Blog Post Wednesday 09 November 2016
Sunlight: not only can it make us feel calm and happy on a beautiful sunny day, but it can also be put to work to greatly reduce our electricity bills. Thank you sun - is there anything you can’t do?! Solar panels have become very popular in Australia, as they offer a handful of benefits such as being an eco-friendly source of energy, and a cheaper way of powering your house. Here’s our guide to help you know more about our awesome and powerful friend in the sky.
In 1767, Horace-Benedict de Saussure, a Swiss scientist, invented the world’s first solar collector. The insulated box was constructed out of three layers of glass, designed to absorb heat energy. The mechanism was known as the first solar oven, and could reach temperatures of 110 degrees celsius.
Then in 1839, the next solar energy milestone occurred. French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect by placing an electrode in a conductive solution. As soon as the electrode was exposed to sunlight, a current was generated. The first tiny electrical charge was engineered!
In the 1950s, Bell Laboratories produced the very first silicon solar cell - an electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity via the photovoltaic effect. Assemblies of solar cells are now used to make solar modules, which generate electrical power from sunlight for residential and commercial buildings. What a breakthrough!
Solar energy, being from the sun, is a renewable resource that uses photovoltaic systems to create electricity. This type of energy can be used just like any other to power your house and run appliances without being too pricey or harmful to the environment. The system is made up of panels and an inverter.
The process is simple (well, pretty simple). After the sun’s light is absorbed by the solar panel, the silicon conductors in it transform the light into direct current electricity, which then travels to the inverter. The inverter converts this direct current into an alternate current, which is the type of electricity you can use in your home. The excess of electricity is then sent back to the grid, which means you may also be paid an agreed feed-in tariff for this excess energy. Or, it can be stored in a battery system.
Solar panels work best when they are installed pointing directly at the sun, and in a position where nothing is blocking them (such as trees). The weather will also play an important part on the effectiveness of the panels, so fortunately for Australians, our weather is perfect for solar energy. Want more info on how solar works? Check out this post.
A few things you can do before buying a solar panel are:
If the manufacturer is reputable, warranties should be about 10-20 years. This, of course, will only be respected if the seller is still in operation, so install with someone who has a good track record.
It’s not about paying for the most expensive installation or the cheapest one, just make sure you get a few quotes so that you can determine what an average installation cost looks like for your home. You can then assess the value of the quotes based on the quality of the company offering it, and your own expectations.
There are different types of solar panels, with the main difference between them being the material they’re made of. In the past, if you had a smaller roof area, you had to install highly efficient and pricey mono-crystalline solar panels. Today, not so much, as panel technology has seen some great advances. But it’s still true that space plays a major role in deciding what type of panel you choose.
If you live in an area prone to cyclones, like some parts of Queensland, the solar panels need to be installed accordingly. That’s why the mounting system needs to be certified and this is an important thing to consider when choosing a panel.
Before any solar panel purchase, always check the certifications, especially if you could get a government rebate from it. The certifications should tell you what type of testing has been done to the panels.
As we mentioned above, the inverter is what the solar panel needs to convert the sunlight into energy suitable to power your home. But not all inverters are equally efficient, which directly impacts the amount of time the installation takes to pay for itself. So the more efficient the inverter, the better.
Ask. Ask friends, family, colleagues or anyone you know who has gone solar and could tell you truthfully what it’s all about and give you tips or advice based on how it has worked out for them. If no one you know has done it, try finding reviews online.
Solar feed-in tariffs are, in a way, how solar panels can reward you. Because Australia has not yet nationalised the benefit, there are different schemes for different states, sometimes referred to as a solar bonus scheme or solar buy-back scheme. Internationally, these schemes have been a huge success, with countries such as the UK and Germany seeing a massive positive response to switching to solar energy.
This benefit consists of payments you’ll get when each unit of solar energy from your solar panels flows back into the grid. Generally, you’d want to look for high feed-in tariffs plus a couple of discounts when choosing a solar panel.
Making the change to solar energy is a lifelong investment that will enable you to save a lot of money in the long run. Plus, Australia has the perfect weather conditions for it - so take advantage!
We at Click Energy love our solar power so much that we are the only retailer with a choice of plans in QLD, NSW, SA and VIC. Plus, we have great feed-in tariffs and are a top rated solar retailer by Canstar Blue.