What does solar power or solar energy mean?
The words solar power or solar energy, are generic terms used for Photovoltaic (PV). The worth ‘photovoltaic’ is composed of two terms: Photo – Photon which means “light” and Voltaic from “Volt”, which is the unit used to measure electric potential at a given point.The photovoltaic solar energy system converts sunlight directly into electric power to run lighting or electric appliances. A solar system requires only daylight to generate electricity.

Solar systems use cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar cells can be made from different so-called semiconductor materials. Today, silicon is the most widely used material, but other, usually compound (made from two or more elements) semiconductors is also used. They are silent and non-polluting, utilise a source of energy that renews itself.

What is the application of solar power in our daily life?

Solar electricity can be used in virtually any application where electricity is required, from powering watch batteries to running entire cities. However, because solar electricity is generated only when the sun shines it is typically either stored in batteries or used to supplement other forms of electricity, such as grid power or generator power.

This technology is very relevant to Indian households which face power cuts and rising electricity prices. Solar helps homes achieve self-reliance on power.

How does a solar power system work?OrWhat is a solar power system?

A solar module is made up of a group of photovoltaic cells. They consist of 2 layers of silicon wafers which become positively and negatively charged when sunlight hits them. The charge created flows through a circuit of small wires connected to the wafers. The PV modules generate DC electricity and send it to the inverter; the inverter transforms DC power into AC electricity and feed it back to the power grid.

It is a relatively simple process that requires no moving parts. Solar panels have been installed on the rooftops of houses and other buildings in India

Can a solar system reduce my bill to zero?

A solar system can help you reduce your bill substantially and in some application like off grid systems, reduce your bill to zero. In India where some states have implemented Net Metering (explained later in FAQ’s), the electricity produced is fed directly during the daytime into your home, office or commercial enterprise. This helps you to substantially offset your consumption which you would have paid for.

What time of the day does solar system work?

Solar systems work during the day. As the strength and angle of the sun varies throughout the day, so too does the strength of the sun and this affects the amount of solar energy you will generate. Days are longer in summer and shorter in winter and correspondingly, the available “window” of generation changes with the seasons.
A sample of 5 different system sizes and how their energy generation varies throughout the day based on data from real customers provided in the graph below to illustrate how generation changes throughout a typical day.

Average Per Day
Average daily kwh Generation for 3kW system
Saving @ Rs.5.5 / unit
Saving Per Annum
₹ 137
₹ 49,830
₹ 125
₹ 45,771
₹ 125
₹ 45,573
₹ 107
₹ 38,957
₹ 110
₹ 40,079
₹ 125
₹ 45,573
₹ 103
₹ 37,571
₹ 123
₹ 45,045
₹ 130
₹ 47,586
Kolkata (Calcutta)
₹ 95
₹ 34,782

Does solar system need bright sunshine to work?

Solar PV panels on the roofs of homes and businesses generate clean electricity by converting the energy in sunlight. In lay man terms – the brighter the sun (high irradiance) better the performance.

What happens with my solar system at night, in cloudy weather or during rain?

Although solar panels still produce electricity in cloudy or smoggy conditions, the clearer the sky the better the energy production will be. As a rule of thumb, on a really cloudy day a solar system will produce around 20% of the energy it would otherwise produce under ideal conditions.

How much solar power do systems generate? What affects the output?

A number of factors can affect how much energy your solar system will generate. We have separated these into primary effects (the things that make a big difference) and secondary effects (the things that make a smaller difference). These include the following:

Primary effects on generation
• Rating of the panel i.e. its efficiency
• Location on panels
• Seasonal variation due to irradiance of the sun
• Time of day
• Shading from trees or buildings
Secondary effects on generation
• Angle & Orientation of the panels
• Annual variation in sunshine
• Product and system efficiency
• Air flow around the system
• Dirt build up

Can I save on electricity without investing into solar?

There are a lot of easy, low-cost things that you can do at home to see big savings on your power bills and cut carbon pollution at the same time.
Some tips:
• Switching to energy efficient compact fluorescent lights . Lighting accounts for around 5% of household greenhouse gas emissions, and LED light bulbs use 75% less energy than an equivalent incandescent bulb.
• Switching off appliances that are on standby and turning off anything that doesn’t need to be on like toasters, ovens, computers, TV, DVD systems etc.
• Insulate ceilings, walls and floors to increase thermal efficiency of your home
• Cool your home efficiently by using high efficient systems air-conditioning systems.
• Cutting hot water usage by installing a star rated showerhead and taking shorter showers.
• Choose appropriate cooking methods
• Keep the fridge clean and well ventilated to increase its cooling efficiency
• Using cold water to wash clothes and the sun to dry them.
• When building, renovating, renting or buying a home, aim for high energy-efficiency and install energy-efficient appliances and lighting.

A solar system will help in decreasing the energy bill you pay and the move towards self-sufficiency.

How do I earn money or get paid for electricity generated?

With every watt of electricity generated by your system and used by you directly in your house saves you money which you would have paid for the electricity. For excess power generated and sent back to the grid you may get a Feed-in-terrif from your energy provider in states which have implemented Net Metering system. This varies from each energy provider. You should call your energy company and ask them.

Will the solar system help me reduce my Green House Gasses

On an average, each kWh of electricity generated from conventional sources creates on average, approximately 1kg of CO2. The energy consumed in India is approx. 684 kWh but in cities like this is an average per month.

Is solar energy more expensive than conventional energy?

In many countries, solar systems produce electricity at or close to the cost of electricity from other conventional sources, which continue to rise. When the cost of solar electricity matches the cost of conventional energy, we refer to this as “grid parity”.

Governments around the world have provided financial support for solar energy in many countries in recognition of its important role and because it avoids reliance on rapidly depleting sources of fuel. Solar energy production cost has been reducing due to improvements in technology and economies of scale and this gap is becoming smaller.

How do I know if a system is beneficial for me

The benefits of a system vary on a number of things including, lifestyle, size of the house, number of appliances in the house, number of residents in the home, the time of use of electricity, use of pool pumps, use of air-conditioning etc.

Generally as a thumb rule, you will benefit from solar energy even when you are not at home during the day as it will offset the standby power used in the home and if you have a battery backup system then save you much more. We do suggest that you talk to ourSolar consultants who are trained to work out the benefit you may derive from your solar system.

When should I not buy a system?

Most of the homes in India which are an average of 3 bedroom houses are suitable for solar energy. There are a few instances when the solar system is not suitable for your home.
Some examples:
a. The orientation of your roof is not South / South West or South East.
b. The roof space with the correct orientation does not have space.
c. There are trees shading your roof during the day or the shadow of the building next door throws a shade on your roof.

These are some of the reasons you might not be able to install a solar system on your roof.We do suggest that you talk to one of our Solar consultants who are trained to advise you on the benefit you may or may not derive from your solar system

Are there any Indian Standards in the solar field?

Solar industry is very well regulated in India. Each and every aspect from product to installation is regulated.
However our team is trained to international Australian &New Zealand standards to provide you an international level of install experience. The list is extensive but some of the major Australian Standards are:
PV & Inverter Standards:
• AS/NZS 5033:2005, Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays.
• AS/NZS 5033:2005, Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays.
• AS/NZS 5033, PV modules are compliant and the product is listed at www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au
Grid connected system
• AS/NZS 3000:2007, Wiring Rules.
• AS/NZS1768:2007, Lightning Protection.
• AS/NZS1768:2007, Lightning Protection
Standalone Systems
• AS/NZS 4509:2009, Standalone Power systems, Part 1: Safety & installation.
• AS 4086.2:1997, Secondary batteries for use with standalone power systems, Part 2: Installation & maintenance, wind system. AS/NZS 3000:2007, Wiring Rules

Can you explain kW and kW/h?

kW stands for kilowatt, or 1,000 watts. It is a measure of power. Your solar power system is rated according to the number of watts it can produce each hour. For example 12 x250Watt panels will make up a 3kW system. Normally you would then also use a 3 kW inverter with this system to convert the panel’s direct current (DC) voltage to 240V AC.

kW/h stands for kilowatt hour. It is a measure of energy. If you use a 1 kW electric pool pump for one hour, it will consume 1 kW/h of energy. Or if you use 20 x 50W down lights for an hour they will consume 1kW/h. Usually your electricity bill is billed in units of kW/h.

