Do I Need Solar Batteries?

Do I Need Solar Batteries?

Solar Batteries - Do I Need Them?

There’s no doubt about it. The future of renewable energy – even energy in general – lies in solar power. Using solar energy to generate electricity for your home allows you to take charge of your energy consumption in a manner that’s friendlier on the planet and certainly very kind on your wallet! If you’ve decided to choose this energy-efficient, cost-effective alternative to coal generated power, you’ve likely heard about solar batteries. There’s currently a lot of conjecture about whether they are or aren’t a worthwhile investment in 2019, so we decided we’d weigh in on the matter to help you make a more informed decision.

So here’s how to determine whether or not investing in a solar battery is right for you.

What Do Solar Batteries Do?

A standard solar power system doesn’t require a solar battery. By installing solar panels and an inverter only, your household or organisation can generate enough power to consume itself. Alternatively, any excess power that isn’t used can be sent to the shared grid for public use. As a result, you’ll receive a credit on your next electricity bill. It is always preferable to self consume over sending your energy back to the grid, as it is only credited to you at a reduced rate to what you would have saved if you’d actually used it yourself. This reduced rate that is added to your bill as a credit is called the Feed-In Tariff (FIT).

You can read more on this at our recent article on feed-in tariffs.

Adding a solar battery to your solar energy system creates what is called a hybrid system. This means that you are generating your own electricity to use in your home or store in your battery to use at night, as well as still being connected to the main grid for any excess energy that is needed to be used or exported.

All Batteries Aren’t Created Equal

There are many different solar battery brands available, such as Fronius, LG and Tesla – each with their pros and cons regarding capacity, size and lifespan. No matter which one you invest in, you can expect to pay at least $10,000 – and you’ll also need to pay for installation and an inverter that is able to integrate with a solar battery (not all batteries do this – particularly older and cheaper models). The lifespan of your battery will depend on how often you use it, which is measured in cycles. One cycle is how long it takes for a full battery to empty.

Should I Invest In One?

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before getting a solar battery.

Firstly, you need to take note of how much energy you use. If you’re consuming a lot, a solar battery may not allow you to recoup your investment very quickly – if at all. This is because you negated the impact of a battery by using it all during the day – leaving you with a very expensive piece of wall decoration.

Knowing when you use your electricity the most is another factor, as a battery is ideally suited to those who use more energy at night than during the day. Location is another important aspect you need consider, as different regions and suburbs will offer different FIT rates – with some offering none at all. A standard feed in tariff rate will often see your bill credited a few hundred dollars per quarter, leaving you with a greatly reduced bill to pay. While a battery may have meant you had even less of a bill to pay, it still cost you $10,000+ to install it. So you are still well behind the starting line.

In short – if you are living in an area offering no or an extemely low rebate, then you have nothing to lose!

If your area does have a good FIT – then a solar battery may not yet be the best way to spend your hard earned cash!

Work It Out

For your solar battery to be a worthwhile investment, it will need to pay for itself before your battery warranty expires. This means that your payback time (based on your average estimated usage) needs to be less than the battery’s lifespan. For the average household, this doesn’t work out as being financially savvy.

But Wait…

There is one option you could explore that would see you investing in a solar battery without spending more than it’s worth. As at the 11th of February, 2019, the Queensland Government is currently offering residents who own their home a $3,000 rebate and $10,000 interest free loan as part of the QLD Government Solar Loan and Rebate Scheme. As an approved solar retailer and installer, we can offer this great package to you.

However, there are less than 300 Loan and Grant spots available, so you need to get in quick!

All of our solar energy consultants are professionals who can assist you to ensure a solar battery makes financial sense for you. Give us a call on 1300 969 471 today or use our Get a Quote page to discuss your energy needs!

What Size Solar Energy System Do I Need?

With the cost of solar panels down to their lowest ever pricepoint (and likely the price they will stay at), the cost of electricity increasing, and feed-in tariffs making alternative energy a more attractive option, it’s clear that Aussie families and businesses alike should make the move to solar energy. If you’re in this group, you’ll be wondering foremost how to calculate what size system you will need to meet your energy requirements.

Here’s some things you and your solar energy provider should consider to make the best decision for your energy needs.

What’s On Your Electricity Bill?

Your quarterly electricity bill should provide you with details on your daily usage, which can give you a better understanding of your current needs. For example, the average three-bedroom home in Australia making moderate use of an air-conditioner would require a solar panel system that can generate 12-16kWh per day. With this information, you can calculate how many kW and panels you will need to meet that level of energy generation daily.

