What are the benefits of installing solar power panels and solar storage batteries together?

Many Australian households are switching over to solar power. A clean, renewable resource, solar power offers the ability to protect the environment while also reducing monthly costs. Here are some major advantages to installing solar power, in addition to the advantages of using solar storage batteries.

Solar Power for Australian Households

Solar energy is a renewable resource, and it can significantly reduce a household’s energy bills. Rather than having to pay the power company, a household can instead have solar power installed and begin collecting their own energy from the sun’s light.

In Australia, there’s a good deal of sunlight available, and that makes Australia one of the best places for solar power initiatives. If you want your household to go “green” and to reduce monthly bills, a solar power installation is an excellent option.

How Solar Power Works During the Day/Night Cycle

Solar power is not collected at night, so solar energy doesn’t work at night. If you need energy at night, you need to have some form of solar collection. Either you need a battery to collect your solar power, or you may need to get additional energy from the power grid. Many households work with the local power grid, selling excess energy during the day, and purchasing energy during the night.

In addition to not collecting power during the night, solar power often can’t collect energy during cloudy days. During the days when the sun is significantly obscured, households may need to store their power in batteries instead.

The Benefits of Installing Battery Storage With Your Solar System

LG RESU 10h silver
The only problem with solar-powered systems is that solar energy can be intermittent. Since the sun isn’t always shining (and isn’t always at its peak effectiveness), there can be fluctuations in the amount of energy you’re receiving. Further, you can have fluctuations in the amount of energy you’re using: you might find that you sometimes have guests, do more cooking than usual, or are just experiencing extreme temperatures.

Battery storage can help. With battery storage, your solar system is able to set aside energy for later, like your own personal energy grid. Here are some of the benefits of battery storage:

You won’t need to pull extra power from the grid. Pulling power from the grid is expensive and often defeats the purpose of a solar power panel. Not only will you need to pay for the power that you pulled, but you’ll also be paying for fossil fuels and other types of less renewable energy resource.

You can get power whenever you need it, even if your power usage increases. Not everyone’s power usage stays static, and that can be a problem for those who rely solely on solar power panels. Solar storage batteries will ensure that you have additional power to pull on, even if your energy usage suddenly goes up.

You won’t “waste” additional energy. When additional energy is produced by your solar system, you’ll either need to sell it back to the grid or it will go nowhere at all. This is a missed opportunity. With the right array of solar storage batteries, you can ensure that your system catches all of the available energy.

You can ditch the extra generator. The alternative to pulling power from the grid is often using a generator. Generators burn fuel, however, and are usually very loud. A solar storage battery will connect seamlessly to your existing solar solution, in an easy to use and non-disruptive way.

Battery storage provides a more consistent, reliable energy solution. If you’ve already installed solar panels, solar storage batteries can provide a significant upgrade. If you’re thinking about solar energy, solar batteries allow solar panels to operate much more effectively.

Reduce Your Electricity Bills through Stored Power

Many people have heard of the “buy back” program, which allows households to sell energy back to the power company when it has excess. While this can be a way of making additional money and paying off other household expenses, it’s usually more valuable to keep stored power for your household. Energy companies will pay less through a “buy back” program than they will get selling the electricity back to you, so it’s in your vested interest to store this energy for when you need it.

Solar panels are the way of the future, but they do come with some negatives. Solar panels can’t work when solar energy isn’t available, which includes nights and cloudy days. To mitigate this issue, you can always install solar storage batteries. With solar storage batteries, you can operate your own personal energy supply, and store energy for when you need it the most.

Looking for a solar system quote?

Try out our new quote form here. Our process is simple: fill out the form and we’ll get back to you.

Understanding the Key Solar System Components

Whether you already have a solar system installed or not, it is important that you understand the main components. LG Energy has a comprehensive list of information on everything solar, so we’ve put together some of the most relevant and frequently asked questions we get about key solar system components from their website.

1. What happens to the power I don’t use?

A solar system can be connected to the grid using a Gross Meter or Net Meter.

Today most of the solar power electric systems are installed under the Net Meter scheme. A Net metering system means your inverter sends the electricity your system generates to the meter box, and from the meterbox into your house.

