Head Office & Showroom
07 5479 3355
38 Kayleigh Drive
Maroochydore, QLD 4558
Answers to commonly asked questions
How does a solar cell work?
Electricity can be produced by solar cells whose principal component consists of a semiconductor that is typically made of silicon. A semiconductor consists of a material that cannot be classified as an isolator or a conductor and whose electrical properties can be influenced by adding foreign substances (doping). The solar cells comprise two adjoining semiconductor layers that are equipped with separate metal contacts and have each been doped, thus creating an “n” layer (n = negative) with a surplus of electrons and below that, a “p” layer (p = positive) with an electron deficiency. Due to the difference in concentration, the electrons flow from n into the p area, thus creating an electrical field, or “space charge zone”, inside the semiconductor structure.
The upper “n” layer in a solar cell is so thin that the photons from sunlight can penetrate it and can only discharge their energy to an electron once they are in the space charge zone. The electron that is activated in this manner follows the internal electrical field and thus travels outside of the space charge zone and reaches the metal contacts of the “p” layer. When an electrical load is connected, the power circuit is closed: the electrons flow across the electrical load to the solar cell’s rear contact and then back to the space charge zone. This effect is called the “photovoltaic effect” (derived from ‘‘Phos’’, the Greek word for light and the name of the physicist Alessandro Volta). An inverter, the “heart” of the system, converts the direct current (DC) produced by the solar cells into alternating current (AC).
When a solar cell is shaded it produces less current. Because the cells are connected in series, the total energy production of the panel is reduced to a level determined by the most shaded cell. Solar panels should not be located in an area that is shaded for most of the day.
SMA inverters (models: 2000HF, 2500HF, 3000HF, 4000TL and 5000TL) all have built in bluetooth functionality, simply installing the free Sunny Explorer software available by clicking here will enable you to connect your bluetooth enabled PC (Sunny Explorer does not at this stage work on Macs) to your inverter, monitor the system and download data to your computer for analysis.
Also available is the stylish Sunny Beam display unit - Informative, compact and easy to operate, the Sunny Beam with Bluetooth doesn’t just look good; it’s an innovative monitoring solution. Key data is visible on its large graphic display, including a daily profile, current output, as well as daily and total energy yield. The performance of up to 12 inverters, the monthly overview, the energy yield, and the CO2 savings can all be accessed with one hand. The Sunny Beam can also be set up to emit an audio signal to notify owners of potential errors.
For the more technical minded you can also install a Sunny Webbox which allows you to monitor your system from anywhere in the world.
You can also monitor the power production from your Power-One inverter by purchasing the optional Desktop unit. Contact us for pricing.
We are often asked how to read electricity meters to see how much electricty your solar power system has returned to the grid.
Thiis handy PDF guide explains the features of all current electricity meters and how to read them - click the following link to view this guide.
All of our solar panels are made using toughened glass and undergo strict IEC testing to ensure they can withstand most hail storms. We have been installing quality solar power systems on the Sunshine Coast for many years and have not yet seen a panel damaged by hail.
In the unlikely event of damage your household insurance should cover replacement costs. It is important that you check with your insurer for coverage.
Details of the IEC solar panel hail testing process can be found by clicking here
Solar Hot Water
All Equinox solar water collectors are made using toughened glass. In the unlikely event of damage your household insurance should cover replacement costs. It is important that you check with your insurer for coverage.
Since the amount of electricity generated depends on light intensity and not irradiation or direct sunlight, your solar power system will work In cloudy and rainy conditions. However the greater the intensity of light, the greater the flow of electricity therefore more electricity is produced on sunny days.
Due to their patented technology REC solar panels are optimised to operate in all light conditions.
If you would like to know what solar power on the Sunshine Coast can do for you please contact us today
Solar power systems work silently, efficiently and require little maintenance. Keeping the solar panels clean of dust and dirt will maximise your power production however it is not recommended that you climb on roofs to clean solar panels.
You should also ensure that solar panels remain unshaded by regularly trimming trees and shrubs around the solar panel array.
You should also regularly monitor your solar inverter and ensure it is kept clean.
For safety reasons your inverter will instantly shut down in the event of a power failure - if this happens the inverter will display an error message similar to "Grid Failure". You do not need to do anything as the inverter will restart as soon as the power is restored and there is sufficient light.
All solar panels vary in size however as a guide each 1.5kW of solar panels will require approximately 12m² of roof space.
The amount of electricity your system produces is dependant on a range of factors including (but not limited to) roof orientation, roof pitch, shade or soiling on the solar panels and weather conditions. We can provide you with a power production estimate based on your particular home using our shade analysis tools and specialised computer software - contact us for more information.
The Clean Energy Council advises that if your home has a north facing, 20 degree pitched roof and is unshaded then you can expect to get 6.4 kWh on average per day from a 1.5kW system, 8.6kWh on average per day from a 2kW system and so on.
We regularly publish the electricity production from our own 3kW solar power system installed on the roof of our showroom and you can view this data by clicking here
Simply contact us to arrange an obligation free site inspection and quote – during the site inspection our consultants will ensure your home is suitable for solar power, discuss your needs and design the appropriate system for you. We will complete all the necessary paperwork to enable your system to be connected to the power grid.
ENERGY PAYBACK TIME: The time it takes for a solar module to generate the same amount of energy required for its manufacture. A modern photovoltaic module’s energy payback time is typically from 1 to 4 years, depending on the module type and location. REC Solar Panels have an energy payback time of 1 year.
GRID-CONNECTED OR GRID-TIED SYSTEM: Solar power system connected to the electric grid.
GRID PARITY: Grid parity is when solar cells can produce electricity at the same price as the electrical energy you can buy off the grid, (or less) without subsidies or feed-in tariffs.
INVERTER: A unit that converts the electricity from the solar system (DC – Direct Current) to electricity that is compatible with the grid (AC – Alternating Current).
kW (KILOWATT): Unit of power equivalent to 1,000 watts.
kWh (KILOWATT HOUR): A Unit of energy equal to that produced or consumed by one kilowatt in one hour.
MONOCRYSTALLINE SILICON: Processed silicon where all the material consists of only one crystal.
MULTICRYSTALLINE SILICON: Processed silicon where the material consists of several small (typically 1–20 mm diameter) crystal grains. Sometimes also called Polycrsystalline.
mW (MEGAWATT): Unit of power equivalent to 1,000 kW.
OFF-GRID SYSTEM: Solar power system not connected to the electric grid. Normally used in areas where grid-connected electricity is unavailable or available only at a high cost.
PHOTOVOLTAICS (photo=light, voltaic=electricity): Solar cells are made of silicon. When a photon (particle of sunlight) strikes a molecule within the solar cell, an electron is knocked free. An electrical field causes this free electron to move to one side of the cell. The accumulated effect of millions of this interaction generates electricity
SOLAR CELL: Semiconductor device that creates electricity when exposed to sunlight. Normally made from silicon wafers.
SOLAR MODULE (SOLAR PANEL): Interconnected solar cells encapsulated and protected behind transparent materials that protect against humidity, air and mechanical damage. Normally solar modules are made with a glass front, a polymer back sheet and aluminium frame. The photovoltaic module, more commonly known as the solar panel or solar module, is then used as a component in a larger photovoltaic system to offer electricity for commercial and residential applications.
Wp (WATT PEAK): Power from solar cells is normally measured in watts when the solar cell is exposed to a standard sunlight irradiation (1,000 W/sqm).