THE SCIENCE OF SOLAR ENERGY

Solar energy uses cutting-edge technology to convert sunlight into electricity, providing a sustainable and eco-friendly power source for your home or business. Let's dive into the fascinating science behind solar energy, demystifying how solar panels and systems convert light into power.

PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS: HARNESSING SUNLIGHT

Photovoltaic (PV) panels, or solar panels, are the heart of a solar energy system. Made of semiconductor materials, typically silicon, these panels convert sunlight into electricity. When sunlight hits a solar panel, it excites electrons in the silicon, creating an electrical current. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect.

FROM SUNLIGHT TO ELECTRICITY: THE ROLE OF INVERTERS

The electricity generated by solar panels is in the form of direct current (DC). However, most homes and businesses use alternating current (AC). That's where inverters come in. An inverter's job is to convert DC into usable AC, ensuring the electricity produced by your solar panels can power your lights, appliances, and devices.

THE SOLAR SYSTEM AT WORK

A complete solar power system consists of several key components: photovoltaic panels, an inverter, mounting hardware, and often a solar battery storage system. Here's how they work together:

PV Panels: Capture sunlight and convert it into DC electricity.

Inverter: Converts DC electricity into AC electricity.

• Mounting Hardware: Securely attaches your solar panels to your roof or on the ground.

Battery Storage (Optional): Stores excess electricity for use when the sun isn't shining.

NET METERING & FEED-IN-TARIFFS

Many solar energy systems are connected to the grid through a setup known as net metering. This allows you to send excess electricity back to the grid when your system produces more than you need, earning credits from your utility company. At night or on cloudy days, you can draw electricity from the grid, using up those credits.

In Australia, the rates vary state-by-state and company-by-company, so it certainly pays to shop around by doing an energy comparison! Typically you might expect to receive anywhere from 5c-20c/kWh for selling electricity that your solar system produces back to the grid.

Logos of 45+ energy retailers for energy comparison.
Logos of 45+ energy retailers for energy comparison.

THE BENEFITS OF SOLAR ENERGY

Investing in solar energy isn't just good for the planet—it's also good for your wallet. Solar power can significantly reduce your electricity bills, protect you against rising energy costs, and increase your property value. Plus, it reduces your carbon footprint, contributing to a healthier environment.

BREAKING DOWN SOLAR SAVINGS VS AN ELECTRICITY BILL

Investing in a solar system involves upfront costs, including the purchase and installation of solar panels and equipment. However, the return on investment is seen through significant reductions in your monthly electricity bills.

You'll typically be purchasing less electricity from the grid as you will self-consume any electricity generation from your system throughout the day. Any excess and unconsumed electricity that your solar system produces will be sold back to the grid, earning you credits and a reduction on your electricity bill.

Additionally, by installing battery storage to your solar system, you can capture any excess production throughout the day to store for usage at night - draining the stored power before purchasing anything from the grid.

For example, if your average monthly electricity bill is ~$150 and you install a standard 6.6kW solar system, you might expect to get close to a $0 bill or even perhaps receive a small credit on your bill.

MAXIMISING YOUR SELF-CONSUMPTION

The simplest way to boost your savings with solar is to move to the provider with the best rates.

But you can also further boost your savings by altering your electricity usage habits to self-consume the power you produce, rather than selling the excess back to the grid and repurchasing it back at a mark-up. If you don't have a battery, less reliance on the grid at night-time will significantly reduce your bill and boost your solar savings and relative payback period.

By using electricity-heavy appliances through peak-daylight hours, you can help sway the savings further in your favour.

For example, consider running the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher through the middle of the day, rather than at night.

Frequently Asked Questions ABOUT SOLAR

What Homeowners Ask Before Installing A System

Is First Sun Solar accredited solar retailer?

Yes, First Sun Solar is a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer, and we only use CEC Accredited Installers, ensuring the highest standards of service and installation.

How long does the solar installation process take?

The installation timeframe varies based on the system size and complexity, but most residential installs are completed within a day. Some larger or more complex installations may require longer.

Typically most installations are completed within 2-4 weeks from placing an order.

Can I add a solar battery to my existing solar system?

Yes, it is possible to retrofit an existing solar system with a battery bank.  For typical daily residential use, between 5kWh - 15kWh of storage is appropriate.

Some brands offer blackout protection by continuously providing power in case of a grid outage.

