Frequently Asked Questions

Our frequently asked questions are listed below within their categories if you have any further questions that are not answered below please feel free to call us on 1300 033 456 or email you're enquiry here

General Solar Panel Information

How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

Solar panels use layers of special materials called semi-conductors that create electricity when exposed to sufficient light. There are different types of solar panel construction. Some panels tend to perform better in high temperatures and low light situations, but take up around twice the space.

Will it help the environment if I get solar power?

Yes! Solar power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution. The energy used to manufacture a solar power system is small compared to the energy generated by the system.

Will I be financially better off getting solar power?

In the vast majority of cases, getting solar power will help reduce your electricity bills through reducing the amount of power you buy from the grid

and through the feed in tariff you receive for excess power you sell to the grid. The amount of electricity you save will depend upon a range of factors including the size of the system, whether the system has been installed in the optimal location and your individual electricity use patterns.

Be wary of claims that you will never need to pay a bill again or can eliminate your electricity bills. Most customers are installing systems in the 1.5 to 2 kW range, and these are unlikely to be large enough to negate your electricity bill.

 

Costs and Savings

How long will it take for a solar power system to pay for itself?

The payback period of a solar power system varies widely depending on the price paid, the size of the system, the usage patterns of the consumer and the price received as a feed in tariff.

 

For homes that use small amounts of electricity and receive the premium feed in tariff, the payback period can be less than 3 years.

 

For homes that use a lot of electricity and are not eligible for the premium feedin tariff, the payback period will be closer to 7 years. 

 

Disclaimer this is an estimation for a payback to be worked out as per when the client is home and using the electricity 

Generating power

How much electricity will I generate?

The amount of electricity that you generate depends on the size of your system, which way it is facing, whether there is any shading from trees or other buildings and the local climatic conditions. In Melbourne a typical average generation is up to 3.7 kWh per day for a 1 kW system (up to 5.5 kWh per day for a 1.5 kW system). In winter months the average daily generation is typically less than 3 kWh and in summer months it is typically greater than 5 kWh for a 1 kW system. For comparison, the average household uses up to 18 kWh daily, but an energy efficient house can use much less.

Will I generate enough to sell power back to the grid?

In most cases there will be times that the solar PV system is generating more power than your house is using. At these times you will be selling power back to the grid. If your house has very high continuous electricity use (for example through running multiple fridges or having a number of people home at all times) then you may not export much electricity back to the grid. Regardless of the amount of electricity you are able to export back to the grid, your solar power system will reduce the amount of power you need to buy from the grid. Be wary of claims that you will never need to pay a bill again or can eliminate your electricity bills. Most customers are installing systems in the 1.5 to 2 kW range, and these are unlikely to be large enough to negate your electricity bill.

Does the power I generate get used in my property first or sent to the grid first?

The electricity from the solar power system will get used in your property first. Only the excess gets exported to the grid.

Electricity Bills

When I get solar power do I have to enter a new contract with my electricity retailer for the electricity I buy?

Not necessarily. You will need to enter into a new contract to sell your excess electricity, but the electricity you buy might be under the same contract as previously or your retailer may require you to enter into a new contract. You should discuss this issue with your retailer before committing to solar power.

It’s a good idea to shop around to make sure you get the contract you want.

Will the tariff I pay for electricity change?

Not necessarily, this depends on the retailer. Your usage tariff to buy electricity might be the same as previously, or your retailer may only offer a different tariff. The tariff structure may also change in regard to peak and off peak tariffs. For the majority of people, this may not significantly impact on

their overall annual bill. Whether a customer is better or worse off will depend on their energy use pattern. Some retailers might only offer a flat rate once you have solar power. Others might switch you from a flat tariff to a peak and off-peak tariff. You should discuss this issue with your retailer

before committing to solar power and it is advisable to shop around to make sure you get the tariff structure that you want.

 

If you currently have a peak and off-peak tariff and use a lot of electricity during off-peak times (such as for dedicated hot water heating, slab heating, air conditioning or pool pumps) it may be better for you to retain this tariff. In this situation if you lose your present tariff, you may be financially worse

off by installing solar power.

Will my electricity bills decrease once I have solar power?

