Solar

Even while the power prices to homes and businesses across Australia are rising it is still possible for astute business owners to reduce their energy bills every month. With access to high-end solar PV technology, you can enjoy better performance at a lower price.

How much space does the system need?

A typical 3kW installation requires approximately 20m2 of roof space. The inverter sizes vary depending on capacity and manufacturer. A typical inverter is approximately 400mm H x 400mm W x 200mm D and is wall mounted. Most inverters are IP65 weatherproof rated so they can be mounted outside. These options can all be discussed with your system designer.

What is a Feed in Tariff?

A Feed in Tariff (Fit) is the rate at which your electricity provider will buy the Solar power from you. This is set by the state government and varies across the states. Several state governments are currently reviewing their FiT policies. Please talk to your system designer to get the latest information on Feed in Tariffs.

How does net metering work?

With net metering, the power your system produces is fed directly into your home for free. This saves you buying power from the grid. If at any time you are producing more power than your home needs, this surplus will go into the grid and your retailer will pay you for this power at your Net FiT rate. Note, your power bill will only show you a credit for this exported power. The power the system has fed into your home will not appear on your electricity bill. The front display on the inverter will show you how much total power the system has produced.

What is the process?

  • STEP 1 – Quote with customer, from this we send a formal proposal with rebate forms and associated information (within 1 week).
  • STEP 2 – Acceptance of the quote, sign rebate forms and return with deposit.
  • STEP 3 – Your permission to connect forms are sent to the power authority
  • STEP 4 – Once the power Authority provides a Permission to Connect (PTC) your installation date is booked.
  • STEP 5 – Installation of the System, testing and commissioning, signoff of REC’s and power company forms.
  • STEP 6 – Metering and inspection from local supply authority (approx. 2 – 3 weeks).

How much power will the system produce?

A North facing system should produce about 4 kW/hours a day on average for every kW installed. The amount of power produced will also depend on panel angle, temperature, shading and weather conditions. We use the Solar Pathfinder program, which uses complex calculations to estimate what your particular system will produce per year. This allows us to accurately predict the power output, based on your location and the specific solar conditions around your home.

How long will it take to install my solar power system?

Usually 1 or 2 days for depending on weather, system size, roof type, roof area and height.

Will my solar power system work during a black out?

For safety reasons a standard solar PV system will automatically shut down within a few milliseconds of losing grid voltage and stay off until the grid power is restored. However, battery systems can be designed to ensure you have power even in times of blackouts.

Does the solar system require maintenance?

Once the system has been installed there is little maintenance that is required. The only item that may need attention is a build up of dirt or dust on the solar panels so they should be checked and cleaned periodically. All maintenance details will be provided in your handover pack.

What sort of components does Nicholls use?

Nicholls uses a range of panels and inverters depending on the system requirements. We use Suntech, Trina, Q CELLS and Renesola panels and SMA, Aurora, Zeversolar and Samil inverters. All of our components are from Tier 1 manufacturers with Australian based support offices. This ensures that your warranties are backed by financially strong companies with local after sales support.

Can I monitor my solar system remotely?

Yes, there are wireless displays available, which are quite cost effective and it is great to monitor the electricity you are producing.

Will shading effect the power production of the solar system?

Yes, if any part of the systems panel is shaded the output of the system will be affected. If your roof has shading issues, ask your system designer about microinverter solutions that are specifically designed to work in shaded areas.

Do the panels need to be mounted on my roof?

Most systems are mounted on the roof, but we can also mount them on the ground if you have a large block. Ground mounting is ideal if you have limited roof space, or your roof is subject to regular shading. We can also supply and install ‘tracking’ systems, where the panels are mounted on a pole, and the panels move during the day, according to the position of the sun. Tracking systems can provide up to an extra 3 hours of effective sunlight per day.

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Do the panels need to face north?

North facing is the ideal situation, but panels facing east or west will still provide a very high percentage of power. The optimum angle of the solar panels is the latitude of the installation. For example, Brisbane is 27.5 degrees and Sydney 34 degrees. On a flat roof we can use adjustable frames to ensure that the panels achieve that angle. On pitched roofs we typically will install the panels flush with the roof.

How long will the system last?

All of our solar panels come with a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty. This is longer than almost anything else you can buy. Most other components have a minimum 5 year warranty. Our installation and workmanship are covered by a 10 year warranty.

Can I use PV to power my business?

PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time. Architects can use building-integrated PV to design buildings that are environmentally responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and produce their own power. Building-integrated PV provides a dual-use building material, reduces PV system costs by using the building as the mounting or support structure, and reduces utility bills through on-site power production.

Does the system affect my existing roof?

The frames for the solar panels are connected to your existing roof, so nothing will need to be altered. For a tile roof, we attach the frames to the beams in the roof, then the tiles go back into place. For a tin roof it is even easier, because the frames are mounted directly to the roof.

Can the panels be damaged in a storm?

Panels are designed to withstand the most harsh weather conditions possible, including hail the size of large golf balls. The only thing that could pose a problem would be a direct lightning strike. However, once installed, the system forms part of your roof and most insurance companies cover this in their building insurance.

If I sell my property, do the solar panels affect the sale price?

Yes, any investment that lowers the cost of your electricity over a long period of time will add value to your home.

Will the installation require half my house to be ripped apart?

