Frequently Asked Questions
What does PV stand for?
PV stands for photovoltaic. Photovoltaic in the name for the method of converting solar energy into direct current.
What is Solar PV Power?
Solar PV power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity photovoltaic effect.
How does solar PV work?
The sun is our planets biggest source of natural energy. What makes it so special is that unlike many other forms of energy, such as coal or oil, it is 100% renewable. Solar power harnesses this natural source of energy to provide green electricity which powers our homes and heats our water. As the world becomes more aware of the impact our energy consumption has on the planet we are all turning to new, renewable forms of energy.
Solar panels, sometimes referred to as solar PV panels, capture and then convert sunlight turning it into electricity. These panels can be placed on your roof, on an adjacent building or mounted to frames on the ground to gain the greatest benefit from the northern sun. It doesn't have to be warm outside for your system to work efficiently as the panels rely on prolonged sunlight, not heat, to generate electricity.
When power is being generated by the solar panels, the inverter converts the DC electricity made by the solar modules into 240V AC electricity, which can be used normally in your home or business.
Your system will feed any excess electricity generated back to the grid via a bi-directional meter (known as a "smart meter"). Your electricity provider will then meter this excess electricity generated and any credit gained will be recorded on your bill.
Livesolar can work with you and explain in clear simple terms how you can make your home eco-friendly now. By purchasing one of our efficient, green solar panel installations or a hot water system an average family of four can cut their annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to four tonnes – the same as taking a small car off the road!
Is it still worth installing a Solar PV System?
Many people believe that the time for installing a Solar PV System has passed due to the reduction in feed-in tariffs. The truth is that although the feed-tariff has been reduced over the years the price of electricity has increased and although, in most cases, you won’t make money out of installing a Solar PV System you will reduce the amount of electricity you draw from the grid during the day which will reduce your electricity bill.
What happens if there is a power cut?
If for any reason the power from the electricity grid is cut or disrupted your Solar PV system must shutdown within 2 seconds for safety reasons. Your system will automatically reconnect once the power has been restored. This will take at least 60 seconds for the inverter to reconnect to the power.
Is it possible to increase the size of my Solar PV System in the future?
Many Solar PV Retailers offer what they call “Upgradable Systems” in which they offer a larger inverter with a reduced amount of panels, i.e. a 5.0 kW inverter with only 3.0 kW of panels. These Solar PV Retailers claim that the system is “upgradable”. Although this is technically correct there are many factors that will affect whether or not you can upgrade this system.
- Are the panels the same make and module?
- How has the original system been installed?
- Has there been any changes to the Australian Wiring Rules and other Australian Standards that would affect the installation?
- Will the electricity distributor allow any extension to the system?
Under these circumstances it is often cheaper and more convenient to install a second system rather than upgrade the original system.
Can I install a second Solar PV System?
There are a few things that will affect whether or not you can install a second Solar PV System.
Is there enough roof space to install a second system?
Will the electricity distributor allow a second system to be installed?
Will the mains cables coming into the property carry the extra load of a second system?
If all of these are “Yes” then you can install a second system on your property.
What are the warranties that I will receive?
Livesolar has a 2 year installation warranty on all Solar PV Power systems installed by Livesolar.
The panels used by Livesolar have a 10 year materials and workmanship warranty and a 25 year production warranty.
The standards warranty for the inverter installed by Livesolar is 10 years, however, this may vary if your request a different inverter from the standard installation package.
Why install a Solar PV System?
There are 2 reasons to install a Solar PV System, but the main reason for installing solar is that if the solar is utilised effectively it can dramatically reduce your electricity bill.
The way most Solar PV Systems are installed any electricity used by the household or business during the day will be drawn from the Solar PV System and therefore the system owner will not be drawing any power from the electricity grid. The household or business will only pull electricity from the grid if their electricity usage is higher than the electricity being produced by the Solar PV System. Any excess power produced by the Solar PV System will be exported to the grid and will be sold back to the Electricity Retailer.
The second reason for installing a Solar PV System is it will help to reduce your households or businesses carbon footprint, being good for the environment.
What are the optimum conditions for a Solar PV System?
Solar modules, commonly known as solar panels, produce most power when they are pointed directly and the sun. In Australia the optimum conditions are facing north. However, it a north facing roof is not available it is possible to install on an east or west facing roof.
Does shading affect the performance of the panels?
Yes shading will affect the performance of the panels. On a conversational String Inverter Solar PV System any shading on any part of the system will affect the performance of the whole system. In these circumstances it may be more beneficial to install a Micro Inverter Solar PV System.
Talk to our friendly sales team about your options.
Does temperature affect the output?
Believe it or not temperature does affect the output of a Solar PV System. Solar modules, commonly known as solar panels are most efficient when operating at an ambient temperature up to 25°C. The hotter the day the less efficient the Solar PV System.
Are bad weather conditions likely to damage my panels?
Normal bad weather conditions such as hail storms will not normally damage your panels. The panels and railing system are tested to withstand these situations.
Will my building insurance cover my solar panels?
Livesolar recommends that you talk to your insurance company when you install your Solar PV System. If insurance companies are not notified that a Solar PV System has been installed they may not cover it in your insurance if an insurance claim is needed. I.e. a house fire where the roof and Solar PV System are both damaged.
Does a Solar PV System work in cold weather?
Yes your Solar PV system will work in many weather conditions. The amount of electricity produced is related to the amount of sunlight hitting the solar panels. A Solar PV System could work more efficiently on a clear, cool day compared to a hot day in summer. Your Solar PV System will still produce more electricity during the summer mainly because of the amount of clear days in summer compared to winter.
