Following are some answers to commonly asked questions. And if you have any questions about solar power, solar hot water or energy efficiency please don't hesitate to contact us. There is no such thing as a silly question and we welcome your interest.

Solar Power FAQs

Q. What is PV?

A. PV is short for photovoltaic which comes from the words photo meaning light and voltaic meaning electricity. So basically it means electricity from light. PV is a semiconductor-based technology used to convert light energy into direct current (DC) electricity, using no moving parts, consuming no conventional fuels, and creating no pollution.

Q. How does a Photovoltaic (Solar Power) panel work?

A. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made of special materials called semiconductors such as silicon. When light strikes the PV cell, a certain portion of it is absorbed within the semiconductor material, and the energy of the absorbed light is transferred to the semiconductor. This energy is then drawn from the semiconductor as a flow of electrons - electricity.

Q. How does electricity get stored for use after sun goes down?

A. With a grid connect system, excess electricity that is produced during the day goes back into the local electricity grid. You then receive credit for any power that you put back into the grid. At night time, you automatically use electricity straight from the grid. In a remote solar system, energy produced during the day is stored in batteries and this is used as required.

Q. What size system do I need? What will it cost?

A. This will depends on what your requirements are and we will help you ascertain this during our complimentary obligation free assessment and quote. In consultation with you we will analyse what your current electricity usage is (on your electricity bill), what percentage of your electricity usage you wish to generate with solar and what your space and budget is. We will provide you with a written quote which will outline your options and the overall cost.

Q. If I have a grid connect system, will I still have power in a power outage?

A. No because the system interacts with the grid, the house must be receiving power from the grid for the system to be operating. In the event of a grid power outage the inverter will automatically disconnect. This is a safety requirement so that your system is not feeding electricity back into a grid that is not live.

Q. Can the panels be installed on my existing roof?

A. Yes, in the vast majority of cases although in some cases there may need to be specialised mounting brackets used. As part of our obligation free assessment and quote we will look at all aspects and provide advice to you on what is required. We take into consideration aspects such as your roofing materials, the orientation and pitch of your roof, shading from trees and other structures and the amount of room available on your roof.

Q. How long will my solar system last?

A. Top quality panels, such as the PV modules used by SPS Energy carry a 25 year limited warranty and are designed to last even longer. They are able to withstand the elements and are virtually maintenance free.

Q. What about the energy it takes to produce a solar power system?

A. Although solar electricity is pollution-free, PV systems do utilise energy during the manufacture process, which must be 'reimbursed' before they can be considered as renewable and clean. This is known as "embodied energy". An assessment from the International Energy Agency concluded in mid 2006 that roof-top solar PV systems recover their energy content (from manufacturing and recycling) within 1.6 to 1.8 years in Australia. Once they have reimbursed their initial energy input, roof-top PV systems can avoid the emission of 40 tonnes of CO2, depending on their location and on the local electricity mix available. Roof-top PV systems in Australia during their 30 year lifespan are expected to produce around 17 times the amount of energy needed for manufacture, installation and dismantling.

Q. How much of a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will I achieve?

A. Using a comparison to a car, the average vehicle in Australia travels 20 000 km per annum, which is equivalent to 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide discharge annually. A 2kw grid connected system will prevent 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide being generated through coal fired power generation - so it's the equivalent of taking a car off the road each year.

Q. Do I have to have special appliances?

A. No. You can keep all your current appliances, however at the end of their service life it is quite probable that careful selection of the replacement unit to a low energy option will reduce the average house energy demand, yield a net saving on energy consumed and improve the ratio of PV generated energy to energy consumed.

Q. Why should I review the house loads?

A. Financial payback time of your PV generating system depends on you selling as much of the power that you generate back to the grid every day. The Queensland Solar Bonus scheme only pays for the excess energy generated. It is therefore logical to use as little power as possible between 8:30am and 3:30pm. One way of reducing this is by only using large power draw appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, irons and vacuum cleaners either before 8:30am or after 3:30pm. Another method is to replace your appliances with energy efficient ones.

The Golden Rule in Queensland homes fitted with PV Grid Connect is to go to the beach or the pub on sunny days (work or school only if you have to).

Solar Hot Water FAQs

Q. What size system do I need? What will it cost?

A. This will depend on what your requirements are and we will help you ascertain this during our complimentary no obligation assessment and quote. We will provide you with a written quote which will outline your options and the overall cost.

Q. How much will I save with a Solar Hot Water System?

A. How much you will save is influenced by a number of factors such as the number of people using the system, the flow rate of your shower roses and taps, the amount of hot water you use and the weather. In optimal situations, switching from an old storage electric system to the Apricus Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water System could expect to save anywhere between 50% to 100% of their current hot water heating costs.