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.

What are the main components of a solar energy system?

What are the main components of a solar energy system?

What are the main components of a solar energy system?

3 Components of a solar system; panels, inverters and batteries.

What are the main components of a solar energy system?

When you think of solar energy, what do you immediately picture in your mind? Our guess is, you’re thinking of some of these!

But, as we all know, there is so much more to a solar energy system than simply the panels. There are multiple components to the entire system, with many brands to choose from for each. These brands can offer some very unique and advantages and often make or break a system’s ability to perform as expected. So it’s no wonder people often find the process of installing solar incredibly daunting.

But fear not, we’re here to help! We’ve created this article to help the beginners out there to better understand the investment you are looking to make for your home, whilst also helping people with existing systems to better understand all the parts and how they work in unison to power your home.

So read on, enjoy – and let us know if you have any feedback by emailing info@gemenergy.com.au.

The four major components of a solar energy system are the panels, inverter(s), racking and solar battery storage unit(s) (if desired).

 

Panels

Solar panels are the most visible element of your system, which is why you’re likely the most familiar with it. They are, in essence, the “face” of solar. If you go out and look up and down your street right now, you will likely be able to tell who does and doesn’t have solar energy powering their home purely by looking for solar panels on their rooves.

The way that solar panels work is that the panels generate DC electricity as sunlight, or solar irradiation, stimulates electrons to move though solar cells that are in-built into the solar panels. Contrary to what some may think, it is the sunlight itself, and not heat, that generates the electricity. In fact, overheated panels can become less efficient, similar to a computer overheating. Thus, any solar panel you choose must be able to withstand the warm Australian climate for around 25 years (we’re assuming you do want your investment into solar to last that long, right!?). There are a wide variety of solar panels on the market – so knowing where to start can be tricky. We’ll delve further into this in another article on another day, but for now, let’s quickly go into the technology and products so that you can better understand the options available to you right now.

Technology – Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline Panels?

Monocrystalline panels consist of singular large crystals, are darker in colour, even in aesthetic consistancy and, as a result of the production process, the corners of cells are usually missing.

Polycrystalline panels consist of multiple smaller crystals, can be light or dark blue in colour and have variation in texture where some patches are lighter than others.

Historically, monocrystalline panels were seen to have an advantage as the superior technology in the Australian market. Historically, monocrystalline solar cells were producing higher peak efficiency as large crystal sizes tend to be more absorbent, and the technology was more readily available than polycrystalline solar cells. However, over time both technologies have matured and improved, making the difference quite negligible in most regions. In essence, both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels are great for any solar energy system in Australian climates.

Instead, it has become increasingly evident that the more important aspect to focus on is the quality of the product, the reliability of the manufacturer and the performance of the product over time. These three factors alone can make all the difference in how much of your energy costs are offset, how long they will yield a return on your investment and how quickly you can receive support if things do go wrong (or even just need general maintenance – which we do recommend!).

How to choose your solar panels

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for when deciding on which solar panels to install for your home or business.

Though the savings of purchasing a budget panel may seem appealing in the short-term, they often depreciate more quickly and perform worse over time. Or just flat out don’t work. Or explode.

Solar energy systems are a long-term investment (systems should last around 25 years), so your main concern should be the performance of that system over time, the quality of the installation, the longevity of the products and the warranties attached. Maximizing savings over the long term rather than minimizing the initial cost of a system is the smart move. Many companies offer very cheap systems and cut corners to get to that price – rushing installs, putting your home at risk and selling the cheapest products that will barely last 5 years on an Australian roof. The products we sell are top of their range and come with a 20-30 year product and performance warranty as standard.

Brands

There are good budget brands that perform very well at an affordable price – we often recommend Jinko, Hyundai, Canadian Solar, Phono & Trina. Then there are our premium products, made with the highest quality technology and that come with extended warranties. These products include LGQCells and SunPower (suppliers of Apple and NASA), which are usually made and engineered in Germany or North America and are considered the best panels on the market.

Our Expert Advice: 

You can likely afford the best panels with only a slight increase in up-front costs or payback period, and this will pay off in the long-term.

When you speak with one of our expert consultants, they will breakdown the best option to maximize your savings.

Inverters

Inverters are a crucial part of any solar energy system. Their purpose is to convert the DC electricity that the solar panels produce into 240V AC electricity, which is what powers everything in your home. The inverter is a hardworking piece of equipment that works constantly throughout the lifetime of your system – so it tends to be the piece most likely to have faults. This means they usually only have a warranty of around 10 years. For this reason, we will always recommend that you choose a high quality inverter that is easily serviceable such as Fronius, ABB, Sungrow or SolarEdge.

