Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS A GRID CONNECT SOLAR POWER SYSTEM?

Grid connect systems supply solar electricity through an inverter directly to the household and to the electrical grid if the system is providing more energy than the home needs. When power is supplied to the mains grid, the home owner will usually receive a credit or a payment for that electricity. This is called a feed in tariff.

WHAT IS A SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFF (FIT)?

A feed-in-tariff is the amount an electricity retailer pays you for any electricity your solar PV system generates that you don’t use, and is instead fed back into the grid.

Alternatively, we can advise you on the benefits of installing power storage through a sonnen battery.

IS SOLAR AFFORDABLE?

The price of solar systems has fallen dramatically over the last 10 years, making it an increasingly attractive option for homes and businesses. Pay back periods are now as low as 4.5 years# for solar and 8 years# if you include battery storage.

The upfront cost of your solar PV system is influenced by a number of different factors:

  • government incentives and support schemes
  • installer costs
  • type, quality, and number of solar panels, which affects the output of your system in kilowatts (kW)
  • type, quality, and size of inverter (this component converts the electrical output of your solar panels into AC electricity for use in your home or business)
  • type and quality of framing equipment and other system components
  • height and accessibility of roof and whether it is tiled, tin or concrete
  • after-sales service agreements or extended warranties

#payback periods will vary depending on each individual circumstance

HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I SAVE ON MY ENERGY BILL WITH SOLAR PANELS?

The amount of money your household will save on power bills by going solar is dependent on a number factors, including:

  • Your energy consumption and the size of your solar power system – if you use more power than your system is capable of producing, your savings will be reduced. This can be avoided by choosing the right-sized system for your needs.
  • Your feed-in tariff – this is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for any excess power your solar panels generate.
  • Your usage patterns – solar panels can only generate electricity while the sun is shining. This means that households that use a lot of power during the day may attract greater savings than those that consume most of their power at night. However, you will still receive a feed-in tariff for any excess electricity you generate during the day or you can invest in a battery storage system.
  • Where you live – some areas of Australia receive a lot more sunlight than others, so a solar PV system in Brisbane will usually generate more power than one in Hobart.
  • Power Storage – if you install power storage you can maximise your solar generation and use all your solar generated before having to purchase power from the grid.

will usually receive a credit or a payment for that electricity. This is called a feed in tariff.

WHAT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES ARE AVAILABLE?

Under the small-scale renewable energy scheme, eligible small-scale Solar systems are entitled to a number of small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

The number of small-scale technology certificates that can be created per system is based on its geographical location, installation date, and the system size.

Solar PV systems up to 100 kilowatts in size can currently receive 14 years’ worth of STC’s for the zone they are in. This reduces by one year each subsequent year until zero. Systems larger systems generate LGC’s.

WHAT IS A SMALL-SCALE TECHNOLOGY CERTIFICATE (STC)?

Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, eligible small-scale renewable energy systems are entitled to a number of small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

  • generated by the small-scale solar panel, wind or hydro system over the course of its lifetime of up to 14 years, or
  • displaced by the solar water heater or heat pump over the course of its lifetime of up to 10 years.

will usually receive a credit or a payment for that electricity. This is called a feed in tariff.

As a guide, one small-scale technology certificate is equal to one megawatt hour of eligible renewable electricity either generated or displaced by the system.

You can calculate the number of small-scale technology certificates a system may be eligible using the small generation unit calculator and solar water heater calculator.

To be eligible for STCs, your solar system must be installed by Clean Energy Council accredited installer.

The price of small-scale technology certificates is driven by supply and demand of the renewable energy certificate market and fluctuates daily.

To determine an approximate price for small-scale technology certificates, conduct an internet search for small-scale technology certificate traders. Individual trader websites advertise their price for certificates, though this price fluctuates daily.

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY INSTALLER IS ACCREDITED?

You should ask to see your installer’s accreditation card It’s important to note, to be eligible for government rebates in the form of STCs, your system must be installed by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.

HOW DO I KNOW WHICH PV MODULES AND INVERTERS ARE CEC APPROVED?

