Australia is the 8th top country in the world for solar power generation. Mostly due to the great solar rebates for households over the years. Australians have been much more reliant on solar energy and are now investing more on it in the past decade. As of July 2020, there are 2.49 million solar panels that have been installed in residential areas. Consequently, Australia is the leading country in the global transition of countries from non-renewable to renewable energy sources.
Over the years, the country has been saving financial and environmental costs with the use of solar energy. Solar panels have been significantly used as a means to decrease electric bills, and consumers are also paid for excess energy with the implementation of feed-in-tariffs.
Generally, a solar power system will save a household up to $400 per year per kW, thus taking an 8kW system will save you up to $3400 a year. It is important to also take note that the savings a single household gets from solar panels depends on the systems’ size and efficiency. The more efficient the solar power system is, the more it is likely to generate more power for daily consumption.
Types of solar panels, use, the most asked questions – Let’s dig in deeper to what a solar panel is.
What are Solar Panels Made Of?
Solar panels are made of solar cells or also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells work hand in hand to generate electricity from sunlight. It also has a protective glass to protect the silicon PV cells from being wet and compromised. The outer shell serves as a protective layer for durability from external factors.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
For starters, EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE SUN. Solar panels convert solar energy into electricity. Each solar panel contains a huge number of photovoltaic (PV) cells. The PV cells capture light and convert it into solar electricity. When sunlight hits the solar panel, PV cells then produce direct current (DC). Yet, DC cannot power your appliances on its own. It still needs an inverter to which converts DC to alternating current (AC) – the electricity that powers homes.
Which Solar Panel Is the Best?
For starters, there are 3 types of residential solar power energy systems available in the market:
Monocrystalline solar panels
These panels have the highest efficiency but at a higher cost.
Polycrystalline solar panels
These may have lower efficiency but are less costly than that of monocrystalline. This is best for homeowners who want to go solar but on a budget.
Thin-Film solar panels
Among the three, these panels have the lowest efficiency, and the cheapest as well.
The best choice lies within the buyer. They must also take into consideration the panel’s costs, size, and most importantly it’s efficiency.
How Many Solar Panels to Power a House?
In order to determine how many solar panels are needed for your house, you would need to calculate your house electricity consumption per day. The average Australian household consumes 18kWh of electricity each day, while an average 5kWh solar system produces 18kWh of electricity. With this taking into account, one 5kWh would be able to suffice the average electricity consumption of an Australian household. With this, you would know how many solar panels you would need also considering the kilowatt a certain solar power would produce. The bigger the solar power kilowatt, the lesser solar panels you would need.
How Often Should Solar Panels Be Cleaned?
As soon as your solar panels are out in the air, there will be an inevitable chance that it will be blocked by dust, leaves, and even bird gunk. For most residential homes in Australia, rainfall alone is enough to wash unwanted dirt from solar panels. Even a study was done in Arizona, which has more chances of rain than Adelaide, found out that cleaning solar panels only improved its performance by only 1% -2%.
Yet again, flat panels are an exception. When a solar panel is not angled, there is not a chance that bird droppings, twigs, and leaves can be swept off by wind and rainfall. This can seriously affect performance as external sunlight blockers might build-up, causing the solar panel to be blocked even more eventually.
Just like all other machines and inventions, everything needs to be maintained.
Can Solar Panels Work in the Shade?
How do we even define “shade”? Oxford Dictionary defines it as comparative darkness and coolness caused by shelter from direct sunlight. That means that being in a shade still has access to light, and not completely being absent from it.
So, YES! Solar panels can still work in the shade. It can still work under the trees, or even on a gloomy day. Nevertheless, the amount of light captured by the solar panel would somehow be significantly different than when exposed in direct sunlight. Again, solar panels work much more in direct light – that’s why most solar-generated machines are placed outside for easier and more efficient access to solar energy.
Do Solar Panels Work During Power Outage?
In the case of a power outage, we will not be able to make use of solar panels. This is because of how power grids and solar panels are tied to each other via solar inverters. The solar inverter records the amount of energy produced by the solar panels and used by households. The excess energy produced by the panels travels back to grid utilities.
