The solar industry is still very new to many consumers and a lot of questions being are asked. Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions that will hopefully help in your information search.
If you can’t find the answer to your question or want to know more about your solar system and needs, please contact us on 1300 28 29 30.
What are the benefits of a solar battery?
The purpose of a solar storage battery is to keep the excess power your solar panels generate for another time when your household needs to most; maximising your household consumption of solar power.
By using more of your solar you will be reducing your network costs, controlling when you use power and how much you pay for it.
With backup solutions available you can keep the lights on if you lose power. Providing stored power to necessary appliances such as your fridge, lights and Wi-Fi you can have peace of mind during power outages.
How do I choose the right battery size for my home?
With so many sizes, brands and setups on the market to is hard to know what you need, especially in a relatively new market. There are a couple of key figures you will need to know to evaluate your household energy needs and storage capacity suitability:
- Size of your current solar PV system
- The amount of energy your household is consuming and at what times of day is it being consumed
- Your feed-in-tariff (FIT)
- The appliances you regularly use and when
By identifying household consumption and patterns compared to the solar PV system generation, allows the gap to be recognised and a clear battery recommendation to be made. With the wide variety of battery capacities and systems available it is easy to set up a system to make your house run as efficiently as possible.
This analysis can be done over the phone with the assistance of your latest electricity bill. For further information please contact our Customer Care team on 1300 28 29 30 for an individualised solution.
How can I monitor my battery and energy usage?
The use of an energy management system can help you monitor when you’re using power from your solar PV system, from the battery and from the grid. Helping you control your energy usage and stepping closer to neutralising your bill.
You can monitor your battery, solar generation and energy usage of your Enphase battery with the Enphase Envoy-S monitoring system – My Enlighten.
For other batteries, carbonTRACK monitoring system can be used, not just for energy usage, but for total home energy management control your appliances and energy even when on the go.
Tesla provides an App to easily track where your power is coming from, when it is being used as well as an average daily self-sufficiency, so you can see your reduced reliance on the grid.
All mobile applicable, you can monitor what’s going on at home, anytime from anywhere.
Can I save money with a battery?
By using more of your solar generated power instead of sending it back to the grid at a low tariff (FIT) and paying peak rates when the sun goes down, a solar battery will save you money from day one.
A lot of households across Australia are not home during the day or at least use minimal power during this time. Unfortunately, this is when your solar panels generate power. With a solar battery you can keep this power for when you get home and need it the most.
Additionally, this means you are using your stored power instead of paying higher peak rates through the evening.
Is solar battery storage safe?
Yes they are. Although the solar battery industry is new, many of the companies manufacturing them have been working with batteries for countless applications since the invention of the battery itself. When installed by a certified solar technician you can have peace of mind your home and family are safe.
The Enphase system is one of the safest systems out on the market now. The battery has Prismatic cells that are highly stable over time and is not a high voltage DC in system. The cell is safety-tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland.
LG Chem regularly test their batteries in the most extreme conditions including temperature, fire and impact with nothing but positive results. With a patented design, LG batteries are developed to maintain their integrity.
Tesla Powerwall’s use the same technology tested in the Tesla vehicles. If they are safe on the roads they are safe on your wall.
Can I connect a solar battery to my current solar PV system?
Yes you can. A solar battery can be added to your existing solar PV system and with so many brands, capacities and systems available it is easy to find the best solution for your set up and household’s need.
On some occasions accessories may be needed to be connected to ensure compatibility of the solar PV and battery systems, however no modifications are required to the current system.
Can I go off-grid?
The short answer to this question is that unless your electricity usage is minimal (around 5-15 kilowatt-hours per day), it’s not very easy to disconnect from the grid and still have all the comforts (and/or necessities) you’re accustomed to.
Additionally, in most metro areas a grid connection is required for occupancy. This is why we focus on neutralising our customers’ bills, helping them reach a minimal payment to their utility provider with a maximised use of their own solar produced.
How long does a charged battery last?