All of our hardware is installed with virtually no modification to your house. The framing kits are incorporated into your existing roof (with a tile roof, we remove the tile and mount the frame to the beams inside your roof, then replace the tile as if it was never removed). We also run the cables behind the walls, and use conduit where required, so you can be sure that the system will have very little impact on the aesthetics of your home.

If Nicholls provides the best price, customer service and knowledge, why would I buy from anywhere else?

That’s a very good point.

Should I insure my solar power system?

Yes. Please notify your insurance company that you have installed the system and tell them the value of the system so that they can note it.

How does a residential solar PV system work?

Solar cells in the modules mounted on your roof convert sunlight directly into DC power. A component called an inverter converts this DC power into AC power that can be used in your home. The system is interconnected with your utility. During the day, if your solar system produces more electricity than your home is using, your utility may allow net metering or the crediting of your utility account for the excess power generated being returned to the grid. Your utility would provide power as usual at night and during the day when your electricity demand exceeds that produced by your solar system.
Systems are also available with a battery backup. Part of the power produced by your solar system during the day is used to charge the batteries, which provide power for your critical loads in the event of a power outage.

Will my system work at night?

No. Solar panels are designed for use in direct sunlight only. At night, you draw power from your power authority.

Will my system work on cloudy days?

Yes, though they produce less electricity. Under a light overcast sky, panels might produce about half as much as under full sun.

Does your solar system make hot water?

No. People often confuse our products with solar thermal panels that involve water circulating through tubes to be heated by the sun for swimming pool water heating. Our solar modules convert sunlight into electric current to operate appliances, motors, pumps and other devices.

How can I tell a water heating panel from a solar PV module?

Solar PV modules are typically 2.5 to 5 cm thick with 32 or more 7.5 to 10 cm blue or black solar cells on the back of the cover glass. Solar water heating panels are generally much thicker and may have tubes connected to a flat black plate under the glass, or a black tank inside the collector panel.

Can I generate heat for my home with a residential solar electric system?

No. Our solar power systems are designed to provide electricity to run your lights, appliances and other electric devices in your home. Other solar technologies are designed to turn the sun’s light into heat instead of electricity.

What do the terms grid connect and off-grid mean?

Grid-connect or grid-tied means connected to the utility electrical grid. Our solar PV systems are designed as on-grid systems, meaning that they interconnect with your existing power utility provider. Off-grid refers to systems that are not connected to the utility electrical grid and are commonly used in remote areas.

How do I know if a residential solar electric system would work on my home?

Solar electric power works for most homes. Our systems are engineered to work with most roofing materials, in most locations where direct sunlight is available, in almost every region of the Australia. You need a sunny place on your roof of about 9 square metres for our smaller systems, and up to 80 square meters for our largest systems. Shading from trees or other obstructions can reduce the practicality of a specific installation. A north -facing roof area is optimal, but solar panels can be mounted on west- or east- facing roofs and still produce better than 90 percent of the power of a true north roof mounting.

Why does it require at least (7 square meters) of roof space?

A 250W solar module is approximately 1.6 metres long and 1 metres wide. The modules are always grouped in a minimum set of four.
What if I need a new roof or am building a new house?

This is the ideal situation for installing solar. Before laying the roof, you can install flashable mounting brackets that provide the highest level of protection from leakage.

Can I add reflectors or mirrors around the solar panels to increase the power they generate?

No. Our solar panels designed for use in direct sunlight only.

Will a system produce enough energy to cover all my electricity needs?

It is important to understand that a solar PV system does not need to provide all of the electricity you need to be of great value. A small system that displaces an average of one-quarter to one-half of your average demand reduces your electric bill. We are happy to provide you with a system that supplies 100 percent of your energy needs, but cutting your electricity by 25 – 50 percent is typically the most cost-efficient approach for home solar power.

What other options do I have if the system cannot be mounted on my roof?

If a roof-mounted system proves impractical, a ground-mount, trellis or pergola application may be an option.

Are government incentives available to reduce the price?

Yes, the government has introduced a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme to provide financial assistance for Solar PV installations.

How much power will a residential system produce?

The amount of power produced by a system varies depending on the size of the system, your geographic location and climate and whether the system has a battery backup.

How long will my solar power system last?

With no moving parts and made of very inert materials, our solar modules are tough. Most of the related system components should also last for many years without problems.

How can I tell how my system is performing?

Either the inverter has a digital readout (depending on the system installed) or we can provide a wireless meter with the system. This can be located in your home; your power meter tells you exactly how much electricity you are generating.

Do I need a D.A. approval?

Sometimes, although in most cases a solar PV system will be categorized as an exempt development and therefore it will not require any local government consents. However, if your home is located in a Heritage Conservation area or is Heritage listed you will be required to submit a development application.

Do I need permission from the local utility to connect my solar system to the grid?

Yes. The local utility has rules and procedures that must be followed to connect any generator to the grid safely and legally. These rules are generally based on national standards with which our systems comply. We will organize the grid connection through the power authority.

Do I need approval from my Strata?

Some Strata associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. If you belong to a Strata consult with your body corporate.

Can I have a solar PV system on my house and still be connected to the grid?

Yes, most solar PV system are designed as grid connectable systems, meaning they are designed to interconnect with the power authority electricity grid.

Can I be totally independent from the utility?

We can design a solar PV system that is “off grid”. Off-grid systems must be custom designed and are normally suited to remote locations where no electricity grid is available.

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