more information about solar batteries? Check out our guide.

Maintenance

Regular service and maintenance is an important part of owning a solar setup to safeguard against deterioration and damage. Hiring a professional to inspect solar panels regularly will ensure weakening or defective components, water-logging, corrosion or any other concerns are identified and addressed promptly.

Touch base with your accredited solar installer every two to three years to inspect your panels or at least check your solar generation remotely through smart monitoring.

4. Home solar panel setups

While it’s not absolutely necessary to have a scientific understanding of your solar power system, being across the basic components will come in handy should you encounter any common issues down the track.

A solar power setup is comprised of three main components:

  • solar panels,
  • an inverter, and
  • an energy management system, however
  • adding a solar battery is becoming an increasingly popular option for better control over energy consumption.

Energy management

If you’re energy-loving nerds like us here at Reposit, smart energy management systems are where things get really exciting!

Solar power owners are able to add smart energy management systems which accurately monitors and helps you manage how and when you use the solar power your system has generated.

There are three different types of setups:

  • grid connected solar setups

A grid connected system is connected to the electricity grid and you can self consume and sell and export your solar power..

  • grid connected solar and solar battery setups

A grid connected solar and battery setup can collect solar power from your panels and store this in your battery to use at night. You can self consume and sell and export your solar power.

  • Off-grid setups

An off-grid system is entirely self-sufficient and has no way to use the grid to supply the household with electricity.

5. Benefits of solar panels

Electricity prices aren’t set to decrease significantly anytime soon, and many are feeling the pinch.

Get low bills

Earlier this year we saw energy rates rise by up to 20 per cent which has been a leading motivator in the push towards energy self-sufficiency. Australians are seeking an alternative solution which will reduce their power bills, and that’s where solar is making its mark. By producing your own solar power, you’re limiting your reliance on the grid and consequently reducing your power bills.

Invest in solar

Did you know that 45 per cent of tenants would pay additional rent to live in a property with solar energy. Yes, you read that right. Regardless of whether you’re selling or renting out your property, a solar setup is proving to be an appealing feature often resulting in higher property valuations.

Sell your power

Solar feed-in-tariffs are another perk of owning a solar energy setup. Feed-in-tariffs are rates paid by electricity companies for electricity supplied to the grid from a renewable energy source such as solar panels. That means solar panel owners can be credited for any excess energy produced by their panels, which shaves a few dollars off power bills at the same time. Ka-ching!

Reduces your carbon footprint

With more than 60 per cent of Australia’s energy deriving from unsustainable sources, our nation’s carbon footprint is also fairly significant. Choosing to self-consume energy generated from your solar panels will minimise reliance on coal-fuelled sources and significantly reduce your household’s carbon footprint.

6. Solar panels and smart technology

Adding a smart technology to your solar setup is where we come in. We might be biased, but Reposit’s smart technology is capable of some pretty nifty stuff!

Add brains

Acting as the brain behind your solar energy system, Reposit will learn how and when your household uses energy, monitor your system’s performance, make solar energy generation predictions 24 hours in advance and allow you to check what your system is doing in real-time. It will also pick up on changes in your setups performance which can show if your solar panels aren’t functioning properly, without you having to get up on the roof!

Manage your dollars

With Reposit, from morning to night, you can see your household’s energy usage (and cost!) in real-time at any time on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Reposit knows your energy plan so you don’t get any nasty surprises come bill time. If your plan changes or you change electricity companies, not to worry, Reposit updates your details so you will always be able to manage your households energy needs.

Switch on

The beauty of all this knowledge? Reposit can make smart energy decisions on your behalf even when you’re not at home. When your system is producing lots of solar power, Reposit can switch on your power-hungry appliances to make use of that power. This helps you self consume your hard earned solar power.

7. Solar power savings

How much can you really save by going solar? While solar setup prices have dropped considerably, it’s still necessary to budget several thousand dollars to get setup. It’s important to be aware that solar panels will take a number of years to pay for themselves, and this time is referred to as the ‘payback period’.

Payback period

The length of the payback period is determined by factors such as the size of your system, available sunlight, household energy usage, solar feed-in-tariffs, and whether or not you have a solar battery and/or a smart energy management system installed.

