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Data Signs Installs 30kW Solar System

data signs 30kw solar system

Data Signs (Australia) commenced manufacturing in 1976 as a “Programmable Message Sign” manufacturer. Today, Data Signs Pty Ltd is the largest manufacturer of Solar Powered Traffic Management equipment in the southern hemisphere.

Solar Choice were approached by Data Signs’ operational team looking for guidance on the solar project they had begun to undertake with confidence they could access the relevant rebates and Feed In Tariffs. 

Solar Choice were quickly able to supply an analysis of their power bills in the form of a Business Case report along with access to a personalised platform showcasing a number of indicative installer options to review.

Through our guidance the eventual chosen provider had shown a diverse background and had previously completed an LED upgrade for the site.

The installed system now features 70 EGing panels and a 30kW GoodWe inverter including tilt frames to maximise efficiency. 

The project is expected to produce over 40,000kWh’s each year whilst offsetting around 680 tonnes of CO2 emissions over a 20 year lifetime. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 200 cars off the road for one year.


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ACT to Provide Interest Free Loans for Energy Efficient Home Upgrades

family solar home

The ACT Government’s Sustainable Household Scheme will provide $150 million worth of interest-free loans to eligible ACT households of between $2,000 and $15,000. The goal is to provide help with the upfront costs of investing in energy-efficient home upgrades. It is ultimately hoped that this scheme will contribute towards ACT’s target of net zero emissions by 2045.

The objective of the Scheme is to encourage sustainable solutions at the community level.

The Scheme has already attracted initial applications from 5,000 households and 44 installers and suppliers.

The new Scheme is opened up for the 2021/22 financial year. The loans will be set up to be repaid over a 10-year period and the Scheme will be available for new applicants for five years.

The scheme covers various products. We’ve listed the solar-specific ones that might relate to you below:

Solar panels for rooftopsBattery storage systems for homesHeating and cooling systemsHot Water Heat Pumps


Eligibility for the ACT Sustainable Household Scheme:

A participant in the scheme is defined as either:

A household under Category A and B purchasesHolder of an ACT Driver Licence for Category C purchases

A core requirement of the Scheme is the financial ability to repay the Government interest free loan. Hence, a credit check is performed to assess this.


The financial limits of the loan are:

The minimum amount a participant can borrow is $2,000The amount loaned can be spread amongst a range of eligible products, i.e. there doesn’t have to be one single transaction.The maximum amount a participant can borrow is $15,000 for eligible product categories A, B and C. This is a cumulative maximum.


Here’s a brief explanation of Category A, B & C products:

Category A: Refers to electricity generation, storage and EV charging products. Household rooftop solar PV systems, battery systems and electric vehicle charging infrastructure are included.Category B: Refers to the replacement of gas or inefficient electrical appliances. Category C: This is for electric vehicles.


The Scheme will be rolled out in 3 phases:

Phase 1: This is for households making purchases from Category A and B.Phase 2: Expansion to households purchasing from Category C.Phase 3: Expansion to include non-profit community organisations.


For a more detailed explanation of the Scheme click here

If you’re a resident of ACT and are thinking of taking advantage of this Scheme but aren’t sure about your installer options, submit your details below.

We provide a transparent apples-for-apples comparison of pre-vetted installers in your area and have been around since 2008.


The post ACT to Provide Interest Free Loans for Energy Efficient Home Upgrades appeared first on Solar Choice.

Batteries getting bigger and leaping to four-hour storage as market changes

big battery storage south australia

A new era of big, grid connected batteries is rapidly dawning on the Australian grid, both in terms of capacity and storage as the market dynamics change along with the increase in large scale wind and solar, and rooftop installations.

To date, big batteries have mostly been focused on delivering network services to the grid – frequency control, synthetic inertia and as “virtual synchronous machines”, where they have shown they can replicate, and even out-perform, the synchronous qualities of coal and gas plants.

In terms of what most people would understand as energy storage – time shifting excess wind and solar output to times of the day when it might be more useful – they have been doing little of that, mostly because the market can still rely on the back-up power installed to support existing fossil fuel generators.

But as the amount of wind and solar continues to grow, and as the retirement of coal and gas plants accelerates, the opportunity for time shifting wind and solar is emerging and the number of battery storage projects looking at up to four hours of storage is growing rapidly – many from Australia’s biggest fossil fuel generators.

