How to get the best solar system for your house or business: A guide to residential & commercial solar systems

    Introduction

    Solar panel installation in Australia is a significant investment, be it for commercial purposes or your house. The decreasing cost and rebates make them suitable for everyone and not just for enormous mansions and upscale businesses. But are there any requirements or criteria that you need to fulfil, to be eligible to get a solar system installation? We have outlined the requirements, basics, and some things regarding the system before you get it installed.

    Requirements

    The following are the basic requirements that need to be checked off the list before you get a solar panel system, whether you are a business owner or homeowner.

    • Roof Design

    The roof needs to be strong enough to take the weight of the system for the next 20-25 years. A North facing roof generates more energy, but if yours doesn’t face North, you can still choose a combination of East facing, West facing and North facing panels to get maximum sunlight. The inclination of the roof should be between 10 to 30 degrees to ensure proper drainage of water. Always ask the installer upfront if the rack would hinder the drainage process. They will design it in a way that doesn’t affect the drainage.

    • Weight Calculation

    Every roof and wall can take the pressure up to a point. Anything more would damage them if they are unsuitable for such a weight. Before you start, always consult a professional to make sure your roof and walls are strong enough to bear the weight. If they say you would need any additional support or any repairs before you go ahead with the solar system installation process, please do that.

    • Energy Needs

    Every house and business has different appliances, needs, and energy requirements. Before requesting the solar panel installation, calculate the total energy consumption of the house or business. Once the installer knows the energy requirements, they will tell you how many panels you will need. One thing you should know is that it’s difficult to add new panels to an existing system. Hence, getting the numbers right in the first go is important.

    Types of Solar Panels

    There are four types of solar panels based on the cell arrangement:

    • Monocrystalline Panels: these are more used in rural and remote areas to generate energy more efficiently. Monocrystalline is made of single-crystal silicon.
    • Polycrystalline Panels: these are the traditional ones that you see everywhere, since they are diverse and are suitable for both residential solar systems as well as commercial systems. They are made of multiple crystals of silicon.
    • Half-cut Panels: if you have a small space or your roof gets a lot of shade, then half-cut panels are best for you.
    • Shingled: Shingled panels are more expensive but they are efficient and can be used anywhere.

    Now, other than the 4 types mentioned above, there are two different sizes of panels available for solar system installation. Despite what their names might suggest, they can be used for commercial and residential purposes.

    1. Residential size panels: These usually have about 60 to 66 cells and are ideal for small residential buildings or if your rooftop doesn’t have much space. Because of the smaller size, they are easier to work with during installation.
    2. Commercial size panels: Every panel will have around 72 cells and are heavier than the residential ones. These would generate slightly more energy but are harder to work with and not ideal for small spaces. 

    Types of Warranty

    Every aspect of solar system installation has different warranties; be it the inverter, batteries, or the panels themselves. Here are some industry-standard warranties you should know:

    1. The installation has 2 to 10 years of warranty and it covers any faulty or misplaced structures.
    2. The solar panels themselves will have 25-30 years of warranty which includes 15 years of coverage for providing 90% of its peak output & 80% of its peak energy output.
    3. Solar inverters have a general 2 to 10 years of warranty.

    The exact numbers will vary from installer to installer, but they should fall in the range mentioned above. You should get the warranty report or notices from the installer so you will have leverage!

    Components In A Solar System Installation

    A solar panel system should include the following tools or components-

    1. Solar Panels

    Every individual solar panel comprises different layers of phosphorus, silicon, and boron. Every panel has at least 60 or more cells. The polycrystalline solar panels that you see are the most common and widely used ones.

    1. Solar Inverters

    Solar inverters play an important role in solar system installations. Hence, choosing the correct one is very crucial. The inverters available in the market that can be used for residential and commercial uses are-

    1. String Inverter: These are roughly the size of a briefcase or small suitcase. The industry-standard warranty on string inverters is 5-10 years
    2. Microinverters: These are around the same size as a paperback book. You can get about 20 to 25 years of warranty on them.
    3. Optimizers: The optimizers are a combination of both the string and the microinverter.

    The string inverter is not as expensive as a microinverter and needs to be mounted on the wall. Microinverters are placed either underneath or on the back of each panel individually. All are suitable for residential or commercial solar system installations and your installer would let you know which ones are ideal for your household and business.

