Frequently asked questions about solar energy in
Blue Mountains & Hawkesbury

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 Blue Mountains & Hawkesbury 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 (02 4703 5411) if you’d like any further information.

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.

Learn more about our residential and commercial solar installation services in Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury.

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.

Read more about the true cost of electricity here.

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!

Learn more about the benefits of solar at home.

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.

We’re here to help you make the most of your investment in solar, so let us know how we can help.

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.

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.

We may take energy from the sun, but we also invest it back into the community. Learn more about it here.

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.

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.

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.

You may also read our blog post about Feed-in-Tariff and learn more here.

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.

Learn more on how a grid system works here.

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.

Talk to us and let us help you make the most out of sustainable solutions.

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.

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.

More and more homeowners in Sydney’s West from Penrith all the way to Katoomba, Blackheath and the Blue Mountains in general are moving towards a solar and battery system.

With electricity prices going through the roof and likely to continue over the next few years many homeowners seek to reduce their reliance on traditional grid electricity. However, a common question arises: What happens to excess solar power when batteries are full? The answer depends on whether the system is grid-connected or off-grid.

Extra power from solar panels is typically stored in the battery of a solar and battery system. This happens when the power is not immediately needed by the home or business. When it’s cloudy and the house needs power, the battery will provide electricity to the appliances.

The excess electricity from the home goes back to the grid and is measured using net metering. This happens when the home uses less electricity and the solar battery is fully charged.

This allows homeowners and businesses to sell their surplus energy to the power company, earning a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) credit on their bill. This credit is unfortunately getting less, as in the middle of the day, there is a lot of solar power about.

The FiT credit can somewhat offset the cost of electricity drawn from the grid at night or during times of low solar production. The specific terms of net metering contracts vary by location and electricity retailer.

Some companies have a fixed price for extra power. Others use net billing. Net billing means that credits go towards the electricity bill of the homeowner or business. In some cases, net metering may be capped at a certain level, meaning that excess power beyond the cap may not be compensated.

Grid-connected systems are beneficial for selling extra solar power. The lithium-ion battery collects the excess power and when it’s full, the exported electricity earns money.

A solar and battery system is a good choice for maximising profits from renewable energy investments. People who want to make the most money should consider this option.

Before installing a grid-connected system, it’s crucial to review local net metering policies and understand the terms. E-Smart Solar having worked in the local Blue Mountains and Western Sydney area for more than a decade is happy to advise local customers on the current rules, to maximise the solar benefits.

Off-grid solar systems work independently from the electricity grid, using only solar panels and batteries for power generation and storage.

Should the batteries be full then any excess solar power being generated is simply not used. This may seem like a waste of valuable energy, but it’s a feature of the design, as there is nowhere other than the batteries and home consumption that the power can go.

As soon as there is some power drawn from the batteries, the system’s exported power will fill them again quickly.

Off-grid solar systems require careful planning and design to ensure that the solar panels, batteries, and inverter are properly sized to meet the home’s or business’s energy needs. E-Smart Solar is experienced in calculations and design. We have installed and maintained many off-grid systems in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, and nearby areas.

Excess solar power can be utilised in various ways to improve the efficiency of an off-grid system. For instance, it can be used to power appliances not typically used during the day, such as water pumps or pool filters.

Solar power can be stored in thermal batteries. These batteries store energy as heat. They can be used for heating water or spaces.

You can use a heat pump and hot water tank to heat water or charge an EV battery. This can be done when the off-grid battery is full.

While off-grid systems may not offer the same financial benefits as grid-connected systems in terms of monetising excess power, they also do not attract power bills and power supply charges. Overall a well-designed off-grid system provides greater independence from the grid and can be particularly valuable in areas with unreliable grid infrastructure or no powerlines at all.

Whether the system is grid-connected or off-grid, there are strategies to manage excess energy effectively. Managing the excess power means you do not just waste it and get better value from your renewable energy sources.

Implementing smart metering systems can provide real-time data on solar power generation, battery levels, and energy consumption patterns. This information helps save energy by using excess solar power. It can also schedule washing machines, driers, and dishwashers to run during these times.

Load management strategies involve shifting energy-intensive tasks to times when there is surplus power available. This helps to decrease the reliance on power from the grid or batteries. This can include using appliances like pool heating, pool pumps, water pumps or hot water generation during the day when solar panels generate electricity.

Increasing battery storage can store more solar power. This reduces dependence on the grid. It also provides backup power when solar production is low.

Using thermal storage systems, like water tanks or phase-change materials, can store extra solar energy as heat. This stored thermal energy can be used for space heating, water heating, or other purposes.

Homeowners and businesses can benefit from these strategies.
They can make the most of extra solar power, reducing their reliance on grid electricity. This will also help them cut energy expenses. Additionally, these strategies can improve the sustainability and efficiency of their solar energy and home battery technology systems.

If you still have questions about solar, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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.