What is the Renewable Energy Target?
The Renewable Energy Target (RET) was implemented by the Australian Government in 2009. The RET Scheme is designed to ensure that Australia meets the 20% renewable target by 2020.
What is a STC?
STC stands for Small-scale Technology Certificates and are part of the Renewable Energy Target Scheme. Each eligible solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, small-scale wind systems, or small-scale hydro system is allocated a certain amount of STC’s, depending upon the amount of electricity it is expected to produce of displace in the future.
The STC value is like to stock exchange, the value per STC varies depending upon the market for these STC’s.
How do the STC’s benefit customers?
The STC’s create a financial incentive for households, business and community groups to install eligible small-scale renewable energy systems. By signing over the rights to the STC’s to Livesolar you reduce the purchase price of your system and therefore reducing your out of pocket expenses.
Should I keep and Trade the STC’s myself?
While it is possible for owners to create and sell the STC’s themselves Livesolar generally requests that you sign over the STC’s. By signing over the STC to Livesolar you save yourself the hassle of find a renewable energy trade and the risk of the STC’s dropping in value.
If you still wish to trade the STC’s yourself please talk to our friendly sales team.
Who will install my solar system?
Livesolar employees a permanent staff of CEC accredited solar installers.
Where will the solar panels be placed?
Where possible the solar panels will be place on a north facing roof to optimise the solar energy produced by your system.
How long will it take for my installation to take place after I pay my deposit?
Installation of your Solar PV System will generally occur within 4 to 6 weeks, however, where pre-approvals and need from your Electricity Distributor, Local Councils or Body Corporates this may delay the installation process.
Who is responsible for obtaining approvals?
Livesolar will apply for the pre-approval with your Electricity Distributor.
It is your responsibility to obtain approval from the Local Council if needed and any Body Corporate. It is also your responsibility to notify Livesolar if such approval is need.
How long does the average installation take place?
The average installation will take between 3 to 6 hours to install, depending on the size of the system and the complexity of the installation.
Does the installer need to be licensed to install a solar system?
When installing a Solar PV System it must be installed by a CEC Accredited Solar Installer in order to be connected to the electricity grid. Livesolar always uses Accredited Installers and also checks with both the CEC and ESV to ensure that their license has not been cancelled for any reason before they commence employment.
What is Clean Energy Council accreditation?
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. For an installer to have obtained accreditation that their Solar PV Systems meet there extremely high standards of safety and performance.
Where should my inverter be located?
Where possible your inverter should by located in ready assessable position that this close to your electricity switchboard and meter box.
Should I install a conventional string inverter solar system or a solar system using micro inverters?
Although Micro Inverter Solar Systems are more expensive they are generally more flexible when it comes to installation and solar energy production. Some of the benefits for micro inverters are:
- More flexible where there is a difficult roof and a string inverter installation is limited;
- More production on properties with shading issues; and
- If something goes wrong with an inverter the whole system is not effected, therefore less loss in production.
Please talk to our friendly sales team.
I have been quoted for more panel capacity than the size of the inverter, why is this?
Under the CEC guidelines an installer can install up to 33% more panels that the inverter is rated for. This is done to optimise the solar power output of the Solar PV System during winter and on overcast days.
Will I need a new meter?
In most cases if a smart meter has already been installed on your property you will not need a new meter, the current meter can be reprogrammed for solar. Please check with your Electricity Retailer and Distributor for costings.
Will it cost money to change my meter?
There will be a charge for the Electricity Distributor to reprogram or change your meter. These costs are dependent on the Electricity Distributor and the location of your property. The costs will be added to your electricity bill. Please contact your Electricity Retailer for these costs.
Who does all the paperwork and application for the installation?
Livesolar will do all the paperwork for you and lodge it with your Electricity Retailer. We will also mail to you a copy of this paperwork. It is your responsibility to contact your Electricity Retailer to ensure that they have processed this paperwork.
What deposit will be required?
Depending upon the size and cost of the system the normal deposit amount is usually between $500.00 and $1,000.00. This can vary on larger systems.
When is the payment requirements?
Payment for the installation of your Solar PV System is required on the day of installation. Payment can be made in the form of Cash, Cheque, Money Order or Credit Card. Please note that there is a 2% surcharge on all credit card payments.
How often and what should I use to clean my panels?
The CEC has certain recommendation for maintenance of your Solar PV System, these recommendations will be included in your Owner’s Manual which will be given to you after installation. Part of this maintenance is to clean the panels. In order to maintain optimum performance of your Solar PV System we recommend that you clean your panels at least once a year as the performance will be affected by dust, debris and bird droppings.
If doing this yourself there are safety concerns as the panels are on the roof, water and electricity don’t mix. However, if you are going to clean the panels yourself we recommend that before you start any cleaning process you shut down your Solar PV System completely.
We recommend that you wash your solar panels with water and a soft brush or clean mop.
If you are unsure about cleaning the panels yourself we recommend that you contact Livesolar or another accredited solar installer to do complete maintenance on the system.
Do I need to have regular maintenance on my solar system?
Although it is not necessary to do a regular maintenance on your system Livesolar does recommend that it is done and per the CEC recommendations.
Please note that some Electricity Distributors are insisting that and “Anti Islanding Test” be done every 12 months. The “Anti Islanding Test” is a test to ensure that your inverter still meets the Australian Standards by shutting down within 2 seconds of losing power from the electricity grid and not starting up again with 60 seconds of the power being reconnected.