Did you know?

If you generate more renewable energy than what you can use and don’t have batteries to store the excess, it can go back into the grid – and you’ll get further compensated via feed-in tariffs!

How Much Electricity Do You Use During The Day?

Some areas of Australia receive more sunlight hours during the day than others – so when it comes to deciding what size solar energy system to install; you should estimate the amount of electricity you use only during the day in order to meet your requirements. Therefore, if your daily usage is 30kWh with two-thirds of that occurring in the day, that means that a 5kW solar system will potentially be more than enough for daily usage in your household – providing you with enough to export a sizable portion back onto the grid and earning feed-in tariffs.

If you were to install a larger solar panel system, you may need to install solar batteries to store the excess power. Without batteries, up to 50% of power generated would go back into the grid – and this would be considered a less successful investment.

If you want to avoid wastage, simply consult with a professional, accredited solar installer like our team here at GEM Energy.

How Many Panels Are Needed To Offset Electricity Usage?

Your utility bill should show how much electricity you have used in that quarter. Do a simple calculation to work out how many kWh you have used in a year and work out your daily usage, by dividing it by 365. For example, a person who used 4000kWh in the year would use about 10kW per day. Depending on their location (for example, Sydney) they’d then divide their usage (10kWh) by Sydney’s 3.9kWh per installed kW – giving them 2.8. This means that this person would need a 2.8kW sized solar power to generate renewable energy living in Sydney.

This method is useful for getting a general idea of what you could expect to use or pay, but if you want an accurate number you can act on and feel confident it will perform as desired, all you need to do is call one our accredited solar energy consultants on 1300 969 471 or visit our Get A Quote page. We’ll take care of the rest!

How Does My Roof Affect My Solar?

How Does My Roof Affect My Solar?

How does my roof affect my solar GEM Energy solar academy Australia

So you’re thinking of having solar panels installed at your property?

Great choice 😎

In this article, we will be talking about one of the least understood (but equally important) factors of how solar can help decrease your electricity bills.

So without further adieu, here’s how your roof affects your solar energy system – with some bonus to assist you.

Let’s start off with the most basic aspect: the material your roof is constructed with (yes – it does affect your solar panels!).

Most residential roofs in Australia are constructed out of tin or tile. Tin, or colourbond, are relatively straight forward to install on, with regular baton screws available to be used as anchor points for the installation of your solar panels. They are also easy to drill through, which is another added bonus. Generally speaking, having a tin roof is the cheapest to install a solar system on. Tile, on the other hand, poses a few problems which can often add extra costs. When installing solar panels on a tile roof, there is potential for cracking or breaking of the tiles from walking or drilling into the tiles. A good installer (like our installation teams here at GEM Energy) will ensure that you have some extra tiles on hand to replace any broken tiles. Other common occurrences is that the extra cost of this risk is built into your installation quote, or that you will need to pay for the tiles to be replaced by a roofer at extra cost to you after the installation. Other materials such as clay tiles, metals and rubber are also suitable, and should not pose any issues.

The next factor for consideration is the pitch of your roof. In layman’s terms, the pitch is the angle of your roof. Different angles affect the performance of your solar panels. The best way to maximize the efficiency of your solar panels is to have an inclined angle of approximately 10 degrees above horizontal to prevent rain and other dirt from accumulating. Of course, you can’t really change the angle of your roof, but there can be an option to include tilts in the mounting of your panels. But no matter what angle your current roof is, our professional solar technicians will be able to calculate the best configuration to maximise your output and return on your investment prior to installation.

Solar panels are relatively light, but with the average system size increasing to 6+kW, 20+ panels can certainly combine to have a significant weight factor, so it is crucial for solar technicians to assess your roof prior to installation. Some roofs may not be strong enough for solar panels. In this case, additional frame structure may be necessary before installation.

Different locations are also subjected to different wind loads, for example houses close to the sea tend to experience higher levels of wind loads. The angle of the roof again plays a part in this. The design of the solar mounting system will be determined by the uplift forces of the wind.

Attachment or mounting of the solar panels can be achieved quickly by using standard roofing screws if all is well with your roof, including the material of your roof. Also check and see if there are parapets on your roof. Although parapets are able to help reduce wind load on your roof, they may be increase shading which will impact the efficiency of your solar panels.

Roof access is another important aspect. Our technicians need to be able to have easy and safe access to your roof in order to do work on it. This includes access to your roof cavity, as well as getting onto the roof safely. Most residential houses in Australia are one or two storeys high, and this makes it easier to work on them. Professionals are able to install your solar panels without much risk or need for further safety precautions that come along with working at heights.