Where do you think solar power technology will grow?

Predicting how solar technology will evolve in the future is difficult but we can look at history and the factors that are driving energy demand around the world as a guide.If the industry’s growth and cost reductions continue along the same trajectory, solar energy will be cheaper than today’s lowest wholesale energy cost (typically coal fired) within the next 10 to 20 years (perhaps even sooner) which is likely to create even more growth.

We have also seen efficiency, reliability and performance increase steadily which increases the potential applications for solar energy. These technological improvements are constantly evolving and many opportunities exist to reduce waste in the solar manufacturing industry and to utilise new equipment which speeds up production.

There are also a wide variety of as yet experimental ways to produce electricity from the sun using new materials such as Nano technology, films that can be applied to regular building materials and combinations of materials used today for better results. We have seen solar technology being adapted in satellites, electrical appliances, water pumps, cooking appliances in remote areas, watch’s, calculators, street lights, torch’s i.e. articles of daily use by us.

Do you think in the next twenty years we will see application of solar in other fields

If we jump ahead twenty years to 2032, here is what we are likely to see;
• Solar costs at around ¼ of where they are today,
• Solar generation costs would be the lowest of all known energy sources projected today
• Solar technologies which are significantly more efficient and thus able to be fitted to more locations, more tolerant of shading and easily integrated into the fabric of buildings
• Advanced solar technologies s which allow the integration of solar into materials such as fabrics and paints

Although this may seem far-fetched, many examples of these applications and scenarios are actually being trialled in laboratories or in applications where cost is no barrier today. From history, one thing that it is proven is that despite some bumps and glitches, solar costs have fallen on average 7% per year which drives growth, which drives further costs reductions and it has happened far faster than most analysts have projected as compared to any other technology.

What are the key components of a solar system?

A solar system is made up of a number of key components which combine together to generate electricity, regulate and control the flow and quality of electricity and to connect and mount the system to your building.

It is important to ensure that each of the components is designed to work optimally together and that not one of the components will compromise the performance, safety or life expectancy of the others.

A grid connected system comprises of panels, inverter, roof mounting system and electrical accessories like circuit breakers, wires etc.
Off-grid (stand-alone) systems use charge controllers instead of inverters and have a storage battery for supplying the electric energy when there is no sunlight e.g. during night hours.

Can I store the energy my system generates - instead of exporting it?

Most of the systems in India are grid-connected systems i.e. connected to the electricity grid to pull electricity or send back electricity. However off-grid systems which can store electricity are gaining in polpularity. Please read the section below on off grid systems for more details.

What are they different systems available

There are a number of different types of systems available in the market. The major ones On Grid System, Off Grid System and Combination or Hybrid System, are detailed below.
On Grid System
The most common use for solar electricity today is called On Grid: where solar electricity is connected to an existing grid power supply.

This use for solar electricity is extremely popular because instead of using batteries for storage, electricity is imported and exported to the grid as generation and demand varies. This helps reduce the cost and complexity of solar systems.

On Grid solar systems use sophisticated electronics (called inverters) to convert the electricity produced by solar panels to the same voltage and frequency as grid power and to synchronise the systems together. Advanced safety devices are also included which allow solar systems to be isolated automatically if the grid is shut down for safety or maintenance purposes.

On Grid systems constantly monitor the voltage and frequency of the grid and specific standards exist to ensure that solar systems comply with this in Australia and around the world. This is one reason why choosing a high quality inverter is important. Lower quality inverters may suffer annoying “trip-outs” if the grid power is varying but higher quality units are better able to cope with fluctuations and keep you connected.

One implication of this type of system is that if there is a grid blackout, your solar system will not be able to supply your home with electricity, despite the fact that the solar panels may still be generating energy, unless you have an On Grid Support system(Click to view more).

On Grid Support
Although not widely used, On Grid Support systems are gaining popularity. They are a combination of an On Grid system, some more sophisticated electronic control equipment and storage, typically in the form of batteries.

The main feature of these systems is that in the event of a blackout or poor grid power quality, an On Grid support system can disconnect your home from the grid, then reactivate your solar system to provide power to your home without compromising the safety of grid workers.

Such systems will automatically combine solar energy being generated from the solar panels and energy stored in batteries and provides energy to dedicated circuits within the home, in a similar way to Uninterruptible Power Supplies that are used on computers or other equipment.
Off Grid System
Off Grid systems are used where grid power is unavailable such as remote farms or homes, telecommunications sites, water pumping or other remote industrial facilities.

Off Grid systems need to be very carefully designed to match energy generation to energy demand and require a detailed energy audit and site specific assessment to work effectively.

Off Grid systems use batteries to store solar energy so it is available to be used 24 hours a day and often include a back-up generator for unusually high energy demands or long periods of low solar irradiation. It is possible to such systems without a back-up generator but great care must be taken to ensure the energy demand is matched very carefully to the amount of energy stored in your batteries, both of which will vary throughout the year.

Off Grid power has been used to great success around the world and has been particularly useful in Australia.(Click to view more)

Many remote homesteads, farms and industrial sites also use solar electricity as a cost effective and highly reliable alternative to diesel generation for household electricity, water pumping and agricultural uses. Solar electricity can significantly reduce the difficulties associated with getting fuel, maintaining complex generators and are virtually silent.

Off Grid solar systems are used in a huge variety of applications and are often life changing experiences for people in areas where little or no electricity was previously available. Millions of people around the world still have no access to electricity and rely on kerosene lanterns or candles for light which are dangerous and can cause eye disease.

Some of these applications include:
• Remote power for villages
• Water pumping
• Water purification
• Vaccine refrigeration
• Electric fences
• Telecommunications
• Remote farms and homes
• Signalling
• Industrial applications
• Disaster relief
Combined Systems

These are not commonly available in India but we are one of the few companies which has worked with Australian, Malaysian and Chinese companies to create an engineered solution suitable to India’s harsh environmental requirements.

In these systems the solar power is connected to the grid through a battery back-up system. These batteries can be charged through the solar panels or from the grid. In case of electrical failure they power the home requirements.

Why are Back-to-Grid System becoming more popular

Back-to-grid or grid connected systems as they are called are common because of the regular electricity supply and the extensive network developed over the years.

The availability of regular electricity has made grid connected system popular. The most common use for solar electricity today is called On Grid: where solar electricity is connected to an existing grid power supply. This use for solar electricity is extremely popular because instead of using batteries for storage, electricity is imported and exported to the grid as generation and demand varies. This helps reduce the cost and complexity of solar systems.

On Grid solar systems use sophisticated electronics (called inverters) to convert the electricity produced by solar panels to the same voltage and frequency as grid power and to synchronise the systems together. Advanced safety devices are also included which allow solar systems to be isolated automatically if the grid is shut down for safety or maintenance purposes.

On Grid systems constantly monitor the voltage and frequency of the grid and specific standards exist to ensure that solar systems comply with this in Australia and around the world. This is one reason why choosing a high quality inverter is important. Lower quality inverters may suffer annoying “trip-outs” if the grid power is varying but higher quality units are better able to cope with fluctuations and keep you connected.

What affects the performance of the solar system?

Excellent data is available which enable us to predict how much solar irradiation will be available throughout the year across the entire planet and thus, predicting what you can power is simply a matter of matching the predicted available energy to the load. However, a number of variables affect the performance levels of a given amount of solar.

The first is the geographic location of the solar system. Depending on your latitude, a different amount of energy will be available because your location effect’s how perpendicular the sun is and also, how much atmosphere the sunlight needs to travel through to reach you. India happens to have one of the best latitudes and sunshine hours in the world for solar energy.

A secondary effect of location is local geography, which can affect how much cloud cover or smog is typical. Although solar panels still produce electricity in cloudy or smoggy conditions, the clearer the sky the better the energy production will be. As a rule of thumb, on a really cloudy day a solar system will produce around 20% of the energy it would produce under ideal conditions.

