What is the difference between Grid-connected and Off-grid Solar PV systems?

Most new solar system installations in Australia are Grid-connected systems wherein the homes are connected to the electricity grid.  These systems do not require and generally do not have batteries.  Off-grid or ‘Stand-Alone’ systems, on the other hand, are for homes that are not connected to the electricity grid – usually in remote and rural areas.

How much will it all cost?

Unfortunately there is no “average home” cost for a system as the cost actually depends on your daily energy usage and how many peak sun hours you receive per day. To accurately size a system to meet your needs, we work with you to create a Power Demand Profile to work out how much energy you use per day.

However, to give a “ball park” figure, a  price of $5000 for a 1kW/hr per day system would be realistic.

Solar Hot Water and Solar Photovoltaics (PV) - What’s the difference?

Solar Hot Water system on roof A solar hot water system usually sits on your roof using the sun’s sun’s natural heat to increase or maintain the temperature of hot water in a tank that eventually comes out of your shower or tap.  This is usually supplemented with conventional gas or electric heating when the water temperature is below what you desire.

A solar power (photovoltaic) system, on the other hand, produces electricity which is either fed back into the electricity grid, used directly by appliances in your home, or stored in batteries if your system is not connected to an electrical grid. Power from your solar power system might be used indirectly to heat your water, but generally solar hot water systems do this job much more effectively. 

Can I use my Stand-Alone Solar Power System for hot water?

Photovoltaics (PV)  – or solar panels – convert the sun’s energy into DC electricity at a relatively low efficiency level so trying to operate a high powered electric heating element from PV would be very inefficient, not to mention expensive. Solar thermal (or passive solar) is the direct heating of air or water from the heat of the sun and is much more efficient for heating applications than PV’s.  Whether your home is on mains power or stands alone we recommend that a complete energy efficiency approach to living is applied throughout the home, ensuring the most suitable technology is applied to every application.  

Someone said I can get government rebates through the Solar buy-back scheme.

They are referring to the Solar Feed-In Tariff, sometimes known as a Solar Bonus Scheme or Solar Buy-back scheme.  Solar panels will sometimes generate more energy than you use and this excess energy is fed back into the grid for which the government pays you through a credit on your energy bill. However, as your Stand-Alone Solar Power System is not connected to the grid, it does not qualify for the scheme. But this doesn’t mean you miss out on solar power rebates and incentives as Renewable Energy Certificates through the Solar Credits program is still available.

What are RECs and STCs?

The Solar Credits program is part of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, whereby the Australian Government has committed to delivering 20% of our electricity supply from renewable sources by 2020.

The system is based on Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs); also referred to as small-scale technology certificates (STCs). These are issued by the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator. STCs are like a stock option and its values can vary. They can be cashed in, sold off, or included as a subsidy towards the initial cost of your new system.

Contact us to determine the value of STCs for your intended Solarcom Stand-Alone Solar Power System.

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