SOLAR USERS: whats one thing you wish you knew before you went solar?

thunter
Conductor
5 Replies 4623 Views

So after seeing our absolutely ridiculous last power bill we're ready to bite the bullet and go solar (late to the party I know)... doing my homework now

 

Seems like there's a few solar fans on here so I'm just wondering... what is one thing you wish you had known BEFORE you got solar for the first time?

12 REPLIES 12
David_AGL
AGL Community Manager
0 Replies 3887 Views

Great question @thunter , and good luck with your "homework". I'm curious to see the answers on this one.

NeilC
Powerhouse
1 Reply 3877 Views

@thunter @David_AGL 

 

Hi Ted ( I know a Ted Hunter, brother of Frank Turnham, so I will call you Ted)

 

David you can delete this if you think it is not in the spirit of the POST!

 

Could not miss the chance of being the first to reply here.

 

I am assuming here that this is a standard install (single phase, meter box and wiring legal)

 

There are four groups involved in installing your new solar system.

 

  1. The seller of the components (your package that you purchased)
  2. The installer (who must be licenced correctly)
  3. Your Supplier (This is the company that supplies the electricity through the poles and wires to your property).
  4. The Retailer (This is the company that you pay your bills to and will also pay you for any generation).

The above is import when it comes to having any issues resolved.

 

Quick quiz, the parts for your system have arrived and you notice that it looks like broken glass around the boxes for the solar panels.

 

Who will you contact. (the Answer would be either 1 or 2).

 

Ringing your Supplier or Retailer will be of no benefit as both of them are not even aware that you have a solar system yet.

 

Normally, however, the installer arrives with all the components and they check all parts and if necessary get replacement parts for you.

 

Have you got a basic understanding of what a Solar System is:

 

Systems come generally in a package, it normally includes the panels, inverter, other hardware and standard installation.

 

The Standard inverter is normally 5kW and although your supplied system may be greater, 6.6kW is regularly offered, this is of benefit on overcast days where the panels are producing less than their rated output.

 

Your system will have to be approved by your supplier before installation begins, this means that you have a SEG Licence (Small Electricity Generator Licence).

 

Depending on your State / Territory you may have to do this yourself, but a lot of the installers will do this for you anyway.

 

Without a SEG, your system cannot be connected to the mains nor can it be installed.

 

What roof space do you have to install solar on.

 

Is that roof space structurally OK.

 

Do you have obstructions that will reduce your ability to generate power.

  E.G.   Tree’s or two story house that will cast a shadow.

 

Any limits to the amount of solar you can generate.

 IE on some lines the Supplier may limited to less than 5kw input to the system, this will be indicated on your SEG.

 

If you do not have a Smart Meter, because changes are being made to your household electrical system, one WILL BE INSTALLED.

 

Until your Smart Meter is installed and your Installer has supplied a Certificate of Compliance to your Supplier, your new solar system is not allowed to be switched on.

 

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL.

 

You did not buy this system to make money, your purchased it to SAVE MONEY.

 

If you make 40kWh in a day you saved money, more than if you get paid for it, Feed In Tariffs are finishing soon anyway.

 

Say you produce 40kWh (from the WiFi on your inverter) but only get paid for 5kWh for the day, that means you saved paying for 35kWh.

 

Example:

You are on a fixed rate of 25 cents for Power Supplied and 5 cents for feed in, you saved 35kWh*25c ($8.75) plus  5kWh *5c ($0.25)  or  $9.00 for the day.

 

Now if you did that every day for a year that would be 365 * $9.00 or $3285 for a year (if you paid $4500 for your install it would only take you about  ONE year and FOUR months to pay for system).

 

If you discard your power savings and only use the feed-in you will calculate 365*.25c (or $91.25 a year) as your return.

That does not make it look very viable.

 

When we started with Solar it took us just under 17 months to pay for our complete system (cost was $3399) but then we got 20cents per kWh, small users with about 4.5kWh a day and paying over 30c per kWh (South Australian Rates).

 

Sorry, I did not answer your question, but hopefully explained what the process is, a few things to look at and the reason why you really need solar.

Cheers Neil


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thunter
Conductor
0 Replies 3858 Views

Thats a lot more than one thing! 🤣 Reckon I was across most of it but very useful thanks Neil. Ive seen some of your other posts on here and you sound like youve got this stuff figured out, good on you

 

 

John-T
Powerhouse
1 Reply 3839 Views

@thunter 

 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing I guess,

 

First & foremost, I wish I had known that I could "Overclock" IE: add more panels to the 3 phase Solar system I was getting installed by AGL.

