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Solar Frequently Asked Questions
Will solar power save me money?
The typical answer is, yes. However, there can be circumstances that make solar a bad choice for your property.
To understand why, though, takes a little bit more analysis. The thing about solar is that it’s a long-term investment. It’s like you’re pre-paying your electricity costs all upfront and then you’re reaping the benefits for years to come.
With solar, you purchase a system that is capable of generating the electricity you use (or at least a percentage of what you use). That portion of your electricity account is then taken care of for at least the next 25 years and most likely 30 or 40 years depending on the system quality and warranties.
To illustrate how it works, imagine that someone came to you back in 2002 and asked if they could install a petrol pump in your yard.
You could pump enough petrol to cover all of your needs for $1.00 per litre. However, you had to pay a one-time fee of $15,000 upfront to be able to enjoy the price of $1.00 per litre.
At the time, you may have hesitated because $15,000 is a lot of money to put together in one go.
By comparison, if you kept going to the petrol station for the rest of your life, you would spend way more than $15,000 in fuel costs.
The same principle applies with choosing to put solar panels on your roof and an inverter inside or outside your home or business. In a nutshell you are prepaying your electricity costs for a fraction of the cost that you’re going to spend with the power companies for the rest of your life.
However, you do have to pay for the system upfront and this can be hard for some to do.
Luckily, the Australian solar industry has evolved to the point where most customers who choose a solar system can take advantage of innovative financing programs to help pay for their purchase as well as Federal and Queensland State incentives.
These solar financing options can give you a low monthly payment that is fixed to help you pay for your solar system.
The payment is typically cheaper than what you’re currently paying for electricity. This means that on a monthly basis, you may be able to start saving money right from the start of your solar system's installation.
Regardless of whether you’re looking at it on a monthly basis with financing or looking at the long-term numbers of a one-time cash purchase, solar will save you money.
Are solar panels becoming cheaper?
Solar power pricing has been on a steady decline for the last few years.
By some estimates, prices have fallen over 99% compared to where they were 10 years ago. Manufacturers achieving economies of scale, the 26% solar tax credit, and improvements in technology have led to lower pricing.
The significant pricing decreases have made solar power a viable option for the average homeowner in Missouri.
While the decreases have been steady, most experts agree that the decreasing prices are on hold for now.
Over the last year, pricing has remained steady and actually started increasing again. Industry forecasts see equipment pricing increasing in 2018 and possibly beyond.
The two biggest factors that are driving pricing increases are huge demand and a trade dispute that could result in tariffs on imported solar panels.
Two panel manufacturers in the United States (that are owned by foreign entities) filed an obscure trade case with the Federal Trade Commission, seeking tariffs on imported solar panels. Since the vast majority of panels are imported from outside the U.S., this has the potential to impact the industry.
Manufacturers have started preemptively raising prices because of this, and many companies are buying stock of panels in preparation for tariffs.
In addition to the pricing increases on equipment, the 26% federal tax credit is scheduled to step down over the next few years until it expires in 2023. While a lot of different factors go into the final price of a solar power system, the moral of the story is that there is really no incentive to wait anymore.
The time is now and you may never get a better deal on solar.
As a side note, if you happen to be on Empire Electric, the timing is definitely in your favor to go solar now. A rebate that they offer for customers who go solar will step down in 2019 and eventually go away.
The rebate money could also run out for the entire program at any time, so if you are considering going solar on Empire….the sooner the better.
How do solar panels work?
The short answer is that solar panels (comprised of photovoltaic – PV – cells) absorb and doped with boron to increase its conductivity, knocks electrons free from the sunlight that hits the panels. This creates an electrical current.
Your panels convert the sunlight into direct current (DC) energy.
How are solar panels affected by clouds and rain?
One of the biggest myths about solar power is that it won’t be effective when it’s cloudy.
Homeowners who live in areas with a lot of sea fog, for instance, may be worried that getting solar power isn’t worth it. The reality is that solar panels can still capture sunlight even when it’s cloudy outside. In fact, panels can often produce up to 25% of their typical output even when clouds are present.
When it’s raining, your solar panels may produce about 10% of their regular output. During weather events, your solar panels can draw upon their storage of saved energy so your home can stay off the grid until the sun comes out again.
How many solar panels does a home need?
How many solar panels will you need to make the switch from grid power to self-sustaining solar power? There are a lot of factors that contribute to the answer, including the efficiency of the panels you choose and how much power you use every month. For a home that uses 5kW of power each month, you will require on average about 20 panels. You’ll need 300 square feet of roof space, ideally facing south.
Why should I install a solar power system?
Electricity costs are expected to outstrip inflation significantly. You can reduce (or eliminate) your electricity bill.
Estimated Return on Investment (ROI) is 10 per cent or more (based on up front payment.
What size solar system should I install?
This depends on your power usage but an average 4 person family in an average 4 bedroom energy efficient home could significantly reduce their power bill with a 5kW system. A definition of an energy efficient home is one that has LED lighting throughout the house, Hot Water System & Pool Pumps on Off Peak Tariffs & good general power saving habits.
What is a STC (previously REC)?
A STC is a Small-scale Technology Certificate, an electronic form of currency. You are entitled to receive STCs when you install a
solar power system as you will generate power from a renewable source. You usually assign this to the seller of the system, so
that you receive an up front discount to the value of the STCs (eg. $1,600 for a 1.5kW system).
What is a Solar Credit?
It is a mechanism to increase the number of STC’s by a factor of 2. This is to make purchasing solar power attractive and affordable. Each year the solar credits multiplier will be reduced, until the multiplier is phased out.
What is a Feed-in Tariff?
It is an arrangement, where you will be paid for any excess electricity that your household produces. Excess electricity occurs when your solar system generates more electricity than the household is using at any instant. Your Energy Provider should give you 6 – 12 cents/kwh.
How long will it take to install my Solar Panel System?
We can usually have full installation completed within 3 – 4 weeks.
What warranties come with a Solar system installation?
All our installations come with a 10 year workmanship warranty. The inverters come with a 5 year warranty with the option to increase to a 10 year warranty. The panels come with a 25 year performance warranty. All our preferred suppliers have third party insurance to validate the warranties and all have head offices in Australia.