EnergyAustralia is planning a 350MW big battery with four hours storage at Yallourn in Victoria, which is due to close in 2028. AGL is building a 250MW big battery with up to four hours storage at Torrens Island in South Australia, where it is closing and mothballing ageing gas units, and plans a similar installation at the Loy Yang coal generator in Victoria. Origin is looking at a big four-hour battery at Eraring.

Alinta is proposing a 30MW/120MWh battery at Port Hedland, where it operates a gas generator that supplies its big mining customers, and is looking to install a 90MW solar farm to respond to their desire for cleaner, and cheaper electricity.


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Battery boost: AEMO gives green light to 5-minute settlements from October

One of the biggest changes to Australia’s energy market rules, the switch to a five-minute settlement period, has been given the green light by the Australia Energy Market Operator to come into play in October.

AEMO said that after a detailed risk and readiness assessment the National Electricity Market was ready to proceed with the switch as planned, and without delay, paving the way for investment in new technologies like battery storage.

Historically, generators participating in the NEM have operated on the basis of auctions held every 5-minutes, but with the payment settlement period averaged over a longer, 30-minute interval – a difference that has created the potential for market gaming, while also undermining the potential of fast-response technologies like battery storage and demand response.

A request to change the rules to align the auction intervals was signed off by the Australian Energy Market Commission in 2017 and, despite working hard to meet an October 2021 start date, AEMO had recently raised concerns that the market operator itself, or some market participants, might not be ready.

“This is an important market reform that reflects the evolving energy system and an initiative that aligns very closely to AEMO’s priority areas as we navigate the energy future to the benefit of the market and all consumers,” AEMO’s Chief Market Services Officer, Violette Mouchaileh, said.

“Informed by, and completed in consultation with, market participants, AEMO’s comprehensive risk and readiness assessment measured essential criteria required for rule commencement – concluding that the NEM is on track for market start in October,” Mouchaileh added.

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NSW flags tighter rules on where wind and solar farms can be built

The New South Wales government is seeking to amend state planning rules to protect major regional centres from “encroaching solar and wind development,” as the state ramps up its shift to a renewable powered grid.

The proposed State Environmental Planning Policy changes would limit the construction of large-scale wind or solar projects within 10km of the commercial centres of Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Griffith, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga, and within 5km of residential land in those towns.

The new rules would require planning authorities to consider additional mandatory matters before granting approval to projects planned for the designated zones, including whether they might impair the future growth of a regional city.

Authorities would also be required to consider whether a proposed solar or wind farm might significantly affect the scenic quality and landscape character of a regional city, including the approaches to it.

In the “Strategic Justification” of the proposed new rules, the NSW government said the increasing number of big solar and wind projects required to support the state’s transition to renewables had the potential to create or exacerbate land-use conflicts.

“It is important to preserve land on the outskirts of regional cities from potentially incompatible development, such as solar and wind farms, that could preclude growth and development of these cities in the future,” it says.


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Solar Battery Price Index – Nov 2021


Solar Choice has previously been publishing average solar PV system prices on a monthly basis since August 2012 in our Solar PV Price Index, which focused on household solar prices and which ultimately became the Residential Solar PV Price Index. In May of 2014, we added our Commercial Solar PV Price Index for larger system sizes, and late last year we launched our Home Battery Storage Price Index.

For current solar system prices, please visit our Current Solar System Prices page.


verage out-of-pocket battery installation prices – Nov 2021

The table below displays average, indicative battery installation prices from a range of installers around Australia, most of whom are active in the Solar Choice network. Prices include installation and GST.

verage Solar Battery System Costs (Fully Installed)  – Nov 2021

Battery SizeBattery Only Price*Battery + Inverter/Charger**3kWh$4,800$5,3708kWh$9,920$10,96013kWh$13,390$14,04018kWh$17,640$19,080*Includes the installation of the battery only. You must already have a hybrid/battery ready system

**Includes an additional inverter to manage the battery bank for a DC-coupled battery system


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Not sure what battery size is right for your home? Check out our Quick Guide to Sizing Residential Solar & Battery Systems

