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Everything you need to know about finding a Solar Power Installer

Electricity is a necessity in every home and business but the simple fact is that it is getting more and more expensive and the current ways of generating electricity can be quite harsh on the environment. Solar power negates these issues and as such it is becoming more and more popular. In fact, the take up of solar power systems is higher than ever before! Here’s what you need to know about solar power and your home.
©Modern THIS

What is Solar Power?

Solar power, in its simplest definition, is a way of converting the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used to power your home. Solar power can operate everything inside your home, from the TV to lighting, to appliances, and more. Collectors or panels mounted on the roof capture the sun’s energy and convert it into DC (direct current) electricity. The DC electricity is then converted by an inverter into AC (alternate current) electricity that can be used inside the home. Depending on the type of solar power system that you have, your excess electricity can be fed back into the main electrical grid. Feeding your electricity back into the grid can reduce your electricity bill or even put it into credit as the electrical retailers will pay you a premium price for it. This is called a feed in tariff. Feed in tariffs can be net or gross. A net feed in tariff is where you are paid for any excess electricity that is fed into the grid. A gross feed in tariff is where you are paid for all the electricity that you generate.

Types of Solar Power Systems

Simply speaking there are two types of solar power systems – grid connect and off grid. A grid connect system is one where the solar panels are connected to your switchboard and any excess power is fed back into the main electricity grid (the same one that supplies all our power). An off grid system is a completely self contained system and it is usually used in areas where there is no electricity grid. In this system, the excess power is stored in batteries ready for later use.

Perhaps the most important component of the solar power system is the panels themselves as these are responsible for converting the sun’s energy into electricity. The panels are made up of individual solar cells that are connected together. The cells are made from silicon and covered with toughened glass. Solar panels can be amorphous, mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline. Panels are rated according to their wattage. One important component of any solar power system, apart from the panels themselves is the inverter. The inverter’s job is to convert DC electricity into AC electricity, which is important as DC electricity cannot be directly used – it needs to be converted into AC. The different types of inverters include standalone solar panel inverters, synchronous solar panel inverters, multifunction solar panel inverters, modified sine wave inverters, and true sine wave inverters. What you choose will depend on your specific circumstances.

Considerations with Solar Power

There are several things that you need to think about when you are installing a solar power system in your home. One of the most important is making sure that you get the right size. The solar power system that you buy comes in different sizes, starting from 1.5kW and increasing from there. A supplier can help you choose a size that will power your home effectively. Another equally important consideration is making sure that the system is installed in the correct place. Generally, you will want the panels or collectors to face north, so that they are exposed to the sun the whole day long, generating the maximum amount of electricity. Solar panels are best installed on a pitched roof but if you have a flat roof, a frame can be installed to give the panels the required elevation.

One thing that still makes people a little wary about solar power is the cost of the system itself. However, there are ways to reduce the impact on your budget. Rebates are available from state and federal governments. As well, you will recoup the costs as your electricity bills will be much lower, and in some cases, even go into credit as you get paid for feeding electricity back into the grid via the feed in tariff. Depending on where you purchase your solar power system from, you also have the option of paying a deposit and then paying the rest of the system off. This is great if you are on a tighter budget as you don’t have to fork out for the whole cost at once. Also be aware that a solar power system may significantly improve the resale value of your home.

One of the biggest electricity expenses is on hot water, so many people consider specialist solar hot water systems.

©Captain Green

Hiring a Solar Power Professional

If you are installing any kind of a solar power system in your home, it is absolutely imperative to hire a professional such as a fully qualified and licensed electrician, green electrician or a solar power specialist (company). This is to ensure that the system is installed safely and correctly, and that it will run as efficiently as possible. As well, you must use an installer that is accredited with the Clean Energy Council. If you don’t, you may find that you are disqualified from claiming any state or federal rebates. Before hiring a solar power professional you will need to ask the following questions:

  • Are they supplying the system as well as installing it or will they be installing it only?
  • What are the costs of installing the solar power system?
  • How long will it take them to install the solar power system?
  • Will they tell you how to perform basic maintenance tasks and will they maintain your system as required?
  • What warranty is associated with the installation?
  • Can they provide you with references or testimonials from previous customers?
  • Are they fully licensed and are they willing to show you copies of their license?

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