The second major impact on solar generation is the time of year or season. During the changing seasons the earth rotates on its axis changing the perpendicularity of the sun and thus the intensity of the energy reaching us. Logically, it is strongest in summer and weakest in winter and this will affect the performance of solar systems.

By using good data and taking into account location, seasons and geography we can predict with great certainty the average annual energy that will be produced, although the day to day levels may vary slightly. From year to year there is some variation but generally sunlight intensity and therefore annual energy production is relatively predictable.

Why does the cost of purchasing a solar system change?

The cost of the solar system is dependent on a number of factors:
a. The cost of manufacturing panels
b. The international availability of silicon,
c. The cost of inverters,
d. The installation cost,
e. Availability of product,
f. Quality of the components
g. The fluctuating international currency and
h. Federal and state rebate (if any) available towards the cost of the system

The economies of scale in the manufacturing of components amongst all of the above factors impact the final cost to the consumer.

Any other expenses I have to keep in mind?

Broadly there are 3 major cost heads when you install a system.
A. System cost including panels, inverts and accessories.
B. Installation cost which varies on the type of roof, height of roof etc. and
C. The meter connection cost.

Most of the companies will give you a system installed cost excluding the cost of the meter which has to be installed by a certified electrician. This cost can vary depending on the meter board requirements. We suggest that you contact us to request a site inspection and a full system install quote.

What happens to the power I don't use?

A solar system can be connected to the grid using a Net Meter or connected to the battery to maximise the utilisation of power generated which stores energy for your use when the sun goes down.

How does shading of trees or the building next door affect the performance of my system?

In the simplest of terms, the solar panels need to be in the sun to generate electricity so any shading will reduce their output. Although some shading does not rule out the use of solar power, the effects can be significant and therefore having a shading analysis done before you buy is a good idea if the area where you will install your panels is affected by shading. The impact of shading varies by season too, as shadows get longer and can affect larger areas in the winter months.

Minor effects such as shading in the early morning or late afternoon have a much smaller impact. However, large trees, chimneys or neighbouring buildings can have a very significant impact and should be carefully analysed to ensure that an accurate assessment is made.

It is also important to understand that because of the way most solar systems are connected together, shading on (for example) one or two solar panels can impact on the output of your entire system.

A good solar installer will be able to provide a shading analysis using a variety of tools, devices and models, will be able to provide an accurate assessment of whether shading will have a minor or a major impact on your systems generation capacity.

Do dirt and leave affect the efficiency of my system?

Much like shading from other obstructions, anything, including dirt, bird droppings will reduce your output as it is not letting the sunshine through to the panel and will affect the efficiency of your system.

It is recommend by us that the solar panels be cleaned once in 6 months. If you are near a high traffic are or there is accumulation of dust due to the geographical location or construction activity – higher frequency of cleaning is suggested.

Some solar installers offer maintenance services where they come and check the electrical connections and clean the solar panels on aperiodic basis.

What maintenance is required by a solar system?

Solar systems are generally maintenance free. As a general rule, solar modules installed at greater than 10 degrees angle will tend to self-clean with average rainfall in India during the monsoon season. For optimum performance we do recommended to keep you panels clean and the inverter protected.

What happens to my solar systems if we have a blackout?

In a blackout the grid connected solar system will automatically shut down. It will automatically reboot when it senses the grid connection is back. In a battery backed system, the batteries will power your home till the grid connect comes back or the batters run out of power.

Does my home insurance cover my solar system?

Most of the insurance companies will cover the system as part of your home insurance, if they know and have been notified that you have installed a system. We recommend that you should call you insurance company and find out.

Can solar PV be put on any roof in any direction?

India being in the Northern Hemisphere the panels are installed facing South. There is deviance throughout the seasons because of solar solstice. A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. As a result, on the day of the solstice, the Sun appears to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon at local solar noon.

Solar face as close to true South as possible to reduce the impact that the Winter seasons have on efficiency.
South East and South West facing panels will be largely operating at around the 90% of their rated outputs. A directly East or West facing panel will never operate at better than 85% of its rated output.

Can a Solar PV system be installed on the ground?

Yes, solar panels can be installed on the ground if they are clear from any shading. There are additional costs involved when installed on the ground by way of ground mounting frames, additional civil works and electrical conduits required as per the electrical standards.

What is the lifetime of a solar power system?

A solar system like any other product will last for years but like any product has a warranty on it. You should look at the following as the minimum life of a system:
• 10 year manufacturing warranty on Solar Panels
• 25 year limited warranty on power production for solar modules on min of 80% efficiency.
• Min. of 5 years manufacturer’s warranty on Inverter. Some companies offer 10 years or extended warranty.

What does the design and specification of my system involve?

All systems installed by us have to signed off by an solar system designer. Our Team head is trained by Australian company
There are a number of elements which are considered while designing a system to suit your requirements. The designer considers the following:
a. The available roof space to install the system.
b. The orientation of the roof and in case a split system then the orientation of different roofs.
c. Ensuring the roof area or the installation site is capable of handling the desired system size additional weight.
d. Sizing the strings of panels for the correct voltage of the inverter.
e. Ensure the design meets building codes and electrical standards among other things..

What happens to the power I don’t use

The power you don’t use or excess generated power from the system is sent back to the electricity grid and used the energy company for supply to other establishments or sent to your battery system to charge and store for further use.

When should I NOT buy a solar system ?

Most of the homes in India can install a small or a large system but there are times when you should not buy a solar system. Some examples:
a. You have no roof space available facing South, South East or South West.
b. There is shading of trees and building most of the day on your South facing roof.
c. When the system has to be installed at a distance from the home (in farms) and the civil cost far outweighs the return on investment.
Every home has its own unique characteristic, we suggest you talk to our Solar Consultant who can advise you if the system will not benefit you.

What is the feed-in tariff (FIT) and how does it work?Or How do I earn money or get paid for electricity generated

Feed-in tariffs provide people producing their own renewable energy with a financial return for the excess power they feed into the grid. The excess energy which you produce and send back to the grid – the energy company pays you for it. This helps you to recover the cost of the system faster.

Can solar power be generated and used for other applications?

Solar electricity is increasingly appearing in more and more consumer devices driven by reducing cost, increasing performance and reducing energy demands in small electronic devices.

Solar electricity is increasingly used in the following applications:
• Camping, caravanning and boating
• Recharging mobile phones
• Powering laptop computers
• Watches and calculators
• Street lighting
• Isolated vending machines
• Bill board lighting
• Security systems etc.

What factors will affect the price of the system quoted to me?

The price of a solar system can be affected by a number of variables including:

• Government rebates available;
• Number of panels;
• Tilt and Orientation of panels
• Type of inverter
• System design and configuration
• Shipping costs for equipment and parts
• Installation costs
• • Site preparation needs (for example, condition of roof)

These are some of the factors where the price a system can affect you say as compared to your neighbours.

What factors will affect the price of the system quoted to me?

The price of a solar system can be affected by a number of variables including:

• Government rebates available;
• Number of panels;
• Tilt and Orientation of panels
• Type of inverter
• System design and configuration
• Shipping costs for equipment and parts
• Installation costs
• • Site preparation needs (for example, condition of roof)

These are some of the factors where the price a system can affect you say as compared to your neighbours.

What is the difference between a cheap panels vs. the more expensive one's?

Arguably, the quality of your solar panels is the most crucial factor in selecting a solar system. Over their 25 year warranty period, solar panels will be subjected to more than 100,000 hours of relentless sunshine, extremes of heat and cold, wind, rain, hail and more.

It is an extraordinarily harsh climate for an electrical device. You have to be sure that the panel you buy will be able to deliver that performance during its lifetime. A good quality panel will cost slightly more but will deliver on performance.

Any company can make a promise about quality, materials, warranty and support but they key is selecting a product whose promises can be trusted and who will be around in the long term to support you. Trustworthiness is hard to quantify but is usually best described through experience, commitment, transparency and size.