Further info, assumptions & explanations (click to expand) ▼

Pricing figures are based on a range of battery size offerings in four size ‘buckets’ (1-5kWh, 6-10kWh, 11-15kWh, 15-20kWh); the 3kWh, 8kWh, 13kWh and 18kWh battery capacity sizes used in the table below are the ‘middle size’ battery bank from each of these buckets, and the prices were generated by multiplying each number by the average $/kWh system sizes for each bucket (detailed in the second table in this article). We did this because it was the easiest way to give readers an idea of what they’d be looking to pay for a battery system.All the battery products use some lithium variant and have a 10 year warranty. The battery brands included this month are Alpha-ESS (various sizes) LG Chem (RESU line, various sizes), Tesla Powerwall 2 (13.2kWh),products from sonnen’s eco range, Sungrow’s PowCube, various products in the Alpha-ESS range, and Pylontech (various sizes). Inverter brands included are Redback, Sungrow, SolaX & Goodwe.We differentiate between ‘battery only’ installations and ‘battery + inverter/charger systems’. Battery only prices apply to households that either a) already have a solar system with a battery-ready inverter installed and want to retrofit batteries to it (assuming of course, that the batteries in question are compatible with that inverter), or b) plan on having a hybrid/battery-ready inverter installed with a new solar system. Please note that not all batteries products have a ‘battery only’ equivalent – Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Enphase’s AC Battery, for example, both have inbuilt inverters (whose cost is included alongside the battery), while LG Chem’s RESU line & Pylontech’s products are battery banks without inverters (although they do require an inverter to operate, it is possible to ‘double up’ with a hybrid inverter for your solar).>Which one do you need?You’ve already got solar: If you already have a solar system with a hybrid inverter, the ‘battery only’ price may apply to you if you find compatible batteries. If you already have solar but without a hybrid inverter, the ‘battery + inverter/charger’ pricing is probably right for you.You don’t have solar yet: If you do not yet have solar, and you definitely know you want batteries, the ‘battery only’ column will only apply to you if you end up purchasing a system with a hybrid/battery-ready inverter. The battery+inverter/charger column will apply to you if you’re considering a battery product that has its own inverter (e.g. Powerwall or Enphase AC Battery) to go with your solar system.

verage battery installation prices – Nov 2021

Battery capacity rangeInstalled cost per kWh capacityCost per kWh throughput (total cycle life)Cost per kWh throughput (1 cycle per day)1-5 kWh$1,600$0.35$0.416-10 kWh$1,240$0.26$0.2811-15kWh$1,030$0.25$0.2916-20kWh$980$0.23$0.29All$1,210$0.27$0.32


In this table we try to take a holistic approach to representing battery value. When comparing battery systems, people in the industry typically speak in terms of ‘dollars per kilowatt-hour’ ($/kWh) of storage capacity. This is an easy shortcut for discussing battery value (which is why we’ve included it), but doesn’t tell the full story as different batteries can tolerate different levels of use. For example, some batteries may only be charged/discharged (‘cycled’) once daily, while others can by cycled up to 2.7x per day (see: sonnen) without voiding the warranty.

To this end, we’ve also included figures on ‘energy throughput‘. The energy throughput metric gives you an idea of how much you’ll pay for each kWh of energy that you pass through the battery over its lifespan.

We’ve looked at two scenarios:

If you cycle the battery as many times as its cycle life will allow per day (total cycle life), orIf you cycle it only once per day (which is the more realistic scenario since most homes will charge their batteries only with the sun and not with the grid – c.f. tariff arbitrage).

As noted in the footnotes of the image above, these figures are highly indicative and are intended to serve as a means of comparison between battery products – they do not take into account battery degradation or efficiency.


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The ‘Are we there yet?’ Meter(s)

Despite their growing popularity, the vast majority of the almost 2 million households with solar panels in Australia do not have batteries. As battery technology costs fall, battery storage will become more financially attractive and the number of battery installations will increase.

The ‘Are we there yet?’ Meter (the charts below) gauge the overall attractiveness of home battery storage in Australia – for both households considering a brand new solar-plus-storage system as well as those looking at a possible battery retrofit.