This is just a basic guide to provide you with some insights into how factors that aren’t commonly understood, such as roof type and pitch, can affect your potential or performance of solar energy. If you’d like to get a custom assessment of your home for a solar energy system, simply visit our Get a Quote page or call us today on 1300 969 471.

Why do solar energy quotes vary so much between providers?

Why do solar energy quotes vary so much between providers?

difference between solar energy quotes GEM Energy

When choosing a solar system for your home, the market is notoriously difficult to navigate. Any average punter knows that the best bet is to get multiple solar energy quotes. But with prices varying by more than 200% in some cases – it really is a jungle out there.

Look, we could all be forgiven for naturally gravitating toward the cheaper option in instances like these.

But when it comes to your energy bills, and an investment as large as solar is – it really pays to know WHY your quotes can vary so much and what are you getting or not getting for the quoted price.

And that, we imagine, is why you are here reading this right now. You DO want to be informed and make the best decision for your home and for your family.

So let’s get stuck in, savvy solar buyer.

Let’s start with the basics – price.

We’ve broken down three of the most popular system sizes for residential solar installations:  

System Size 3kW System 6kW System 10 kW System
Number of Panels 10 panels 20-25 panels 31-40 panels
Price Range $3,500-5,600 $5,000-10,000 $9,990-15,000
Units of Electricity per Day 13.2 units 22 units 44 units

If you are quoted prices much lower than the ones stated in the table above – it is highly likely that the company is sacrificing the quality of installation, the quality of the products themselves or even the level of customer service and warranties attached to your system. Even though they may initially seem to operate similarly, a higher quality (and slightly more expensive) systems offer lower degradation rates of the panels, better warranties that you can feel more confident will be honoured, higher quality components and even perform better with varying levels of shading etc. If reassurance and performance are important to you – then it would be wise to choose a higher quality system.

 

“Okay, thanks GEM Energy!” you think to yourself. You’re welcome.

But what about these Tier 1 panels I’ve been hearing all about?

 

Beware of your everyday solar retailers and installers who claim that their solar panels are Tier 1 standard. Tier 1 is important, but it more so speaks to the manufacturing process of the panels – not of their performance or longevity, which should be your primary concerns! Some companies may gain your trust, spruiking the Tier 1 line, but in reality they are going to stick you with a low quality investment all the same.

 

So how do I get the best solar energy system?

Well, of course, you should get multiple quotes. While we personally think we offer the best products in partnership with the best in-house engineering and installation in Australia – you should still get a few quotes to compare the options you have.

It’s really important, however, that you make sure you get like-for-like quote. You simply cannot compare two totally different sizes on price, for example a 3kW and a 6.5kW, nor can you compare a Sunpower panel with a no namer panel.

Helpful hint: if they’re not on the below chart – don’t bother!

Solar Panel Brands Ranked GEM Energy

Credit: SolarQuotes

 

When receiving quotes for your solar energy system, be sure to ask yourself one simple question:

Has the system being created just for me, with my bill and my home and my usage in mind – or is it just a stock standard package advertised on a website?

 

If you’ve been asked the right questions and had the condition, type, aspect and tilt of your roof taken into account – you can feel more confident that the system has been designed for you. But if it’s just a package being advertised online in an ad or on a website, with a standard size and a standard price. Watch out! You need to make sure you fully understand the quality of the system you are being quoted on, and the implications that may result from choosing a system that was advertised these ways.

 

Okay, but what happens if I do decide that I’d like to save some money and get the cheaper option?

Well, you should be prepared for potential issues, such as:

The classic bait and switch. Some installers use quality components as the bait, advertising genuine Tier 1 solar panels and a top end inverter. They put in their conditions of sale that they reserve the right to swap out the inverter and panels for ‘equivalents’. Then, they install a really cheap inverter and panels instead.

Your provider may also cut corners in the install, and do it too quickly or use cheap, unlicensed labour! Some companies have reputations for paying the lowest install rates in the industry. Guess what – they also have a reputation for really poor installations. Think of it this way – most solar power systems operate at high voltage DC. If installed well, high voltage DC is safe. If it is not installed well, it is very dangerous. Can you guess what happens next?

Using a poor quality inverter can cost you as well. A really cheap inverter will be unlikely to last 3 years. Inverters are easier to replace under warranty than panels, but still some manufacturers will blame the failure on ‘grid spikes’ and you’ll either have to fight, or pay $1500+ for a new inverter.