If you consume electricity in your house at that point in time the solar system will supply it, therefore this electricity is “free”.

If the amount of electricity generated by your solar power system is more than you consume at that point in time, the additional electricity is exported back to the grid to be used by other people.

Your Net electricity meter then measures how much you exported. The payment you receive for this exported electricity is called the feed-in-tariff. Currently it ranges from 11c to 15c per kWh exported,, while you pay between 20c and 45c usually for  one kWh of electricity used. At night you import electricity and the Net meter measures how much you consumed and adds it to the electricity you consumed during the day from the grid.

The rate of feed-in-tariff you get paid varies from State to State and from energy company to energy company. We suggest you shop around. Your solar power system installer may be able to guide you as to which energy retailer offers the best feed-in-tariff rate.

Under Gross Meter scheme all the electricity generated by your solar system is exported back to the grid and you are paid for it usually by way of a credit on your electricity bill. The payment you receive for this exported electricity is called the feed-in tariff, and in the early days of solar were as high as 60c per kWh.

The Gross Meter measures the entire output of the system separately to your electricity consumption. Gross metering support plans ceased to be offered in NSW by  2011 and expired in late 2016. but in other states will be still keep going as long as the mid 2020s. . Net There are no new entrants allowed into these historically very generous support schemes.

2. Can solar PV be put on any roof in any direction?

Australia, being in the Southern Hemisphere sees the sun rise from the East and set in the West. In the middle of the day, the time of best solar irradiation, the sun sits North. There is also a variance throughout the seasons in solar radiance because of the solar solstice. The solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point relative to the equator.

With the exception of southern facing or shaded roofs, most roofs are suitable to install solar. In Australia, particularly with Net Metering systems, it is important that the solar panels are located taking your own electricity consumption pattern into account. For example if you use most electricity in the morning and during the earlier part of the day then install the panels on the eastern roof. If you after the most solar electricity output from mid morning to early afternoon install the panels on the northern roof. If your children come home at 3pm and turn on all appliances, or you want to offset your air conditioner use as much as possible late in the afternoon, then you want as much solar electricity as possible in the afternoon. Therefore install the system on your western roof. Or if you get a 4 or 5 KW system you can put one solar module string on the northern roof and one string of panels on the eastern or western roof to get the whole day supplied with solar power.

While an eastern or western roof installation will produce between 5% and 15% less electricity than solar panels facing true north, the time you require the electricity and the aesthetic look of the solar system on your house are also important considerations when deciding on where to position the panels.

3. What is Net Metering?

Net meters work by continuously sampling how much electricity is being generated and how much electricity is consumed at your home. At each point in time the meter instantaneously reads the generation and consumption of the premises and the meter records both these amounts. The data is then accumulated in the appropriate register over the billing cycle. The meter is read and the bill is calculated. Now that high government sponsored feed-in tariff have stopped to be available for new customers, it is very likely that a net meter is the best way to meter your electricity after you solar power system has been installed.

Under net metering, the electricity generated by your system and consumed in your home, you pay nothing for this electricity. Whenever the solar power system generation exceeds your homes consumption, this excess amount is exported to the grid and you may earn a feed-in tariff for this exported solar electricity. Check your energy retailers solar feed-in tariff policy.

Therefore, each kWh of electricity your solar system generates and you consume in a billing period, saves you the retail price you would normally pay per kWh to your electricity retailer. For example your solar system generates 15kWh of electricity on a specific day. You use 12 KWh in your house on that day and export 3 kWh. Your electricity price charged by your electricity retailer is 35 cents per kWh and they pay you 10c in feed in tariff for each kWh.

Therefore that day your solar system earned you 12 kWh of electricity at 25 cents you did not have to buy = $3.00 and 15 cents you earned for your exported electricity. Total value of the electricity generated that day will be $3.15.

4. What angle is optimum for solar panels i.e. can they be put flat on a roof?

As Australia is in the Southern hemisphere, the solar panels produce most power when they are pointed directly at the sun i.e. North. The orientation of the panels and the angle they are tilted will have a greater effect on annual energy production.

Most Australian homes have a roof pitch of 20° to 30° which is considered optimum for maximizing solar power generation. However, the panels can be installed anywhere between 10 to 35 deg with negligible efficiency loss. A minimum tilt of 10° is recommended to ensure self-cleaning by rainfall.

