BEGINNERS GUIDE | Before Buying Solar


Perhaps you’ve heard of solar power but don’t understand whether it’s for you, or maybe you’re interested in buying solar for your home but don’t know where to start. Solar power is a brilliant way to save money on electricity, boost the value of your home, and save the planet.

Solar energy systems (often referred to as PV or Photovoltaics) work by taking energy directly from the sun and converting it into DC power. Then, you’ll want to push that power through a solar inverter to turn the DC power into the usable 240V AC power that comes out of the wall.

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Solar power can be used as a cushion to soften the blow of your energy bill, by covering a portion of your energy consumption. Or, in some larger systems, they can replace your dependence on power from the grid entirely. In some cases, you may be able to sell any excess power that your panels produce back to the grid.

Due to the nature of solar power, it doesn’t produce at night or if the sun isn’t out. As such, some customers consider buying battery assisted systems, so any excess power is stored in a battery and can then be used to cover any reductions in your energy production, such as nighttime or during cloudy weather. Particular battery systems can keep supplying energy if the power goes out, such as during a power cut. Battery systems are cutting-edge tech and are extremely helpful in making solar more viable as a total replacement for conventional power systems.

We can, and must, shift to an economy in which 100% of our electricity is generated renewably.Jill Stein

What Is An Inverter?

Solar panels output power in DC (Direct Current). Your home power system outputs 240V AC (Alternating Current) power from the plugs in the walls. The inverter is the thing that converts your energy from DC to the usable AC power.

Furthermore, they feature a maximum power point tracker or MPPT, which helps to maintain and control the voltage that flows through the panel to ensure maximum power production. Certain central inverter models may have two MPPTs, which can aid in designing individual systems to make them more efficient.

Having multiple MPPTs is extremely valuable in systems where shading of the panels cannot be avoided. It essentially means that the shaded panels on one tracker will not have any impact on the energy production of the solar panels on the other tracker. There are also other solutions for shading, such as panel level optimisation or microinverters.

Inverters will also have a human-readable output that will allow you to see exactly how much power and energy your solar panel solution has produced.

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Is Buying Solar Expensive?

The price of installing a system can vary wildly depending on the system you require. Concerning conventional power sources, renewable energy is going to have a higher capital cost, purely due to it only being used on a smaller scale compared to non-renewables. The biggest advantage, however, is that once installed the cost to operate becomes obsolete.

It’s worth noting that comparing the prices of solar power and conventional non-renewable power doesn’t take into account the cost of the environmental damage. You can’t put a price on the environment. If you care about environmental harm, then buying solar is the obvious choice.

The price of buying solar has fallen dramatically in recent years. Largely due to gains in traction within countries across the globe. It’s advantages and payback periods (in energy savings) are particularly significant in Australia because of the abundance of sunshine. Though it’s worth noting that a hot day does not necessarily mean a sunny day, as solar panels work off the light, not heat.

There are a few costs that you might not have considered with solar. Obviously, there’s the cost of the panels themselves. You’ll also need an inverter. A high-quality mounting system to secure the solar panels directly to the roof, and importantly, optimised installation technics to reap the maximum benefit to your individual energy usage profile. Furthermore, you’ll need a smart meter that’s configured to work with solar power. If you already have a smart meter, your energy provider will charge a fee to convert it to an import/export meter. Otherwise, you’ll have to have your energy provider install one for you.

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How Should I Maximise My Savings?

It seems logical that from day one of your solar panel installation, you will immediately start saving money due to your power coming from your solar panels and not the grid. So, many users will quickly adopt the habit of only using devices with a high energy consumption during peak power production periods. This change makes perfect sense. However, it’s important that you’re careful to stagger your energy uses over a longer period during the daytime.

Unless you have a battery system, any excess power is immediately sold back to the grid. As such, it’s important that you don’t start using all of your appliances at the same time. Otherwise, your short-term power draw will far exceed your solar energy production, which will mean you will need to purchase energy from the grid.

If you’re buying a battery system also, then this is somewhat less of an issue as you’ll only start pulling from the battery as soon as your energy consumption exceeds your solar production.

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How Much Will My System Produce?

Short answer: you won’t know exactly how much it’ll produce until the system has already been installed for a while. However, utilising historical data, we can give you an estimate based on many factors, such as your roof angle/ orientation, geographical location and the particular solar technology you’ll want to be installed.

It’s important to understand solar panels are rated by their performance under Standard Test Conditions or STC. These conditions exceptionally difficult to replicate in the real world. STC is basically the equivalent of an overly sunny day with the sun directly perpendicular to a brand-new and clean solar panel. Obviously, these conditions are extremely rare. As such, you should expect your solar panels to produce slightly less peak power than they are rated for.

There is also the reduction due to your inverter. Some inverters are less efficient than others. As such, it’s important to aim for a solid balance between efficiency, features, and life expectancy. We aim to provide the best overall system for your needs.

Furthermore, there is also the issue of degradation. Solar panels degrade over time. We use high-quality German made solar panels which have a much longer life expectancy than most budget options. However, degradation is unavoidable, and as such, you should expect your energy production to drop off slowly throughout their lifespan. Keeping the panels free of dirt and other objects that can block light from reaching the panels will help to ensure that your production is as high as possible.

SolarWorld German Made Solar Panels by Perth Solar Warehouse

Is Solar Right For Me?

Due to the variable nature of solar, it can seem unappealing to a lot of people. If you’re interested in a long-term investment that could save you a lot of money, as well as help to protect the environment, buying solar is perfect for you.

Naturally, solar works best in places where the panels will have an optimal alignment with the sun as well as no obstructions. So, in Australia, that’ll mean on a North-facing roof at roughly 25 degrees. Of course, they’ll still work on west and east facing roofs with a slightly lower output overall.

If you’re interested in buying a solar power system to decrease the blow of your energy bill, then come to get a free quote from a highly experienced industry professional by quickly filling in our online form.

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