Solar is steadily becoming Australia’s fastest-growing, leading renewable energy source, although many consumers are still confused by it. Do you want to find out more information about solar? We’ve broken it down for you here in this solar guide…

S = Sun

Solar power is all about energy that is made by our favourite natural resource, the sun. Solar panels absorb direct sunlight which is then converted into a power source that is used to flow through an electrical panel. “But how does the process even begin?”, I hear you ask…. Well, in addition to other elements, solar panels are generally made out of a layer of silicon cells and a wiring system that allows direct currents to pass through the silicon cells. As the sun releases tiny bursts of energy known as photons, and they travel down and hit the silicon cells found in a solar panel, it releases electrons from the photons and initiates an electrical direct current. A solar inverter then converts the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) electricity. This act is known as the “photovoltaic effect” and it is only after this step has occurred can you utilise solar energy as solar power for a commercial customer.

O = Out of hours

So, far so good, right? But what happens if you generate power at times when it’s not needed? Let me introduce you to solar batteries! With a solar battery, you have the ability to store the solar power you generate and use it at times you need it most. When your battery is full, the excess energy generated is sent to back to the grid and you are paid a feed-in tariff. “How do solar batteries work?”. Well, solar batteries store the DC energy contained by your solar panels (as explained above) and, with the assistance of an integrated inverter, can convert and store that DC energy into AC energy. If there is no integrated inverter, the battery will require an inverter of its own. The bigger the battery, the more energy it can store.

L = Life expectancy

As with any equipment that is used frequently, the quality of your solar power system may change with time. “So, so I purchase a solar panel system, what is the approximate life span of each product?”. Obviously, each product has its own unique design and manufacturing process, so we will be speaking in broad terms here. Generally, solar panels should last for approximately 25 years. In saying this, the panels’ ability to capture solar power may decrease year on year.This is called the ‘solar panel degradation rate’ and can range averagely between 0.3% and 0.8%. Inverters also differ greatly in quality and may last anywhere between 3 – 10 years depending on the quality of the product. If you wish to keep your equipment in tip top condition, there are some things you can do to help maintain their quality. These include:

  • Work with a reputable installation company and choose items with a thorough warranty
  • Have a solar professional regularly inspect and service your system
  • Ensure your solar power system is clear of debris or any other material that may damage it
  • Regularly clean your solar panels in line with your manufacturer’s recommendations

A = Are all systems the same?

No. Just like most things you buy, quality can differ considerably from product to product. Systems don’t all have the same warranty span – and all systems have differing levels of after care. So where do you even start? The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has a list of reputable solar installers on their site. Here at Next Business Energy, we’ve done the vetting process for you already. We work with CEC approved installer, Choice Energy, which also happens to be an energy management company. Choice Energy can provide you with a complimentary feasibility assessment to determine what solar looks like for your business – including projected energy savings and rebates they can secure on behalf of you from the government; as well as post-installation monitoring and reporting. Alternatively, you can do your own research into the thousands of solar companies out there and see which one feels right to you.

R = Rebates

The Australian government offers varies state-based rebates to small businesses across Australia for the installation and use of solar energy systems. For the most up-to-date information check out the links below:

Want to know more about the costs and considerations for solar in business? Find out more here.

And there you have it. If you need to know more about solar, feel free to contact us here at Next Business Energy either via email at info@nextbusinessenergy.com.au or on the phone 1300 46 6398 (1300 GO NEXT).