And the worst part. The people that are selling these poor quality systems are making money from their customers 2-3 times over. There is a loophole in the solar rebate, where an installer can replace all the panels on someone’s roof and claim the rebate all over again! The rebate is worth over $600 per kW installed, while a really cheap panel can be bought for under $500 per kW. That’s some tidy profit right there.

 

And what do you recommend I do GEM Energy?

 

It’s simple – choose quality!

 

Avoid shifty providers and find a solar power system that is well designed for your roof and consumption patterns. Choose a company that anticipates the addition of panels and batteries in the future while designing your initial system. These are the kind of companies you can count on to use good quality panels, inverters, racking, wires and isolators. With a trained electrician (or team of electricians like our dedicated residential teams at GEM Energy) who is given the time to install your system properly, you will receive a high quality solar energy system that will perform as specified for decades to come and continue to return your investment well into the future. Keep your wits about you when obtaining solar energy quotes, and be wary of the ‘too good to be true’ offers online, in the papers and on TV.

As always, we will be here to help! GEM Energy is one of Australia’s leading installers, backed by an award-winning engineering team that works on each and every job we install. Call us today to get a quote on a high quality solar system, installed by the best and backed by industry leading warranties, or visit our dedicated get a quote page.

Can somebody please tell me what a feed-in tariff is!?

Can somebody please tell me what a feed-in tariff is!?

QLD Govt Solar and Battery Grant and Interest Free Loan Header Image

As we roll into the new year, you might be considering how you can make your home more environmentally friendly and cut down on your consumption of non-renewable energy sources at the same time. You’ll be happy to know that the State Governments in Australia have already put in place incentives to encourage businesses and homeowners to play their part. As solar energy is a freely available and easy to harness form of power, these Governments have created varying Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) to encourage its adoption. Here’s what FITs involve and how you can benefit from it!

What are feed-in tariffs?

FITs are a scheme that pays people for generating renewable energy for personal use – or, more accurately, the excess energy they DON’T use. The point of the Scheme is to increase the number of properties using solar power and increase the amount of renewable energy generated overall that can be fed back into the grid for public usage.

Most renewable energy comes from using solar panels, as it’s easy and affordable to install panels onto any roof which faces the sun rays. As opposed to installing a solar battery, it is more economical and financially lucrative to feed any excess energy back into the main electricity grid. This energy is then credited back to you on your next electricity bill at a rate which varies by State.

The current rates are (indicative only):

State    Current Rate Paid*

VIC      9.9 to 29c/kWh (depending on retailer)

SA       11 to 16.3c/kWh (depending on retailer)

ACT    6 to 12c/kWh (depending on retailer)

TAS    8.9c/kWh

NT       Same as consumption rate / grid purchase rate

WA      Varies*** e.g. 7.1c/kWh (Synergy)

QLD    6 to 12c/kWh (depending on retailer)

NSW   11.9 to 15.0 c/kWh (depending on retailer)

The amount of energy you are credited for on your electricity bill will be dependent on how much of the energy you produce you end up using yourself. Obviously, using it yourself it still the cheaper option, but if you are out of the house most of the day for example, the feed-in tariff is a great way to still see some return on your investment in the solar panels on your roof.

How do feed-in tariffs help me save money?

In short, they’re part of the equation that makes installing solar for your home or business so lucrative.

  1. If you generate renewable energy for personal use, you’ll save money on electricity.
  2. If you produce more than you use, the energy that you generate is exported into the grid for others to use and you receive a credit on your already significantly reduced energy bill.
  3. Your electricity bills now cost just about nothing (if you’ve purchased the right system from the right provider that is).

Who can benefit from feed-in tariffs?

Anybody and everybody! Any business or homeowner can benefit from the feed-in tariff in their State, and we encourage you all to install solar panels in your residential and commercial properties. Whether it is a house, a school, a shopping centre or a factory, any structure can generate renewable energy using solar panels and enjoy the benefits.

What do I need to know about getting started with solar panels and benefiting from feed-in tariffs?

If you’re interested in installing solar panels, simply contact a reputable solar panel installation company. As the initial cost can be quite high (though you see a positive return on investment quite quickly), it can be a good idea to seek out one that gives you the option to pay it off in monthly installments. A well designed and property installed solar energy system will pay itself off between three and five years. After that, you’ll be generating electricity for your home or business for free! Any of our team members here at GEM Energy can answer all your questions related to feed-in-tariffs and solar panel installation, so if you’re in the market (or considering getting into it), give us a call today on 1300 969 471 or visit our get a quote page.

We’ll be happy to help!