We look at the national ‘low end’ battery prices for moderately-sized (5kWh & 10kWh) battery systems (not a specific product, but more an amalgamation of various products that we’ve seen) and see how the estimated payback periods stack up against a theoretical ‘ideal’ payback period of 7 years; we see this 7 year mark as being a reasonable signifier of the battery market being where it needs to be to make sense for most households (the ‘there’ in ‘are we there yet?’).

IMPORTANT More about battery prices & payback periods (click to expand) ▼

We’ve also set a target $700/kWh figure for batteries (specifically lithium with a 10 year warranty) as a marker for general battery affordability. One of the biggest hurdles to battery storage uptake in Australia is the up-front costs associated with batteries. At this price point, a 10kWh battery system would cost roughly $7,000 and a 5kWh battery system would cost about $3,500 – tenable (if not negligible) amounts to pay for something that will go a long way towards minimising electricity bills and upping a home’s energy independence.

Note that this is the payback period for the work that the battery does ‘shifting’ solar energy to evening use, and excludes direct solar benefits – calculated using our Solar & Battery Storage Sizing & Payback Estimator Tool. Payback periods for ‘whole’ solar+storage systems – those viewed as a single unit – will already come in at under 10 years in many places. Also note that it doesn’t take into account the fact that there’s an opportunity cost associated with putting your solar into batteries instead of earning a feed-in tariff for it – which actually makes batteries less appealing.

Other assumptions: The model scenario assumes a house with a 5kW solar system and an average daily energy consumption level of 25kWh on the ‘evening peak’ consumption pattern. This hypothetical house is located in Sydney (which gets a middling amount of sunlight), and is on a time of use (TOU) billing plan, where electricity is more expensive in the evening. (TOU plans are generally the more attractive option for households with batteries.)

So is battery storage there yet?

1. Battery plus inverter – (Relevant for homes undertaking a full battery retrofit or a new solar & storage system with two inverters)

At $800-$900/kWh for systems on the ‘low’ end of the price spectrum, and with payback periods approaching 10 years in the right combinations of circumstances, we’re close enough for lots of Australians to justify making an investment in a battery retrofit, but not yet in the territory of ‘mass appeal’.

Note that this month we updated the electricity price details we use in our modelling, which has changed the results beyond just the battery price movements.

Also remember that this chart is meant to reflect the national situation as an amalgamated whole – your individual situation (including the state you live in, the amount you pay for electricity & the deal you get on a battery system) may be conducive to a shorter payback period, so we encourage you to look into it for yourself.

(You can get battery system pricing by requesting a Quote Comparison through our system. You can evaluate battery viability for your situation using our  Solar & Battery Storage Sizing & Payback Estimator Tool.)


‘Full’ battery-plus-inverter system installation prices vs average payback periods across two battery size categories (5kWh and 10kWh). Note that the lowest price on a 5kWh battery size category offering is already below the $7,000 affordability threshold. Click to enlarge.

2. Batteries only – (Relevant for homes purchasing a brand new solar+storage system with hybrid/battery-ready inverter, or retrofitting batteries to a battery with a hybrid/battery-ready inverter)

Prices for ‘battery only’ installations did not change this month as significantly as they did for battery+inverter systems, but the situation remains the same as previous months: For anyone in the market for a brand new solar system, it may be worthwhile to tack on a small or medium-sized battery bank while you’re at it, judging by this month’s data. A 5kW solar system plus (roughly) 5kWh battery bank could cost as little as $10,000, depending on where you live and which products you go with. A system of this size at this price would enable most households to dramatically reduce their electricity bills, would deliver a reasonable return and would allow for a respectable degree of energy independence (possibly including some emergency blackout protection).

‘Battery only’ pricing vs payback periods across two battery size categories (5kWh and 10kWh).

bout this data

Solar Choice’s Battery Storage Price Index is the companion to our Solar PV Price Index, which covers solar system installation prices around Australia. The aim of the Battery Storage Price Index is to assist shoppers in getting a grip on this relatively new market and assess whether batteries are worth their while.

Tables and charts included in this article were compiled using data from Solar Choice’s installer network database (as well as a couple of outside sources), which contains regularly-updated pricing and product details from over 100 solar & battery installation companies across Australia. Prices do not ordinarily incorporate meter installation fees or additional costs for difficult installations.

