Solar Size Calculator
What size solar power system do I need?, how many solar panels?, what size system will best suit your installation budget and your power consumption requirements?. Use the online solar calculator to find the best solar system size in kilowatts and how many solar panels you will need.
A good method used to calculate your solar system size is to take a look at your electricity bill, somewhere on your power bill there should be an indication of your average daily electricity usage. The average Australian home with 3 bedrooms uses around 10kWh to 18kWh. But don't just look at one power bill, try to look at your bills across the entire year as power consumption can vary at different times of the year. For example in the summer months we may use air conditioning more, and in winter more heating and lighting.
Your location can have a big effect on how much solar power can be generated. In Australia the further south you go the less intense the sunlight is. A 1kW system on average will produce around 4kWh to 5kWh per day, so for an average energy efficient home at least a 3kW system will be enough.
During the day go outside and observe just how much direct sunlight your roof receives, and remember no sun means no solar power so if you live an a valley or are shaded by large trees your sunlight hours will be reduced having a big effect on just how much solar power your system can generate over all. If a solar power system can generate more power than you need during the day, a feed-in tariff can help pay for the power you use at night after the sun goes down, so even after dark you can still get free power from the sun.
You will also need to calculate how many solar panels are required for the amount of kilowatts you want to produce, and relate this to the size of your roof space keeping in mind that not all the roof space may be facing the right direction and angle for good solar power generation.
Buy A Quality Solar System.
When it comes to purchasing a solar power system the quality of the components will over time have a big effect on the economical benefit gained, for example a solar panel that has a slightly higher output and efficiency rating than another cheaper panel may seem like an expensive choice to begin with but over time the lack of output from the cheaper panel will end up costing you more. This is the false economy of installing a cheap system.
Buying top quality solar panels with a good high output is well worth it, and that goes for all other system components as well including inverters. In other words when it comes to solar spending more on a quality high performing installation will cost you less over time with years of trouble free service as it should be.
Some of the best rated and most reliable brands of solar panels are manufactured by DAQO, REC Solar, BenQ Solar, Panasonic, Phono Solar, Sharp, Yingli Solar, Suntech, HIT Technology & Sanyo.
Some of the best rated and most reliable brands of inverters are manufactured by Power-One, SMA, Sharp, SolarEdge, Fronius, Sungrow & Enphase Energy.
Home Solar Power Systems
Rapid technological advancement coupled with renewable energy incentives and rebates is now giving more home owners increased access to powering their homes via solar energy - and with electricity prices rapidly increasing, the best time to go solar is right now.
A residential grid connect solar power system consists of just a few components:
- Solar panels which capture the sun's rays and convert it into electricity
- An inverter to turn that electricity into a type that can be used by household appliances
- Framing, cabling and associated fittings
Grid connect refers to a type of system that works in with your existing electricity service and is the most common type of system used in Australia today.
Any surplus electricity created is simply fed back into the grid and you receive a credit on your production or in some cases, you may be paid a premium on that electricity you contribute! These incentives are called solar feed-in tariffs.
On cloudy days or at night, your house draws electricity from the main power supply as usual -it's all automatic and instantaneous, you'll never even notice when the switchovers occur. As there are no batteries in a grid connect system, the cost is greatly reduced and maintenance is minimal.
Home solar power, once terribly expensive, is now within the reach of many householders and it's expected that within just a few years, residential solar power costs will reach price parity with coal fired power supplied by major utilities.
Until that time, governments are offering very generous rebates and incentives to help reduce the cost and encourage the installation of systems; which will in turn help drive the costs down further through demand. However, incentives are constantly changing, usually becoming less generous over time.
Depending on your power consumption and system size, solar power can significantly reduce or even wipe out your power bills.
Why not take advantage of renewable resources available to power your home - it might be far cheaper and easier to have installed than you think!
Be sure to consult with an expert in the field before forking out your hard earned cash. A company experienced in residential solar power would be able to recommend the right equipment for your needs and also be familiar with renewable energy rebates and other incentives that can help offset the outlay.
Grid Connect Solar Power Systems
The majority of solar systems installed in Australian homes and businesses are the grid connect type and can range in size from 1kW or 2kW, 5kW and right up to 10kW and larger. These systems draw power from the solar panels during the day, when the sun goes down the system automatically switches over to draw electricity form the local power grid. There is also the option to sell excess power back to the grid.
A grid connect solar power system operates in the same way as any other solar system with solar panels and an inverter with the one exception of being connected to the local power grid. This gives the grid connect solar setup the ability to draw power from the grid as well as being able to feed power back in.
- Sunlight shines on the solar panels and generates a DC electrical current.
- The DC electrical current is channeled into a solar inverter and converted into 240V 50Hz AC electrical current.
- The 240V AC electricity is used to power the electrical appliances throughout your home.
- Any unused electricity flows back into the main power grid.