Whilst flat installation on roofs is possible, please consider that dust and debris are less likely to be washed off, if the panel is not tilted at least 10 degrees. More frequent panel cleaning by hand might have to be considered in such installation situations.

If your roof’s slope is not ideal, contact your nearest LG solar installer who will advise you on the correct orientation and elevation of your panel. Maybe a tilt frame is an option that could be considered.

5. How do different sizes of panels affect my system? Is a larger panel better?

Panel sizes don’t affect the outcome. A 3.6kWh system is what it says – a 3600W system which can be made up of panels of any size. However in urban areas where roof space is at a premium, higher wattage panels like LG’s 360 NeON R  panels, help you put panels that generate more power on your roof.

6. How likely is it that solar panels could be damaged by hail, frost or extreme heat?

Solar panels are designed to withstand varying weather conditions for many years. Hail, frost and very hot weather are part of the Australian landscape. LG panels are designed and tested to withstand hail stones up to 28mm, 90 degree hot temperatures and up to -40 degree frost.

Nevertheless should extreme hailstones cause any damage to your solar system most of the home insurance companies cover hail damage as the solar system installed on the roof is part of your building. However, different insurance companies can have different rules. We suggest you should find out if your solar power system is covered in your particular circumstances.

7. If I get solar is it recommended that I stay connected to the electricity grid?

Solar systems can be operated with batteries and it is conceivable that you disconnect from the grid. These systems are called off grid solar systems. Nevertheless, such systems require a substantial battery bank which adds significantly to the cost of the solar power system. In most cases an off grid system only makes sense in remote areas.

Lithium storage batteries have been offered to the market since mid 2015. Pricing has already dropped and will continue to reduce. It is anticipated that in the future small storage system for homes will come to the market at even more reasonable prices and this will allow you to use your stored solar power during sunless periods during the day and at night.

You will need certain preconditions to disconnect from the grid in an urban environment

  • A large roof space facing N, NW, NE and potentially also East and West.
  • High productivity panels that enable you to generate more solar power per square meter. For example, the LG NeON 2 panel is rated 315W in contrast to most other panels that are rated 260W-265W.
  • Large capacity, affordably priced solar batteries for daily storage to consume at night. This is a new, burgeoning market that is offering batteries with greater storage capacity at cheaper prices.
  • Affordable long term storage. The greatest storage capacity at the moment is between 15-20kW. To disconnect from the grid, a household would need to store at least a weeks supply of power to allow for rainy days.That would require 100-200kW of storage capacity. Also there are less sunlight hours in winter so affordable long term solutions to store excess summer power needs to be developed with 1000-2000kW capacity.

8. I understand there is a ‘gross’ meter or a ‘net’ meter to measure solar power generation. Which one is the right one for my switch board?

The time of high, government sponsored feed in tariffs has ended, in most cases a net solar meter will best suit your property. Gross meters measure all the electricity generated by your system and all the electricity is exported to the grid. At the time of high feed in tariffs (2009 to 2012), Gross meters were the preferred metering option.

In a net metering situation the solar power system generates electricity and this “solar electricity” then supplies your home/businesses’ electricity needs. What you do not use is exported to the power grid. Make sure your individual electricity retailer gives you a credit for the exported electricity. If they do not, you can explore the options from other electricity retailers for the best offer and option suitable for you. Your local solar installer might be able to recommend the electricity retailer offering the highest feed in tariff.

9. Why are panels different in size and output?

Solar panels are used for a variety of applications from a small garden solar light to space stations and satellites. The use of the solar product determines the size of the panel. In residential solar systems the large panels with average outputs from 250W to 320W are used. LG’s 285W, 300W and 320W panels have been optimised to give you the best value for money.

10. How is the solar energy your solar system generates, measured?

Your electricity meter in the switchboard collects a range of data on how much electricity you consume and how much you generate via the solar system. Strict rules are in place to guide metering practices within the electricity marketplace including measurement requirements. These are set out in the National Electricity Rules.

The data measured by your electricity meter is provided to:

  • your electricity retailer; and
  • the market operator (the Australian Energy Market Operator).