A fully-charged medium-sized system could store sufficient energy to power your lights and lower-powered items like your fridge-freezer, TV and laptop during the evening. Over four or five hours, all of these together will use at most a few “units” or kiloWatt-hours (kWh), of electricity.
What can I do to save energy and make the most of my solar?
When investing in solar there are household behaviours that you and your family can introduce to get the most out of your solar PV system. It is important to understand any FIT (feed-in-tariff) or buyback scheme you have associated with your system, as this will play a part in determining the changes you should make.
A few tips to reduce your energy usage are:
- Television, computer, gaming console, microwave and washing machine can consume power in STANDBY MODE. If you are not regularly using these appliances, switch them off at the power point when not in use, or when you go away for a period of time.
- Only use extra appliances when needed. That extra fridge or freezer you have in your garage that contains drinks, or perhaps only a few items could be costing you over $100.00 per year to run. In peak times like summer when you need storage for extra drinks and food, turn on your spare fridge, then consolidate your items into one fridge/freezer as the seasons change and you no longer need the extra space.
- While we are talking FRIDGES, increase your fridge and freezer temperature by 1-3 degrees. This will still ensure your food remains fresh, but will impact your overall energy bill. Additionally, this works on your HOT WATER. By decreasing the setting by 3-4 degrees you will decrease the systems energy consumption and in most instances, you will not notice the difference.
- If you are on a lower FIT use your major appliances during daylight hours. If you have a TIMER on your dishwasher, clothes dryer or washing machine use it to your benefit and run when your solar system is supplying the power. If your appliances do not have a timer it would be recommended you invest in a model that does next time you are in the market for a new product.
- Check your appliances for DEFECTS/FAULTS. Something as simple as a broken seal on your refrigerator or freezer could result in excessive power usage as your whitegoods are working overtime to reduce temperatures.
- We love a good DISHWASHER! Over the years dishwashers have improved substantially, however we haven’t really evolved in the way we use them. Stop rinsing your dishes almost clean before loading them into the dishwasher, a quick scrape of excess food is enough, saving you both water and time. Only use the dishwasher when full and a short cycle is enough for most loads. Do not use the drying feature if you are not home as they will dry before you unload it anyway. And as mentioned before, if you have a timer make it work for you.
- Don’t use a computer SCREEN SAVER, this is costing you money. Rather than have your computer default to a screen saver change your settings to have the screen switch off completely. Sleep mode only uses approximately 10% of the power required to run a screen saver.
- Choose an ENERGY-EFFICIENT appliance! The basic rule is, the more stars the better! New whitegoods are an expensive outlay initially and better star ratings are often more expensive, however your additional expense when purchasing will provide you larger savings long-term.
- Most Australian households use their WASHING MACHINE daily and in some instances, do many smaller loads. Where possible, hold off a day or so and do one larger load rather than 2-3 smaller loads. Always wash your clothes in cold water, it could be saving you almost $1.00 per load. Today’s detergents do a great job cleaning in cold water, so you should only do a hot water cycle for the dirtiest of loads. Top loaders vs front loaders is a hot topic but the truth is, a front loader (in most cases) uses a lot less energy, water and detergent. If you’re not passionate either way, consider switching to a front loader when you next upgrade.
- Some of us would be lost without our CLOTHES DRYER but the truth is, they are one of the more expensive appliances to run and are often not even necessary to be used. To reduce the cost of using your dryer, clean your lint filter after every load. This will assist in the longevity and mechanics of your dryer but will also avoid your dryer running overtime. Try and dry heavy fabrics separately to lights and set your dryer to shut off with the moisture sensor setting (often referred to as ‘normal’). Never add wet items to a cycle that is midway through. Use a clothes horse during winter when you have the heater running, or the clothes line in summer! Once again, if you have a timer, daylight hours for drying so your solar can pay the bill (suitable for lower FIT).
- Where possible, ZONE off areas of your house for heating and cooling. It is common for home owners to set one temperature for the entire home, even for rooms they will not be using. Many ducted heating, cooling and split systems have zone control which could reduce your energy costs significantly. If you are using a heater situated in one room/space, close doors to areas that do not need heating, such as spare bedrooms.
