Solar Power System: How They Work, Costs and Maintenance

Purchasing a good quality solar power system for your home is one of the best decisions you can make for both your family’s future finances and for the future of our planet. More and more Brisbanites are turning to powering their homes through a solar power system and no doubt it is something you are considering too. Here is our professional guide to finding a solar solution to suit your energy needs. 

Jump to:

How Does a Solar System Work in the Home?

How Much Does a Solar System Cost?

How Much is the Solar Rebate in QLD?

Understanding the Feed-In Tariff

Solar Panel Maintenance

Financing a Solar System With Hewitt

 

How Does a Solar System Work In The Home?

A solar power system is made up of 4 main components:

  • Photovoltaic (PV) panels 
  • Inverter – a DC to AC power converter
  • A rack system that holds the PV panels in place
  • Cabling and isolators/switches

 

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels

More often than not the PV solar panels are fitted on the roof of your home. From there your solar panels generate clean electricity when light energy (from the sun) hits them. This conversion takes place within the cells of the solar panels which are specially fabricated to do so. 

The direction the solar panels point will be affected by the hours they will be able to produce most of your household electricity.  Therefore, solar panels are generally fitted on the roof facing a northerly, easterly or westerly direction.  

Solar panels are different to solar hot water systems, which are also mounted on household roof-tops but use the heat from the sun to provide hot water for households, this is similar to the idea that a hose left in the sun contains hot water after a few hours left to warm up.

 

Inverter

Most homes in Brisbane are connected to the electricity grid via power lines (the grid). Our electricity system in Australia uses 240V alternating current (AC), but the electricity generated by solar panels consists of direct current (DC). This means the DC electricity needs to be converted to AC electricity via the inverter.

 

Using Power

The electricity that is generated by your solar power system will be consumed by the appliances in your home first and then the excess electricity will be exported to ‘the grid’ and in many cases the homeowner is paid for this excess electricity. These payments are known as a Feed in Tariff (FIT) which are explained in more detail below.

 

Storing Power

Unless you add storage batteries to your system, a grid-connected solar system is unable to store power in your home for use at night. 

 

During a blackout in your home

A solar power system without a battery will turn off when the grid is down (via a blackout), this is for safety reasons as lines persons repairing electricity wires could be endangered if solar panel system electricity is feeding back into the power lines during a blackout.

 

Getting Value

The way to get most value out or your solar system is to use the power as it’s produced. By self consuming your own solar energy directly, you’ll avoid having to buy energy from the power grid. Energy you buy from the grid is normally at around 400% more per kWh compared to what your electricity retailer will credit you for yours. So it is important we make small habitual changes, such as putting the washing or dishwasher on, running your pool pump, reheating your electric hot water, all during the day instead of at night.

 

How Much Does a Solar System Cost?

Whether you are considering installing a solar power system or ready to install one now it pays to do your research to ensure that your installation is being completed by a reputable company that uses high quality solar panels. We highly recommend that you have a physical site inspection to evaluate:

  • Where your panels should go
  • Check the roof position
  • Discuss your electricity usage pattern
  • Monitoring options

 

A physical site visit will also give you as a homeowner some indication as to the quality of service you will receive for your investment. It is best practice to buy your solar power system from a reputable local company and not an internet-based or door to door solar sales agent. Internet solar sales companies often sell solar systems without site inspections and

only look at satellite images of your roof. This can lead to additional charges on the day of installation where your quote has not taken into account the need for special roof brackets or a switchboard upgrade before the solar system can be installed. These extras can add large unexpected costs and time delays.

At Hewitt Trade Services, we can help you tailor an expert solar solution to suit all of your energy needs and we will include all of your upfront costs in one simple, no obligations quote.  

Hewitt Solar helps you choose the right solar system with a free consultation and on site visit. Simply, have your energy bill ready when we come out to your free consultation, and we’ll work the rest out for you. 

 

Hewitt Solar Prices – Supply and Install

SUNGROW SOLAR SYSTEM

Sungrow is a leader in the research and development of solar inverters with the largest dedicated Research & Development team in the industry. You can get a Sungrow solar system installed on a budget, without compromising on performance or quality. 

6.6kW Sungrow Solar System$4,957 supply and install

6.6kW Sungrow Solar System

  • 5.0kW Sungrow Inverter
  • 20 x 330W Sumec Phono Twin Plus Panels
  • 10 year solar inverter warranty*
  • 25 year solar panel warranty*

 

FRONIUS SOLAR SYSTEM

Fronius is Australia’s favourite when it comes to solar inverters. Fronius focuses on three key principles of the perfect PV product: Flexibility (future-proof); Reliability; and Optimisation. Get a Fronius Primo inverter installed for the ultimate solar performance.