All Bristile solar panels, inverters and balance of system comply with Australian standards. You can also visit the Clean Energy Council website where they maintain a list of all solar modules and inverters that meet Australian Standards for use in the design and installation of solar PV systems. Only systems that use products from the approved lists are entitled to rebates in the form of small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

CAN I RECYCLE MY SOLAR PANELS?

Reclaim PV Recycling operates an Australian solar panel reclaiming scheme throughout Australia. Reclaim PV has a recycling partnership with our solar panel partner Suntech.

IS SOLAR POWER SAFE?

The Australian solar industry is well regulated and safe. Solar panels and inverters sold in Australia must comply with a range of standards that maximise safety and reliability. The Clean Energy Council maintains a list of currently approved solar panel modules and inverters.

DO SOLAR PANELS WORK AT NIGHT OR DURING CLOUDY WEATHER?

Solar panels do not generate power at night. Once the sun goes down, your home or business will start to draw power from the main grid as usual or, should you install a battery storage system, from your batteries.

Suntech solar panels still work on a cloudy day due to their excellent low light performance; however, they will not generate as much electricity as when the weather is clear and sunny.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY SOLAR PV SYSTEM STOPS WORKING?

You should contact Bristile immediately so we may arrange a system evaluation and action warranty repairs where applicable.

WHAT TYPE OF WARRANTY IS SUPPLIED WITH THE SYSTEM?

Solar panels come with a 12 year product warranty while solar roof tiles are offered with a 10 year warranty. Both solar tiles and solar panels have a 25-year output warranty on the panels. Our inverters and battery storage solutions also have a 10 year warranty. The 10 year warranty offered on the sonnen battery inverter applies to whichever of the following occurs first:

  • 10 years from the commencement of the warranty period/purchase date
  • OR
  • 10,000 complete recharge cycles of the sonnen battery

IS MY HOME SUITABLE FOR A SOLAR POWER SYSTEM?

Several aspects will need to be evaluated to determine if your home is a good solar site, such as orientation, available space, shadowing on the available space and your current electricity usage. The best site will be one with adequate north-facing rooves that have no shade.

CAN I INCREASE THE SIZE OF MY SYSTEM IN THE FUTURE?

Yes. However, your system will work more efficiently and be more cost-effective if designed to match your requirements today.

CAN I UPGRADE THE SYSTEM TO INCLUDE BATTERY STORAGE IN THE FUTURE?

Yes. All our systems are ‘Sonnen Battery Ready’ so you may add batteries in the future.

WILL I BE FINANCIALLY BETTER OFF?

Yes, a 5kw system typically has a payback period of 4.5 years, depending on your load profile. We would be more than happy to conduct an energy audit so you can make an informed decision, as the pay back varies household to household.

DOES THE POWER I GENERATE GET USED IN MY PROPERTY FIRST OR SENT TO THE GRID FIRST?

The power from your solar system will be used to meet your energy needs first; any excess will feed into the grid. Currently, the feed in tariffs offered are around $0.04 to $0.06/kWh, but this may change in the future. Whether this rises on the back of competition or continues to be reduced; only time will tell.

Installing a storage system can help alleviate the issue of low feed in tariffs and in the right circumstances can have a pay back as low as 8 years#.

WHAT IS A BATTERY STORAGE SYSTEM?

This is a system that can store solar generated energy that would ordinarily be exported to the grid when the household load is lower than the power generated by solar. An intelligent system like Sonnen will be able to predict the weather conditions and learn your usage behaviours to best utilise your stored energy.

WHAT CAN AFFECT THE AMOUNT OF SOLAR ENERGY RECEIVED?

The strength of the solar energy (radiation) available depends on the time of year, the time of day, and the latitude of the generation point. The amount of energy generated can be further affected by the amount of dust and water vapour in the air, the amount of cloud cover and any shading of the solar panels as well as the quality of the solar modules.

DOES MY ROOF ORIENTATION REALLY MATTER?

YES, a system with solar panels facing in a southerly direction will generate less than one with a northerly aspect. However, east/west installations can be a good option depending on the household’s usage patterns.

WHAT SIZE SYSTEM WILL I NEED TO RUN MY HOME?

That entirely depends on your energy usage and your geographical location, however any size grid connect solar power system will reduce your yearly power consumption and your power bill.