Inverter Technology – String Inverters vs Microinverters

The two main types of inverters are string inverters and microinverters. A string inverter is installed onto a wall in a shaded area and will convert the energy from a string of panels (for residential systems this is usually the entire system) into AC electricity to be used in your home or business. Microinverters are installed on the back of each panel, allowing the energy from the panels to exist independently from each other. When partial shading occurs on one panel in a string inverter system, the performance of the rest of the panels are also affected (as demonstrated below). Microinverters are the solution to this, as they allow the panels to operate independently but also come with an increase in price. There are also power optimizers, which are the middle-of-the-road approach between the two, as they are cheaper than microinverters but somewhat less effective. Shading isn’t always a critical issue so microinverters aren’t always necessary. To find out, our experts will help you assess your particular situation.

Racking

The third main component of a solar energy system is the racking/mounting. This is what securely attaches your panels to your roof. Racking / mounting will not be a decision you need to lose sleep over. Any reputable solar provider will use quality racking equipment from brands like Radiant or Sunlock, which are Australian made. What is most important is that the installers of the solar energy system are CEC approved and that the company you go with has a reputation for quality installations. Many companies rely on quantity over quality, which means that they rush through multiple installations per day in a race to get as many done as possible and, ultimately, putting your home at risk! Volume-based, cheap and non-accredited installers are well known to cut corners, leave holes in rooves, leave loose live wires and other critical safety violations. While the initial cost may seem higher, companies such as ours will spend the extra time to ensure correct procedures are followed and that the performance and safety of your solar energy system and family are guaranteed.

Batteries

Batteries are used to store energy generated during the day to be used throughout the night when the system is no longer generating power. Battery technology is quickly developing into a more feasible option for those who primarily use their energy in the evenings. We have installed battery systems for major clients such as PCYC Queensland and schools like Bundaberg Christian College, who operate sporting facilities and boarding colleges that require energy throughout the night.

Are batteries for you?

While battery technology has come a long way, it is still in its infancy and comes at a significant increase in cost. The value of including batteries on your solar energy system will depend on a range of factors such as your usage needs and your feed-in tarrif rate. Your feed-in tariff is the rate which the Government is prepared to pay you to send the energy you have produced into the common energy grid for all to use. If you are storing excess energy in a battery, then you are not feeding it into the grid and are not being paid for it. So when your FIT rate is high and you are not at home or working in the premises during the hours of the day to utilise the energy you produce, it does not make financial sense to store that excess energy. This is particularly the case given the relatively high up-front cost of a solar battery storage unit.

Our experts will analyze your usage to determine if battery technology is the right move for you.

Tesla Powerwall 2

GEM Energy are preferred installers of Tesla Powerwalls and Powerpacks (suitable for large-scale commercial use) here in Australia and are experts in the field of battery technology.

Tesla Powerwall

Look No Further. Get Started Today. 

O’Brien Group Arena – 463kW Commercial Solar Installation

O’Brien Group Arena – 463kW Commercial Solar Installation

O’Brien Group Arena – 463kW Commercial Solar Installation

O’Brien Group Arena – 463kW Commercial Solar Installation Drone Footage

One of Australia’s Largest CBD Solar Installs

We’re proud to present our installation of this massive 463kW solar energy system at the O’Brien Group Arena, a beloved ice-skating rink in the heart of Melbourne.

Generating more than 600,000kWh of solar energy production per year, this system will add 10 per cent to the total annual solar energy production of the entire Melbourne CBD.

The system consists of 1330 x 355W Canadian solar panels with 15 Fronius Eco 27kW inverters.

 

Look No Further. Get Started Today. 

Jack Hooper’s Insightful Visit to Hanwha Q CELLS in Korea

Jack Hooper’s Insightful Visit to Hanwha Q CELLS in Korea

Jack Hooper’s Insightful Visit to Hanwha Q CELLS in Korea

Jack Hooper at Hanwha Q CELLS Manufacturing in Korea

We’re serious about delivering quality products to our clients.

As an award-winning company and one of the largest producers of solar panels in the world, you may have heard of or even own Hanwha Q CELLS solar panels. The company is world-renowned for their dedication to quality, a trait which GEM Energy shares and that has fostered a great partnership over the years. After all, the Q in Q CELLS stands for quality.

In October 2018, our CEO, Jack Hooper, visited the company’s new state of the art manufacturing facility in Seoul, Korea and we’ve decided to transparently share his process, feedback and the conclusions he drew post-inspection of the facility.