A branded panel might cost marginally more but will produce a good power level when compared to other solar panels on the market. It will have tight power tolerances, a low temperature co-efficient and a clear description of how the products are tested, affected and rated against Potential Induced Degradation (PID) and Light Induced Degradation (LID).We source quality solar panels from established manufacturers whom we have dealt with in Australia and have been field proven.

What to consider when choosing a solar system?

When choosing a solar system you should consider and try to find out a few more details on the company supplying you the system and details on the products being supplied. You should get clarifications on the following:

Questions for Installation company / system supplier:
• Is the company personnel trained to international standards
• Are their installers and designers in the company who will customise a solution for you
• What track record does the company have in solar systems
• Are they a part of a larger group or network
• How long have they been in existence or are they fly-by-night operators
• Will they be able to support my system say in 10 years if a defect comes up.

Questions on the Solar System:
• Are the panels and inverters from a reputable manufacturer
• Does the company have a service centre in India
• Warranty offered is good but how will a defective panel be replaced if the company is based overseas with no local office
• Are the mounting and accessories being used certified to international standards

These are some of the queries you should consider when buying a system

How is a solar system installed on a flat roof?

Flat roofs – which are commonplace on residential & commercial buildings, provide a great starting point for highly effective solar installations. On a flat roof, the solar panels are typically installed on free-standing frames that can optimize array performance by providing the ideal tilt and directional orientation. The frames and clamps used are especially designed to match the roof profile and provide a water-tight seal.

How is a solar system installed on a tile roof?

Solar panels can be installed on many roof types including tiled roofs. The tiles are removed and stainless steel brackets are screwed to the rafters and tiles replaced. The railing systems are mounted on the steel brackets leaving a clear space between the roof and the panel. This allows for air circulation to cool the brackets are spreads the weight of the system over the covered area.

There are a number of mounting systems available. We suggest you should ask the installer for the correct system suitable for your roof type

How is a solar system installed on a metal roof?

Metal roofs are commonplace in the hills in India. The mounting system used for steel roofs uses special profiled brackets to match the profile of the roof. The racks that hold the panels generally don’t require drilling into the roof structure at all but use the installed roof screws. Care must be taken to ensure they are properly sealed after install.

Is a solar system suitable in a cyclone prone area?

Solar is suitable for any area of the world which receives sunshine. Cyclone prone areas are no different. We do suggest that while installing the solar system in a cyclone prone area, you should ensure that a cyclone certified mounting system is installed following the correct manufacturers installation procedure.

What if there is a problem with the Photovoltaic system?

Like any product or a system, the solar system can also develop a defect. The defect can come in the panel, inverter or the electrical installation. There are safeguards built into the inverters and electrical systems. If you feel that the system is not performing, you should get in touch with your installer to inspect the system.

Is it important to have quality accessories?

Quality and certified to international standards accessories are essential for the performance of a system. All quality products like your solar panels, known brand inverter and accessories will help you extend the life of the system. Don’t forget panels have a 25 years efficiency warranty and you want all parts of the solar system to last that long.

Is it worthwhile to save money on an inverter?

The inverter is the most important technologically component in any solar power system. The inverter converts the direct (DC) current generated by the solar panel into alternating current suitable for the grid or your home.

A good inverter is responsible for yield monitoring and grid management. For this reason the correct inverter selection is vital to ensure that you make the most out of every ray of sunshine. Your investment in good products like LG solar panels and a known brand inverter will yield higher efficiency and provide you with a longer life solution.

What consumer rights do I have?

As a consumer the law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services – including your rights to repairs, replacements and refunds.

You have rights under these consumer guarantees even if you do not have a warranty or extended warranty.
• Guarantees on goods
• Guarantees on services
• Warranties
• Repairs, refunds, replacements
• Claiming compensation

What is the likely payback period on my solar system ?

The payback on a solar system can vary from place to place, state to state and the cost vs. size of system. We suggest you should talk to our solar consultant for a rough estimate of the payback period applicable in your location and size of the system.

What happens after my solar PV system has been installed?

There are 3 major steps involved in the purchase of the solar system
a. Selecting and purchase.
B. Installation of the system.
C metering and grid connection.

After your system is installed it will start generating electricity for you. We do suggest that you should monitor the power generation to check the efficiency.

What should I check in a quote before I buy a system?

The quotation could provide specifications, quantity, size, capacity and output for the major components, including:
• solar PV modules
• mounting frames
• structure
• inverter
• any additional metering
• data-logging
• travel and transport requirements
• other equipment needed
• any trench digging
• a system user manual.

The quotation should also specify a total price, together with proposed start and completion dates. The quotation should form a basis for your contract

Does a solar system add value to my house?

Installing solar power will add value to your property. Home buyers today are increasingly looking for homes that are energy efficient. By installing solar power, you are increasing the efficiency and appeal of your home, and also delivering a degree of certainty to yourself and any future owner in terms of energy costs. And better yet, the Government pays a fair chunk of the cost thanks to government rebates.

Simple tips and questions before buying a system?

1. Is part of your roof south facing and free from shade between 9am and 3pm?
2. Is there enough room on this part of your roof for solar panels? You need at least 10m2 for every 1.0 kW of solar system to be installed.
3. Is your roof strong enough to support the solar panels and racking?
4. Have you set aside a budget to cover the costs of installing solar power for your home?
5. Do you understand how much electricity your system could generate each year?
6. Do you know the process involved once you decide to go ahead with your purchase?

Will my 2 kW solar power system produce 2 kW of power?

A 2 kW system will very rarely produce 2 kW/h of electricity in one hour. There are clouds and inverter efficiency and cable loss to take into consideration. A 2kW system generates between 1.7 and 188 kW generation in sunny bright conditions.

It is the amount of light, together with the operating temperature that determines the electricity output generation of a solar cell. Solar cells, being usually dark in colour do heat up in sunny conditions and on the roof your panel could easily be heated to 40 degrees and as much as 50 degrees and more, day in and day out. That’s why using quality backing sheets and materials is so vital for the longevity of your panel.

At around 40 degrees solar cells in general produce around 5-8% less power than they generate at just 15 degrees lower – at 25 degrees. Heated up at 55 degree Celsius one can experience a loss of 15% or more. Therefore the best day for solar output is a clear bright day , with moderate temperature. Because of India’s overall high sun irradiation, solar systems here produce comparatively high electricity output, when compared for example with parts of Europe, such as Northern Germany.

For brief periods given the right conditions peak power could be gained or exceeded. Finally dirt does accumulate over time on the panels, and while most of it is washed off during rain , this can also lead to a small loss of potential output.

What value of electricity could my system to produce over its lifetime?

We expect the panels to last for a very long time and so for our return on investment calculations we have assumed 25 years. You return will be affected by a wide range of factors which will continue to change, such as the annual cost of electricity in kW/h, the tariff you are on, the feed in tariff return you can expect, where you are located and therefore the amount of sun your system is likely to receive as well as how much electricity you consume during the day, which you would have had to pay for in the past and which is now generated by your solar system. See our reference chart to get an idea.

What are the ongoing costs of running a solar power system?

It is advisable to organise some maintenance inspections every few years to make sure that all parts of you solar system operate in a safe fashion. This applies especially if you purchased a very cheap system, where panels, cables and connectors might be of a less robust long term quality. Solar panels are guaranteed to produce output for 25 years and many high quality inverters now give 10 year warranty. Make sure you also insist on high quality DC cables, circuit breakers and panel mounting frames to enjoy safe and reliable solar energy for many years to come.

In the future, can I add more solar panels to my renewable energysystem ?

Yes, you can add more panels to your original system, as long as the new panels are a close match in output to the original panels and as long as your inverter still has capacity to accommodate more panels.

You can also add a new, larger multi-string inverter to an older system, without breaking the bank as inverters over the past 5 years have dropped over 60% in price. You can then add more panels up to the capacity of the new inverter. Because solar panel prices have reduced by over 500% since 2008 most people nowadays buy the best suited system for their needs outright.

If you think of increasing the size of your existing system please contact us for an inspection.

Is it beneficial to invest in a solar power system?