Compare quotes from up to 7 pre-vetted installers in your area now.

Since 2008 our knowledge and sophisticated software has allowed over 180,000 Australian households and businesses to make a well-informed choice on their solar & battery installer.
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© 2019 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

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Is it acceptable to solar power historic buildings?

Efforts are being taken by individuals, businesses, organizations and governments all over the world to minimize their impact on the environment. This can be achieved by reducing their dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

Currently sustainability issues and climate change issues dominate the world. There is a constant push for the adoption of renewable energies.

Among renewable energy sources, solar energy is in vogue now. This trend is likely to accelerate at an alarming rate as the solar technology has improved and solar panels have become more affordable.

Historic buildings, sites and resources are an integral part of any community. It is the reflection of our history. It helps us understand and respect people who lived in different eras with different habits and traditions.

Historical buildings do not have the latest technologies. They often leave a larger carbon footprint. Updating it with solar panels would be the best way to come in line with green initiatives.

Preserving and restoring it is the responsibility of government. Whether historic buildings can be solar powered is a matter of great concern.

There is nothing that says solar powering a historic building cannot be done. It is difficult but not impossible to be done. It can be done only after a careful review.

Solar installation has to be done without causing any direct or irreversible impact on the character‐defining feature of a historic building. By doing so significant historical value can be preserved.

Solar powering a historic building is acceptable as long as the panels can be placed discreetly out of view and the building structure does not need modification.

One has to be very cautious while doing so because even a minor thing like few holes in an ancient wooden beam or a block of stone might affect the older generation.

Not every alteration can be detrimental to those values, many installations has already been done without compromising the integrity of historic resources.

Many of these historic resources are owner occupied like schools, institutions etc. They can make a huge savings on their electricity bills with the solar installation. It can produce onsite energy to meet the electric needs of these buildings.

Solar panels are a source of financial resource too. The amount can be used for the preservation of the structure.

Many are concerned about the rooftop solar panels affecting the aesthetic appeal of historic buildings. Solar powering the roof doesn’t always alter the historic preservation of the building.

As long as the roof is not visible from the outside it doesn’t matter even if it is powered by rooftop solar panels. At times the old, decrepit slated roof looks better when replaced with solar slates that look much the same.

Under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Secretary of the Interior is responsible for establishing professional standards and for providing guidance on the preservation of the nation’s historic properties.

If solar panels are installed on a historic property in such a way that it cannot be seen from the ground or it is hidden behind a low parapet of a historic industrial building, it meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

An installation that negatively impacts the historic character of a property will not meet the Standards.

Solar panels installed on a new addition as part of rehabilitation of the historic Gund Brewery, Wisconsin is an example which meets the Standards.

The panels are placed on top of a compatible new addition at the back of the historic property. Though it is visible from the parking area, installation is consistent with the historic industrial character of the site. It meets the Standards.

Old Hilton Hotel in New Mexico is a historic hotel building that is a large and prominent landmark in the community. Initially when solar panels were installed, it was set at an angle that created a new sawtooth feature that detracted from the roofline and distinctive cornice detail.

It didn’t meet the standards. The angle of panels had to be changed to reduce its prominence on the building. The saw tooth effect had to be eliminated to make the earlier decorative cornice remain as the dominant feature of roofline. With the changes it met the standards.

In many places regulatory limitations and strict interpretations prevents the adoption of solar technology. Careful articulation of policies guiding the use of solar panels in communities can be of help.

It helps to promote the adoption of renewable energy systems and support the protection of historic resources.

Ground mounted solar panels are a better option while installing solar panels on the site of historic resource. It is better to get the panels installed in such a position that reduce its visibility like the rear or side yard.

Historic landscapes, its natural design and features and materials have to be given due respect. It has to be maintained as such. The installation shouldn’t hamper it by any means.

If there are new buildings or additions to the historic building it is better to locate solar panels in the less visible areas of the new additions. It helps to retain the compatibility of historic buildings and its settings.

If the project doesn’t have new additions, panels have to be placed on an existing non historic addition or accessory structure. It minimises the impact of installation on historic resources by protecting the historic fabric against alteration.

It is better to avoid placing the panels on street facing roofs or walls. It helps to minimise the visibility of panels from a public place. Installation behind parapet walls, dormers, rear facing roofs are all good choices.

