The Benefits of Solar Energy: Why You Should Go Solar

Step 1: Solar Panels Convert Sunlight to Electricity

Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. The PV cells are made of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, which have the ability to absorb photons of sunlight and release electrons. These electrons then flow through an electrical circuit, creating electricity.

The amount of electricity that a solar panel can generate depends on the amount of sunlight that it receives. Solar panels are typically most efficient in direct sunlight, but they can also generate electricity on cloudy days.

The Quantity of Solar Panels You Will Need

The quantity of solar panels that you need will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of sunshine your location receives
  • The angle and orientation of your roof
  • Your energy usage.

If you live in a sunny location with a south-facing roof, you will need fewer solar panels than if you live in a cloudy location with a north-facing roof. The amount of energy you use will also affect the number of solar panels you need. If you have a large home or use a lot of energy, you will need more solar panels than if you have a small home or use less energy.

How to Choose the Right Solar Panels

When choosing solar panels, there are a few factors you should consider, including:

  • The efficiency of the solar panels
  • The warranty of the solar panels
  • The cost of the solar panels

The efficiency of the solar panels is measured in terms of how much sunlight they can convert into electricity. The warranty of the solar panels will tell you how long the manufacturer guarantees that the solar panels will work. The cost of the solar panels will vary depending on the size, efficiency, and warranty of the solar panels.

Installing Solar Panels

Solar panels can be installed by a professional solar installer or by yourself. If you choose to install the solar panels yourself, you will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your energy bills and your impact on the environment. If you are considering installing solar panels, be sure to do your research and choose the right solar panels for your needs.

Step 2: The Solar Inverter Converts DC Electricity to AC Electricity

The direct current (DC) electricity created by the panels is then connected by electrical cable to a solar inverter. The solar inverter is usually installed somewhere near the switchboard. Regular appliances in a home or business use alternating current (AC) electricity, so the solar inverter’s job is to convert the DC energy to AC energy. There are many types and brands of inverters, and they need to be designed to meet the size of the solar panel array.

Solar Explained

Here are some more details about solar inverters:

1) Types of solar inverters: There are two main types of solar inverters: string inverters and microinverters. String inverters are connected to a string of solar panels, while microinverters are connected to each individual solar panel.

2) Size of solar inverters: The size of the solar inverter depends on the size of the solar power system. A small home with a few solar panels will need a smaller inverter than a large home with a large solar panel array.

3) Brands of solar inverters: There are many different brands of solar inverters on the market. Some of the most popular brands include SolarEdge, Enphase, and SMA.

4) Cost of solar inverters: The cost of solar inverters varies depending on the size and brand of the inverter. A small inverter can cost a few hundred dollars, while a large inverter can cost several thousand dollars.

When choosing a solar inverter, it is important to consider the size of your solar power system, the type of solar panels you have, the location of your solar panels, and your budget. You should also make sure that the inverter is from a reputable manufacturer.

Step 3: Switchboard Controls Flow of Solar Energy to Appliances

  • The Solar Switchboard

The solar switchboard is a critical component of a solar power system. It is responsible for distributing the solar-generated electricity throughout the home. The switchboard also allows the home to connect to the electrical grid, so that any excess electricity can be exported back to the grid.

    The solar switchboard is typically located near the main electrical panel in the home. It is connected to the solar inverter, which converts the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity. The switchboard then distributes the AC electricity to the home’s appliances and lights.
    • Solar Batteries

    Solar batteries can be connected to the solar switchboard to store excess solar energy. This stored energy can then be used to power the home during times when the sun is not shining, such as at night or on cloudy days.

    Solar batteries can also be used to export electricity back to the grid during times when the demand for electricity is high. This can help to reduce the home’s reliance on the grid and save money on electricity bills.

      Step 4: Utility meter records

      When you install solar panels, your electricity retailer is required to replace your current meter with a bidirectional meter. This meter can measure both the electricity that you use from the grid and the electricity that you export back to the grid.

      The bidirectional meter is important because it allows you to track your solar energy production and consumption. This information can be used to monitor the performance of your solar system and to make sure that it is operating as expected.

      The bidirectional meter also allows you to participate in feed-in tariffs. Feed-in tariffs are a government program that pays you for the electricity that you export back to the grid. The amount of money that you earn per kilowatt-hour of exported electricity varies depending on your electricity retailer.

      If you are interested in learning more about feed-in tariffs, I recommend checking out our article on the topic.

      Here are some additional details about bidirectional meters:

      Cost: The cost of a bidirectional meter varies depending on your electricity retailer. In some cases, there is no cost to the homeowner. In other cases, there is a small fee.

      Installation: The installation of a bidirectional meter is typically done by your electricity retailer. The installation process is relatively simple and takes about an hour.

      Maintenance: Bidirectional meters are relatively low-maintenance devices. They do not require any special care or attention.

      Step 5: Grid rules define system permissions

      The Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP) is the company that owns and operates the electrical grid in your local area. They are responsible for maintaining and operating the grid, and they also set the rules for how much solar can be installed and whether you are permitted to export energy back to the grid or not. In VIC, the DNSP is Powercor. They are responsible for maintaining and operating the electrical grid in the state of Victoria.

      The rules for solar installation vary from DNSP to DNSP, so it is important to check with Powercor to see what their specific rules are. However, as a general guide, most DNSPs permit solar up to 5kW (inverter-size) with permission to export via a relatively automated approval process. For commercial projects over 30kW, a network protection device is required. And for commercial projects over 100kW, a more detailed approval process is usually required, meaning an engineering study will need to be completed to approve the system, and there might be some design alterations required for the install to be approved.

      Here are some additional details about DNSPs:

      DNSPs are responsible for maintaining and operating the electrical grid. This includes tasks such as repairing downed power lines, upgrading the grid to accommodate more renewable energy, and managing the flow of electricity on the grid.

      DNSPs set the rules for how much solar can be installed and whether you are permitted to export energy back to the grid or not. These rules are designed to ensure that the grid can safely accommodate the increased amount of solar energy being generated. The rules for solar installation vary from DNSP to DNSP. This is because the grid in each area is different, and the DNSPs need to make sure that the rules are appropriate for the specific conditions in their area.

      Solar Batteries (optional)

      • Solar batteries are a great way to store excess solar energy and use it later, when the sun is not shining. This can help you to reduce your reliance on the grid and save money on your electricity bills.
      • Solar batteries come in a variety of sizes and capacities, so you can choose the right one for your needs. They are also relatively easy to install, and many solar installers offer battery installation services.
      • The cost of solar batteries has come down significantly in recent years, making them more affordable for homeowners. However, the cost of batteries is still a factor to consider when deciding whether or not to install one.
      • The benefits of solar batteries include:
        • Reduced reliance on the grid: Solar batteries can help you to reduce your reliance on the grid, which can save you money on your electricity bills.
        • Backup power: Solar batteries can provide backup power during power outages.
        • Self-consumption: Solar batteries can help you to maximize your self-consumption of solar energy, which means that you use more of the energy that your solar panels generate.
      • The drawbacks of solar batteries include:
        • Cost: Solar batteries can be expensive, but the cost has come down significantly in recent years.
        • Efficiency: Solar batteries are not 100% efficient, so some of the energy that is stored is lost.
        • Lifespan: Solar batteries have a lifespan of about 10 years, so you will need to replace them eventually.