Solar power is a great way to bring clean energy to your home, and reduce your family’s carbon footprint. In today’s society we are often removed from the source of the electricity we use, and therefore unaware of just how much pollution we create. With solar power, you can stand on the lawn, and look up at the solar panels on the roof of your house and know exactly where your free electricity comes from.

Financially, there are several benefits that you can take advantage of as a homeowner. The most obvious is the fact that solar energy is free. Therefore, as electricity becomes more and more expensive for the average homeowner, the solar panel installation on your home will become more valuable. You may also qualify for some small rebates that can help with the initial cost of solar panel installation.

Benefits of Residential Solar Energy
• Take control of your electricity bills and reduce your electricity bills by 40%, 65% or more;
• Enjoy a return on your investment;
• Receive rebates – right now!
• Increase the value of your home;
• .Any form of renewable energy is good for our future. Help combat global warming by reducing green house gasses and create local employment;
• Home solar power is free (after the initial purchase of your system). Ten years from now…it’s still free. Meanwhile, prices for fossil fuels and electricity rise higher and higher year after year.
• No fuel, waste, or pollution is expelled in its usage.
• Solar modules are emission free once manufactured.

What solar power system will suit my circumstances?

The average consumption in today’s family households consumes between 20 and 30 KW/h of electricity per day. A 2 to 3 kilowatt system in many areas of India can provide about a third to half the electricity needs for a family of four. With a battery system the saving can be pushed to 70%.

Please keep in mind that when you for example consume 5000 KW/h a year in electricity and you choose a system that generates 5000kW/H per year – you will not be bill free. The reason is that you will still pay for the electricity you use at night and the extra electricity your system generates during the day given the lower feed in tariff will not completely cover the cost of the electricity at night.

Nevertheless your solar system will give you a great insurance against ever increasing electricity prices.

What size solar PV system should I install?

The size of your solar PV system will depend on:

• The physical un-shaded area you have available for the installation of your panels
• How much you are prepared to spend
• What portion of your electrical consumption you wish to generate or offset.

To work out what size solar PV system you require, you need to analyse your household’s daily electricity consumption. Your electricity bill shows your household’s electricity consumption in kilowatt hours and your average daily electricity consumption. From this you can calculate the average amount of electricity your new solar PV system needs to produce to cover your electricity needs.

How do I get a solar system installed?

Call us and we will give you a quick, free assessment and no-obligation quote, book your installation, complete the required paperwork for government rebates and connections.

Will I require a new meter?

To access a feed-in-tariff, you may need a new bi-directional meter installed. This meter measures your property’s incoming and outgoing electricity. The new meter can only be installed by a licensed installer and may carry additional costs.

When should I not invest in a solar system?

Although they are few and far between, there are some situations where it potentially makes sense to not buy a solar system. Here are our top tips on when not to buy a solar system:

• If you are uncomfortable or suspicious about what you are being offered. Unfortunately, some organisations may try to oversell, over-promise or pressure you into buying a solar system. If you are suspicious of your supplier, don’t feel confident that they will be around to support you or the promises seem too good to be true, they probably are and it may be worth pausing.
• If your house is heavily shaded. In some situations, heavy shading can reduce the output of a solar system so much that it can be ineffective. You should consider the impact of current shading and also, the potential for future shading from tree growth or known renovations on closely adjoining properties. In heavily shaded situations a shade analysis is essential and will allow you to decide based on output and economics whether it is worth proceeding or not.

What are solar panels made of?

Solar panels are made from Silicon. Silicon (Si) is an abundant non-metallic chemical element which makes up almost 30% of the earth’s crust and is the 7th most common element in the Universe. To make the solar cells which make up a crystalline solar panel, crystalline silicon is sliced into thin wafers – a few millimeters thin. These are then cut to shape, polished, and any holes in the filled to make the finished wafer uniform.

• A solar panel, also called a solar module is made up either 72 or 60 solar cells. They are electrically interconnected in series and parallel and sandwiched between glass and plastics, then framed. A solar panel typically produces around 250 Watts at 24 Volts DC.
• A solar array is a group of solar panels connected together.
• A solar system is a solar array connected together with electronics and other hardware to complete a fully functional system.

What type of panels are available ?

There are three main type of solar panels available in the marketplace:
1. Mono Crystalline
These panels are a proven technology that has been in use for over 50 years. They are commonly used where space is limited, or where there are high costs associated with installing large panels.
They have a very slow degradation, generally losing 0.25 – 0.5% per year.
2. Poly Crystalline
These panels are similar to Mono Crystalline panels, but the silicon used is Multi-Crystalline which is easier to make.
They are comparable to Mono Crystalline in performance and durability. Slightly more panels are required to produce a given amount of electricity.
3. Thin Film
These panels are typically nearly double the size than the other panel varieties.
Research is continuing to improve the performance of Thin Film panels and to refine the manufacturing process. They respond well to slightly diffuse light and their efficiency does not drop on hot days.

What sort of panels should I buy?

We suggest you should look at mono or poly crystalline solar panels. We suggest poly panels as they have a higher heat performance ration suitable to Indian conditions.

What size panels should I buy?

There are various sizes of panels available. A number of years back the 170W to 190W panels was considered a high wattage panel. Today the technology has been improved and enhanced that 250W panels are considered essential as more solar power can be produced in a smaller roof space.

What is the warranty on the panels

We offer a 10 Year Product Warranty for Module(s) from date of purchase with a free of charge repair or replacement (at LG’s discretion) of the module and a 25 Years Limited Warranty for Power Output. We guarantee that for a period of one (1) year from date of purchase the actual power output of the module will be no less than 97% of the labelled power output.

From the second year, the actual power output will decline annually by no more than 0.7% for a period of remaining 24 years, so that by the end of the 25th year, an actual output of at least 80.2% of the nameplate power out specified on the module will be achieved. The main difference is the stepped warranty over 25 years and not a drastic reduction if performance as seen in some panels.

Do black framed panels offer any advantage over normal frames?

Black framed panels offer a number of advantages over nor aluminium panels. Aesthetically they merge with your roof and do not look ugly and the coating on the frames give you additional protections against the natural elements.

Can the solar panel be installed on the ground?

Solar panels can be installed on the ground. They require special frames and civil works.

Do solar modules loose efficiency each year?

Solar modules do loose efficiency every year. The efficiency loss is just 0.7%. The maximum efficiency loss a panel should have is 20% over a 25 years period.

How long will the solar panels last?

Solar panels are made from Silicon and can last a lifetime if properly maintained. However they do loose efficiency over a period of time.

How do different size of panels affect my system or is a larger panel more better?

Panels sizes don’t affect the outcome. A 3.0kWh system is what it says – a 3000w system which can be made up of panels of any size. However in urban areas where roof space is at a premium, higher wattage panels like 250W panels, help you put more panels and generating power on your roof.

Why are panels different in size and output

Solar panels are used for a variety of applications from a small garden solar light to space stations and satellites. The use of the solar product determines the size of the panel. In residential solar systems the average sizes varies from 80W to 300W. Our 250W panels have been optimized to give you the best value for money with +ve tolerances.

Can I clean my panels or get them cleaned to get better performance?

Clean panels mean that your panel will perform at the optimum capacity. A dirty or leaf covered panel will drop the efficiency and generating power of the system. We do suggest that you should get them cleaned at least once in 6 months or more if you are near a high traffic or dust prone area.

Get a specialist to do it for you. If you panels are easily accessible from the ground and present no danger of injury to you, only then do it yourself.

A few things to keep in mind when you clean or get the panels cleaned.
1. The goal is to get the glass clean and clear as possible so you don’t want to scratch it abrasive soap or cleaning sponge.
2. A soft cloth and some soft biodegradable soap should be used. If you clean your panels frequently then you might just get away with a hose over them.
3. If you get on the roof be very careful as it will be slippery once you start washing panels the roof and there is a danger of cracking your tile.

What are the factors I should keep in mind while looking at buying solar panels?

There are a number of crucial factors that you should consider when selecting a solar panel. Put simply however, it comes down to two key things:

Any company can make a promise about quality, materials, warranty and support but they key is selecting a product made by a company whose promises can be trusted and who will be around in the long term to support you. Trustworthiness is hard to quantify but is usually best described through experience, commitment, transparency and size.