The actual generation and consumption data sent to the electricity retailer is used to calculate your solar bonus payments (feed-in tariff) and your consumption after your solar system supplied your home.

Metering arrangements can vary across different states and energy supply companies. However, the meter measures your electricity consumption and generation continuously, and it is measured in kilowatts per hour (kW/h). This data is then captured, usually for three monthly readings, so that the information can be used for billing purposes.

Learn more about key solar system components on the LG Energy site. Contact Soltek Energy about any questions you may have about solar.

Looking for a quote?

Try out our new quote form here. Our process is simple: fill out the form and we’ll get back to you.

Why Should I Be Wary of Cheap Solar Systems?

A cheap solar system can be appealing but are you really getting the best value for your money?

Before you make the jump, find out what it means to install cheap panels from reliable sources.

LG Energy has great information on everything solar, so we’ve put together some of the most relevant and frequently asked questions we get asked at Soltek Energy about cheap solar panels. Read all of the LG Energy FAQs on their website.

1. Why should I choose a good brand solar panel?

Arguably, the quality of your solar panels and the inverter are the most crucial factors in selecting a solar system. Over their 25 year output warranty period, solar panels will be subjected to more than 100,000 hours of relentless sunshine, extremes of heat and cold, wind, rain, hail and more.

Australia offers an extraordinarily harsh climate for an electrical device. A good brand like LG, with their extensive testing and quality control helps ensure that you get the most out of your system over its long operating life.

2. What is the difference between entry level solar panels versus the slightly more expensive quality ones?

A good quality panel differs from a cheaper one in the sealing materials used such as backing sheets, the soldering and the efficiency of the solar cells. For example, whilst LG panels will cost slightly more they are designed to deliver year after year performance.

In Australia solar systems with inferior product are now failing after only relative short periods on the roof. Unfortunately in some cases the installation companies have closed shop and the consumer is left to sort out the issue alone.

When talking to a reputable installer like Soltek Energy, ask about high quality branded components.

Solar panels generate high voltage DC electricity and therefore have to be installed as per precise Australian Standards to ensure a safe system.

3. What causes delamination in a solar panel?

Delamination occurs when the bond between the plastics (on the back) and the glass (on the front) separate. This is problematic for a solar panel because it allows air and moisture to creep inside which will cause corrosion and imminent failure.

Delamination will occur if:

  1. Inferior plastics are used or
  2. If the thermal properties of the plastics are poorly understood so it doesn’t melt to exactly the right point or
  3. The plastics or the glass are not perfectly clean and compatible or
  4. The laminating machine is inferior and poorly regulated for pressure and temperature

Bubbles, creases or imperfections on the plastic rear surface are an indication of the workmanship in lamination and can be an early sign of delamination.

4. Is it worthwhile to buy quality panels and save money on an inverter?

The inverter is the most hard working component in any solar power system. The inverter converts the direct (DC) current generated by the solar panel into alternating current suitable for the grid or your home. Every time there is a change in intensity/ radiation of the sunlight, every time there is a cloud covering the sun, the inverter has to adjust the electricity being converted. During the day light hours an inverter never stops working. At night naturally it turns itself off.

In summary: A solar inverter is responsible for reliable yield monitoring and ongoing grid management. For this reason the correct inverter selection is vital to ensure that you make the most out of every ray of sunshine. Your investment in good products like LG solar panels and a known European brand inverter will lead to solid yield efficiency and a longer solar system life.

5. What makes an inverter a good quality inverter?

Inverters are complex electronic devices and like any such device, they can be built to a price or built for robustness and performance. Unless you happen to be an electronics engineer, it is very hard to know how the quality of the components used in a given inverter will translate into life expectancy. However, there are a few things that you can use to guide you.

Firstly, the rules of experience, commitment, transparency and size of the manufacturer play a role. So ask yourself, is this inverter manufacturer one of the 2 or 3 leading manufacturers. Have they been making inverters for a long time and developed and improved the product over the years? Have they got Australian service centres to address faults with the inverter quickly? How about the warranty conditions and how long is the warranty. Is labour for repairs during warranty included? If so, make sure you get this in a written document, which you keep with the receipts for your system in a safe place.