Character defining features of historic resources have to be retained. Installations that result in the permanent loss of such features have to be avoided.

Installations that alter existing roof lines or dormers, the ones which obstruct views of architectural features like overlaying windows or decorative detailing has to be avoided.

Solar panel installation has to be reversible. Anything that causes a damage to historic fabric has to be avoided. Solar roof tiles, laminates and glazing has to be used in a way that it doesn’t destroy the historic fabric.

The usage of brackets and number of points of attachments has to be minimalised to avoid the damages caused to the fabric.

While installing solar panels one has to ensure that the panels won’t be visible above the existing roof structure of the historic building. The panels have to be placed few inches below the roofline.

To avoid the visibility of solar panels on flat roofs, it is better to set the panels back from the roof’s edge and adjust the angle and height of the panels accordingly.

Solar panels should be set at an angle consistent with the slope of the historic building. It is better to locate all the panels on a single roof rather than scattering them on several roofs.

It is better to use solar panels, support structures and conduits that blend into the surroundings. If all the elements of solar installation match the surrounding building fabric in colour the overall visibility and reflectivity of solar panels can be substantially reduced.

Most people these days are in support of renewable energy and preservation of historic values.  A right design and a workable solution will help the historic buildings to meet sustainable energy goals without compromising its historic significance and integrity.

The post Is it acceptable to solar power historic buildings? appeared first on Regen Power.

How to install net metering in off-grid solar system?

Net metering is the foundational and most effective solar policy on which the entire residential solar industry is built.

It allows to feed the surplus electricity generated from solar system back to the electricity grid for a later use.

Net metering uses the electric grid to store the energy produced by the solar panel system. It can be used at a later time. It helps one to reduce their electricity bills and save more.

When the solar panels produce more electricity than consumption, electric meter runs in reverse. It sends the electricity back to the grid.

When the consumption is more than production, electric meter runs forward and electricity is pulled back from the grid.

For an on-grid solar system, a bi-directional meter is installed. It records the inflow of electricity from the grid to the house and outflow of electricity from the house to the grid.

This digital meter runs in both directions to accommodate electricity generated. The electricity bill will be a net of inflow and outflow electricity.

Solar panel production varies according to season. Panels produce more in summer. In winter season energy produced by the system is much lesser.

Net metering accounts for it by crediting for the excess electricity that is being sent to the grid. It also allows to use it later during the times of adversity.

Net-metering functions like a virtual battery. The consumers can avail power without a storage system even at times when the panels are not producing.

As batteries are not deployed for storage, maintenance cost of the system is much lesser.

Off grid solar system is the one where system is not connected to the power grid. Solar panels produce power and it is used by the clients. The connection with the utility company is severed.

The solar system produces electricity only when the sun is shining. There is no access to extra electricity even at times of need.

What is produced and what is stored is all that’s there to power the equipment. This makes solar batteries mandatory to stay powered at night.

An off-grid solar system can go for virtual net metering. It is more less similar to net metering from a customer’s point of view.

Community solar farm produces energy. It allows people to receive clean energy and make electricity bill savings. It is similar to the ones produced from their own roofs.

Virtual net metering makes customer savings happen. It pays back the investors too.

Net metering is an agreement between a consumer who installs a solar system and the Electricity Distribution Company. It allows the solar PV system owner to sell excess solar energy to the utility company.

It also allows them to buy deficit energy from the utility company using a meter to track this energy exchange.

Off-grid solar power system is not connected to the power grid. It has  no access to net metering in the normal course.

Any surplus energy generated by the Off-grid solar system has to be either used, stored or it goes a waste.

An option to do so is to replace the off-grid inverter with an on-grid inverter. For both off grid and on grid functions, a hybrid solar inverter would be the best choice.

On grid inverters are those that can be connected directly to the grid.  The micro-controller inside synchronizes the generated power to the utility grid.

An off-grid inverter is not designed to sync the generated power to the grid. It will get damaged when connected to the grid lines.

On grid inverters can be used for off grid applications. It is possible by developing a microgrid, with generator as a primary back up and solar inverter as a renewable source.

Hooking on grid inverters directly with generators can damage it due to reverse power.