Trustworthiness also extends to your local supplier and installer of solar panels. Choosing a local supplier who has partnered with trustworthy solar panel manufacturer is a great place to start, but you should also look for the same qualities of experience, commitment and transparency. Size is also important but less so in local companies.

Performance matters in two distinct ways.

Firstly, you need a solar panel that produces a good power level when compared to other solar panels on the market. Good power need not be the highest power (unless you have very limited space), but certainly should be towards the upper end of the typical power ratings available, which steadily increase over time as efficiency increase.

Secondly, this performance should also be backed up by strong technical confidence which can be demonstrated through tight power tolerances, a low temperature co-efficient and a clear description of how the products are tested, affected and rated against Potential Induced Degradation (PID) and Light Induced Degradation (LID).

A supplier who makes quality solar panels typically translates them into a strong warranty that provides clear technical assurances about ongoing performance and has the trustworthiness to be around if something goes wrong

How does shading and dirt affect the performance of my panels

Solar PV panels should ideally be in full sun from at least 9am to 5pm, but better if longer in the afternoon to support your peak hour spike in electricity cost. They should not be placed in shaded areas and should be kept free from dust and dirt. Even a small amount of shade – from things like trees, roof ventilators or antennas – will have a large impact on the output of a panel, as it changes the flow of electricity through the panel.

Shading or dirt on just one of the cells in a solar panel results in a loss of power from many cells, not just the one that is shaded. Panels laying at an angle above 10° will self-clean when it rains.

What to consider before buying solar panels

Ever increasing electricity bills have many Indians wonder if a solar system is a worthwhile investment. For many people, the answer is definitely “yes” … but it’s a confusing and intimidating market out there, with thousands of products to choose from and hundreds of companies advertising that they’re the best or the cheapest – or both. So how do you wade through the hype and find a decent product, at a good price, from a reputable company? This is one purchase where you really do need to do your homework.

Buyers should insist on a physical site inspection. There are many variables that need to be considered and most of these are hard to spot from a satellite view of your house or a few photos. If the installation company is not prepared to come to your home before the system is to be installed, what hope have you got for them to visit you after the install, should there be a problem a few years down the track? We strongly to buy you solar system from a local company, preferably with a diverse range of products such as solar, air condition or hot water , so you count on their support in years to come.

Too many unhappy consumers have purchased a system without site inspection only to have their installer turn up and then say they need special roof brackets or a total switchboard upgrade before the solar can be installed. Our dealer network partners can also conduct a shade analysis, to ensure you are putting your panels in the prime position.

Before you sign up, check who you should contact if you have questions after your installation or something isn’t working properly.

Ask your installer if there is an in-house qualified electrician who can come in the future should you have a problem? Many cheap install companies rely solely on subcontractors, which makes it difficult to provide consistent installation quality and good post-installation service.

Check the company’s background and what solar-related experience the staff and management have. Do they have CEC-accredited designers and installers who can check your design?

Solar is an area where size does matter. Go at least for a system size that can cover 50% of your electricity need and so contact Australian Solar Power – to work out what size system will best match your usage.

This really is an industry where you get what you pay for. Not all panels and inverters are equal and the quality of installation components and installers can vary substantially.

How much sunlight should the panels receive?

The amount of energy in sunlight that a solar PV panel receives over a day is expressed in peak sun hours. As the amount of energy generated by a panel is directly proportional to the amount of energy it receives from sunlight, it is important to install panels so they receive maximum sunlight.

Your accredited designer will calculate the amount of energy generated by the solar PV panel from the peak sun hours available. Peak sun hours vary throughout the year.

How do you recognize a quality panel?

Like any manufactured product, not all solar panels are equal. Some use the absolute best materials and equipment to manufacture them and others do not.
Some conduct extensive research and development into long term performance and have deep understanding of how the materials will behave and others do not.

However, it’s not easy to tell the differences simply by looking at a solar panel. The Real quality of a solar panel gets reflected as Solar panels are made of a composite of chemically treated glass, chemically treated silicon cells, various plastics, aluminium, sealants and interconnecting wiring.

Solar panels spend their entire life in the blazing sun and freezing rain, and incredibly harsh environment for any material, let alone a composition of different ones bonded together. Under such conditions, materials can – and do – chemically change over time reacting with each other and creating new chemicals and compounds as the age. Their elasticity also changes over their life affecting the stresses and tensions they place on each other.

Solar manufacturers with a strong understanding of materials science who invest heavily in research and development are able to understand and predict how these effects are likely to occur. Some, who have been manufacturing solar panels for many years also, have the benefit of hindsight having seen what can go wrong in the real world too.

Typically, manufacturers who understand these issues well will have accreditation to ISO standards for manufacturing and will have advanced quality assurance processes and controls described on their promotional material. True quality assurance is about understanding what causes variation and controlling it, not just checking the final result and hoping to catch mistakes.

What cause delamination in a solar panel ?

Delamination occurs when the bond between the plastics (on the back) and the glass (on the front) separate. This is catastrophic for a solar panel because it allows air and moisture to creep inside which will cause corrosion and imminent failure.

Delamination will occur if:
• Inferior plastics are used or
• If the thermal properties of the plastics are poorly understood so it doesn’t melt to exactly the right point or
• The plastics or the glass or not perfectly clean and compatible or
• The laminating machine is inferior and poorly regulated for pressure and temperature

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely for bubbles, creases or imperfections on the plastic rear surface as an indication of the workmanship in lamination.

Why are sealants an important factor of quality in a panel?

Sealants are used to seal the junction box on the rear of the solar module to prevent moisture getting into connections and sometimes to bond the laminates solar panel into its aluminium frame. If poorly matched, some sealants can react with the plastics causing premature degradation and although non-flammable sealants are available, cheaper, flammable alternatives are available and are sometimes used to save money.

Frame sealants need to flexible to allow for some thermal expansion and contraction between the glass laminate and the aluminium frame.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely for evidence that the sealants are applied precisely and carefully as a sign of good workmanship. Excess sealant indicates poor control over the dosage and could mean that too much is in some places, and too little in others.

What are micro cracks and how do they affect the panel quality?

Silicon solar cells are made of very thin wafers, usually around 0.20mm thick. Although they have some ability to flex, they can and do suffer from stress induced cracks which are so small they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. These are called micro cracks and can lead to loss of power and potentially failure over time.

Micro cracks can be caused by poor handling of the solar cells during assembly (usually through non automated systems), poorly maintained equipment or transport damage from vibration or shock if improperly packaged. It is not possible to see micro cracks but good manufacturers use Infra-Red scanning cameras which can detect and isolate micro cracked cells during processing and use the feedback to tune their machines better.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look for quality packaging and careful transport by your installer as a sign of good workmanship.

What are snail trails in panels and do the affect the quality?

The implications of a poor understanding of materials science can appear in the form of tiny channels of bubbles of gas under the glass which at first glance look like cracks in the glass. Commonly referred to as snail trails, they are usually caused when non compatible materials chemically react and give off gas in combination with poor lamination. The bubbles of gas travel between the glass and plastics leaving a hollow trail behind them with similar impacts to delamination.

Snail trails typically take some years to develop and are likely to cause terminal failure of the solar panel over time owing to a non- controlled chemical reaction taking place and or allowing the internal connections to become exposed to air or condensation which can cause corrosion.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely and make sure there is absolutely no evidence of snail trails as a sign of good workmanship.

I can see some browning or yellowing on my solar panel, what is it?

Similar to the snail trail issue, yellowing or browning is an indication of a poor understanding of materials science and is also typically caused by an uncontrolled chemical reaction between materials causing the (usually) white plastics to turn yellow or brown.

It has also been known to occur on the surface of the cell, in a chemical reaction between the chemicals on the surface of the silicon cell and the chemicals used to treat the glass. Yellowing and browning are almost always something that occurs in the first few years of exposure to sunlight. Fortunately, (historically) performance does not appear to significantly affected due to yellowing or browning however, it is a sign that something uncontrolled is happening.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely and make sure there is absolutely no evidence of yellowing or browning as a sign of good workmanship.

