How Solar works

When purchasing a solar system, it is important to understand how it works and the benefits it can provide. Having this knowledge will allow you to make the most of your solar power and maximise your savings. During your free consultation and site inspection, All Energy HQ’s experienced salesman gauge electricity usage. This enables us to recommend what size system is suitable for your individual needs.

Solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Electrons vibrate within silicon cells using light photons from the sun.  This electricity can then be used to supply renewable energy to your home or business.

The renewable energy is harnessed and passed through an Inverter where it converts the DC current into AC. This is what is used to power your appliances.  In addition, the inverter processes the AC electricity through the grid. This notifies your energy supplier that you do not require their electricity because you have your own. If your system is generating excess electricity in the sunlight hours, your energy supplier will purchase that from you; thereby off-setting your evening usage.

No matter where you live, the chances are that you can successfully use solar panels for your electrical needs. We can complete a Solar Analysis of your property to determine the best location of the system. They are rugged and are very durable to extreme climate conditions and the latest panel models are efficient enough to work well without facing directly North. Some will even produce electricity under cloud cover. However, we always recommend facing North to achieve optimum results.

What happens to my solar system if there is a power outage in my area?

Your grid-connected solar power systems must by law shut down if the grid loses power. The reason is that linesmen repairing faulty electricity wires must be able to do so safely, without any solar power travelling back into the grid during maintenance and repair. Your electricity if fed back into the line could create a danger to the service personnel. Therefore when there is a black out you will also be without power. Your solar power system will automatically turn on during daylight hours when the power comes back to the grid.

However, if you have a battery backup system connected to your solar system, then depending on the wiring, some internal services like the fridge could still be operated by the batteries. In the next few years smaller size energy storage systems will become available, as many solar system owners prefer to store the electricity they generate and use it during rainy days or at night, rather than sell it to the energy retailers.

How does shade affects solar Panels?

In most instances, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for homes and businesses consist of solar panels (the collection of which is referred to as the ‘array’) and an inverter. The solar panels catch sunlight and convert it into DC (direct current) electricity, and the inverter in turn converts the DC electricity into grid- and appliance-compatible AC (alternating current) electricity.

Most small-scale solar systems for homes and small businesses will include anywhere from 6 to about 30 panels, although the ‘size’ of a system is usually referred to by its capacity (in kilowatts – e.g. 5kW). For technical reasons related to the voltage requirements of the system’s inverter, solar arrays are usually divided into ‘strings’ of solar panels. Small systems may only have 1 string, while large systems could have many more. One string could consist of a single panel, but usually they have more.

You can think of a string of panels as something like a piece of pipe, and the solar power is like water flowing through that pipe. In conventional solar panel strings, shade is something that blocks that flow. If, for example, shade from a tree or a chimney is cast on even one of the panels in the string, the output of the entire string will be reduced to virtually zero for as long as the shadow sits there. If there is a separate, unshaded string, however, this string will continue to produce power as per usual.

In extreme cases, a shadow does not necessarily need to fall on an entire panel – depending on the technology used in the solar panel in question, shading of even just one cell could flatten the output of the panel and in turn the entire string. Many modern panels, however, come equipped with devices called bypass diodes which minimise the effects of partial shading by essentially enabling electricity to ‘flow around’ the shaded cell or cells.

Solar Panel Cleaning – How to and How often

Although solar panel cleaning is easy and straightforward, without the appropriate safety equipment it can turn dangerous very quickly so hiring a professional may be in your best interest.

Normally the average bit of dust is washed away naturally by the rain. However if you are in a heavily polluted area or there are other obscuring objects on the panels such as leaves, ash or bird droppings, a thorough hose down may be required. Soapy water is fine to use along with a sponge or soft brush to avoid damaging the panels surface. 

Energy Storage System (Solar Battery) Q&A

Q: What types of ESS Battery Storage are there?

A: There are two types being All-in-One (plug and play) & Hybrid (Combination).

The All-in-One cabinet houses the inverter, AC/DC/PV circuit breakers,EPS, Batteries, Wiring, Monitoring and (Interface)Touch Screen, therefore simplifying and minimizing installation time. The All-in-One ESS has one warranty with one company.

The Hybrid type consists of the Battery unit, Hybrid inverter(AC/DC)Interface,and Meter Box and Cabling. Hybrid ESS systems consist of many different components, which go together to make a complete unit, and thus have several different warranty companies to deal with.

Q: How does the ESS battery storage work?

A: At the start of each day, the solar power system with battery storage directs the incoming solar power to your house appliances first, and then fills your ESS and only then any excess / surplus power will be exported to the Grid, for which you get paid. This is called the Feed-in-tariff, and this power is calculated in kilowatt hours, written thus – kWh. Your ESS will be available to power up your household at night, through the inverter, which is part of the ESS, hence saving you from drawing Grid power.