- Try to pre-empt when AIR CONDITIONING and HEATING is required. If you can turn these on before it is significantly hot or cold they will be able to run more efficiently, reducing the power usage by only requiring to maintain the temperature.
- DRAUGHT-PROOF your home! It sounds simple but a small runner (or, even a towel) below your doors can significantly maintain the temperature of your home. This is an important tip whenever you have your heater or air conditioner running.
Should I get my solar system serviced?
Solar PV servicing through Sunbank Solar is an easy and affordable way to ensure that your solar PV system is functioning at peak capacity. It is important that solar homeowners have their system checked regularly to ensure the system is meeting current Australian Standards and more importantly, safe from potential electrical and fire hazards.
Most power distributors and retailers within Australia recommend or require solar homeowners to have their system serviced and maintained annually.
Outside of the important safety and efficiency considerations, it is vital to check your warranty documentation. Many installation companies and solar suppliers will not cover you in the event that something goes wrong with your system if your system has not been maintained by a qualified electrician.
Also make sure you check your home and content insurance policy as you may not be covered for damage caused by an unmaintained solar system.
Why should I get a service?
Just like your car is required to be serviced for roadworthy conditions, your solar system is made up of electrical functioning components that need servicing and maintenance. Most of the major components of your solar system are exposed to the natural weather elements so they need to be regularly checked for wear and tear.
There are many reasons why it is important to service and maintain your solar PV system. It is a requirement for solar homeowners to regularly have their system maintained and serviced for:
The safety of your home and your family is number one! Since solar was introduced in Australia there have been a number of solar components that have been recalled nationally and are still being identified today. These components have been recalled for causing serious fire and electrical hazards and our team at Sunbank Solar prioritise the identification and replacement of these components in each service.
By installing solar, your roof becomes a small generation plant producing energy. Electricity passes through many components and should there be a fault there is potential that your system will not produce electricity, or even cause a fire or electrical surge.
The reduction of efficiency can be extreme if your panels are shaded by built-up debris for long periods of time. Having your solar panels cleaned as part of your service can increase your power generation by up to 10%. It is a great way to improve the overall generation of your solar panels, increasing your savings.
If your system is not functioning to its full potential, then you could be wasting the money invested in your solar system. When your system is serviced by a qualified solar technician you can remain confident that you’re maximising your savings and your home and family are protected.
How often should a service be completed on my solar system?
It is important to have a service at least every two (2) years due to the electrical nature of your solar system installation.
Most Australian retailers and distributors recommend or require that servicing is conducted annually by a professional, qualified electrician.
Considerations should be made for your warranty and any home and contents insurance policy. Should you not regularly maintain your system it may impact the solar warranty offered to you, and more importantly, your home insurance policy may be impacted or void should you not have serviced your solar system and fire or damage occurs to your home. For further information on your insurance cover, please contact your insurance company directly.
What documentation will I receive for my service?
Within 10 business days of your service or maintenance being completed our qualified technicians will prepare and supply a fully itemised service report indicating work conducted and any recommendations regarding inefficiencies or safety concerns.
For your home and contents insurance policy, your insurance company may require a Certificate of Electrical Safety (CES). Sunbank Solar can provide you with a CES after servicing if requested for a $29.00 fee and lodge the appropriate documentation. Each CES is signed by the qualified licensed solar technician who conducted the work at your property.
What happens if I choose not to service my solar system?
The impacts of not servicing your solar system are varied. There are many things to consider, question and research should you choose not to have your system serviced after a maximum of two (2) years from installation or your last service:
- Is my system running at peak efficiency and am I saving what I should be?
- Is it safe? Does my installed system meet the current minimum Australian Standards for solar installation?
- Will my solar system warranty be void if my system has not been maintained?
- Will my house be protected under my home and contents insurance if I have not maintained my system?
- Could I have dangerous recalled components as part of my installation that is a fire and/or electrical hazard?
Most Australian retailers and distributors recommend that servicing is conducted annually by a professional, qualified technician. Please refer to your initial documentation from your installation company for product brands and warranty cover and for further information on your insurance cover, please contact your insurance company directly.
