1. How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels use layers of special materials calledsemi-conductors that create electricity whenexposed to sufficient light. There are different types of solar panel construction. Some panels tendto perform better in high temperatures and low light situations, but take up around twice the space.

2. Will it help the environment if I get solar power?

Solar power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution. The energy used to manufacture a solar power system is small compared to the energy generated by the system and ispaid back many times over the life of the system. The Federal Government has set up the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) to reduce emissions.
Installing solar panels can create Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) under this scheme. If you sell the STCs from your system to reduce the upfront price, your STCs will be counted as part of the SRES scheme. If you don’t sell your STCs and let them expire, you are providing additional emissions reduction beyond the SRES scheme but the upfront cost of the solar power system will be higher. The value of STCs can vary. You should find out their current value when considering solarpanels (contact details on back page).

3. Will I be financially better off getting solar power?

In the vast majority of cases, getting solar power will help reduce your electricity bills through reducing the amount of power you buy from the grid and through the feed in tariff you receive for excess power you sell to the grid. The amount of electricity you save will depend upon a range of factors including the size of the system, whether the system has been installed in the optimal location and your individual electricity use patterns. Be wary of claims that you will never need to pay a bill again or can eliminate your electricitybills. Most customers are installing systems in the 1.5 to 2 kW range, and these are unlikely to be large enough to negate your electricity bill.
In many cases your retail electricity tariff structure will change once you install solar PV. For the majority of people, this may not significantly impact their overall annual bill. Some people may find they are actually better off under the new tariff structure. Whether a customer is better or worse off will depend on their energy use pattern. In some cases (such as where you have a dedicated off-peak rate for space heating, air-conditioning or hot water) you may be better off retaining your current off-peak tariff, rather than installing solar PV. For more information on how a change of electricity tariff may affect you, and whether any present discounts will continue, contact your retailer. It’s also worth shopping around for tariffs from other retailers that may suit you better.

4. How long will it take for a solar power system to p ay for itself?

The payback period of a solar power system varies widely depending on the price paid, the size of the system, the usage patterns of the consumer and the price received as a feed in tariff. For homes that use small amounts of electricity and receive the premium feed in tariff, the payback period can be less than 3 years. For homes that use a lot of electricity and are not eligible for the premium feed in tariff, the payback period will be closer to 7 years. Both of these examples assume a 1.5 kW system and an upfront price discount through the sale of STCs under the SRES scheme.

5. How much electricity will I generate?

The amount of electricity that you generate depends on the size of your system, which way it is facing, whether there is any shading from trees or other buildings and the local climatic conditions.
In South East Queensland a typical average generation is up to 4.5 kWh per day for a 1 kW  system (up to 5.5 kWh per day for a 1.5 kW system). In winter months the average daily generation is typically less than 3 kWh and in summer months it is typically greater than 5 kWh for a 1 kW system. For comparison, the average household uses up to 18 kWh daily, but an energy efficient house can use much less.

6. How efficient are solar panels?

Depending on the type of technology, solar panels typically convert between 8% and 18% of the available energy in sunlight to electrical energy.Crystalline panels have higher efficiency than amorphous panels but also cost more and their performance declines to a greater extent in high temperatures. Efficiency is not the only factor for which type of panel you are best to install.

7. Why are your panels so cheap?

We are one of Queensland’s largest solar panel installers. We often upgrade our existing customers and replace their panels. As part of this process, we refurbish these panels and re-sell them for discounted prices.

8. What warranty comes on your refurbished solar panels?

After we have had a licensed electrician check over all of our refurbished panels, we offer a 5-year warranty for all panel sales.
Although the solar panels may be refurbished, we test them and back their ability to produce you power for years to come.

Getting Paid

7. Will I generate enough to sell power back to the grid?

In most cases there will be times that the solar PV system is generating more power than your house is using. At these times you will be selling power back to the grid. If your house has very high continuous electricity use (for example through running multiple fridges or having a number of people home at all times) then you may not export much electricity back to the grid. Regardless of the amount of electricity you are able to export back to the grid, your solar power system will reduce the amount of power you need to buy from the grid. Be wary of claims that you will never need to pay a bill again or can eliminate your electricity bills. Most customers are installing systems in the 1.5 to 2 kW range, and these are unlikely to be large enough to negate your electricity bill.

8. What is a feed in tariff and how can I get one?

A feed in tariff is a price that you will get paid for electricity you generate from sources such as solar power. The feed in tariff in Queensland is a net feed in tariff and only applies to the excess electricity that you export to the grid. All large retailers are required to offer their eligible customers both a standard and a premium feed in tariff. You can receive the feed in tariff by contacting your retailer once you have a solar power system installed with the correct metering in place.

9. How much will I be paid for the electricity I generate?

You will only be paid for electricity that you export to the grid. You are not paid for electricity that you generate and use in the house, but this will be reducing the amount of electricity that you need to import and so reducing the total cost of your electricity purchases. If you are eligible for the premium feed in tariff, you will be paid at least 60c/kWh for the electricity that you export back to the grid. Some retailers are offering rates higher than this. You should check the feed in tariff offered by your electricity retailer and compare offers from different retailers.
If you are not eligible for the premium feed in tariff you may still be eligible for the standard feed in tariff. It is lower than the premium tariff. It is similar to, or slightly higher than, your usage tariff.