Q: How does the EPS (Emergency Power Supply) function work?

A: The EPS function gives you access to the battery to the battery power in the event of a grid / power failure, keeping important fixtures working like your lights, fridge, freezer and TV operating, i.e. depending on the size of the ESS unit, up to 90% of a 10kWh ESS power supply can be used in this situation. Once the sun has risen the battery unit will charge up once again.

## Note:- Not all ESS have this EPS (Emergency Power Supply) Function

Q: Does the ESS support charging from the grid?

A: In Queensland when an ESS is connected to the Grid it is charged through you PV solar panels during the day, but also in Queensland ESS contents are not permitted to feed back into the Grid from the ESS. However when the ESS is full, then the excess / surplus power produced will be sent to the grid, and this power is what you get paid for. Your stored power is used during the evening period; hence you do not have to buy power from the grid overnight. This is where you receive the benefits, by paying for less electricity hours purchased from the Grid. ESS can also be installed as a Stand-Alone / Off-Grid system as well, so you may run two separate systems, one attached to the Grid and one not attached to the Grid, on two different house circuits. In the case of No power available an Off-grid ESS applies.

Q: How much of the ESS power capacity can be used?

A: This measurement may vary from brand to brand, but could be up to 90% draw of capacity from the ESS over a period of time.

Q: Can you add more batteries to the ESS? (Not all models are the same)

A: Yes, some ESS can increase their battery capacity power by just adding another battery pack to the original unit. This is a feature on some ESS, where the additional battery just slots in – this is not the case with all brands – some units are a fixed size. In this instance you need to buy a complete new unit and install the extra ESS side-by-side to increase your storage capacity. As to how many units and / or models you can add, will depend on the particular type and/or brand being purchased.

Q: What is the cycle life of the ESS?

A: A charge cycle is the process of charging a rechargeable battery and discharging it as required into a load. The term is typically used to specify a battery’s expected life, as the number of charge cycles affects life more than the mere passage of time. Therefore this measurement is given in cycle life, and this varies considerable from brand to brand.

i.e. 2000 to 8000 cycles

This is important, so should be taken into consideration when purchasing an ESS.

Q: How much load can an ESS handle?

A: This may range from 2kWh – 5 kWh depending on the brand. The output of the inverter is determined by the kW size of the inverter in the ESS AND the discharge capacity of the battery – i.e. their C rating.

Q: What is the warranty period of the ESS?

A: This varies from brand to brand, but usually a 5 to 10 year period.

Q: What is the life expectancy of the ESS?

A: Again this varies from brand to brand. i.e. 10-20 years.

Q: What communication and monitoring options are provided with the ESS?

A: Some brands have Wi-Fi and some brands require Internet connection to monitor the ESS system. Some brands have the facility for the manufacturers to monitor the ESS through your Internet connection, which gives the manufacturer the capacity to make prompt updates and / or correction to the software as required.

Q: Are there any preferred position or installation restrictions of the ESS?

A: It is recommended for most brands to be installed with no direct sunlight and with natural ventilation. Some brands have an outdoor rating of IP65.

Q: Is the ESS wall mounted or ground mounted?

A: Different brands / models come in both ground mounted and wall mounted versions.

Q: What is the usual time needed to install the ESS?

A: 4-8 hours is normal depending on the brand and size of the ESS, and also how modernized the householder’s meter board is set up.

Buy on value, not on cost!

When we go out to buy a house or car, we have a pretty good idea of what we want and the quality of manufacturer behind it. However, when it comes to a solar energy system we are in the dark a bit.

Here are a few guidelines to help.

The CEC (Clear Energy Council) are the authority behind the solar industry. Installers must be accredited by the CEC, and they have strict guidelines as to what products meet our Australian standards.

Each year the CEC release a report which shows their Top 5 Inverters and Top 5 Solar Panels; along with honourable mentions. So that is a great place to start.

Now you have a good idea of worthy products with solid warranties. Again, like buying a car; you know what you want, but who do you trust with your business. When you think about it; that is the key to all purchases isn’t? If I buy a quality TV and it develops a fault; who will replace it hassle-free?

The solar industry is no different. The integrity of the company that you do business with is everything.  Will they be there in the future if I need them? Are they trustworthy? How long have they been operating? All key points.

Don’t be taken in by the cheap advertised prices. These are “Foot in the door” tactics. You cannot provide an accurate quote without doing a proper site inspection.

Buy on value not on cost. Solar is a long – term proposition., and a quality system should pay for itself within 3 to 3.5 years. One in three homeowners in Queensland operate on solar energy.  It works and saves you money!

Phone now for your FREE site inspection