How long does a service take?
A comprehensive solar system service can take between 45-60 minutes when conducted by a team of two solar technicians. Depending on the access, pitch and height of your solar installation, the on-site time frame may increase where additional safety equipment and harnesses are required.
Further time will be required should your solar system service package include a thorough panel clean.
To book a service please call 1300 28 29 30.
Do you need to get access to my roof for a solar service?
It is essential that access to your solar panels and rooftop is available at time of servicing or maintenance. A thorough and comprehensive service cannot be conducted without this access. Should your property have significant obstacles or lack of access, further safety and access equipment may be required. In most cases, Sunbank Solar will be able to quote you any additional cost prior to attending your property.
Is my solar system covered by warranty?
Most solar systems sold within Australia are issued with a comprehensive warranty on products and installation, however it is common for these warranties to be void should your system not be serviced or maintained. Unfortunately, some Australian solar homeowners have found themselves without warranties and ongoing support, generally due to:
- The solar company who completed the installation is no longer trading or has gone into liquidation
- The manufacturer of your solar inverter, panels or solar components is no longer trading or has gone into liquidation
- Solar homeowners have made alterations or upgraded their system within the warranty period
- The solar system warranty has now expired
- Their solar system is not serviced or maintained correctly
It is important to understand your warranty requirements. Please refer to your initial documentation from your installation company for product brands and warranty cover. Should your installation company no longer be trading we can also assist you with servicing, maintenance, fault repair and upgrading your existing system.
For more specific information about your system and warranty support please contact your product supplier or our Customer Care team on 1300 28 29 30.
What does my warranty cover?
It is common for Australian solar installations to have multiple warranties associated to each PV system. Your installation company may have an independent warranty clause, so it is important that you refer to your installation documentation or contact your installer group.
Warranties offered within solar can go up to 30 years for your protection, however each component of your system and the installation may have varied warranty periods.
If your installation company is no longer trading, you may have a void warranty. For further information please contact our Customer Care team on 1300 28 29 30 and we will be able to assist with further information of fault repair.
What do I do if I have a recalled product or something needs repair?
Each recalled product has an independent process for repair or replacement. If you are unsure of whether you have a recalled component, Sunbank Solar can assist in identifying any recalls and replacements.
Many suppliers of recalled solar components are no longer trading or are in liquidation. Should part of your solar system be identified as a recalled product, Sunbank Solar can assist in replacing any hazardous or recalled component/s and ensure the ongoing safety of your solar system.
In the event that recalled component are identified with us over the telephone, Sunbank Solar can assist in the replacement of these components, and repair of your solar system.
How do I know if my solar installation meets current Australian Standards?
Regular servicing by a qualified CEC (Clean Energy Council) technician is the best way to identify any substandard installation or product defects within your solar system.
As the Australian solar industry grew at a rapid rate, the demand of installation increased causing substandard workmanship, rushed installations and corners to be cut in many instances. If you have not had your solar system serviced in the last 12 months, or since installation, you should consider the following points when questioning the efficiency, quality and safety of your solar system:
- Your initial installation company did not review or look into your households energy usage or consumption prior to installation
- You were not issued documentation or identification from your installer showing their current and valid CEC (clean energy council) accreditation
- Your quote for installation was significantly cheaper than others
- You have been advised by your installation company that your system is not covered within your warranty period for unknown system faults without attending site
- You were offered an immediate installation date, or installation date prior to required council, government or network connection approval.
- Your initial installation company is no longer trading or in liquidation
- You were offered a short-term warranty or no warranty documentation upon installation
- You were not offered or provided a system manual for operation, maintenance or safety information, including projected system generation
- Your inverter, panels or other components did not, or no longer appear on the CEC (clean energy council) approval list within Australia
- Negative, or no feedback on public forums
- Reluctance in offering clear after installation support or guidance by your installation company
- Failure, reluctance or refusal to supply a CES (Certificate of Electrical Safety) after installation
- Failure to provide a certificate of home warranty insurance prior to commencing installation if the total cost of your system exceeded $20,000 (NSW only)