 

6.6kW Fronius Solar System$5,771 supply and install 

6.6kW Fronius Solar System

  • 5.0kW Fronius Primo Inverter
  • 20 x 330W Sumec Phono Twin Plus Panels
  • 10 year solar inverter warranty*
  • 25 year solar panel warranty*

 

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM SOLAR PANELS – Want to upgrade to a premium solar panel? We recommend the Hanwha Q Cell Q.Peak Duo -G5+ solar panel. ‘Q CELLS’ has supported the Australian community since 2009, longer than any other manufacturer currently on the market. With products developed specifically for Australian climates, unparalleled local support, and comprehensive testing facilities both in laboratories and in the field, they are the trusted provider for Australian consumers.

 

Hanwha Q Cell Q.Peak Duo -G5+ 330W solar panels+$1,743 supply and install  

Hanwha Q Cell Q.Peak Duo -G5+ 330W solar panels

  • Upgrade to 20 x 330W Hanwha Q Cell Q.Peak Duo -G5+ 330W Solar Panels
  • Get the most out of your system
  • 25 year solar panel warranty*

 

Visit our website or contact us for a full outline of the T&C’s. All pricing is subject to an onsite consultation and site inspection and the STC rebate reduction has already been applied.

 

How Much is the Solar Rebate in QLD?

Rebates may be available for your solar system, and can be claimed by most QLD home owners or a registered agent on your behalf. A 6.6 kW system in 2020 attracts around $2,800 to $3,000 in Federal rebate called Small Scale Technology Certificates (STCs), but it does vary in different regions and STC’s only get paid for a system up to 100kW.  

Over the years the solar rebates both federally and state based have changed as they may continue to do so in the future. It is best to speak with a reputable Solar system supplier like Hewitt Trade Services who will be able to give you updated information about the latest rebates applicable to you.

 

Understanding the Feed-In Tariff

Feed-in tariffs (FIT’s) are not a rebate but are a defined payment for the electricity you generate. When you are not using your solar power at the time it is generated this power is sent back to the grid and in return you are paid a FIT. Energy retailers in QLD may pay a FIT ranging from around 7 to 18 cents. These FIT rates are based on state guidelines and vary between electricity retailers. 

Some energy retailers sell solar systems and their aim is to tempt you with a high FIT.  It is important to check that the overall electricity charges outlined in their contracts are not higher than normal kWh charges, as your higher FIT income may be more than offset in higher electricity fees and charges.  

We recommend that you shop around for the best feed in tariff and consider all charges outlined in the contracts, including the cost of the supplied electricity per kWh and the supply fee. 

 

Solar Panel Maintenance

Just like running a car or an air conditioner, regular servicing is the best way to ensure your solar panel system keeps operating as it was designed to. The Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator recommends that regular maintenance is carried out on your solar panel system. Undertaking regular maintenance is important and will ensure your solar panel system is operating.

  • Safely 
  • Correctly
  • Efficiently

 

Over time dust and debris will build up on your solar panels, which may compromise the performance of your solar power system. In addition, water and moisture seepage, vermin, hail, wind and sunlight can all cause damage or deterioration to your solar power system.

Regular routine maintenance ensures your solar power system is safe for everyone living in the premises, along with electrical workers working on the distribution network. Routine maintenance will also ensure the solar system’s performance is maintained, allowing you to maximise savings on your power bills for many years to come. 

Furthermore, it is recommended that solar power systems should only be inspected and maintained by a licenced electrician or Clean Energy Council-accredited solar panel system installer. Unlike typical electrical products, turning a solar panel system ‘off’ at the switch does not mean that the components no longer pose an electrical hazard. In addition, for roof mounted systems, some maintenance tasks may need to be conducted on the roof which poses additional hazards.

 

What is Involved?

Maintaining your solar panel system involves much more than simply cleaning your solar panels. Regular maintenance of your solar panel system should ensure:

  • Solar panels are clean, secure and free of defects
  • No parts have deteriorated/corroded
  • Vents are free of debris
  • Switches do not have any defects
  • Wiring has not been damaged/has not deteriorated
  • Electrical checks to ensure all components are operating as intended
  • Confirming fittings and cables are securely attached
  • Reviewing the inverter display panel for recorded faults
  • Checking that access to the isolator switches has not been impeded, and/or
  • Making sure the emergency procedures for shutdown and isolation are clearly displayed.

 

Maintenance Tip – Take note of and follow the maintenance schedule provided by your solar retailer or installer. Don’t forget to keep all the paperwork from your installation, as some faults may be covered under warranty. 

 

Financing a Solar System With Hewitt

If you are debt-free and have some spare capital then investing in a solar power system could be a great financial investment.  A solar system installation where appropriate typically generates reliable returns that can potentially be far higher than bank interest rates.

However, if you can’t spare the up front costs but are keen to start generating your own power and reduce your carbon footprint then there are finance options available. 

Hewitt customers have the option to finance a solar system with Hewitt’s Solar System 60 months finance offer which includes:

  • 60 months
  • No deposit 
  • 0% interest

Find out more about  Hewitt Solar or contact us to book your free Solar consultation.