physics of pv

How solar works

Solar panels work on a wonderfully simple principle; when the sun shines on them they create a flow of electricity. The image below describes in laymans terms the physics  at work, in case you are interested.

Solar panels produce DC power (similar to a car battery) and this power is converted into 240V AC by an inverter. So how does your house and its electrical system benefit from a solar system?

In NSW we have a Net Metering arrangement. This arrangement measures how much energy you use LESS what you have generated with your solar system. It’s pretty cool, because it means that you can offset your consumption with your generation at the same rate that you buy energy (on average, around $0.28c kWh).

This is typically called “self consumption”

If you generate EXCESS energy, it is exported at a different rate (on average, around $0.05c kWh) which is set by your Retailer.

This is why we pay so much attention to careful design and energy efficiency – there’s not much point exporting it all at low rates! It’s really important to buy a system that best suits your energy needs, so don’t be fooled by slick salesmen trying to sell you “upgrades” or oversized systems.

We spend a lot of time with every client helping them work out exactly what system will be the best fit and how to maximise your returns.

CHOOSING A SYSTEM SIZE:

In NSW the average household with 3 – 4 individuals uses around 20kwh per day, roughly equal to a quarterly energy bill of $500.

As a general rule every 1Kw of solar panels on your roof will produce approximately 4 kwh of energy per day (on average) so to match the average demand requires a system around 4-5 kW.

Your solar system will produce most of its power between 9am and 3pm. There are many ways we can help you to match your load to your solar generation by “load shifting”. Using timers, smart controllers and with help from our energy efficiency experts, we can maximise your returns.

On your electricity bill you will find your average daily energy usage; this is the starting point to understanding your needs. We will then help you understand what is using your energy and when your periods of demand are occurring.

EXISTING GROSS METERED (60 cent) SOLAR INSTALLATIONS.

If you have an existing system and receive the Gross Feed In Tariff (60c kWh), you can upgrade your system, within certain rules.

The NSW Department of Trade & Investment says: “customers who receive the 60 cents per kilowatt hour tariff may expand their overall generating capacity and retain the 60 cents tariff for their Scheme generator if the additional capacity is from a separately metered non-Scheme generator.”

In plain English, this means that you can add additional panels, but it needs to be Net Metered; effectively a second system in parallel to the original system.

 FUTURE ENERGY PRICES:

As you would be painfully aware, energy prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. It is very hard to predict what rate they will continue to increase at but one thing is for sure; they are extraordinarily unlikely to go down!

Solar is a fantastic investment today and every time electricity prices increase your investment will deliver better returns.

SOLAR INTO THE FUTURE:

Billions of dollars is being spent on the research and development of solar energy, energy storage and energy management.

The big hope if that storage prices will continue to fall and allow solar owners to store their solar power and use it when it makes the most sense. It is already economically viable to use storage in some situations (eg if you are on a Time of Use Tariff) and we can provide you with a quote for storage today.

For most solar owners, it’s not quite viable yet, but is gets closer every single day and there are exciting new products being launched regularly.

Solar energy is one of the only truly renewable and sustainable energy solutions that produces no greenhouse gas emissions. It provides safe, clean energy for your family today  and into the future. An MGA solar system provides clean, green energy all year round, even in those cold winter days.

For any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to call or email us.