Whenever the sun is shining, the solar panels generate electricity. The grid connect solar inverter turns the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into 240V AC power, which is used by most standard home appliances and lighting.
When the grid connect system is making more electricity than is required, the extra power fed back into the local power grid. Most power companies monitor the electricity fed back into the grid by your system and will issue a credit to your power bill. Some companies will install a bi-directional meter that can run in reverse as your system feeds electricity back into the power grid.
If the solar panels are not making power, for example at night or when its too dark, the system will automatically switch over to the mains power grid to meet demand. The power company will charge the standard rate for any power used.
Because the components of a grid connect solar system have no moving parts, there is little or no maintenance aside from keeping the panels clean and trimming trees that may shade your panels. Government renewable energy rebates can help you to save even more and are constantly being updated and adjusted. Regardless of any rebates a solar power system will always save you money over any fossil fuel system.
Wind Power Vs Solar Power
Both wind and solar power generation systems can be connected to the grid, but which system is the best for residential areas?.
What type of power system you choose mostly depends on where you live and the surrounding environmental conditions, for example the amount of wind or sunlight available in your location.
In most situations in either urban areas or rural areas a solar power system is usually the best choice for reasons outlined below.
Solar PV systems:
- Have fewer mechanical components that require maintenance or could be subject to ware.
- Is much more reliable than a wind power system.
- Much less time spent monitoring the system.
- Low maintenance costs and much longer operating life.
- The output in more predictable, wind fluctuates and is unpredictable.
- Is less obtrusive to those living near the system and zero DB or noise is generated.
- Much easier and faster to install the system.
- Less chance of being damaged by high wind events.
- Much less space needed for installation, panels can be mounted on an existing rooftop.
The noise factor is a big one with some local councils banning the installation of wind turbines in urban or built up areas, another reason they can be unpopular is the visual effect.
So as stated earlier it really depends on your location and power needs, out on a farm far from the neighbors in a high wind area a wind turbine may be just the thing for your home or business, or perhaps a combination of wind and solar will do the job.
A feed-in tariff is the rate at which a power company will pay owners of grid connected solar power systems for the electricity they feed back into the grid from their solar power system.
There is no national feed-in tariff program for Australia so schemes are run by the states and vary from state to state and between different electricity retailers.
The net feed-in tariff system or export metering will pay the solar system owner for the excess electricity they produce. A gross feed in tariff will pay per kilowatt hour produced by a grid connected solar system.
Up to date information on feed in tariff rates for each state or territory:
Solar panel rebate & renewable energy subsidy information
It is possible to save thousands of dollars on the installation of a grid connected solar power system if you or your business is eligible for an Australian government solar rebates, subsidies and grants.
Before you can install a grid connect solar power system in your home or business, you need to confirm that your switchboard and power meter are up to date and compatible with the system.
A switchboard is usually a weather proof cabinet or box where electrical fuses, circuit breakers and power meters are housed and are generally mounted on a wall on the outside of the premisses.
To install grid connect 2 extra circuits need to be installed, unless there are already 2 spare unused spaces available you will need to get an electrician to make space for the solar system.
If you have an older style switchboard with ceramic wire fuses it is strongly recommended that you upgrade your switchboard with modern safer circuit breakers and RCD's for safety reasons.
In order to get the most out of your installed solar power system, you will be required to install a two-way or bi-directional power meter. This type of meter will measure not only the power you are drawing from the grid but also the amount of electricity generated by your solar system that is being fed back into the grid.
Online Solar Quotes
Get a free instant online solar quote from Australia's top rated Clean Energy Council accredited solar panel installers, systems 2kW, 3kW, 5kW and 10kW. Just fill out the simple online form and get a price instantly!. All solar system prices quoted include full system installation.
Any information you provide will be treated as private and confidential and used only for issuing you with your quote. Your information will not be shared with any third party.
Your information will be sent over a safe, secure encrypted connection. Submitting information for a solar power quote will not in any way obligate you to purchase a solar power system.
After you submit the quote form you will be able see the details of your solar quote, these details will include:
- Full system price
- Size in KW
- Possible savings per quarterly bill
- Type and size of solar panels
- Type and size of inverter
- Warranty information
- Energy produced per month
- Energy produced per year
- Output in watts
- Greenhouse gas emission offset per year
- Quarterly Financial Benefits
- Roof space needed for installation
- Possible system payback time
- Detailed list of all system components
- Finance options available
- Supplier and installer contact details
Once you have completed your quote you will have the option to buy online straight away or speak in person about payment plans or any other questions you may have. Your quote will remain valid for 7 days after the issue date.