In the vast majority of cases, getting solar power will help reduce your electricity bills through reducing the amount of power you buy from the grid

and through the feed in tariff you receive for excess power you sell to the grid. However in some cases you may be financially better off without solar power. This can occur if your retailer offers a particular tariff structure for solar power that does not suit you. For example, if you currently have peak and off-peak rates, and your retailer only offers a flat rate if you get solar power, you will lose the off-peak rate and may be worse off despite the power your solar system generates. If your retailer wants to move you to a Time Of Use tariff, you could be better or worse off, depending on your

energy use pattern. You should check with your retailer about the tariff they will charge when you have solar power, and whether any existing discounts will continue. It can also be worth shopping around for deals from other retailers that may suit you better.

Will my electricity retailer charge extra administration fees because of my solar power system?

In most cases there should be no extra retailer fees because of a solar power system. You can confirm this by contacting your electricity retailer prior to installing solar panels.

Will my electricity bill show the same information after I get solar power?

Once your solar power system is installed and your meter is recording it, your electricity bill will include extra information. Without solar power, your electricity bill shows the total amount of electricity used by your house. When you have solar

power, your bill will show how much electricity you imported and how much you exported. Your bill will not show you how much electricity your house actually used or how much electricity your solar power system generated. This is because under net metering, only the import and export of electricity to the grid is measured.

Meters

Will I need a new meter and will I have to pay for it?

If you have an older style accumulation (spinning disc) type meter then you will need a new meter to support your PV system. The meter may be called an interval, bi-directional or smart mater. Smart meters are being rolled out across Victoria over several years. You should confirm with your distributor whether a new meter is required at your address, what kind it will be, and what it might

cost. You may be charged for a meter upgrade through the electricity bills that you receive from your retailer. If you have a smart meter and get solar panels later, the meter may require some adjustment.

Who supplies my meter?

Your distributor is responsible for supplying and maintaining your meter and retains ownership of your meter at all times. Any charges for your meter are passed on to you through your retailer.

How long will it take for a new meter to be installed?

In most cases your new meter will be installed within a few weeks of the solar power system being installed. This time is required for paperwork regarding your installation to be passed to your distributor for review and for your distributor to

arrange a service crew to visit your house and carry out the meter change. If there is a long delay in installing the new meter you should contact your solar panel supplier and your distributor.

If I get solar power, do I automatically get a smart meter?

Smart meters are currently being rolled out across Victoria over a number of years. If you do not already have a smart meter and you get solar power installed, your distributor might either bring your house forward in the queue for a smart meter, or they may install a temporary interval meter until your smart meter is installed at a later date. This depends on the way in which the distributor is planning their work to roll out smart meters in your area.

Have there been shortages of meters?

There have been some delays in installation of interval meters.

The roll out of smart meters is being done over a number of years because of the large amount of work required, not because of a shortage of smart meters. Across Victoria, about 2.5 million meters need to be replaced and it is most practical and efficient to spread this workload over several years.

 

How do I read my new meter?

The interval meter or smart meter installed when you get solar power is an electronic type of meter that has a digital display, usually operated by a push-button on the face of the meter. There are different brands and types of interval and smart meters, so the specific operation and style of display can differ. Generally, pressing the button on the meter will scroll the display through different pieces of information including the total amount of imported electricity in kWh, the total amount of exported electricity in kWh, and the current time and date. Some meters will also show the rate at which you are currently importing or exporting electricity. If you have three phase electricity connected to your house or business, information for each phase as well as total figures are displayed. For detailed information about reading your specific interval meter it is advisable to contact your distributor.

Renting

I’m renting. Can I have solar power installed?

You would need the permission of the landlord before installing solar power on a property that you are renting. If there is a body corporate, permission may also need to be sought from the body corporate. You are unlikely to be eligible for the premium feed in tariff because a rental property is generally not considered a primary place of residence. This will reduce the financial benefit from installing solar power. You should also consider how long you are likely to remain in the property as this will also affect the financial benefit you receive from the system (unless you plan to uninstall the system and take it with you when you move).

My landlord wants to install solar power. How will this affect me?

If you pay the electricity bills at your property, the installation of solar power should reduce your bills. However there might also be a change to the tariff structure that your retailer offers you. If you currently have peak and off-peak tariffs, your retailer may transfer you to a flat tariff which might increase your electricity bills. It is advisable to check with your retailer what effect the installation of solar power might have on your tariff structure before your landlord installs solar power.

 

Your power will need to be switched off for a short period during installation when the electrician connects the electrical components, and again for a short period if your meter needs to be changed.

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