 

The History of Q CELLS

Q CELLS have long been a leader in the solar panel manufacturing industry, this year winning the Top Brand PV Seal in Australia for the third consecutive year in a row, and due to their high-quality bill of materials and best in class manufacturing facilities, Q CELLS products have continued to be some of GEM Energy’s preferred products. Historically, Q CELLS products have been renowned for their exceptional German manufacturing process, leading technological breakthroughs and proven performance in the field. When Q CELLS were acquired by the Hanwha corporation in 2012 it was announced that manufacturing would begin in Korea and China. Many expected a decline in the prestige and quality of the product, which is simply not the case.

Hanwha and Q CELLS held an event in Seoul, Korea for their top customers globally and as GEM Energy are among these companies, we had the privilege of being invited to inspect the manufacturing process and technology behind the new Q CELLS Q PEAK DUO 325w solar panel.

 

Our Demonstrable Dedication to Quality

GEM Energy takes quality assurance very seriously and this inspection of the facility and the new technologies behind the Q PEAK DUO demonstrates our dedication to ensuring that we supply our customers with only the best products on the market. We go further than looking at spec sheets, we visually inspect the manufacturing and R&D centres of our major partners.

In 2018, the GEM management staff conducted inspections for the Inverter manufacturing facilities of SolarEdge in Israel, Fronius in Austria and Huawei in China. We’ve also inspected Solar Panel manufacturing plants of Q CELLS in Korea, the Sumec Phono Solar facility in China and will be visiting the Canadian Solar factory in China in November 2018 to spend 2 days inspecting the solar cell manufacturing, module manufacturing and to spend time with the Canadian Solar engineers to discuss key product differences and the roadmap for future technologies.

Jack’s Visit To The New Facility

This trip provided Jack with an opportunity to inspect the new Q CELLS manufacturing site where he was able to assess the latest Q CELLS solar modules and the manufacturing process behind them. He was able to see and understand what goes into the creation of these products very closely, constantly evaluating the products to ensure they meet GEM Energy’s high standards. The state of the art technology and excellent personnel at the new facility left a great impression on Jack, thus his feedback from the visit was incredibly positive.

Jack is obviously limited to exactly what he can share with about the factory but the precision, cleanliness and efficiency of the plant has been most impressive.

Hanwha Q CELLS Module Production Plant

The Conclusion?

Jacks conclusion is that Q CELLS continue to set the benchmark for other manufacturers on delivering leading-edge technology and value for money. Our confidence in the brand has absolutely been maintained if not strengthened by the visit and we’re delighted by the fact that we can trust these panels on Aussie homes and businesses. This confidence is furthered by the fact that Hanwha is one of Korea’s biggest and financially strong companies, which confirms that they are a bankable brand that is here to support warranties in the long term.

If you have any questions about the Q CELLS solar panels or would like more information, please contact us at info@gemenergy.com.au

Look No Further. Get Started Today. 

Making the Most of Solar Energy While Still Using Grid Power

Making the Most of Solar Energy While Still Using Grid Power

Many solar panels set up on grass with power station and pylons in the background

The initial cost of installing solar panels may seem high, but if you use your solar power wisely and store the excess in batteries, your investment will pay for itself in just a few years.
Until you can be completely self-sufficient with your solar power, it’s a good idea to remain connected to the main grid in case you do run out of solar powered energy. Here are some of the best ways to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Using Power When It’s Generated

It makes sense to take stock of when you use the most electricity and the appliances you’re running at the time. If you can, run any of the less energy efficient during the day. You’ll be using solar power as it’s generated and won’t need to store it in batteries for later. You might need to change your routine to use most of your electricity during daylight hours, but you’ll see the difference in your utility bills, and you’ll be using your solar investment wisely.

Things like washing machines, dishwashers, and anything that needs charging, can all run while the sun shines, and you can schedule showers in the mornings, or late afternoon instead of night. The same applies to commercial premises using solar power. If you can get by using the bulk of your energy during the day, you’ll save the most on power bills and recoup the cost of solar energy system installation.

Take Advantage of Off-Peak Energy Tariffs

If you find that you must use electricity from the main grid, consider using it at off-peak times, usually after 10pm, to reduce the charges on your utility bills. Most people’s hot water service is set to heat on off-peak, and if you don’t have solar hot water, it makes good sense. Since hot water is a major contributor to utility bills for residential and commercial uses, installing solar hot water and heat pump systems is a financially sound idea. This especially benefits places such as hotels, motels and restaurants.

Install an Appropriate Sized Solar Energy System

If you’re continually running out of solar power, even with battery storage, you need to review the size of your current system and consider installing more capacity. Your solar energy system supplier should have worked out your average energy usage and advised on the best system for you, but if you’ve since increased your energy usage it’s easy enough to add more panels or a bigger inverter. Try to have your original installer do the upgrade if your system is still under warranty.