Net metering makes renewable energy more economical and accessible to all. Its main advantage is that the surplus energy earns revenue while the shortage of energy is covered by the grid.

The post How to install net metering in off-grid solar system? appeared first on Regen Power.

Solar Analytics Plan Optimiser Demo and Review

Looking for our review of Solar Analytics Solar Monitoring? – click here.

There are many comparison sites out there but electricity retailers are experts in making their plans difficult to compare. Is it better to look for a higher feed in tariff with higher power rates or a lower feed in tariff with lower rates. What about the daily supply charge? Flat rate or a time of use rate?

The answer is it depends on how you consume energy on a day to day basis. Currently only electricity retailers have that data and they don’t make it publicly available. However if you have solar analytics installed with consumption monitoring – then you can take the power back into your own hands.

Solar Analytics Plan Optimiser – How it works

If you have Solar Analytics installed with consumption monitoring then their software captures all the information you need to make an exact comparison of all of the available electricity offers.

The developers at Solar Analytics have built the software so that all you need to do is enter you current energy bill information and they will assess the market for you and find out who has the best offer to suit your needs taking into account all of the following factors:

Solar feed in tariffsFlat rate or time of use (peak, shoulder, off peak) ratesDaily supply charges

The software extracts all the electricity plan offers from Government websites like energymadeeasy.gov.au which is designed as a whole of market comparison – rather than some of the other sites out there who only work with a smaller list of ‘partners’.

Simple 2 Step Process

Step 1: Enter Current Plan

Solar Analytics Plan optimiser - Step 1 enter energy bill information
The first step is to enter your current energy bill information. This helps the system determine if there are any better offers out there than your current electricity plan and enables the calculation of how much you can save by switching.

Solar Analytics have advised they will be launching an automatic bill scraper tool where they can extract all the required information from an uploaded PDF of your energy bill.

Step 2: Review Results

Click on compare plans and you will see the best options – it is as simple as that. You can see the top offers that are available based on your own energy data ranked by the savings you can make.

You can easily compare the important characteristics of the bill including the buy tariff, solar feed in tariff and the supply charge.

It comes as no surprise that the best offer doesn’t always have the highest feed in tariff for customers with solar systems on their roof.

Solar Analytics Plan optimiser - Step 2 results

All that’s left is the simple step of heading to the relevant electricity retailers’ website and signing up for their relevant plan – or you can do this via energymadeeasy.gov.au

Through their initial trials in NSW, Solar Analytics have advised that 70% of users had savings potential that could be realised and that the average saving was ~$400 per year.

How Can I Access the Solar Analytics Plan Optimiser Tool?

Solar Analytics unit at home
If you have a current subscription to Solar Analytics and have consumption monitoring installed then this tool is available to you at no extra cost. Simply head to the dashboard on your monitoring system and click on compare plans.

If you are interested in getting Solar Analytics added to your existing solar system then you have a couple of options.

If you have a Sungrow or Fronius inverter with consumption monitoring then no additional hardware is required – you can simply contact your solar installer to get it set up.If you don’t have a compatible inverter or consumption monitor (more are being added to the list soon), then there will be an upfront cost to have the additional hardware installed. Contact your solar installer to get more information.

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Did you miss our previous article…

Do solar panels need direct sunlight?

In a world that craves sustainability, solar panels are seen as a source of alternative energy that helps humans to lead better life. It is a sound investment that offers clean energy at a lower cost.

Solar panels produce the best when there is direct sunlight. It does not mean that they don’t produce when there is no direct sunlight.

It functions by converting photons to electric current. As direct and indirect sunlight carry photons, solar panels can work in both conditions.

Solar panels need 1000 W/m2 of sunlight to reach their peak output. It is available only when there is direct sunlight. It works with maximum efficiency when the sun is shining.

It produces more free electricity during the day when direct sunlight is maximum. In its absence, there will be only a reduced output from the panels. There is electricity generation even during winter and cloudy days.

A peak sun hour is the amount of energy in sunlight that a solar PV panel receives over a day.

A solar system needs an average of four peak sun hours per day to make the system worthwhile. It is equivalent to 4000 watt-hours of cumulative solar radiation over a day.

A solar panel is made up of many smaller photovoltaic cells that are linked together. These cells are held together by durable silicone.