Secondly, you can tell a bit about the product by the quality of its construction; are the materials used high quality? Is it built to keep out insects and weather? Has cooling been carefully considered? Is it fan based and/or convection? With moving parts there is more chance of a malfunction. Does it have a good set of features and not too many gimmicks? Where is it made and which company backs it?

Although inverters have reduced in price significantly in recent years, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. From the outside they all look like a colourful box, but it’s the inside that makes a big difference in years to come.

Performance is typically measured through features, conversion efficiency (how much power is lost in transferring DC to and from AC ?) and the inverters ability to deliver power under a wide range of conditions. We recommend reading the inverter datasheets and asking your installer for advice. Avoid offers that seem too good to be true.

6. Why are sealants an important factor of quality in a panel?

Sealants are used to seal the junction box on the rear of the solar module to prevent moisture getting into connections and sometimes to bond the laminates solar panel into its aluminium frame. If poorly matched, some sealants can react with the plastics causing premature degradation. Although non-flammable sealants are available, cheaper, flammable alternatives are sometimes used to reduce costs.

Frame sealants need to stay flexible over time and in varying temperatures to allow for thermal expansion and contraction between the glass laminate and the aluminium frame.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely for evidence that the sealants are applied precisely and carefully as a sign of good workmanship. Excess sealant oozing onto the glass indicates poor control over the dosage and could mean that too much is in some places, and too little in others.

7. Some solar panels are assembled by hand and some by machine, does it make a difference?

When a solar panel is being assembled and prepared for lamination it is crucial that no dirt, solder, dust, hair or other foreign particles are caught or they can cause bubbles in the laminate or air gaps which can lead to premature failure. Strictly clean conditions are essential in manufacturing solar panels. LG panels for example are made in semi conductor environments, to remove dust from the environments.

The alignment of solar cells is also an important indicator of workmanship in a solar panel. Poorly aligned solar cells can introduce stress into the interconnections or the potential for current leakage between cells.

When you are assessing a solar panel, check that there are no inclusions accidentally laminated under the glass and that the solar cells are perfectly aligned as this will affect the output of the system.

8. Is it important to have quality accessories to your solar system?

Quality and certified to Australian standards accessories are essential for the long term peace of mind performance of your solar power system. All quality products like your LG solar panels, known European brand inverter and branded mounting system accessories will help you extend the life of the system. Don’t forget LG panels have a 25 years efficiency warranty and you want all parts of the solar system to last as long as possible.

While cheap solar inverters regularly break down after a year or two – despite 5 year warranties (if the manufacturer has gone bankrupt, a warranty is worth very little) quality inverters installed in 2005 are still working today.

9. The solar company that installed my solar system has closed its business? Where do I go now?

If the company which has sold you the system has closed down, you still have the recourse of calling the accredited installer who installed the system.

After the installation of your system, you would have been given a copy of the installation certificate. The installer contact details and license number is given. The installer might still be liable to check the system if it falls within the workmanship warranty period. Call your local Department of Fair Trading for advice.

If the original solar install company does not trade anymore and you cannot locate the original licensed and certified solar installer, you have the option to call another local solar installer. Explain the issue with your solar system and be frank that you have not purchased the system from him, but that you need professional solar support. Be prepared to have to pay for a call out fee.

10. What is the lifetime of a solar power system?

The life span between a cheap and a quality solar system differs. For example, high quality inverters on average can last longer than a decade, while some very cheap inverters may have high failure rates after only a few years.

Solar panels do not have any moving parts and if they are of a good quality can last a long time.

LG solar panels, for example, are expected to reliably generate electricity for 25 years.

Some very cheap panels can fail already only after a few years.

In general you should look at the following as the minimum life of a system:

  1. 12 year manufacturing warranty on solar panels
  2. 25 year limited warranty on power production of the solar modules
  3. Minimum of 5 years manufacturer’s warranty on the inverter. Some solar inverter manufacturers offer a 10 year warranty(parts and labour) or the option to extend the inverter warranty for 5 years to 10 years for a small extra fee
  4. Also confirm that the installer gives you a long workmanship warranty on their installation work

Want to know more about avoiding cheap quality solar panel systems?

Contact Soltek Energy today and we’d be happy to help.