Solar Panel FAQs

Frequently asked solar power questions

How much electricity does a solar power system produce?

There are a number of factors that will affect how much electricity a system will produce such as the orientation of the panels (North facing is best), any shading of your panels, the amount of sunlight on a given day, etc will all affect how much energy the solar power system produces. Perth has one of the best climates in the world for solar power.

Gigawatts? Megawatts? Kilowatts?

“A million, a billion, a trillion, whatever …” Homer Simpson

1 kW = one kilo (“thousand”) watts. In Perth a typical home solar power system may comprise of 5kW of solar panels, ie 5000 watts. Smaller solar power systems may be only 2 or 3kW, while businesses may have 10kW or 30kW of solar panels, or larger.

  • Ten large commercial systems of 100kW would equal one megawatt, 1mW.
  • 1 mW = one megawatt = one million watts or one thousand kW.
  • 1 gW = One gigawatt = one billion watts or one thousand mW. As a point of reference, the capacity of a typical large-scale coal-burning generator is about 1 gigawatt.

What are small-scale technology certificates or STCs

STCs are part of the government’s commitment to renewable energy. Each STC represents 1 MWh (Megawatt hour) of energy able to be produced. STCs are created when you purchase qualifying solar hot water, wind power systems or residential solar PV systems.STCs have been devised as the means to encourage Australians to take action to help meet the government’s 20% renewable energy target by 2020.

What are Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)?

RECs are the same as STCs, there was a name change.

How much are STCs worth?

The value of the STCs you are eligible for varies depending on your location and zone rating, the size of the system you install and the market for STCs. Website’s such as the Clean Energy Regulator site have calculator, providing a guide to the number of STCs your system could be worth.

Do I have to sell my stcs as part of installing a solar power system bought from Northern Sun Solar Power?

Generally when purchasing a solar power system and having it installed by Northern Sun Solar Power, you will be asked to assign your STCs. The value of STCs is usually applied as a discount (the ‘government rebate’), reducing the upfront costs of the solar power system.

What is a feed in tariff?

A feed–in tariff is the rate paid for any electricity your solar power system feeds into the grid. The rate which is paid varies depending on the whim of the government and is currently zero. Synergy however still pay for electricity you generate and don’t use: see Synergy – Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme
Contact Northern Sun Solar Power on 08 6460 2805 for further information.

What is REBS?

REBS is the rate paid for any electricity your solar power system feeds into the grid. Synergy pay for electricity you generate and don’t use: see Synergy – Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme

Contact Northern Sun Solar Power on 08 6460 2805 for further information.

Gross or Net feed in tariffs?

In Perth we are on a net feed–in tariff system which pays the solar power system owner only for surplus electricity they produce but haven’t used.

A gross feed–in tariff pays for each kilowatt hour produced by the system that is directly fed into the grid. The feed–in tariff schemes are set by the state governments and vary between the states.

Are the solar rebate and feed in tariff payments taxable income to a customer?

Northern Sun Solar Power is not able to provide advice as to whether or not particular income or payments are taxable by the Commonwealth Government.

Customers should consult their accountant or the Australian Taxation Office for advice as to whether payments are taxable in their particular circumstances.

Is GST payable on feed in tariff revenue?

Northern Sun Solar Power is not able to provide advice as to whether GST is required to be paid. Customers should consult their accountant or the Australian Taxation Office for this advice.

How are the feed in tariff payments received?

Synergy account statements are issued bi-monthly and feed in tariff credits will appear on your bill. See Synergy – Feed-in tariff for current details of their credit payment policy.

Will my electricity tariff change as a result of my solar installation?

No, any power you need to draw from the grid – such as at night time – will be charged at the current rate.

How does a solar power system work?

When sunlight hits a solar panel (also called a PV module), direct current (DC) electricity is generated and it flows to the inverter which changes the current from DC to 240V alternating current (AC). This electricity can be used immediately within the home or fed into the electricity grid.

What happens at night?

As solar power systems only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight, they do not produce electricity at night. At night you will need another source, such as electricity from the grid.

What happens on cloudy days?

The performance of the solar power system is affected by cloud cover. When there is not enough light to produce electricity, you will use electricity from the grid.

What will happen during a blackout?

For safety reasons, in the event of a blackout, your solar power system will stop producing electricity. This safety measure is mandatory and has been put in place to protect anyone working on the blacked out grid system. As soon as the grid is back online, your solar power system’s ability to generate will be restored.

What is the electricity grid?

The electricity grid is the network of wires owned by Western Power that delivers electricity from generators to homes and businesses. When you install solar panels (a solar power system) you become a generator of clean renewable energy.

What is the difference between a solar hot water system and solar power system?

A solar hot water system uses the sun’s warmth to directly heat water.

Solar panels (a solar power system) converts sunlight (the light, not the heat – photo-voltaic = light-volts) into electricity for use in the home or to be fed into the electricity grid. The heat output of the sun is not important for solar PV systems, but the amount of sunlight available is.

What are the different types of solar panels?

There are many different types of solar PV panels currently on the Australian market. The three main types are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film panels.

A range of materials can be used to produce a PV panel, the most common is silicon. But there are now newer technologies which are proving to be effective in Australian conditions.

Does the orientation of the roof affect whether or not a home can successfully install a solar product?

Although it is optimal to install solar products on the north facing side of a roof, it is also possible to install solar panels (a solar power system) on the east or west facing side of a roof, as long as there is sufficient space. However, this will not produce the same results as a north–facing installation.

Is mains electricity still needed?

Solar power systems only produce electricity during the day when they are exposed to sunlight. When there is no sunlight your solar panels will not be producing power and you will need to draw electricity from another source such as the grid. Even during the day your momentary demand may be greater than your solar power generation and another source such as mains electricity, solar battery storage, or a diesel generator, for example, will be required.

Are batteries needed for a solar PV grid connected system?

No. Grid–connected solar systems do not store electricity – instead, any electricity you do not use in your home is ‘exported’ to or fed into the electricity grid.

Is it possible to increase the size of a solar power system in the future?

This depends on your roof space and the size of the inverter. If you have sufficient roof space and additional capacity in the inverter you could increase the size of your system. Or you could add a second system to your roof.

Please note:In WA there is a limit on system size and increasing the size of an existing solar power system could affect your eligibility for the feed in tariff and REBS.

Where do residential solar panels get placed?

There are many factors to take into consideration when planning the placement – from orientation to the sun, to the area available and the distance to the meter. In an ideal situation, the panels would be oriented as close to north–facing as possible, in an area with no shading.

Will it affect my property resale value?

When you purchase a solar system, all of its benefits, including the warranties and electricity savings, are linked to the property. Even if you move, all warranties will remain with the system, meaning that the new owner will receive the benefits.

All research and anecdotal evidence shows a solar energy system has a positive effect on property prices.

Do I need any council permits for solar panels (a solar power system) to be installed on my property?

Northern Sun Solar Power is not able to provide advice on whether any council permits are required. Customers should contact their local council for this advice.

Permits may be required if your property is identified as being located in a heritage area. Your local council should be able to assist with this.

How do I organise multiple installations of solar power systems for example at a retirement village?

Villages differ and the specifics of each need to be considered. Contact Northern Sun Solar Power 6460 2805 for more information.

My question is not listed here.

We are happy to answer any questions. Feel free to call us on 08 6460 2805 or email.