Frequently Asked Questions
Energy Solution Centre
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is energy generated from the sun. It may be in the form of passive solar, which involves capturing the heat from the sun, or photovoltaic solar, which uses light from the sun to generate electric energy.
What is a solar system?
A solar system consists of the following components:
- Solar Panels which absorb the sunshine and convert it into DC electricity
- Inverter which converts the DC power into AC power so that it can be used in your home.
There are different types of inverters; grid connected inverter (which feeds excess electricity into the grid), a microinverter (multiple small inverters which feed excess electricity into the grid) or a hybrid inverter (connected to a battery).
- Optimiser – The latest technology systems will include an optimiser on each panel so they can operate as an individual system reducing the effects of issues such as shading.
- Cabling and mounting equipment
Why should I choose Energy Solution Centre?
There are numerous reasons why we are the No1 on the Gold Coast for all solar and battery solutions. Installing for over 15 years, our mission is to educate, advise and deliver premium renewable energy products and services that enable people to own their power and take advantage of a new era in electricity. ESC is accredited with the Clean Energy Council who are the peak governing body for the clean energy industry in Australia, ensuring the quality, safety and reliability of the solar industry, therefore you know you are safe with us. We also have a one-of-a-kind showroom and education centre in Nerang where we educate our clients, offer advanced assessments and design as well as showcase many of our top tier products.
What is the grid?
An electrical grid is an interconnected network which delivers electricity from producers to consumers. Australia has a complex, large distribution network, which consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, and high voltage transmission lines that carry power to the end user.
What is PV?
PV stands for Photovoltaic cells which convert light from the sun into electricity. They come in various sizes. They are made from materials such as silicon and convert photons from the sun’s rays into electrons which then produce an electric current. The individual solar cells are connected to form a module, also known as a solar panel. Once the sunlight hits the panels and is absorbed, electricity is generated.
What are the benefits of PV panels?
PV panels are reliable and require little maintenance. They use environmentally safe technology that converts sunlight into electricity. Many panels are produced domestically, which strengthens our economy. They are modular and therefore flexible in terms of size and applications. They can be installed to just about any building type from a small cabin to a large-scale commercial system. See our full range on our Solar Panel page
What is a Smart Hybrid System?
This is a modern solar energy system that is connected to an electricity grid as well as a battery energy system. This means it has the capability to produce energy from the sun and store some or all of that energy for use when there is no sunshine. This enables you to maximise the use of the available solar energy, instead of exporting unused solar energy to the grid (often for very low feed in tariff). It can also be used for backup power during a black out. Find out more on our Battery Solutions page.
What is an off-grid system?
An off-grid solar system is an energy system that is completely separated from the electricity grid. Apart from solar panels, off-grid systems usually include additional means of energy generation in the form of a diesel generator and sometimes a wind generator. A battery bank is almost always included in an off-grid system, in order to store and use excess solar energy for loads that are needed when there is insufficient sunlight. For further information see our off-grid page.
I’ve had other quotes but I don’t really understand them, how do I know what is the best system for my home?
We hear this all the time and it’s why we built our technology and education centre. Being in the industry for over 15 years we understand exactly what our clients need. It can be very confusing trying to make the right decision, so we make a point of educating our clients first and foremost, to give them a good understanding of how their energy system works. Then we offer a detailed on the spot design and our experts offer the best possible solutions. Why not book an appointment and see for yourself. Call 1300 217 079 now.
Can I completely disconnect from the grid?
Yes, this is a possibility which we have helped some of our clients to achieve. It is not simple so much consideration is needed. While our off-grid solutions are capable of avoiding grid power during optimum weather conditions, there are times where we have 10 or more consecutive rainy or overcast days, in which case you will need either the grid or a diesel generator to top up the batteries and continue supplying power to your loads. It is worth considering the cost of purchasing and running a diesel generator though, as this more expensive than continuing to pay for the grid connection which may be required on occasion. Find out more on our off-grid page or give our off-grid specialists a call to discuss the best options for you.