To make the most of solar power, the key is to implement simple energy efficiency strategies. It is easy to conserve energy by using appropriate lighting and efficient appliances.

HOW LONG WILL MY GRID CONNECT SOLAR POWER SYSTEM LAST?

Solar modules have been tested in the field showing small reductions in power output over 25 years. Our Suntech solar panels carry an output warranty of 25 year and our electronic components such as inverters and battery storage systems have a 10 year warranty, however typically each of these components will outlast their warranty.

SHOULD I CHOOSE MONOCRYSTALLINE, THIN FILM OR POLYCRYSTALLINE SOLAR PANELS?

There isn’t a lot of difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels except that a monocrystalline panel delivers slightly more power for the equivalent size Polycrystalline panel. So if you have a small roof and want to maximise the power you can generate, choose a monocrystalline panel.

Thin film panels are inefficient, therefore take up much more roof space for the same power delivered. These are not typically used in residential installations.

WHAT CAN AFFECT THE COSTS OF INSTALLING A GRID CONNECT SYSTEM?

Additional costs will be incurred for a flat or tiled rooves, double story, shaded rooves and extended warranties.

CAN I INSURE MY GRID CONNECT SYSTEM?

Most insurers will allow you to include the system under your home and contents insurance, but please check with your insurance first.

HOW MUCH OF A REDUCTION IN CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS WILL I ACHIEVE?

Using a comparison to a car, the average vehicle in Australia travels 20 000 km per annum, which is equivalent to 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide discharge annually. A 5kw grid connected system will prevent 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide being generated through coal fired power generation – so it’s the equivalent of taking a car off the road each year.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL HOME SOLAR SYSTEM CONSIST OF?

Solar Panels, Inverter (string or Micro) roof mounting equipment, DC and AC cable, Isolators and a label kit and in some cases may also include a storage system.

Solar systems may also be fitted with easy-to-use remote monitors, internet enabled data loggers, and even sensors to determine solar availability, panel temperature, air temperature, and wind speed.

IS THERE ANY MAINTENANCE INVOLVED?

There is very little maintenance required. Electronic components should be maintenance free. Each system is provided with instructions for maintenance.

WILL I NEED A NEW SWITCHBOARD AND/OR METER?

In order to install a grid connected solar power system at your premises, you will need to have a compatible switchboard and meter.

A meter exchange may be required after the installation of your new solar system. The energy produced by your solar system interacts with the main power grid and the loads in your house. Without an appropriate mains meter, any energy you sell to the power grid can be inaccurately measured, or even completely disregarded, greatly reducing the system’s effectiveness in reducing your energy bill. A ‘bi-directional’ meter is installed in place of the existing one-way meter, allowing the reading of energy in both directions; both buy and sell.

HOW DOES ELECTRICITY GET STORED FOR USE AFTER THE SUN GOES DOWN?

Grid connect solar systems direct excess electricity produced during the day back into the local electricity grid. You then receive a credit for any power that your system supplied to the grid. During the night when your system does not produce and electricity you draw your power from the grid and your electricity meter measures your consumption. Alternatively, you can install a power storage system and use this stored power during the night.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH GRID CONNECT SYSTEMS DURING A BLACKOUT?

The grid connect inverter will automatically shut itself off within a few milliseconds of a blackout, to avoid the potential of a dangerous “brown-out” in your home and to prevent back feeding into the grid. Therefore, even though you have a solar system during a blackout you will not have power available. If you want to keep on having electricity available during a blackout then you would need to have back up batteries installed as well, which will add to the cost of the system.

WHERE DO YOU PLACE THE INVERTER?

Usually the inverter is placed alongside or near the switchboard. The inverter is quiet and has a display to show the electricity generated and other data options such as total electricity generated since installation are available.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOLAR POWER AND SOLAR HOT WATER?

Solar panels take light from the sun and make electricity. Solar hot water systems take heat from the sun and heat water. It is easy to remember.

WHAT IS THE WEIGHT OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM ON THE ROOF?

The system weighs approximately 30 kilograms per square meter.

HOW MUCH ROOF SPACE IS NEEDED?

1.0 kW of solar needs approximately 8m2, so a 5kW system needs approximately 40m2

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