Each side will have both positive and negative charge, which allows the proper electrical currents to bounce off each other. These cells inside the panel convert photons into usable energy.

To maximize sunlight exposure, solar panels are designed with mirrors and reflectors. This increases the number of photons absorbed and converted to usable electricity.

Irrespective of weather, solar panels produce clean energy most of the time, with an exception to shade and after sunset.

There is no electricity generation at night. A good battery storage system can solve this problem.

A battery storage system store excess energy produced during daytime and use it later when there is comparatively lesser or no production at all. A solar system with storage makes one fully energy independent.

Solar panels do work in shade. Shaded solar panels produce less power than those in direct sunlight.

Overgrown trees, foliage, neighboring solar panels, parts of the roof like a chimney or dormer can all be sources that block direct sunlight from reaching certain panels of the solar system.

Solar panels do not work well if it is shaded for most of the time. It will work well only when the shading objects are removed.

If there is only partial shading, excessive efficiency loss can be prevented with solar inverter solutions.

Solar inverters convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which is the electricity that use at homes. A right solar inverter helps to minimize efficiency losses from shaded panels.

Shade causes variations in electricity generation. These variations and dips in efficiency of solar PVs can be minimized through panel layout and inverter selection.

The three types of inverters currently available are string inverters, micro-inverters, and power optimizers. All the three differ in the way it deals with shade.

String inverters are the most basic inverter technology. In a string inverter system, many panels are connected to the same inverter. If one panel is shaded, the entire system operates only at the power of the weakest panel.

Micro-inverters have an inverter installed for each individual solar panel. If one panel is shaded, the rest of the panels w

ill operate at peak efficiency.

As each panel has its own designated inverter, it works at its efficiency irrespective of other panels.

Power optimizers are a combination of string inverters and micro-inverters. It can negate the effect of a single panel being shaded on an entire system. It sends the DC electricity generated from the panels to a single string inverter.

One can solve the problem of partial shading by installing a system with power optimizers or micro-inverters. Both are more expensive than a standard string inverter as it has higher electricity production.

Weather conditions that reduce direct sunlight are clouds, rain and snow. These are detrimental to solar power production.

In such conditions, solar panels will produce only about half the energy that they would produce with direct sunlight.

Even during bad weather conditions, electricity generation happens. solar panels will still be absorbing, converting, and providing energy.

Clouds do let some sunlight through them, but with low efficiency. Powerproduction depends on the thickness of cloud cover.

Rain doesn’t directly affect the power production. But the heavy cloud that accompanies rain will have an impact on electricity generation.

With the darkening of sky, clouds block sunlight. It lowers system output by  40-90%. The positive aspect of rain and snow is that both cleans the panels.

Snow prevents the panels from getting too hot and losing efficiency. Light snow doesn’t affect power production as the sunlight can pass through light dusting of snow.

During cold weather, there is more electron activity, which allows the solar panels to absorb more sunlight.

Solar panels are installed in an angle that it can easily shed off snow. A heavy accumulation of snow would block sunlight and greatly reduce power production.

Indirect sunlight happens when sunlight is reflected off a surface like clouds or snow. Even in indirect sunlight photons from sun will reach the solar panels.  The amount of heat and sunlight that reaches the panel will be lesser.

The amount of sunlight that solar panels need to perform optimally will be determined by the angle of roof, energy consumption needs, climate of the region, number of solar panels and shade during a specific time of day.

The amount of energy generated by a panel is directly proportional to the amount of energy it receives from sunlight. It is important to install panels in such a way that they receive good exposure to direct sunlight.

Based on peak sun hours of a region, a solar system designer can help in choosing the size of a solar system that would generate a required energy in a particular installation situation.

A professional solar installer can customize installations for a property. They do it by calculating the amount of shade a particular roof section receives over a year and by calculating the solar payback period.

Amount of sunlight, system cost, installation charges, local utility rates and state incentives need to be considered when evaluating the cost-effectiveness of a solar system.

Solar technology is constantly improving. In near future, we can expect solar panels that generate more power during indirect sunlight and even when the weather is not ideal.

With each development and improvement, solar panels will produce more cleanenergy thus benefitting our planet and making huge savings in the yearly electrical consumption.

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