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Solar Panel Installation:
For Your Home, For Business Or For Corporations

conventional verses solar chartEnergy prices around the country are continuing to rise, so more and more solar power systems are being installed by home owners, business owners & large corporations, looking to take advantage of a limitless resource, one that not only produces greener energy, but will also off-set the rising costs to supply power to this very modern world we all live & work in. The cost of electricity has gone up by 344% in the last 30 years  I’m sure you agree that trend will not stop.

But what should you know about Solar Power Systems before committing to installing a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system on your property, business or corporate building?

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Choosing An Installer

 

Getting the most out of your new system, both in terms of power produced and length of service, always comes down to the quality & professionalism of your chosen installer.

Make sure that whoever you choose to install your system, has all the right accreditations, uses the best available equipment and more importantly, has the right attitude towards ensuring the new system not only meets your needs, but exceeds your expectations!

The owner of 4th Day Energy has made sure that this accredited company that is a signatory to the code of conduct, has been in business for more years than he cares to remember, and has an established track record, relevant experience, specialist expertise, and a good reputation for making sure the job is completed to it's highest standard.

 

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Solar Panels Explained

 

Patio Cover closeHow does a solar PV (photovoltaic) system work?

Certain materials can be made to produce electricity when light falls on them; this is called the photovoltaic effect. Solar panels use this effect to convert energy from sunlight into direct current (DC) electrical energy. An inverter unit then changes this into alternating current (AC) for your home's electrical circuits. Any excess energy can be fed back to the electricity grid, for which you may be paid an agreed feed-in tariff, or it could be fed into a battery storage system so you can use the stored power later (at night, for instance).

Solar panels work best when they're south facing, pointed directly at the sun, at an optimal angle and not blocked by trees or shading. The effectiveness of solar panels also depends on where you live and the weather.

Cells, modules, panels and arrays

Most solar cells are made of silicon. Solar panels, also called modules, are each made of several solar cells, connected together and sandwiched between protective glass and a backing plate, the whole panel usually surrounded with an aluminium frame. The solar panels we're useing weigh around 40lbs to 42lbs each. A typical installation includes several panels connected together in an array.

Types of solar panel

  • Mon-crystalline panels are typically black in color and have a reputation for higher efficiency than multi-crystalline (or polycrystalline) models, which are typically dark blue and are sometimes said to have better temperature tolerance. The differences come from the manufacturing processes of the silicon cells in each case. In practice there's not necessarily a clear advantage either way; as with most high-tech products, solar panels are a complex assembly of many components and the overall performance depends on more than simply the type of cell.
  • Interdigitated back contact solar cells (IBC), or rear contact solar cells, are a variant of standard solar cells. They can achieve higher efficiency by having all the electrical contacts on the rear of the cell (rather than at the front), so there are no metal contact strips preventing light getting to the cell surface. The Sunpower panel in this test uses IBC cells.
  • Thin film solar cells are made from a thin layer of photovoltaic material (such as amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride or copper-indium-gallium-selenide) on a base plate of glass, metal or other substance. This technology is evolving and while it promises more flexible applications than standard solar panels, it's so far generally less efficient and is rare in rooftop arrays. It's used in various large and small applications, from building-integrated PV systems to solar-powered calculators and garden lamps.

Efficiency

canadiansolar cs6p i v curves

This is simply a measure of the panel's electricity output (in watts) compared to its surface area. Generally, the higher the efficiency, the more power you can get from a given roof area, and you might have lower installation costs too. However, if you have plenty of roof space, you might find it more economical to buy cheaper panels with lower efficiency and just use more of them.

This may come as a surprise, but although solar panels are meant to sit on roofs in direct sunlight, they actually become less efficient as they get warmer, due to the physics of the photovoltaic effect. So you'll sometimes get less power from the panels on a very hot day than on a mild day (and remember, even on a 77 F day, your rooftop panels could be operating at well above 104°F).

Solar panel power ratings are based on standard conditions (77°F panel temperature). Some panels have better temperature tolerance than others (look for a lower 'temperature coefficient') and are therefore a better choice in hot climates.

