Solar energy is an investment, so it pays to know the facts
Solar energy is one of the most significant investments you can make in your home. Not only does it deliver immediate benefits via a reduction in fossil fuels, but it also adds value to your home.
It’s important you know the facts about the options available before making a decision. At E-Smart Solar, we’re all about ensuring you understand your options so that you can make an informed decision. If you’re keen to talk solar, talk to us on 1800 736 278 – completely obligation-free.
Frequently asked questions about solar energy in Sydney
If you’d prefer to learn a bit more about solar energy in Australia, read on. We’ve collated the most common questions asked by our Sydney clients, as well as those asked online, to provide you with the basics. And as always, shoot us an email, contact us online or give us a call (1800 736 278) if you’d like any further information.
How do I know which size system is best for me?
Your installer should provide you with this advice. Bear in mind that he or she must be a Clean Energy Council Accredited Designer (this is in addition to being accredited to install the system). Dean and Mark are both CEC accredited designers.
What does this mean? It means we’ll do the maths for you to work out how to maximise your financial return from solar. Every home and business is different, and there many factors to bear in mind (such as building orientation, how much electricity you use and when you use it, the size of your building and roof, etc). We’ll talk you through all of this and more, before designing a system that will give you the optimum return.
And if you’re looking to install solar for commercial premises, we’ll also install a data logger for a week to track your usage. This gives us the information we need to design and develop a system specifically for your needs.
Why are some companies so much cheaper than others?
A number of factors influence cost, such as the size of your system and the components used. If you’re getting comparable quotes though, they should all be around a very similar mark. We’ve found that clients choose us over competitors because of our service, knowledge and experience, not because of price. This is the way it should be, as reputable solar specialists are working within the same industry parameters and competing with our peers.
Of course, when comparing be sure to compare like-products. For example, microinveters are approximately 20-30% more expensive than standard inverters, so this will affect your pricing. And of course, battery storage will also increase your cost.
Be wary of quotes from solar salesmen that are much less than the other quotes you’ve been provided. Chances are, they are cutting corners somewhere or using inferior products to deliver a lower overall cost. Either way, you won’t get the value for money from your investment. Low-quality systems often need replacing in a few years (or even in a few months, worst-case scenario).
If you want a system that is well-designed for your roof and usage patterns, then choose:
- A certified installer who is a trained electrician – qualified to do things properly
- A system designed to support batteries in the future
- A company committed to using good quality panels, inverters and other components, all of which are backed by a manufacturer’s warranty, and
- A solar provider who will support you in the future if there is a technical issue.
Should I be looking at solar if I’m at work during the day and use most of my electricity at night?
There are many reasons why people choose to install solar systems on their homes. Some are committed to reducing their reliance on fossil fuels, others are driven purely by a reduction in rising electrical costs. We will never, ever give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about whether you should install solar – we will, however, make sure you’re armed with the facts to make an informed decision.
And what are the facts? In reality, a solar system for a home using electricity primarily at night will make little economic sense. But there are other considerations – are you looking to sell your home and want to add value? Are you looking to have children in the future, which will change your electricity consumption usage? Or are you interested in a battery system to enable you to harness the energy your system uses during the day for use at night?
As you can see, there is no black and white answer. You are the only one who knows your dreams, goals and aspirations, so get informed to ensure you make the right decision for you!
Am I too late to install a system and get value for money?
Yes, the heyday of huge solar tariffs has certainly passed, but a solar system still significantly reduces your reliance on fossil fuels and your electricity bills. It’s been said that ‘having a solar system on your roof is no longer a license to print money, but rather a licence to save money’.
What’s important is that your system is a quality one (a cheap system that falls apart or has technical issues in the first few years is not going to give you a good return) and that you understand how to track your savings. While stocks last, E-Smart Solar provides our clients with a free efery® Solar Management Kit with every installation – this lets you:
- Track your energy and consumption
- Estimate your daily costs, and
- Track your solar return.
The key is to be informed – choose an installer that is transparent with information, can show you case studies of similar houses and their returns, and has nothing to hide.
There is so much paperwork for a rebate and I don’t have the time – is it worth it?
Yes, it’s worth it!
We know rebates can be complicated, so we work with you to identify the subsidies you’ll be eligible for.
We also know that rebate paperwork completely stinks, but we’ve gotten it down to a fine art. So we’re happy to complete the paperwork on your behalf.
We’ll even apply the rebate to the cost of your system straight away, so you only need to pay the balance.
How do I compare one solar installer to another?
You just need to know what to look for.
Firstly, your installer must have an Electrical Licence. E-Smart Solar installers are trained electricians.
If you‘re claiming the Small Scale Technology rebate or want to be eligible for feed-in tariffs, your installer must also be accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) to install solar. Your system design must also be completed and signed off by a CEC Accredited Designer.
The CEC doesn’t accredit companies – it accredits individuals. E-Smart Solar installers have undertaken extensive training with the Clean Energy Council, with the following accreditations:
- Grid-connect Design and Install. Dean and Mark are accredited for the design and installation of a GC photovoltaic power system.