What is a commercial energy system?
This usually refers to a large grid connected system which differs from residential systems, in terms of size, complexity and functionality. Strict measures for protection of the grid are mandatory and our expert commercial team formulate and in-depth proposal for you after an on-site assessment of your commercial space. Your energy system will be based on power consumption, location, business structure and operational times while also projecting future needs and your business objectives.
For further information see our Commercial page.
Can I add more panels to my existing system?
This will depend on a few factors. The installed components will need to be matched to current equipment (panel wattage and inverter capacity); You will need to reapply to connect additional panels (kW’s) to the grid. This may impact your current feed in tariff rate; If the system is older it will need to be brought up to the current electrical standard. Generally, it is more cost effective to install an additional system if you wish to generate more power.
What is the difference between a solar string and a solar array?
A collection of panels are electrically connected to form a string. One or more strings form a solar array.
What are the different types of panels?
There are 2 main types of panels. Mono crystalline and poly crystalline. Mono crystalline have been used for over 50 years and are highly efficient panels producing a given amount of energy even only with a few panels. They have a long lifespan, generally losing only 0.5 - 0.7% per year. Poly crystalline panels are similar to mono crystalline panels; however, their performance remains steadfast at higher temperatures, which makes them more suitable for use in Australia.
Will hail cause damage to my solar panels?
No, the panels are tested to withstand hail. A hail test is conducted with a 20mm diameter ice ball at 82km/h, directed at 11 impact locations.
How do Feed-in Tariffs work?
If you have excess solar electricity, you can send it back to the grid in return for a credit (known as a Feed-in Tariff or FiT) on your power bill. Not every energy retailer offers FiTs, so we recommend you speak to your retailer in advance to negotiate your rate. Feed-in tariffs are set to be changing and possibly being removed altogether soon which is why we recommend installing battery storage with your solar system.
How long will a solar energy system last for?
The quality of the solar components is critical to system performance and how long it will last.
ESC only installs premium solar products. We are not the cheapest solar provider, because we don’t believe in installing crap solar or cutting quality or service corners. Instead, when you buy from us, we’ll guarantee a high-performance. long-lasting solar system that delivers on the promises we make to you.
Our brands are amongst the world’s most credible, no product makes our list without passing stringent quality assurance. Most products we supply have a 15-25 year warranty plus we offer a 10-year workmanship guarantee and a 5-day product replacement commitment in the event of product failure – in addition to manufacturer warranties.
How does a battery system work?
If you install a battery storage system, excess energy is stored at home instead of feeding it to the grid. Installing a battery makes sense if most of your electricity consumption takes place at night or when the sun is not shining. This applies to many families where parents go to work while children are at school during the day.
Batteries work by storing energy for use when the sun is not shining, either at night-time or when it’s overcast. In some cases, solar batteries have their own inverter and offer integrated energy conversion. (See “What is a Smart Hybrid System”) The higher your battery’s capacity, the more energy it can store. Most solar batteries last up to 12 years before their lifespan and capacity begin to deteriorate. See our Battery Solutions page for further information.
Should I be buying a battery storage system now or wait?
The quick answer is buy now. Many people are not aware of how beneficial battery storage is and the longer you wait the more money you are losing, particularly with the high prices we are now paying for electricity. People who bought batteries when they first came on the market are already ahead of the game financially. See our Battery Solutions page for further information.
Will I have power during a black out if I install a smart hybrid battery system?
Yes. Our expert team are able to custom design a solar hybrid battery system to fully operate all of your loads during a grid outage.
Only some hybrid systems are designed to operate during a black out. Most all-in-one box systems have too small a battery to power a home during a black-out, however some of these systems have a limited power output that can be applied to small loads during a black-out (lights and small fridge) for a small period of time. Modular systems, however, allow you to scale up and add as much solar and battery capacity as desired. See our Battery Solutions page for further information.
