Solar Power FAQ’s

We often get asked about going solar in Gippsland, so here are the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions to help you evaluate which solar water heater and solar power system is right for you.

What is the difference between a solar hot water system and a solar power system?

A solar hot water system uses the visible and infrared radiation from the sun to directly heat water. A solar power system uses the visible radiation from the sun, and converts it into electricity for use in the home or to be fed into the electricity grid.

How does a solar power system work?

Solar power system use the photovoltaic (PV) cells to produce electricity.  When sunlight hits a solar power system, direct current (DC) electricity is produced.  This is converted into 240V alternating current (AC) using an inverter.  This electricity can be used immediately within the home or fed into the National Electricity Grid (grid).

What is an inverter?

An inverter is an electronic device that converts the DC power generated by the modules into AC power at the correct voltage for supply to the grid.  It also provides equipment protection and safety features.

What are the benefits of using a solar power system?

Electricity generated by a solar power system is used to offset or replace the power that would normally be purchased from your electricity supplier – thereby reducing your power bills and saving more.  This solar generated energy also avoids the harmful pollution caused by generating electricity from the burning of Gippsland’s fossil fuels.

Will my solar power system store energy for later use?

A grid connected solar power system does not store energy.  When you generate more power that you need, you supply the extra power into the grid.  At times when you need more energy than you are producing, you draw the extra you need from the grid.  Whereas a solar water heater stores its energy for later use in a storage tank.

Will I still need mains electricity?

Yes, because grid connected inverters will only produce power when it is connected to the grid supply.

What are Gross and Net feed-in tariffs?

A feed-in tariff is the rate paid by the electrical utility for each kilowatt-hour of electricity your solar power system feeds into the grid.
The feed-in tariff schemes are set by the state governments and vary between the states (either Gross or Net). 
A gross feed-in tariff pays for all of the electricity generated by the solar power system.  The owner then buys back the electricity that is needed.
 A net feed-in tariff pays the owner only for surplus electricity produced by the solar power system.

What happens at night or on cloudy days?

Solar power systems only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight.  They do not produce electricity at night.  At night you will not generate electricity from your solar modules – you will use electricity from the electricity grid.  The performance of the solar power system is affected by cloud.  When there is not enough light to cover the homes needs, you will draw the excess required electricity from the grid, as you do now.

What happens during a blackout?

In the event of a blackout, your solar power system will stop producing electricity.  This safety measure is mandatory and has been put in place to protect anyone working on the blacked-out grid system.  As soon as the grid is back online, your solar system will restart automatically.

How reliable are solar power modules?

Solar modules are one of the most reliable energy conversion systems.

What is the payback period of a solar power system?

Payback periods may vary depending on the applicable feed-in tariff, householder electricity usage profile and size and cost of the PV system installed.
 Contact SolarWorld Industries and we will be able to provide an estimate of payback period for your system.

What maintenance is required on a solar power system?

Our solar are modules are manufactured to high quality standards and will require minimal maintenance for many years, other than keeping the surface of the modules clean.

How much roof space will I need for a solar power system?

Our smallest system requires a roof area of around 11 square metres.  This will generate around 30% of the average family’s energy needs each year.  The more powerful the system, the more solar modules and roof space are needed.

Is the position on the roof important?

Solar power systems work best on an unshaded north-facing roof.  It is also possible to install a solar power system on an east or west facing roof. In some cases east/west systems can be more efficient for particular applications.