Solar Power

Ultimate Solar Power Guide

So you have decided to go solar. The first step, which some would consider the most crucial, is doing a little research. The primary question in your mind should be whether investing in solar power is worthwhile.

The most basic benefit is really gained by using self-generated power and drawing less power from the grid. Various incentive schemes may be in place in your specific region but do not forget the core savings value that can be had. It’s a good idea to consult a qualified solar panels company in Melbourne to help make your decision.

Solar Power

Your basic research should tackle the following:

Solar PV system

  • Grid connected – this is the most common system installed in Australia. The typical grid connected system will use solar power from your system before it sources power from the grid. Any excess solar power generated is fed back to the system.
  • Grid connected with storage – in recent years, incentives for feeding excess solar power to the grid have been going down. As a result systems with storage are becoming popular. The system stores power generated during the day to provide power at night.
  • Off-grid – in this type of system, you are totally off the grid. This type usually involves a combination of storage and back-up (e.g. generators) power to ensure continuous power supply.

The cost of your solar PV system will be affected by factors such as the incentive schemes available in your region, installation costs, and the type/number of panels.

  • Of course price will vary depending on the size of the system. Typically, a 2kW system will cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,500. More capacity will cost you more such as a 5kW system that costs between $7,000 and $11,500.
  • If you add in a storage component or if choose to go off-grid, expect to pay more.

There are many other factors to consider that will influence your choice of system, technology, and capacity. Ultimate Solar Solutions has the accredited professional provider who can thresh out all these details with you.

As an overall guide to your going solar project, consider these constraints: Scope, Quality, Cost, and Time

When talking to your provider make sure to establish these parameters with them so you both have a clear picture of what will be delivered within a particular time frame.

The scope of work could include other costs that might not be in the original quote by the provider. These extra costs could include items such as site preparation, meter change or reconfiguration, and upgrading your switchboard or cabling.

Quality considerations will have to look at the products the provider will use and their experience. Pay special attention to the major components of the system such as the PV panels and the inverter that will be used. These will determine the overall efficiency and long term viability of your solar power system.

Cost is a core constraint. Have a budget in mind and make sure that anything that takes you beyond the budget should really be adding value. Our installers and providers can walk you through the process of reviewing their itemized cost estimates so you will know exactly what you are getting.

Lastly, ensure that clear start and end dates are established before you sign a contract.

If scope, quality, cost and time are already established, you also have to understand that a change in any of these constraint will have an effect on the others.

SOLAR POWER : Storage Solutions

STORAGE SOLUTIONS: Making the sun shine all day!

But the sun does not shine all day!

SUN

Okay, you have been running your solar power system for a while and have saved a ton on your power bills. The incentives are just icing on the cake. What if I tell you that exciting new developments in the solar power industry can reshape how we access power?

Sounds interesting? Not really. For us regular folks, it doesn’t mean much when things are presented that way. But what if I tell you, that these emerging technologies have the potential to enable your solar power system to save you more money.

Yep, now that sounds interesting.

Okay. The problem with solar power is that it’s not consistently available all the time. The sun doesn’t shine at night and when it’s cloudy your system probably does not generate as much juice as when it is sunny. This problem, folks, is what the solar industry refers to as intermittency. It’s a fancy term, but basically it means that the sun doesn’t shine all the time.

solar panels

Most installed solar power systems generate power that is consumed the moment it is generated (even grid power is this way too). What isn’t used up at the generation source (e.g. your house) gets fed back into the grid (and supposedly you get incentives for that). When the sun doesn’t shine (like at night, duh), your solar power system doesn’t do much (probably goes to the local starbucks to get a mocha frap and lounge around).

Used to be, with the great incentive schemes for solar power installations, we were pretty ok with the “sun not shining at night”. Recent changes in the incentive scheme is seeing more and more installations with a storage component allowing households to use stored solar power even at night.

And when it comes to solar power, the more you consume of it, the more you save money. Solar storage solutions allow you to consume more of that power even when the sun is at starbucks enjoying its mocha frap.

We used to use lead acid batteries to store solar power. And some still do. However, technology over the years has developed new and better storage solutions. Newer, more sophisticated solutions that include management systems to prioritize consumption from onsite sources before they access the grid. The more complex systems even access and store power from the grid during off-peak hours (when it’s cheaper) so that you can use it during peak hours (when electricity is expensive).

So why isn’t everybody on the bandwagon? What’s the catch?

Well, the available technologies right now are really expensive. However, the trend is going much like the way PV panels went. With more companies engaged in research and development, prices are going down and the capacity and intelligence of these “batteries” are going up.

Trends in storage solutions show two parallel paths (that might converge in the future). Large scale, utility-level, or whole-grid level storage solutions such as the liquid-metal battery technology pioneered by Dr. Donald Sadoway of MIT looks to change the way the entire power grid works and how consumers access it.

On the smaller scale, the recent introduction of Tesla’s Powerwall is providing momentum for developing scalable products at lower costs and cheaper price points.

With the drive towards better and cheaper storage solutions, the power industry seems to be headed for a game change. At the small scale, like us regular folks, storage solutions are a no-brainer although, right now they are a “pocket drainer”.

Oh and yes, there will soon be a time when the sun will shine at night – with batteries included of course.