How Solar Works & the Benefits
Solar power works by converting light from the sun into electricity. This electricity can then be used in your home or exported to the grid when it’s not needed. This is done by installing Solar Panels on your roof which generate DC (Direct Current) electricity. This is then fed into a solar inverter which converts the DC electricity from your solar panels into AC (Alternating Current) electricity.
With solar power, you don’t need to switch it on in the morning or switch it off at night – the system will do this seamlessly and automatically. You don’t need to switch between solar power and the grid – the system does this all automatically so you won’t notice any change to how the appliances in your home function. In fact a solar system requires very little maintenance (as there are no moving parts) which means you’ll hardly know it’s there. This also means a good quality solar power system will last a long time
Your solar inverter (usually installed in your garage or in an accessible spot), can provide you with information like the amount of electricity being produced at any particular point in time or how much it has generated for the day or in total since it has been operating. Many quality inverters feature wired or wireless connectivity and sophisticated on-line monitoring and reporting.
The financial benefit of panels comes in three forms:
- The "rebate" from the Federal Government's Renewable Energy Target scheme
- Replacing energy you buy from the grid with energy you generate
- The energy you sell to the grid
The "rebate" consists of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC’s) allocated to you when you install solar. Most household consumers take the benefit as an up-front discount on their purchase by assigning their certificates to their installer. Read more are STC’s here.
Generally speaking, the best time to use the power your solar panels have supplied is between 10.00 am – 3.00 pm (this does depend on your climate and the orientation of your panels). Running appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, pool filters during this time saves you paying the high price for electricity as charged by your supplier.
If the amount of electricity generated by your solar power system is more than you consume at that point in time, the additional electricity is exported back to the grid to be used by other people (and you are paid for it)
Your Net electricity meter then measures how much you exported. The payment you receive for this exported electricity is called the feed-in-tariff. In South Australia Currently it ranges from 10c to 20c per kWh exported, while you pay between 35c and 45c usually for one kWh of electricity used. At night you import electricity and the Net meter measures how much you consumed and adds it to the electricity you consumed during the day from the grid.