How it works

The Basics

On-Grid:

Solar power systems collect UV from the sun.  Even on cloudy days UV still provides energy although not as much as a sunny day.  The solar panels collect the UV in the form of DC (direct current).  The inverter then converts the energy from DC into AC (alternating current) which is generally what we all use as power.  The inverter manages the power and allows you to utilise the power collected from the solar panels first before buying from the grid.  Any excess power not used from the solar panel collection is then sent back to the grid and obtains a feed in tariff from the electricity retail providers that are agreed upon. If you need more power than what the panels provide at any given time the house pulls power from the grid to offset the shortfall.

Off-Grid:

Since there is no grid power, Off-Grid systems perform the function of being the “power provider”.  The system needs to provide stable power under any circumstances rain or shine to users 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  It also needs to do this automatically without the user being required to “manipulate” the system or refrain from carrying on daily life as normal. A properly designed off-grid system should have several sources of power to draw from and manipulate those sources automatically to provide stable power.  These should include renewables (solar, wind, water), generators (auto start), and battery banks.  The inverter then chooses which sources to charge the batteries from and which source to provide power to the property.  A correctly designed off-grid system reduces generator fuel expense, extends battery life, and ensures batteries are not exposed to depletion. It is essential that the system be robust enough to provide power for 3-5 days without any sunshine at all. If designed incorrectly, the battery bank which is the most expensive component in your system could fail in as little as a couple of years and require expensive replacement. By automating the system, this is a mistake that can be avoided.  As your power provider, off-grid systems must be designed by certified off-grid designers.

ON-Grid backup systems:

Peace of mind in a grid failure is the primary focus of these systems.  Generally, these systems in essence are smaller off-grid systems designed to provide just a few hours of power each day to maintain essential services through a grid failure.  Most solar systems could incorporate some form of emergency backup post installation however; if this is a concern for you and you experience frequent “power disruptions” it would be advisable to raise this with your solar system provider if possible before installation of your solar system. The most economical solution for emergency power of a few hours during the odd grid failure is to incorporate a “change over switch” into your distribution board and purchase a small generator to plug into your distribution board.

 

Quality solar products

The solar industry has developed several key areas of quality assurance.  These include Government regulations, industry certifications, and product Tier level systems. All of which gives peace of mind and shows our industry is committed to providing quality products and services.

 

Government regulations:

AS/NZS 3000

Electrical installations. Known as the “Australia/New Zealand Wiring Rules”

AS/NZS 5033

Installation of photovoltaic (PV) arrays

AS 4777

4777.1- Installation Requirements

4777.2- Inverter Requirements

4777.3- Grid Protection Requirements

AS 4509.1

Stand-alone power systems – Safety requirements

AS 4509.2

Stand-alone power systems – System design guidelines

AS 4509.3

Stand-alone power systems – Installation and maintenance

AS/NZS 3010

Electrical installations – Generating sets

Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992-1995

Workplace safety guidelines

Consumers Guarantee Act 1993

 

Industry certification:

SEANZ- members work to a strict SEANZ Code of Conduct This ensures their business, its process and practices are actioned with integrity from supplying products that comply and meet international and New Zealand standards to designing and installing systems that deliver results according to specification in line with AUS/NZ 5033 Regulations, to help end users mitigate risk.

 

Tier level rating system:

Tier rating system is the power industries way of grading solar panel manufacturers.

 

Tier 1-Top 2% of solar manufacturers

-Vertically integrated

-Invest heavily in R&D

-Advanced robotics process

-Manufacturing solar panels for longer than 5 years

 

Tier 2- small to medium scale manufacturers

-No investment in R&D

-Use only partial robotics, reliant on manual production lines

-Producing panels 3-5 years

 

Tier 3-Assemblers only – 90% of solar PV

-No investment in R&D

-Assemble panels only- doesn’t manufacture silicon cells

-Uses human production lines for manual soldering of solar cells instead of advanced robotics

-Assembling panels for 1-2 years.

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