Whether you are looking for a small solar power system to supplement your home electricity usage or you’re looking to power a large commercial property, there is a solar system that will fit your needs. Solar power is clean, renewable, and very available, making it a relatively inexpensive and attractive choice for consumers the world over.
There are three different types of household solar systems for generating electricity, they are: grid-connect systems, off-grid systems and a hybrid systems. These three types of systems also apply to commercial installations, however, in some cases, a concentrating solar power system (CSP) can be used. Typically constructed on a larger scale, CSP systems use reflective surfaces to concentrate sunlight in order to harness the thermal energy for the creation of electricity.
There are several advantages to maintaining a grid connected solar system. Though it’s absolutely possible to run independently of a power grid connection, doing so allows you to bypass the costs involved in energy storage by allowing you to feed unused solar energy directly into the power grid, where you will receive a feed in tariff from your retailer. With this approach, you use natural resources when they are available and use the traditionally available power from the grid for the remainder of your energy needs. A grid connect installation is the most common type of system used in Australia.
Stand-alone solar power systems are incredibly useful in areas with limited (or completely unavailable) utilities. Using a completely off grid solar systems requires some extra equipment in the way of batteries and/or other energy storage devices, but the result is complete independence from any outside utility provider. One of the pitfalls of the off-grid solar system is that you often waste unused energy, as battery storage is limited. In certain places, there are also regulations that dictate that residences and businesses must be tied into a grid. Going off-grid means complete utility freedom, but if this is the route you take, it’s best to invest in some heavy-duty solar storage devices and to double check all local laws and regulations to make sure off-grid is an option for your area.
Though it does require additional investment in the form of batteries, it is very possible to get the best of both worlds by building a solar system that only uses traditional utility power as a back-up. In this scenario, rather than funnelling your excess solar energy back into a power grid, you store it yourself. If you plan well and create enough storage, you can put yourself in a position of only using the power grid for cases of extreme energy use or very limited sunlight availability. The hybrid option is more and more realistic with the onset of new storage technology including the Tesla Battery.
If you already own solar panels, you can convert your system to become a hybrid system by simply adding a storage solution to it. We have developed a tool to calculate the energy and financial effectiveness of adding a solar battery to your existing system.
Household solar systems generally start as small as 1.5kW and can range anywhere up to 10kW and more depending on the size of the property and roof space available. Commercial systems can be much larger again.
Determining the best system size for your property and situation is not necessarily straight-forward, as there are so many variables involved, and some come down to personal preference. Our system sizing tool is a great way to ascertain the system capacity needed to power your electricity needs as well as explaining more about the variables that will lead to your decision.
Best solar generation results in Australia are derived from systems that face north. That being said, even if you face due east or west, you’ll only lose between 12-13% in performance from your system. It’s possible to have an economically viable system even if your roof points to the south, however you will likely lose up to 25% in performance from your system.
Shading is another consideration when positioning your panels, but even more so when evaluating a systems potential. It’s best to avoid any shaded areas. If your property is shaded at different times throughout the day, you can plug this information into our solar power calculator and you’ll get see the effect of shading on your potential installation.
Household and commercial rooftops come in many shapes and sizes. The pitch of your roof will have an impact on the performance of your solar panels. Any performance loss is generally pretty minor, below 5% unless your roof is flat. If it is flat, you may consider installing your array on a tilt or possibly even have your panels track the movement of the sun. We can recommend expert installers to assist you with these issues.