Some panels are assembled by hand and some by machine, does it make a difference?

When a solar panel is being assembled and prepared for lamination it is crucial that no dirt, blobs of solder, dust, hair or other foreign particles are inadvertently included or they can cause bubbles in the laminate or air gaps which can lead to premature failure. A 100% perfectly clean environment is essential in manufacturing.

The alignment of solar cells is also an important indicator of workmanship in a solar panel. Poorly aligned solar cells are indicative of poor process control and can introduce stress into the interconnections or the potential for current leakage between cells.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely and make sure there are absolutely no inclusions accidentally laminated under the glass and that the solar cells are perfectly aligned as a sign of good workmanship as they will affect the output of the system.

When solar panels loose efficiency over time, how does that happen?

Potential Induced Degradation (PID) is a relatively recently discovered phenomenon which can occur in solar panels although a concise understanding of what causes it is still missing. Recent tests results showed that solar panels which are susceptible can lose as much as 30% of their rated power through this effect.

What is known is that sodium enrichment occurs between the chemicals used on the surface of the solar cell and the glass in certain circumstances, causing a leakage of current between the cells and the solar panel frame. The intensity of the degradation depends on the module type, the ambient environmental conditions and the position of the solar panel in the array string. A high system voltage (e.g. 600V +) and high ambient humidity can lead to a moisture film on the solar panel surface. It is assumed that a drift of positive ions occurs from the glass towards the solar cell in the opposite direction, which is believed to cause degradation in the solar cell.

Light Induced Degradation (LID) is another phenomenon that occurs in solar panels, although it is better understood. All solar cells degrade when they are first exposed to sunlight to some degree, varying depending on both the technology type and some of the chemical characteristics which scientists are still learning about. It is generally accepted that the effect is most pronounced if boron oxygen defects are more prevalent within the silicon structure, although it can occur on the surface layers too. The result is simply described as an increase in the density of the material which makes the movement of electrons more difficult, which results in less power flow.

Thin Film solar panels for example, exhibit relatively higher levels of initial degradation (in the first 30 days) but manufacturers understand this well and over-rate their power to take into account the losses they know will occur.

However, in Monocrystalline and Multi-crystalline solar panels, the effect is more subtle (in the order of around 0.5% power loss) and not all manufacturers take it into account or understand it as well. The effect is more pronounced in Monocrystalline panels although Multi-crystalline panels with the can also suffer from the effect if the oxygen content of the silicon is particularly low.

I can see a lot of silver lines in a panel, how are they important in a quality of a panel?

Solar cells within solar panels are interconnected using a flat, conductive ribbon in series and parallel connection. Most use a tin coated copper ribbon although the number of connections, width and thickness varies by manufacturer.

An issue increasingly well understood by quality manufacturers is how these interconnectors are connected (soldered) to the silicon solar cell and how the connection method maximises conductivity without placing undue stress on the solar cell. Poor interconnections can cause micro cracking in the solar cells through thermal expansion and contraction stress or the interconnector can break. In the worst case, a poor solder connection which opens and closes with thermal movement can cause an arc and potentially burn out or combust the plastic backing materials.

For example, some manufacturers solder the entire length of the interconnector, and some only solder every few millimeters, theoretically reducing stress caused by thermal expansion and contraction. Some use thinner interconnectors which can theoretically stretch more, avoiding stress.

When you are assessing a solar panel, observe the neatness, alignment, size and quantity of the interconnectors

Why is the frame of a solar panel important?

The vast majority of solar panels are fitted with aluminium frames which provide mounting attachment points and protection for the edges of the glass laminate. Importantly, the expansion and contraction ratio of aluminium and glass are different and hence the materials used to join them together are important to avoid stress build up.

Most manufacturers use butyl rubber or flexible double sided tapes which allow some movement but ensure the glass is retained within the frame. Obviously, the long term adhesion strength and UV stability of these materials is crucial and cost saving measures through the use of inferior materials have demonstrated rapid failure of the bond.

The frame itself can come in various types from double walled and highly rigid, to quite thin walled and relatively flexible. Both serve the same purpose when attached securely to quality mounting systems, although logically a more rigid frame offers less chance of distortion and potentially coming loose over time. In double walled frames, it is important that the cavity between the walls is vented so that ice cannot build up inside and split the frame in cold climates.
Some frames are screwed together and some are joined using push fit mitre joints. When manufactured correctly using tight tolerances they are equally effective.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely and observe the type and integrity of the materials used to bond the frame to the glass laminate.

Is the junction box at the back of the panel important?

A seemingly subtle but important feature in the construction of solar panels is the junction box. Attached to the rear of the solar panel, it serves several important functions. Firstly, it seals the rear of the solar panel where the interconnectors exit. As such, it is vital that it is well sealed so that moisture cannot enter the panel. Some are permanently sealed, others can be opened up but either way quality moulding’s and sealing faces are important. Most are made of plastic and some are cast aluminium.

Secondly, it houses connection points for the cables which exit to allow you to connect each solar panel together. These connections need to handle the extremes of weather over decades and handle quite high currents so quality connections are important. It also houses small electronic devices called diodes which protect the solar cells in the case some are partially shaded. Some diodes exhibit higher losses and create higher temperatures than others, leading to potential stress.

Lastly, the majority are filled or partially filled with a sealant to protect the entry to the solar panel and sometimes filled to the brim to fully encapsulate the diodes, connections and cables. The quality and flammability of this sealant is an important factor too.

When you are assessing a solar panel, look very closely and observe the type and integrity of the junction box to ensure it fits well, is perfectly sealed and if operable, that it seals up perfectly when re-closed.

What is an inverter?

A solar inverter is an important element of the solar system you install. It converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into alternating current (AC) with a utility frequency that can be fed into a electrical grid or feed into your home allowing the use of ordinary commercial appliances.

Is an inverter an important part of the system?

An inverter is the second most crucial piece of equipment in your solar system, being responsible for the quality and safety of the power coming out of your solar array and importantly, optimising the generation under different conditions to maximise your energy harvest.

A vital component within a solar PV system, they convert the DC electricity produced by the solar panels to AC to feed back to the home or grid. There are primarily two types of inverters, a transformer-based inverter or a transformer-less type. The transformer-less inverters are more modern technology and tend to be more efficient than the transformer-based units.

At night or when the panels are not producing power the transformer-based inverters have a higher power consumption to sit in a standby mode. A function called “maximum power point tracking” (MPPT) is a way in which the inverter will look to the panels and draw from them the maximum power that the panels can supply. Some inverters have twin inputs with twin sets of MPPT’s so they can take inputs from panels facing different directions or even panels of a different type.

Some inverters will be rated for internal use only and some for external use, they will all have an IP rating (IP21 will be for indoor and IP65 suitable for outdoor). Just like the panels, inverters do not like to get too hot so they should not be installed in direct sunlight or where they can overheat.

Some inverters will also have a rating for humidity as this can also cause issues. As the sun climbs in the sky the light energy builds and the DC voltage coming from the solar panels will increase. The inverter will have a minimum input voltage, so it will require the sun to be at a certain height or level of intensity before it will turn on. Always look for an inverter with a low DC input to ensure that it will operate for as long as possible during the day.

What are the different type of inverters available

There are a number of different type of inverters available depending the end use. Grid tie inverters are commonly referred as solar inverter These inverters are recommended if you get your primary electric source from your local utility company because they use your utility company as a backup energy source at night.

There are two main type of solar inverters:
• Transformer type inverter or
• Transformer-less type.

a. Transformer based solar inverters
The traditional inverters were transformer based used to boost the voltage of the electricity produced by the solar panels to the same as the mains electricity supplied from the grid. They are simple to make, slightly heavy in weight and also tend to be less efficient in converting the energy. Due to its design it does tend to make a humming noise which can disturb you if installed near you bedroom.

b. Transformer-less solar inverters
Transformer-less solar inverters make the bulk of the market today. They are digital in nature making the lighter, more efficient and react faster to the power changes. Most of the transformer-less inverters have an efficient between 95% to 99%.