Additionally, when there is a blackout, service maintenance for grid utilities are most likely to fix electrical faults. In the event that solar panels will be used and do bounce back excess energy to power grids, fatal incidents might happen.
Let technology rest for a short while!
Can Solar Panels Work at Night?
Solar power mainly needs solar energy to produce electricity. While there is no sunlight at night, solar panels cannot work directly. Needless to say, there are still ways to make use of the excess energy from solar panels produced during the day and be able to spend it at night – batteries are an option.
Can Solar Panels Be Used Without Battery?
Yes, they can! Most solar panels are grid-tied. Meaning, grid utilities work hand in hand with residential solar panels in order to generate and save electricity. Grids accept excess power from solar panels and make use of it to distribute enough power to different households or at least, to be used later.
On the other hand, batteries can also be used to store excess energy rather than fully feeding it to grids. Subsequently, the excess power stored in batteries can be used for nighttime, when the sun is out and no solar energy is produced. This could also save a household’s energy consumption in the long run.
Extra battery for later!
How Many Solar Panels are Needed for an Air Conditioner?
Keeping an air conditioner running through solar panels is actually possible. However, we also have to keep in mind that there are factors we should consider when wanting to know how many solar panels we need to run a single AC. We should take into account the panel’s efficiency, performance, and energy storage capacity.
Say for example a typical AC requires 1500kWh. Then, we would think that 3 solar panels with 500kWh each are needed. But it is also empirical to say that weather conditions might affect the amount of sunlight a solar panel captures. A solar system with a 500kWh capacity doesn’t mean it will produce the exact amount of energy every time. Remember it will not always be a sunny day all year round.
What Solar Panel Wattage Do I Need?
Solar panel wattage varies differently. Having a 1kilowatt system doesn’t mean it only produces 1 kilowatt of energy per hour. As for the Clean Energy Council, the table below shows the average daily production of different types of solar systems.
AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION
|CITY||1kW System||1.5 kW System||2.0 kW System||3.0 kW System||4.0kW System|
|ADELAIDE||4.2 kWh||6.3 kWh||8.4 kWh||12.6 kWh||16.8 kWh|
|ALICE SPRINGS||5.0 kWh||7.5 kWh||10.0 kWh||15.0 kWh||20.0 kWh|
|BRISBANE||4.2 kWh||6.3 kWh||8.4 kWh||12.6 kWh||16.8 kWh|
|CAIRNS||4.2 kWh||6.3 kWh||8.4 kWh||12.6 kWh||16.8 kWh|
|CANBERRA||4.3 kWh||6.45 kWh||8.6 kWh||12.9 kWh||17.2 kWh|
|DARWIN||4.4 kWh||6.6 kWh||8.8 kWh||13.2 kWh||17.6 kWh|
|HOBART||3.5 kWh||5.25 kWh||7.0 kWh||10.5 kWh||14.0 kWh|
|MELBOURNE||3.6 kWh||5.4 kWh||7.2 kWh||10.8 kWh||14.4 kWh|
|PERTH||4.4 kWh||6.6 kWh||8.8 kWh||13.2 kWh||17.6 kWh|
|SYDNEY||3.9 kWh||5.85 kWh||7.8 kWh||11.7 kWh||15.6 kWh|
Data source: https://www.solarchoice.net.au/wp-content/uploads/Solar-Choice-Clean-Energy-Council-Solar-PV-Consumer-guide.pdf
The rated output is achieved in perfect laboratory conditions. The CEC design summary software takes these deratings into account when predicting average for any given system.
Wattage needs thus depend on the energy consumption of each household. Moreover, it’s still best to opt for the ones with the higher wattage – it may be pricey but it’s going to be worth the price in the long run. Furthermore, the number of panels is irrelevant, it’s more of the system’s overall capacity.
Can Solar Panels Get Wet?
Solar panels are designed to be placed outdoors. Because of this, its unique design protects the silicone cells inside and its durability can withstand strong typhoon rainfall – it’s built waterproof and almost damage proof!
Will Solar Panels Work With Broken Glass?