Consider Battery Storage

If you don’t already have battery storage for your excess solar energy, it’s the best way to reduce your dependence on the main grid and use your own stored solar power when the sun isn’t shining. Recent technology has made battery storage more efficient, cheaper, smaller, and maintenance-free.

Choose the Best Solar Energy Company

Changing to solar power is a big decision and investment, but it’s one that can be life-changing, especially if you plan to eventually become self-sufficient and go off-grid. Gem Energy can help you with everything you need to make the switch and save big on utility bills. Call us on1300 969 471, or enquire online.

VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme: New Policy Set To Save Victorians Up To 50% On A New Solar Energy System

VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme: New Policy Set To Save Victorians Up To 50% On A New Solar Energy System

Victoria Solar Energy Rebate

Victorian Government Solar Homes Scheme – It’s Here

VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme: New Policy Set To Save Victorians Up To 50% On A New Solar Energy System

Victorians – you have just hit the solar jackpot! The Victoria Government ‘Solar Homes’ Scheme, a new policy set to save your household up to $2,225 on a 4kW solar energy system, has now been released following an exciting media release from the Victorian Government just a few days ago. The aim of the scheme is to put solar panels on 650,000 rooves over 10 years, which is an estimated renewable energy investment of $1.24 billion. Consequently, there will be a tremendous rush for solar installation in Victoria as citizens look to claim on this incredible incentive. The document claims that an average 4kW system could save around $890 a year on energy costs which will represent an incredible easement of the energy costs for Victorian households. At an average cost of $4,450 (after STCs) for a 4kW solar system, the payback period (the time it takes for your savings on electricity to pay off the cost of your system) is just 3 years. Though the rebate equals a 50% copayment for a 4kW system, that certainly won’t (and shouldn’t!) stop you from getting a bigger system. From our experience installing hundreds of systems across Victoria, most families benefit more from a 6.5kW system. For a larger system under the VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme, you would still receive the full $2,225 Solar Homes subsidy, keeping your total power bill lower AND only increasing your payback period minutely.

Adding In The Federal Rebate And Reduced Solar Cost Even Further!

Currently in Australia, the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES – widely known as ‘The Solar Rebate‘) provides Small-scale Technology Certificates (or STCs), which lowers the total cost of a rooftop solar installation for your home. At the moment in Melbourne, this reduces the cost of solar by around $560 per kilowatt of solar panels. The figure from the Victorian Government of $4,450 for a 4-kilowatt system, is after STCs have reduced the system price. This means the Government have essentially paid TWO-THIRDS of your solar system and installation for you (1/3 from the Federal Government and 1/3 from the Victorian Government).

Read more about rebates

Victorian Solar Energy Savings Rebate Graph

System cost after STCs and the VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme Rebate (Credit: Solar Quotes)

And the best news yet – many of you will be eligible RIGHT NOW

Victorian households are eligible to receive a Solar Homes Scheme rebate if the applicant:

  • has a combined household income of less than $180,000 per annum before tax (the based on the most recent tax assessment notices for the home owners will suffice)
  • is an owner-occupier of a home valued at under $3,000,000 (a copy of a recent Council rates notice will be required)
  • the household does not already have a solar panel system installed
  • chooses a Clean Energy Council (CEC) Approved Product (for solar panels) and uses a CEC Accredited Installer
  • chooses a product that is on the Clean Energy Regulator’s “Register of approved solar hot water heaters” (for Solar hot water)
  • has had an eligible solar panel system installed on or after 19 August 2018, and
  • engages an installer who can provide a statement that they have not received a WorkSafe infringement notice in the past three years.”

A Wise Decision

The Victorian Government policy requires that rebates under the VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme can only be claimed when the system is installed by accredited solar installers who use approved hardware and have a clean history. In doing this, the Victorian Government is protecting the citizens who are rushing to pick their installer, ensuring that the work is done by professionals and to the highest standards – not the cheapest cost. Here at GEM Energy, we are CEC Approved Retailers AND Installers – with a stellar record for quality and system life. We have a dedicated in-house engineering team, system monitoring expert and Quality Assurance Officer. We have ISO 9001:2015 Certification, which is a voluntary certification that demonstrates our commitment to quality and performance of your system at all times.

Look no further than GEM Energy’s award-winning team for your install under the VIC Govt Solar Homes Scheme and get in quick while this incredible policy is active. Give us a call on 1300 969 471 or click below to get a quote today.

 

Interested in solar for your home or business?