You should look at the specification sheet or product brochure before you buy a inverter as part of your system

Can you give me some Tips for selecting an inverter?

Choosing an inverter is a matter of understanding what performance you want and the price you pay for it.

Inverters differ by several factors:
• Wattage rating, or how much power in watts the inverter can deliver.
• Start-up voltage i.e. at what level of sunshine it will boost your output to the required AC voltage. The start-up voltage can vary from 90V to 155V depending on the brand and size of the inverter.
• Surge power. How much power and for how long it can deliver the power needed to start motors or other loads.
• Efficiency, or how efficient the inverter is at low, medium and high power draws, as well as how much power is used when on idle.
• Quality or shape of the electrical wave, whether pure sine wave or modified sine wave.

Choose carefully as an investment into a quality inverter can result in higher efficiencies.

What are the basic functions or aspects of having an inverter to my solar system

There are a number of functions which an inverter performs. Some of these aspects are:

• Power maximisation – Solar panels all have a “Maximum Power Point”, a performance curve where they produce the most power under a given set of circumstances. Inverters are equipped with Maximum Power Point Trackers which continually hunt for this sweet spot and maximise the energy available from your solar array.
• Conversion – Solar panels produce Direct Current (DC) electricity with most solar arrays producing around 200-600 Volts DC. We use power as 240V AC, so the second function of an inverter is to convert the DC electricity to AC electricity.
• Regulation – As sunshine, solar output and grid conditions vary an inverter will regulate and synchronise all these variables so the power quality is within specification and power harvest is maximised. Regulation also includes monitoring and disconnecting the inverter and solar system from the grid if required for safety or other reasons.
• Monitoring – Inverters also measure and display information for you, so that you can check that your system is performing as expected or diagnose faults if they occur. Many options exist for accessing data including display screens on the inverter, web and smart phone based applications.

What makes an inverter a good inverter?

Inverters are complex electronic devices and like any such device, they can be built to a price or built for robustness and performance. Unless you happen to be an electronics engineer, it is very hard to know how the quality of the components used in a given inverter will translate into life expectancy. However, there are a few things the uninitiated can go by.

Firstly, the rules of experience, commitment, transparency and size play a role.

Secondly, we can tell a bit about the product by the quality of its construction; are the materials used high quality? Is it built to keep out insects and weather? Has cooling been carefully considered? Does it have a good set of features and not too many gimmicks?

Although inverters have reduced in price significantly in recent years, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. Performance is typically measured through features, conversion efficiency and the inverters ability to deliver power under a wide range of conditions.

How can I monitor the system inside my home?

Solar system monitoring is good to know what savings the solar system is generating for you in terms of electricity saved. There are a number of ways you can monitor this:

• Taking reading from the inverter daily: Every inverter (or most of them, please check your inverter manual) have an LCD display which will provide you information on.
o How much the system has generated since it was installed
o How much it has produced in a day
o What it is producing at that moment of time etc.
You can note it down daily to see the performance or check it once a month to get an average readout

• Connecting to a laptop/ computer: A number of major brands have the option of connecting your laptop or computer system to the inverter. Their proprietary software download the information and provided you with detailed information on the health and performance of the system.

• Connecting Via Bluetooth:Some system have software available for the new smart phones and data can be downloaded via Bluetooth to monitor the system

• Bluetooth / Wireless Table Top Monitors: A few companies offer these products. Key data is visible on its large graphic display, including a daily profile, current output, as well as daily and total energy yield.

Ask you installer about the options available.

Can I monitor my solar generation and should I do it?

A rapidly growing number of products are now available that can monitor the generation from your solar system and your household energy consumption which provides an enhanced picture of the balance between the two. Some devices enable you to monitor individual circuits or even power points within the home and in some cases to control these circuits too.

A consistent finding from solar system owners is that that they tend to become more conscious of their energy consumption when they watch their solar system and hence, a monitoring device can help you maintain your solar system and reduce your energy consumption by understanding it better.

Where is the inverter installed in my home?

Inverters are usually mounted at or near your switchboard so they are readily accessible and close to the electricity meter and fuse board. It is important to note that all inverters make some electronic noise, typically hum or buzz. Although rarely audible, as a general rule it is advisable to place them away from bedrooms to avoid the potential for audible distraction.

It is worth carefully considering where you mount your inverter to avoid annoying transmission of either noise of vibration to areas where you may be disturbed and to consider the material that it is being affixed to which would make the issue better or worse. Lightweight stud walls for example, can more easily vibrate than a solid brick wall.

Virtually all inverters produce heat as a normal part of their operation. The lower the operating temperature, the higher the efficiency and as a general rule, the less stressed the components are. It therefore makes sense to install the inverter in the coolest, best ventilated position possible to maximise energy output and performance.

Are inverters relay complex devices or are they just projected as complex machine?

Inverters are complex electronic devices and like any such device, they can be built to a price or built for robustness and performance. Unless you happen to be an electronics engineer, it is very hard to know how the quality of the components used in a given inverter will translate into life expectancy. However, there are a few things the uninitiated can go by.

Firstly, the rules of experience, commitment, transparency and size play a role. Secondly, we can tell a bit about the product by the quality of its construction; are the materials used high quality? Is it built to keep out insects and weather? Has cooling been carefully considered? Does it have a good set of features and not too many gimmicks?

Although inverters have reduced in price significantly in recent years, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. Performance is typically measured through features, conversion efficiency and the inverters ability to deliver power under a wide range of conditions.

What type of warranties are available on panels?

Solar panels generally come with a performance warranty that can last up to 25 years and a manufacturing guarantee lasting five to twelve years.

It is important to know who is providing the warranty – the manufacturer or the importer. In brands like LG the manufacturer and importer is LG electronics and they provide their peace of mind warranty to you. However In the absence of a manufacturer, the importer is responsible for the warranty.If the importer changes their business name or sells their business or ceases to be in business, their warranty obligations towards you cease. Ask the company who is supplying the system as to who is providing the warranty.

A system manual that provides operation, maintenance and safety information should be provided by your installer. This must also include a system energy output(kWh) estimate.It is important to ensure you obtain written confirmation of statements made by your installer, including performance claims, guarantees and warranties. Documentation will be essential if you need to make warranty or insurance claims.

What is Australian Solar Power - Peace of Mind Warranty?

When you buy a ASP solar system, you know that you have bought a peace of mind from at reputable supplier.

ASP provides a 10 Year Product Warranty for Module(s) from date of purchase and offer a free of charge repair or replacement. It also provides a 25 Years Limited Warranty for Power Output. ASP guarantees that for a period of one (1) year from date of purchase

How is the ASP Warranty better than others?

The ASP warranty is one of the most superior warranty offered and ensures that the actual power output of the module will be no less than 97% of the labelled power output. In most of the cases the output tolerance is a +3W i.e. a 250W module will generally give you an output of 253W to 255W. From the second year, the actual power output will decline annually by no more than 0.7% for a period of remaining 24 years, so that by the end of the 25th year, an actual output of at least 80.2% of the rated power.This is called a stepped warranty. This means that in a short time period your output of the product will not fall from 100% to 80% – which is a possibility in cheaper manufacturers.

What happens to the warranty when I sell the house ?

The Warranties provided in this MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY are transferable when the Module remains installed in its original location. This means, when a customer sells their home with ASP system installed, the new owners of the property will continue to enjoy the ASP’s warranty protection. The warranty period runs from the original date of purchase.

What happens to the warranty if I move the panels?

The Warranty is void if the module(s) are moved from their original installed location.

What happens to the warranty if I modify the panel?

The Warranty is void if the module(s) are modified in any way as the company will not know what modifications have been made to the panel.

Who can repair the panel?

We do not suggest that the panel be repaired. If it has to be repaired or replaced then the defective panel will be collected by the installer and sent back to the company engineers.

Do I get an immediate replacement?

ASP offers immediate replacement after an immediate appraisal where the product is at fault.

Is there a consumer law regarding minimum period for installation workmanship?

Yes as a consumer you are protected. You installer or system supplier has to offer 2 years workmanship warranty and a min. of 1 year spare parts / labor warranty

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