The fact that solar panels are placed outside makes it more prone to damages. The external casing of solar panels is designed to almost be unbreakable when external factors hit it. However, it is still possible that the panels’ glass will be damaged and might affect the overall performance of the panel.
Solar panels will still work even though its glass is broken. But users must also be careful not to get it wet. The silicone cells on solar panels will not work if this happens. When a solar panel glass is broken, it’s better to contact maintenance as soon as possible and have it fixed. Do not do it yourself, make use of your warranty!
Will Solar Panels Damage My Roof?
Many property owners are worried that solar panels might damage roofs. Fortunately, roof damages caused by solar panels happen rarely, and that proper installation from solar power companies is a huge factor when installing solar panels. Installing solar panels will not damage your roof, as long as your installer is a licensed professional. Still, might as well assess if your roof is still in good condition before installing.
Will Solar Panels Increase Home Value?
Solar panels are one of the best investments an Australian household could make use of when selling a house. With electricity prices inevitably increasing, homeowners are looking for more sustainable and renewable energy to decrease their bills.
Since solar panels are favourably regarded by most Australian consumers, it, therefore, indicates that this can be a selling point for those wanting to buy homes. It is estimated that there is an increase of $6000 per kilowatt of solar energy. Thus, a 5kilowatt solar panel installation can give a $30000 rise of a property’s value. Much so, the bigger the solar panel installed, the higher the value of the home.
Where Do You Mount a Solar Panel?
Ask yourself where the sun will most probably hit during the day. In most households, solar systems are usually placed on roofs. In this way, it will be free from the shade where most sunlight will be at its maximum. Some homeowners also place solar panels on their front yard or backyard, as the number of panels cannot fit their roofs anymore.
Which Direction Should Solar Panels Face?
Most people might think of this as unnecessary and that it is enough to just place it on rooftops. Even so, angled solar panels with maximum sun exposure actually help in generating more power and providing more efficiency to users.
In Australia, it is suggested to position solar panels perpendicular to the sun. That is, solar power yields and generates more when panels face north. Nonetheless, if your property is located in the northern hemisphere, it is ideal to have your solar panels face south.
As long as it faces the sun more during sunrise and sunset, then you’re good to go!
How Do Solar Panels Store Energy?
Solar panels alone are incapable of storing energy. The main function of solar systems is to generate electricity and solar energy – that’s it. It might be disappointing to know that the panels cannot gather power on its own, yet with the use of solar batteries, it can.
Initially, you can draw excess electricity during the daytime to charge the solar battery. This energy can then be used when your solar panels do not generate more electricity, in most cases, during nighttime. The battery then is used to generate electricity to your homes when solar energy is absent. This in turn also is a way of cutting down the electric bills at night when most appliances are being used.
How Often Do Solar Panels Need to Be Replaced?
A solar panel is usually estimated to last between 25-40 years. If you still have your solar panel running, you need not replace it yet. Still, solar panels are devices that need professional maintenance. Over the years, owners might not know the actual state of their solar panels, thus it would need professional assistance.
As long as it meets the standards and it satisfies your urge for discounts on your electric bill, then you’re all good.
How Do Solar Panels Help the Environment?
Most of Australia’s energy relies on non-renewable energy resources, such as fossil fuels. The country has been heavily dependent on burning coal and gas over the years, and 79% of the country’s energy counts on it. The negative costs of fossil fuels may not be obvious, but its impact can even be disastrous. The day to day emission of chemicals from fossil fuels generates deadly carbon dioxide and methane gas that could heavily impact our environment and our health as well.
Air pollution causes various cardiovascular diseases and can be deadly over time. With the use of solar panels, countries will be less dependent on non-renewable energy and be more reliant on renewable and natural energy. Electricity from solar panels produces no harmful emission, making air non-toxic to living things. More solar panels mean less fossil fuel burning.
Solar panels are getting more attention in the past years. It serves as a renewable energy that is cost-effective and waste-free. When purchasing solar panels, one must always remember to consider its efficiency. Solar panels might cost a fortune, but it’s going to be worth the buy in the long run.