    One thing you should know is that you shouldn’t mount the string inverters where they will get the full glare of the sun. Australia’s sun is pretty harsh and it would kill the inverters, so you should either mount them where they will get a shade or build a shade over the place you mount them. The inverters are always hard at work in a solar system installation and hence are likely to need a replacement in 15 to 20 years.

    1. Battery

    The work of a battery system is to store the extra energy the panels generate, so it can be used later when there’s no sunlight. By adding batteries to your solar system installation, you can cut down on your local grid usage a lot more. Since there’s no scarcity in Australia for sunlight, the batteries will always have the extra energy that can be used during the night or when there’s heavy rain or winds.

    If there’s a storm or there’s no sunlight for a while, you can charge the battery from the AC supply through the inverter.

    1. Controller

    These are for solar systems that use batteries. They control the input and output of energy to protect the system from an overload. Australia gets 300 days of sun every year. This means occasionally there would be too much energy influx. So having a controller would prevent any accidents.

    1. Monitor

    These are small devices that are fitted in your switchboards and their purpose is to keep track of how much energy is getting generated and consumed per day. You can work without a monitor, but then you won’t be able to see how much energy you are consuming. By getting a monitor, you would be able to track and manage your usage. These are non-negotiable if you are going for the solar rebates since they will need to analyze your energy consumption and generation. So, in conclusion, a monitor is a must for a solar panel installation.

    1. Rack Or Mount System

    These are the aluminium structures that hold the panels in place. You must be think that they would corrode, but they get layers of protective coatings that ensure they don’t corrode. If you see any chips or damage then call your installer at once. These are the foundation of a solar system installation so take no chances.

    Those are the basic and non-negotiable equipment in a solar system installation. The warranty, costs, and flexibility would vary with every brand so look into your options before you settle down.

    Maintenance

    A solar system doesn’t have any moving parts, so there’s not much maintenance or cleaning required. Once you have paid the total cost for solar panel installation, there are no additional purchases you would need to worry about. You should check on the structure once or twice a year to ensure there’s no debris on the panels. If there is mud jammed on panels, then their functioning and efficiency will be affected.

    If you see thick layers of dust or debris on them, you can use a hose to wash it all. If you think the hose isn’t doing the trick, then use a soft non-abrasive cloth to wipe them clean. But please don’t clean them while they are hot. So, morning or evening would be the best times. If you want to use soap, you can, but just make sure you don’t use anything that could be abrasive on the panels.

    If the solar panels are mounted too high and you aren’t able to reach them, please consult a cleaning company to avoid any accidents. It’s a good idea to ask your installer if there’s any specific maintenance or cleaning tip  you need to follow. They could provide you with a detailed dos and don’ts report on it.

    Are There Any Solar Loans?

    There are a lot of secured and unsecured loan options for solar system installation. They, like any other loan, require you to have a decent income. With these loans, you would need to pay a monthly charge that would be less than your power bill(before solar installation) to the finance company. So even though you are paying for solar, your net cost from the grid is less than before.

    The majority of solar system installations are grid-tied, but there are 3 kinds of systems available for you-

    1. Grid-connected System

    This allows you to keep your system connected to the grid to buy power when it’s too cloudy or even during the night. The inverter will work seamlessly with the grid to work solely on solar power first and draw from the grid only when it’s depleted or sunlight isn’t available.

    1. Off-grid System

    These are standalone sources of power that include batteries to keep the power going all the time. It’s a good option for areas where the cost of grid connection is too high. Some places are quoted at $50,000, hence a complete solar system would be a better option since other than the upfront payment, electricity will be free afterwards and through its lifetime.

    1. Hybrid Solar System

    Hybrid systems are a mix of both the systems mentioned above. They are grid-connected and require an inverter and batteries. The batteries store the excess energy generated for the night. These are pricier than the others but are excellent backups and can be used in businesses and large households.

    Conclusion

    We hope this gives you a better idea about solar system installations. The next step for you is to get the right installer. Here’s why GoRunSolar would be best for you-

    • We offer financing options for when you are tight on the budget! So, you will get a system that you can handle in terms of cost and also one that supports your entire house or business.
    • All our professionals and equipment are Clean Energy Council accredited and will take care of the paperwork involved in the rebates.
    • Our solar panels have 25 years of warranty on them.
    • We offer post-installation services long after the warranty has expired. You can trust us to show up with one call.

    We have worked in the areas of Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, and Ipswich. If you would like to get a quote or inspection, we offer a free on-site visit too! For more details, <INSERT CTA>.