How much will my bills be reduced by installing a solar energy system?The amount your power bills will reduce by going solar is depends on a number of factors, including:
- Your energy consumption and the size of your solar energy system – if you use more power than your system is capable of producing, your savings will be less. It’s important to choose the right-sized system for your needs.
- Your feed-in tariff – this is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for any excess power your solar panels generate.
- Your usage patterns – solar panels can only generate electricity while the sun is shining. This means that households that use a lot of power during the day may attract greater savings than those that consume most of their power at night. However, you will still receive a feed-in tariff for any excess electricity you generate during the day.
- Where you live – some areas of Australia receive a lot more sunlight than others.
What size system will I need?
A solar energy system is custom sized to your individual property. Many factors must be considered when deciding on the correct size and design for your system.
For example, the size of your roof area, your electricity usage and your expectations from the solar system are vital in deciding the right system for you. Our expert team will create a custom design for you at an obligation free site inspection or at our showroom to ensure you receive not only the correct product and price information but also set up your expectations accordingly. Contact us now on 1300 217 079 to book your free assessment and design.
What happens on cloudy days?
A solar energy system requires daylight to produce power. On an overcast day your system will still generate about a third of the power it would generate in direct sunlight.
Can shading affect the functionality of my system?
Yes. Shading definitely affects the output of the entire string to be reduced to virtually zero for as long as the shadow sits there. Depending on type of system installed, shading on a single cell could reduce the output of the panel and in turn the entire string.
There are solutions to shading, however. SolarEdge DC Optimisers will increase the energy output from PV systems by constantly tracking the maximum power point of each module individually achieving the optimal output. Enphase Micro-Inverters operate independently, so each panel performs to its fullest. One shaded or dirty panel won't affect the rest of the system. See our Inverters page for more information.
What is a micro-inverter?
Micro inverter panels feature a ‘micro-inverter’ on each panel which convert all the DC power directly into regular AC household electricity. This avoids power loss from shading and maximises a system’s power generation. In circumstances where one solar panel may be shaded, the rest of the string can still operate at full capacity. This is because each solar panel works independently. Find out more on our Inverters page.
What is the difference between single and three phase energy?
Electricity is either connected at 230 or 240 volts which is single-phase, accounting for the majority of homes, or 400 and 415 Volts which is three-phase. Three phase is better suited for powerful appliances. A single phase connection is common in small to medium sized houses that use an average amount of electricity. Three phase connections are more common in larger houses or in rural areas.
What maintenance is involved?
In order to ensure your system is performing at its peak, we highly recommend having your system serviced every 12 –18 months.
Does a system need to be custom designed for my home?
Yes, absolutely. No two systems are the same and no two properties are the same. Each system needs to be custom designed specifically for your property, taking into consideration roof area, shading, sun direction and the usage profile.
For example, you do not want to over or under size your unit, and you need to install your system to peak at the time of day you use your power most.
How does the installation process work?
Once your deposit is paid, ESC will submit any required preapproval paperwork to your distributor.
Installation will take place within 1-4 weeks. Installation paperwork is to be signed and completed by the electricity account holder and final payment is made.
The independent inspection is booked and once completed the inspector will sign the certificate of electrical safety and send a copy to ESC.
All paperwork is submitted to your retailer and distributor to reprogram your meter to be bidirectional to begin your feed-in tariff.
How do I know ESC will still be around in 5 or 10 years when my system may need attention?
This is a great question as there are many fly-by-the-night solar companies out there which makes it hard to know who to trust. There are a number of reasons to feel confident choosing ESC. We have been installing quality systems since 2005, we are an accredited member of the Clean Energy Council who are Australia’s peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. We partner with only the best manufacturers in the business and believe in educating our clients so that they truly understand their investment. Energy Solution Centre offers a 10 year installation warranty on top of the product warranties, and our focus is on quality, longevity and exceptional customer service. Discover more about the ESC advantage here.