Can you get a $0 bill?

So, can solar bring your bill down to $0? Yes, it can. However, the initial outlay should be weighed up to achieve this. Ultimately, the main goal is to strike a balance between the size of your system and the energy requirements of your home, to cover your usage and maximise your return on investment.

Real savings

In general terms – it’s a worthwhile investment. Any solar power generated from your system can be used by your household reducing the need to buy electricity from the grid, and any excess solar power can be sold back to the grid for a solar feed-in-tariff.

8. Are solar panels worth it?

Evaluating your individual circumstances will be the best way to determine whether solar is the right choice, but there are a number of known scenarios that tend to benefit greatly from a solar energy system:

  • If you’re a big daytime energy user,
  • have bills consistently over $450 a quarter,
  • own a swimming pool or
  • work from home.

then solar power could make a significant impact on your energy bills.

With that in mind, it’s also important to consider practical details such as how many usable sunlight hours your home receives, available space on your roof for solar panels vs. your household’s energy requirements, the cost of setup, available incentives or grants and any regulations in your area. An accredited solar installer is always the best place to start. They can help you design a solar setup that meets your households needs.

9. Solar panels: Choosing the best

Selecting the best solar panel setup for your home all comes down to individual energy needs. The energy required for a young professional living in a four-bedroom home is going to differ significantly from a family of four living in the same size space, so be sure to consider this.

Big purchases take a bit of researching, and the most useful information to you at this point will be your previous electricity bills. Take a good look over them! Once you’ve established the average usage of your household, you can begin looking into the right sized solar power system for your home. Remember to speak to an expert. An accredited solar installer can take all the headache out of researching and investigating solar setups.

10. Solar panel maintenance

Just as you would with a car, it’s important to clean and maintain your solar panels, especially at the change of a season. When the cooler months set in, you may observe a slight decrease in the amount of energy produced thanks to the shorter, more overcast days but it’s not all bad news! Winter still has an advantage over summer, despite having to make up for less sunshine, as solar panels are tested at 25 degrees, meaning every degree above this is actually reducing the panels’ performance.

Implementing a few simple tricks like moving the panels with the sun and giving them a good clean, monitoring their performance, and adding a solar battery, will ensure you’re getting the best value from your solar energy setup all year round.

11. Solar panel buying checklist

You’re ready to take the plunge! Fantastic. We’ve outlined a step-by-step list to assist with getting your solar energy system setup in no time:

Step 1 – Research and speak to an expert about your households needs. Want some help? Speak to Reposit

Step 2 – Speak to an expert accredited solar installer and obtain quotes (Reposit can recommend installers in your area)

Step 3 – Select your solar setup based on your household’s needs and pay your deposit

Step 4 – Sit back while your system is manufactured and shipped out

Step 5 – Research and speak with electricity companies to compare the best plan for your location and setup. (Yep, Reposit can help you here as well)

Step 6 – Book in your installation date with an accredited installer

Step 7 – Get your solar power switched on and connected to the grid

Step 8 – Put your feet up, after all that work rest well knowing you made a smart decision for your household.

12. Electricity plans and solar panels

Don’t forget to research the right electricity plan to ensure you reap maximum benefits from your solar setup. It’s worth noting that not all electricity companies offer solar-friendly plans, so you may find a better deal with another company. If you want some help – give one of Reposit’s awesome consultants a call.

Once your solar is connected and switched on, you’ll want to shop around to get the best solar feed-in-tariff deal possible. We recommend asking a few questions to get a better picture of each company, for comparison:

 

 

  • Are there any fees or penalty clauses for closing your account?
  • How much will they pay you for your solar energy? (solar feed-in-tariff)
  • How much will they charge you for purchasing electricity from the grid?
  • Will you receive credits on your account or cash for solar you produce?
  • Will having solar affect your daily fixed rates i.e. will you be charged a higher rate?

Let smart technology whip your solar set-up into shape

Making the switch to solar is an increasingly popular option, proving to have many benefits not only here in Australia, but also by communities all over the world. Regardless of where you’re up to in your solar journey, Reposit is here to help. If you’ve got any questions or need some further advice, get in touch with one of our awesome consultants.

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