Your all in one guide to buying the best solar panels

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Best solar panels buying guide

With an increasing shift to solar, there is a surplus of brands selling solar equipment. As a result, people are confused due to the number of options available. We’ll tell you all that you need to know before installing your solar panels. How you can buy the best solar panels for your house and everything to do with Photovoltaic systems.

Working of a solar panel

When sunlight falls on the panels, it converts the sun’s heat energy to electrical energy. This is in the form of direct current which cannot be used directly at home. An inverter unit converts this direct current into alternating current to be used in houses.

What makes up a solar panel?

Solar panels are made of solar cells(60 or 72 cells). These cells are usually made of silicon. The cells are connected together and are combined with other layers like tempered glass, backing sheet and are surrounded with an aluminum frame.

Solar panel’s price range

Good quality solar panel systems cost somewhere between:

  • 3kW: $3,500 – $5,000
  • 5kW: $4,500 – $8,000
  • 6.6kW: $5,000 – $9,000
  • 10kW: $8,000 – $12,000

These are inclusive of rebates and incentives available.

How many panels will you require?

What you really need to consider here is the power of your panels. Power is more of a deciding factor than the size and number of panels you should go for. Go for higher power ratings as this will solve your purpose with a lesser number of panels too.

Consider your roof space too. If you happen to have a larger roof surface area, you can go with inexpensive panels with lesser efficiency while installing more of them. Panels vary in length, width and efficiency.

How to determine the size of panels you should buy?

The size of your solar panel system totally depends on your usage of electricity- how much and when? Your daytime needs can all be covered with the solar system but it is recommended to go for the biggest possible system that both your house roof and pocket allow. This way you can send the excess electricity to the grid for feed-in tariffs or work with a battery storage system that will cover your electricity needs during the night time too.

What’s the payback time?

It usually takes 2-7 years for a solar power system to pay for itself before you start counting savings. The payback time also depends on your usage and your location in Australia.

Solar panel incentives and rebates

There are two main types of incentives for solar power system installations.

Solar rebate- Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs)

The government had launched the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) to encourage people to go solar. With every installation of a solar device, you receive a number of STCs that can be sold for a discount. The STCs you receive depend on the capacity of solar panels, your location in Australia, and the year of installation.

Feed-in tariffs

The excess electricity produced by your solar power system does not go to waste. You can send the unused electricity to the main grid and your retailer will pay you for the electricity you export.

Is a storage battery required?

A storage battery will help you on an overcast day or during nighttime. With all your excess electricity getting stored in a battery, it surely does help in lowering your electric bills. It is an expensive investment and you may want to consider your usage before spending on a battery.

What do you need to keep in mind during installation?

Your system needs to be installed by a CEC- accredited installer. CEC or the Clean Energy Council is Australia’s apex body when it comes to the clean energy sector. This is important in order to receive STCs for your purchase.

What’s the future of the electricity market?

The electricity grids were designed to only provide electricity and not accept it. They were originally built to only cater to a unidirectional flow of the current, from power stations to households and businesses. With the popularity of renewable energy, especially solar, the excess electricity is sent to the grid to an extent that there is an overload. It is now starting to hit limits and needs to be upgraded.

In some places, solar energy owners are at a disadvantage, as they lack flexibility and modernisation of the grid. They either receive very less feed-in tariffs or none at all owing to capacity limitations on the grid. As a result, the generated electricity also gets wasted.

Here are a few proposed solutions to tackle this limitation:

The American Energy Market Commission has proposed new alternatives for the grid and market operation.
There is obviously a dire need for new electricity infrastructure to accommodate the excess electricity generated at homes.
Solar tax (surcharge) for solar owners who export electricity to the grid. This will have a very small impact on the feed-in tariffs the owners receive. Possibly, there may be a net increase in returns.
What will be really helpful here is, if people use most of their electricity that is generated so that very little is sent off to the grid. They also need to time their solar export so that the grid receives energy when it needs it.

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