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Solar power and electrical energy can be a confusing area for many. The laws are constantly changing and there are lots of innovations in terms of the hardware used in the solar industry. With this in mind, we have formulated some of the most frequently asked questions about Formula Sun Solar Installations.
If you have further questions, call us now on 0400 637 688 for a free quote.
There are many technical explanations as to how solar panels work. But we’ll keep it as simple as possible. First, sunlight hits the solar panels. This generates electricity, which is sent to the edge of the panel. It is then passed through a conductive wire towards the inverter. This inverter ‘inverts’ the electricity from DC to AC. AC is usable electricity and can be sent throughout the home or commercial establishment.
While there are many brands, there are two broad categories of photovoltaic (‘PV’) solar panels. These are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The key idea of converting light from the sun into AC is the same, but the process is different. Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient due to the fact that they use single crystal silicon. Polycrystalline solar panels have lower efficiency levels but are also priced more affordably. There are multiple crystals in each cell, which results in the decreased efficiency. The cells have a bluish hue in comparison to the black associated with monocrystalline solar panels.
There are many factors that determine the efficiency of a solar panel. An important factor here is the insolation (not insulation). This is basically the strength of the sunlight, which will itself be determined by the length of the day, position of the sun, clouds, rain, etc. The temperature is also a factor. It might seem counterintuitive, but the higher the temperature, to a certain point, the less sunlight converted. This is because solar panels do not perform as efficiently if the conditions are too hot. Dust and grit will lessen the efficiency of a solar panel, as will shade from other structures. As previously mentioned, the solar panel itself (monocrystalline or polycrystalline) will also play a role. The inverter and wiring material also contribute in determining the efficiency/performance.
A solar inverter is a critical component of a solar panel system. The solar inverter is responsible for converting Direct Current (‘DC’) into Alternating Current (‘AC’). This allows the household to actually use the energy. A good description is that the solar panels are the muscles while the solar inverter is the brain. But the solar inverter, which is like a basic computer, also serves another purpose. It allows you to connect your solar system to the internet so you can easily check consumption levels and other interesting information on your solar power system and electrical usage.
There are 4 major types of solar inverters. All will provide the essential purpose of converting DC to AC, but they do so by different processes. The solar inverters include:
This depends on your preferences and your budget. It also depends on the level of shading on your property. If your roof is impacted by shade then you will need microinverters and power optimisers. The slope of the roof (angle and direction) is an important consideration. The inverter has to match your grid connection, which is either three phase or single phase, and this will also determine the right solar inverter for your property.
Three phase power is stronger. The three phase power has 4 wires, three that are active and one that is neutral. Power is supplied at 240 volts and 415 volts. Single phase power has two wires, once active and one neutral. Power is supplied at 240 volts only. Due to the increased number of active wires, three phase power triples the amount of voltage available. In larger homes, single phase power might result in power tripping. If you have large appliances in your home or extensive energy use, you may need three phase power instead of single phase. But most Australian residences will do fine on single phase power.
A solar battery basically stores energy from the solar panel system. It allows you to keep the energy for storage. This might be useful as you can store the energy for a later time, such as sundown, where it might be needed. Solar panels are connected to the electricity grid, which means that excess energy is sent back to the grid and you get a credit on your next bill. If you are going ‘off grid’, then having a battery and alternate power supply is essential. Solar panels do not generate electricity without sunlight.
The two most common kinds of solar batteries are lithium ion and lead acid. Lithium ion batteries are the most common of the two. They have a longer lifespan and a greater DOD. They are a little more expensive but also more compact. Lead acid batteries are cheap and often used for off grid power systems. However, they are becoming outdated, especially as new types of battery enter the market, such as Flow and Sodium Nickel Chloride.
There are 4 primary considerations when it comes to solar batteries. These are the battery life, the warranty, the power capacity, and the depth of discharge (‘DOD’). Most batteries will last between 5 – 15 years. The manufacturer should provide a warranty of some kind. The power capacity is simply the maximum power the battery can store. And the depth of discharge relates to how much of it you can use before the battery has to recharge. A DOD of 85% means you will only be able to use 85% of the total power storage.
There is always a trade off. Better batteries will cost more. Flow batteries are possibly the best with a 100% DOD and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. But they are too expensive right now. Only a few companies produce this battery for the residential market. Lithium ion is still the way to go for the foreseeable future.
Fremantles Local Solar Company
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All of our installations are carried out by CEC electrician led teams. We run a small, tight, professional team. Our aim is to be the best, not the biggest.
The Federal Government will pay for well over half your solar installation as we are fully CEC licenced (A113 3805 & A479 6352).
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