- Battery Storage (for grid-connected systems). Dean and Mark are accredited to design and install grid-connected battery storage.
- Stand-alone (SPS) accreditation: SPS Design and Install. Dean and Mark are also accredited for the design and installation of a SPS photovoltaic power system.
We also recommend looking for installers who are active in the renewable energy sector and the local community. E-Smart solar are members and proud supporters of the:
- Clean Energy Council
- Alternative Technologies Association
- National Electrical Contractors Association, and
- Blue Mountains Renewable Energy Co-op.
What are Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs)?
Small Scale Technology Certificates (commonly referred to as STCs) are a Federal Government incentive. They were introduced to encourage investment in renewable energy, such as solar. STCs are available for home and small commercial systems under 100kW.
When you install an eligible solar energy system, you’ll be entitled to a number of STCs. These STCs are created at installation and their value is calculated based on the expected output of your system over the following 15 years.
You can choose to sign these rights to your installer in exchange for a discount on your solar system (ie a solar rebate). They are then on-sold to an electricity retailer. You can find more information or see if your system is eligible via the Clean Energy Regulator.
What are Large Scale Technology Certificates (LGCs)?
Large Scale Technology Certificates (commonly referred to as LGCs) are another Federal Government incentive. They were introduced to encourage commercial organisations to make the move to forms of renewable energy, such as solar. LGCs are available for commercial solar systems over 100kW in power.
When you install an eligible solar energy system, your business will be entitled to a number of LGCs. These LGCs are created on an annual basis based on the actual amount of power generated. Unlike STCs, LGCs are produced on an ongoing basis after your system is accredited, installed and producing power.
You can choose to sign these rights to your installer in exchange for a discount on your solar system (ie a solar rebate). You can find more information on eligibility for Large Scale Generation Certificates via the Clean Energy Regulator.
What are feed-in tariffs?
The price paid to you from the government for electricity produced by your system and fed back into the grid, after your use is subtracted, is your feed-in tariff.
Houses with solar panels installed can be off grid, storing power generated during the day in batteries for use at night and completely disconnected from commercial electricity, or on grid, where they are still connected to the same electricity network that non-solar households rely upon despite having solar panels.
These on grid houses draw electricity from the grid when they need more than they generate. In the same manner, they export electricity to the grid when they generate more than they need. The price paid for this electricity is the feed-in-tariff, as it helps achieve the Federal Government’s renewable energy target, a goal to ensure that at least 33,000 GWh of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.
I’ve heard of hybrid systems – what are they?
It combines solar with an energy storage system, such as a battery, as well as the electricity grid. The power produced by the solar will load the home or business first, with the excess power stored in the battery system for use at a later date. Once the batteries are full, the power is then exported to the electricity grid.
Home and business owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to hybrid systems but, as with any system, there are pros and cons as to how they work. Ensure your installer talks you through the essentials, such as how much power your use and when you use it. They also need to understand your expectations on the system and any future plans that may impact on your circumstances, such as expanding the family unit or developing the business premises to accommodate growing staff numbers.
The most important thing is that you’re able to make an informed decision that is based on your specific situation, needs and circumstances.
We already have solar panels, but is there anything we can do to maximise our investment?
That’s fantastic – it’s brilliant to see so many families and businesses recognising the ongoing benefits of solar PV (or solar photovoltaics, to be technical!).
The industry is changing at a rapid pace – there are new innovations coming to the market all the time that are focussed on minimising our environmental footprint and extending the impact of our solar PV systems.
For example, there has been great development in the battery storage field, enabling existing users to extend the benefits of their solar benefits into periods without sunshine.
If you’re keen to see if you can save even more energy, we can talk you through the energy monitoring products available. By monitoring your solar consumption versus your generation during the day, you get the information and power you need to form even better energy-saving habits.
And as E-Smart Solar technicians are also qualified electricians, we can talk you through the benefits of switching to LED lighting. In addition to your solar, LED lighting can deliver significant reductions in electricity use, leading to further savings.
We already have solar panels but aren’t getting as much return as we had hoped
We’re sorry to hear you aren’t enjoying the benefits of solar. It’s a complex field, and we believe that getting the maximum out of your system is incredibly important.
If you don’t want to go back to your original installer, we happily offer a free site visit to check that everything is working as it should. Part of E-Smart Solar’s difference is our client commitment – we work locally and live locally, so we’re here to partner with our clients for the long haul.
In addition to a free site visit, we can talk you through the energy monitoring products available to monitor your solar consumption versus your generation during the day. You can:
- Track your energy and consumption
- Estimate your daily costs, and
- Track your solar return.
They say information is power, so the more informed you are, the better positioned you are to really get the most out of your existing system.
There are a few options open to you – we’re here to help you make the most of your investment in solar, so let us know how we can help.
Still have questions? We can help
If you still have questions about solar, please don’t hesitate to email us, give us a call on 1800 376 278 or send us a message via our secure form.
We’re here to eliminate confusion, reduce the stress, and ensure you get the very best you can from your sunshine. After all, it’s yours to enjoy.