Correct installation is also important; that's why panels should be installed in a way that allows air to circulate underneath the panels to help keep them cooler.

 

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Does the solar PV system meet standards?

 

You should ensure that any solar PV system you consider has met Californian and international standards. To be eligible for any rebates or tax credits, your solar panels must be certified – ask your installer to supply proof.

We can supply you with any information and detail involving the specifications of the equipment we supply. Just ask our friendly office staff, or our project quotation staff when talking with them.

 

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How Much Panel Capacity Do You Need?

 

Nowadays you don't make much money from feeding electricity back into the grid. So you want to maximize your own use of your solar PV and minimize your export into the grid.

To get a system that is going to pay for itself quickly, you need to calculate how much electricity you use in your home during daylight hours when your panels are generating at their peak and match the size of your system to that consumption pattern. You can find useful information about your energy use by looking at the previous year's energy bills. There is a simple way of finding out your rough costs, have a look at our Solar Power Quote Calculator.

If you don't consume much energy during the day then you'll want a smaller system. If you do, you'll want a bigger one.

It might seem logical to choose panels with higher rated output, but there's more to putting an array together than the panel's power rating alone. The amount of space available on your roof, especially on the prime south-facing section, is also important. Our solar panel are each about 5.24 square feet in area, but the higher their nominal power rating (and actual power output, of course), the fewer panels you need to make up a system of a given power output (or conversely, the more powerful the array you can install). 

For example, to make the theoretical 1000W array, you could use four 250W panels, taking up 21.32ft2 of roof space, but four 327W panels would take up the same overall area and form a 1308W array. So, more power for the area used, though those panels are also more expensive. Fewer panels can also mean a quicker installation. It's important to compare prices for whole systems, not just the panels.

 

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Warranty Period For Solar Panels

 

Manufacturer warranties range up to 25 years. Solar systems should last at least that long.

CanadianSolar for example, the warranty period for their Solar Panels is 25yrs. It does vary between manufacturers, however, the increasing industry standard is 25years.

 

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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

 

The cost of a solar PV system will depend on many variables including the system size and the quality of components used. Of course, larger systems will cost more, however, they in turn, will produce more energy and therefore reduce energy costs.

You can get a ball park figure if you like by using our online calculator to establish what your system could cost you. We would like to stress that this is a "BALL-PARK" figure only, and the actual cost of the system can only be determined by our sales staff once they have inspected the installation site. And will be lower than the figures that you will see.

 

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Storing Solar Energy In A Battery

 

You may want to consider a system that includes battery storage, so you can store the electricity generated in daytime by the solar panels for later use at night. We have information on one such system on this website, the SolarEdge battery backup system called "StorEdge". There are many other manufacturers of storage systems that we install for our customers, this just happens to be one of them. You can read more about the StorEdge on the Solar Panels + Parts + Mounting page

 

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Solar Incentives

 

We are very lucky indeed, as we have the most comprehensive and inspired Solar Tax Credits & Rebate Schemes in the World. This is leading edge solar incentives making a real difference to our environment, and ultimately the future of the planet. 30% rebate system is available to anyone who chooses to apply.

You can find out more by going over the information we have provided on our Solar Credits & Rebates page. You will find many downloadable PDF's there.

 

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Solar Panel Buying Guide Checklist

 

  • Improve the energy efficiency in your home to save up to 30% on your bills. You can do this by turning off appliances, using the dishwasher and washing machine only when full and purchasing energy-efficient appliances.
  • Assess what energy you currently use and the system capacity you need (and can afford).
  • Check if your roof faces the right direction. Only south-facing panels will produce their full capacity.
  • Ensure there are no trees, power lines or other structures shading your roof.
  • We all know that local council approval is needed, we take care of all that.
  • We will show you your system's payback time.
  • Are you planning to install a storage battery, so you can store the solar-generated electricity for night-time use? Check our Online Calculator for a "ball-park" estimate.
  • At the time of signing the contract there is only a $1000 upfront deposit.

 

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Questions To Ask A Potential Installer & Energy Retailer

 

    • Do you have to pay any additional fees?
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4th Day Energy 2010
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