Residential Solar – 10 Questions

Posted on 11 November 2021

Will solar reduce my energy bill to zero?

To reduce your energy bill to zero requires an upfront investment and a system configured to satisfy your energy requirements. To be completely independent from the ‘grid’ also requires a solar battery. This solar battery stores excess generated energy to be used at high demand times or at night time whereas a grid connected or hybrid system will draw from the grid and you will still be paying the energy retailers a supply charge. 

How long does it take a system to pay itself off?

The return on your investment depends on various things such as the size of your system (PV panels and/or batteries), whether it is off-grid or grid connected, and how much energy you generally use. 

In general payback times vary depending on:

The available sunlight hours

Changing electricity prices combined with available Feed In Tariffs

The cost and quality of the system

How much solar energy is consumed

The panel positioning 

Am I eligible for any solar rebates?

Government rebates and incentives differ from state to state and are continually being updated. This combined with the constant reduction in prices and technological improvements makes solar a good choice financially as well as promoting a greener future. In Victoria there are different kinds of rebates available and you can read more about them here:

For panels every consumer is eligible for an STC from the federal government up to 99.9kW and the incentive increases with the size of the system. Read more about STCs here.

If you are in Victoria you can read more about rebates here : https://www.solar.vic.gov.au/

Will a solar battery work with my existing system?

If you already have a solar system, the inverter may need to be upgraded to a hybrid inverter to be able to work with the grid. These are inverters which are specially designed to be used with batteries and the grid. It is also possible to have a second inverter added dedicated to the battery. This is known as AC coupling and is often the easier solution when retrofitting a battery to an existing system. If you don’t have a system already we recommend researching if a system with a solar battery is a better option or if blackout protection is a requirement. Commonly we leave the existing inverter and add a hybrid and battery to run in parallel.

Residential solar installation
A ’tilted’ solar panel installation

How long does it take a solar battery to pay itself off?

Although it is possible to calculate when your initial investment on a solar battery will pay itself off, there are many variables involved. Considerations include the value of independence from energy retailers and their rising prices and the benefits of blackout protection in case of an emergency situation. With advancements in technology, systems being developed for particular climates as well as the transition to renewable energy it becomes more and more attractive to invest in a full off grid solution with a solar battery and blackout protection. (Increase resale value)

What is a VPP?

VPP stands for virtual power plant. This is a network of battery and solar systems installed in homes and businesses and the VPP operator uses the stored energy during periods of peak demand to supply the grid. Generally you get a discount on a battery but have to give up control to a third party. It is worth considering that a VPP can use your battery whenever they require which will contribute to battery cycles (which can shorten a battery’s lifespan) as well as possibly leaving your battery depleted in an inopportune time. Energy retailers will recommend them as it benefits the retailer to have you install a system that they can draw on for very little cost and no maintenance for them. 

We stock various brands of solar batteries as well as being able to supply most brands of  batteries available here in Australia including LG Chem, Tesla Powerwall2, BYD, Pylontech and Powerplus. Sky Energy are the only LG CHem diamond partner in Australasia and confidently recommend LG batteries as they are robust and low maintenance. Read more about solar batteries here [link:https://skyenergy.com.au/solar-with-batteries/]

A house in the evening

What is blackout protection and do I need it?

Blackout protection offers a way for your system to provide energy in the event of a blackout. In grid connected systems, if the main electricity supply is cut for some reason the solar inverter shuts down to protect grid hardware – this is known as anti-islanding. There are inverters available such as the Fronius GEN24 Plus which can offer some protection during blackouts. 

Not all off grid solar systems with solar batteries have automatic blackout protection built in so it’s worth double checking.

What is off-grid energy?

A true off grid energy system is self sufficient and completely independent from the national electricity grid. The main components are PV panels, battery compatible inverter and solar battery. When researching an off grid system there are some important decisions to consider in regards to grid-connected, off-grid and hybrid systems. If blackout protection is required or you plan to feed excess energy back to the grid.  

Where am I able to install an off-grid system?  

Some situations suit off-grid more than others such as country and underdeveloped areas. It is also possible to install off grid solar in urban areas but it can sometimes be more than you may need. If you have an existing system it is also possible to be converted to an off-grid system but may require a battery compatible inverter.


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