 

I have an 8.2Kw Inverter 8,200 watts.

I have 22 X 390 watt Solar panels equalling 8,580 watts.

 

Now my problem is since my install a little over 7 months ago. I have only fully utilised my inverter possibly a dozen times seeing it get the full 8.2Kw from my panels. So I am only overclocked by 380 watts. Even another 2 X 390 watt panels equalling 9,360 watts would have done it for me and I would have been one very happy chap.

 

On clear days when the sun is bright but temps are up over 28'C I average 6.9Kw to 7.2Kw max as the Solar panels take a performance hit as the temps climb. On a 35"C+ day my max input by the panels is about 6.5Kw.

 

If you get a  "I call them 5Kw systems" you mostly automatically get enough panels to overclock you to 6.63Kw in Solar panels which offsets most if any loss during hot days, or very cloudy days.

 

If you are getting a 3 phase system depending on your inverter capacity ensure that you have 2 to 3 panels over what your inverter is capable of to at least realise most of the free power you are getting from the Sun or to maximise what you can get on a Cloudy day.

 

My System is classed as an 8.58Kw system with my inverter at 8.2Kw which leaves me wanting on most days when the cloud cover hits or those hot days when the panels are less productive due to heat affecting the efficiency of the panels.

 

Roof space is a major factor which may inhibit some people from going the full 33% overclock. I have enough space to put another 4 panels on and wished I had of known that I could have pushed for 24 panels at least.

 

Anyway hopefully I did not confuse you and have given you some insight in to what I wished I had known before contracting AGL for the Solar install, I would have talked turkey with them had I the knowledge I have now. AGL did their part as we both agreed on the Solar System and they honoured our Agreement. 

 

Regards

 

John         

John-T
Powerhouse
0 Replies 3835 Views

Addendum,

 

A clarification to my post above.

 

I refer only to 3 phase power and to a 3 phase Solar system only if your site/home is 3 phase.

 

@NeilC has basically covered everything I can think of.

 

Kind Regards

John 

thunter
Conductor
1 Reply 3761 Views

Thanks John that's very helpful. I am thinking most likely 3 phase. Did you go for one of the solar battery bundles through AGL?

John-T
Powerhouse
1 Reply 3741 Views

@thunter 

 

Just remember that your house needs to be 3 phase if you opt for a 3 phase system. My house happened to be 3 phase when I bought it.

 

Yes I bought an AGL Solar Battery bundle through AGL. On the AGL site they only show you 2 bundles both are 1 Phase.

 

All you need do is go to that bundle page hit the "Request a call back" button and somebody will get in touch with you.

This is where you need to know whether your house is 1 phase or 3 phase find that out first.

 

Then that is where you tell the sales guy your house is a 3 phase site. He will present you with an offer through email with a visual on your roof showing panels on it, talk turkey with him on the amount of panels you can fit.

 

But most importantly. Check that you are a 3 phase house.

 

Regards

John         

NeilC
Powerhouse
1 Reply 3701 Views

@John-T @thunter 

 

I would suggest that when investing in your system that you also look at the warranties of the product. Mine came with 25year panel (there are riders with the output) and 12 years on the inverter.

 

In my offer there were three options on the panels and only one inverter. Now the Total cost including installation was $8348.

 

The package comes with Small Technology Certificates, these are transferred to the Seller of your package. At the time of my install my panels they were 117 STC's valued at $34 each ($3978).  A quick look at the website shows that 5kw of solar is currently worth 55 STC's with a deeming period of eight years for most states.

 

So taking away $3978 from the cost of the package I ended up with a total cost to me of $4370.

 

However the company also gave me a generous 22% discount giving a final cost of $3299.

 

Of course this then leads to my main reason for this post.

 

When making a decision you should be looking at a number of offers, as you may find a great variation in price.

Cheers Neil


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John-T
Powerhouse
1 Reply 3665 Views

@NeilC @thunter 

 

Neil,

You have got me on the warranty aspect especially on the panels.

I think my Panels JA Solar Panels are warranted for 12 years on faults and a 25 year performance warranty.

My Inverter Fronius Symo is warranted for 5 years replacement and a further 5 years on parts as I opted in for the 10 year warranty by simply filling out a form and registering my inverter. Though if my inverter dies after year five and can not be repaired I have to pay for a new one.

Battery has a straight 10 year warranty..

Somewhere I read that Tesla have a 15 year extended warranty on the powerwall 2 if you are with them. I still can not get my head around this. Are they a power Retailer ?

 

Kind Regards

John