All grid connect solar power system installations include:
- Installation by licensed electrical contractors and solar accredited CEC team
- The SunLock framing system - built and tested to comply with all local engineering standards
- Cabling, conduit, DC and AC circuit breakers and enclosures
- Administration of Small-scale Technology Certificates and assistance with grid connect application paperwork
- All safety labels required by Australian Safety Standards (AS4777)
- Certificate of Electrical Safety
- Solar Panels by - Daqo, Phono Solar, REC Solar, Yingli Solar, BenQ Solar & Phono Solar
- Solar Inverters by - Sharp, Power-One, Fronius, Sungrow & SMA
Solar Price Guide
Buying a solar power system for home or business may seem complicated to the average person as most of us are not solar power experts, however if you are reading this article then you have an internet connection, and that means with a little online research you can easily become a solar power expert.
Once you have a general idea of the size and type of solar power system you want to install you will need to start looking at and comparing system prices, remember when it comes to a solar system price buying cheap components at the start can be more expensive in the long run. Cheap solar panels and solar system components are just not worth it and will end up costing you more.
Next is finding a reliable, reputable solar power installer who is Clean Energy Council accredited. The solar industry has grown very fast in Australia and this has seen the rise and fall of many solar companies and small scale solar installation businesses. Once again use the internet to search around and find reviews, also ask other people who have solar about their experience with installers.
Your location can have a big effect on how much it will cost to install a system, In Darwin for example there are strict regulations for mounting anything on a rooftop due to the occurrence of extreme weather events such as cyclones.
The average prices for grid connect solar systems in Australia Feb 2014:
- 1.5kW - $2,700 to $4,400
- 2.0kW - $3,500 to $5,400
- 3.0kW - $6,900 to $4,600
- 4.0kW - $8,800 to $6,200
- 5.0kW - $10,100 to $7,500
- 10.kW - $18,200 to $15,700
Below are tables showing the average solar system prices based on historical sales data from solar companies around Australia.
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Solar Power For Business
Are you a small business owner or operator looking to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and save money on your business running costs?. If so then one good method to achieve the above goals would be to install a grid connect solar power system, especially if you have machinery or plant systems that run all day like cool rooms, air conditioning and refrigeration.
Unfortunately many business owners don't even consider installing a solar power system, as they consider it to be a weak or unreliable alternative to grid supplied power. This could not be further from the truth as today's modern high tech integrated solar power systems are more than capable of delivering a good solid and stable supply of electricity to operate a business.
A grid connected solar power system for a business is no different from a system installed in a home in the way it operates, the principals and components such as solar panels, inverters etc are exactly the same, so if it works in the home it can work for your business with the right system capacity installed. You may even find solar power to be more reliable in some cases where blackouts are common and disruptive to business, by installing solar you will become immune to these types of situations and able to supply a more reliable service to your customers.
As well as reducing your business carbon footprint and bringing operational costs down, there are other good reasons to install solar as the Australian government is offering incentives and rebates to encourage the uptake of solar power by businesses and commercial operators, some incentives include tax breaks and asset write offs for solar power systems, feed-in tariffs and Renewable Energy Certificates aka RECs.
Renewable Energy Certificates
Renewable energy certificates aka RECs are made available when you buy and install a certified solar power system or some other type of renewable energy systems like wind and solar hot water. Renewable energy certificates can save you money as they can be sold and traded. The REC system is part of the governments attempt to assist the growth of renewable energy production in Australia and to help meet the 2020 greenhouse gas emission target.
Australian renewable Energy Target:
- The Australian government is aiming for a target of 20% renewable energy by the year 2020
- The current requirement of the target is for 9500GWh of renewable energy output from power companies
- Meeting the 2020 target will require 45000 GWh of clean energy generation
- 1MWh of power is equivalent to 1 REC, therefore 45,000,000 RECs are needed to reach the 2020 target
- In order to achieve their target, the power companies need to submit RECs to a holding account at the end of every year at an amount representative to 20% of their market share
- When an energy company fails to deposit enough RECs in its account, it will be fined at a rate that is higher than the value of the REC itself
1 REC has the same value as 1 megawatt hour of electricity generated. A renewable energy certificate can be swapped for money and the value of the certificates changes depending on the market. In other words a REC could be seen as a type of renewable energy currency.
If you own a certified solar system you can claim RECs yourself by filling out and submitting the appropriate paperwork, however this can be a little confusing for some and not to mention time consuming so there are companies the specialize in managing this for you.
It makes no difference where you live in Australia from Tasmania to Queensland or the dry arid west or outback summer time can be very hot and unbearable, the luxury of air conditioning can be expensive to run 24/7 during the summer months and can add a big chunk to your monthly power bill. But it need not be so.
The reason summer is hot is because the sun is much more intense and the daylight hours are longer, and this is the perfect formula for generating solar power with PV panels. So lets put the two together, a need for air conditioning in summer plus summer being the best time to generate solar power. Its a no brainer!, install a solar power system to generate electricity to power the air conditioning unit and get your home or business cooled this summer for free, as long as the sun shines on your solar panels you can let that AC unit run with no worries about power costs.
Now why didn't you think of that sooner?.
For more information about solar power visit www.EnergyMatters.com.au.