If the existing system is less than 6.6kW, consider adding additional panels to ensure you are producing enough electricity to fill your battery. 

What is the cost of installing a solar system with First Sun Solar?

The cost varies based on factors such as system size, brand selection, roof type, and installation complexity. We offer personalized quotes during our free solar assessment, ensuring transparency and no hidden fees. First Sun Solar are positioned in the market as a high quality retailer with well priced systems that fit the needs of any budget.

What types of solar systems does First Sun Solar install?

We install solar and battery systems for on-grid and off-grid applications and only us reliable tier 1 panels, inverters and batteries.

What size solar system is appropriate for my home?

The appropriate size depends on your energy consumption, roof space, and budget.

Typically, residential needs range from 6.6kw-20kw of panels and 5-20kWh of battery storage.

Our experts at First Sun Solar can conduct a thorough assessment of your energy needs and recommend the ideal system size for you.

Do I qualify for a solar rebate?

Whilst STC's are not considered a 'rebate', if you buy a solar system in 2024, it is subsidised by a federal government scheme worth about $396 per kW installed. This is based on a $39 STC price after fees. That’s approximately $2,457 off a 6.6kW system, which is applied at the point of sale.

Current legislation means the solar rebate started to reduce by one fifteenth every year from Jan 2017 until it drops to zero in 2031.

The $1000's of dollars you get off your solar system price (usually by assigning the rights to its STCs to your installer) does not actually come from the government, but rather compels other people to buy your certificates. So it is a government run scheme, using other people’s money to provide the subsidy.

STCs are allocated to a renewable energy system using the following formula:

Postcode Zone Rating x Deeming Period Years x System Size in kW = Number of STCs created

The only criteria for claiming it are:

1) Your PV system is less than 100kW in size.

2) You get it installed and designed by a Clean Energy Council accredited professional.

What are Solar Feed-In Tariffs (FIT)?

Solar Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) are programs where homeowners or businesses are paid for the excess electricity their solar panels generate and feed back into the grid. The amount paid per kilowatt-hour (kWh) will depend on which energy retailer you use and what specific plan you are on.

Typically, you might receive anywhere from 5c-20c/kWh for providing energy back into the grid.

There are no longer any federal or state rebates for feed-in-tariffs, thus you will only receive what your energy retailer pays you.

Am I really saving Money by going solar?

Yes, transitioning to solar energy can lead to substantial long-term savings. While the initial installation cost may vary based on the size of the system and specific requirements, solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25 years or more. During this time, you'll generate your own electricity, reducing reliance on the grid and lowering your monthly energy bills. Additionally, government incentives, rebates, and the potential to earn credits through Solar Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) can enhance your savings. Our team at First Sun Solar can provide a personalized assessment, outlining the potential cost savings specific to your property and energy consumption patterns.

A standard 6.6kw solar system will save the average household around $2000 on their electricity costs per year.

Depending on the final costs, most systems will "pay for themselves" within 2-5 years.

What is the warranty on a solar system?

We install solar products that come with industry-standard warranties, ensuring long-term performance and peace of mind for our customers.

Panels = 25 years +

Inverters = 5 years +

Batteries = 10 years +

Workmanship = 20 years

What kind of maintenance is required for a solar system?

Solar systems generally require minimal maintenance. Although, it is advisable to clean solar panels annually to ensure optimal performance (pending on your local environment you may need to clean twice yearly). Whilst solar panels are designed to be self-cleaning to some extent, dust, dirt, bird droppings, and other debris can accumulate over time and reduce efficiency. Cleaning helps maintain the panels' effectiveness and ensures they can capture the maximum amount of sunlight. However, this should be done carefully by only using a soft brush or sponge and mild detergent to avoid damaging the panels. If you're unsure or prefer professional assistance, the team at First Sun Solar can provide guidance and services to keep your solar system in peak condition.

Will solar panels work during cloudy days?

Yes, solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy days, although their efficiency will be reduced compared to sunny days.

While direct sunlight is optimal for maximum power production, solar panels can still harness diffused sunlight and UV rays that penetrate through clouds.

When it's overcast you may see a production drop to 50%.

During heavy thunderstorms you may see production drop to 10%.

Ready To Go Solar?

We'll Help You Navigate The Solar Installation Process

Ready To Go Solar?

We'll Help You Navigate The Solar Installation Process