Other Frequently Asked Questions
Halcol Energy understands that to be in charge of your own electricity production and consumption raises some frequently asked questions.
So we’ve listed below are the answers to some frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answers you require here or indeed you require further information then please feel free to contact us.
Do you do the installations yourselves?
What is Solar PV?
What are STC's?
How do photovoltaic's work?
What is a unit or kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity?
A unit is how you’re billed for electricity. If you run a 100-Watt bulb for 10 hours, you need 1,000 Watt-hours of 1kWh (or unit) of electricity.
What are the key benefits of a PV system?
Where can I install my PV modules?
How do the panels perform at different angles and orientations?
What are the effects of shade?
Does PV really work?
What maintenance and cleaning do the PV systems need?
What size PV system do I need?
How much energy do I need?
Statistics tell us that the average three-bedroomed house uses 6,497kWh a year. We recommend that you look at your last three bills or talk to your energy supplier to get an accurate estimate for us to work with.
What if I produce more energy than I need?
Does the system need batteries?
What happens if there is a power cut?
Can I get trained by Halcol Energy to become a Halcol Energy Installation Engineer?
Which electricity supplier should I use?
Can I sell the electricity I make?
What is the cost of a Solar System?
What grants are available?
How long will it take to install my system?
What are the lifetimes of PV products?
Does Halcol Energy service the whole of the Australia?
I'm based outside of Australia. How can you help me?
Doesn't the glazed front reflect light away from solar PV modules?
Are there disadvantages to using solar PV energy?
What happens if something goes wrong?
Can I use PV to power my business?
PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for car parks and bus shelters, generating power at the same time. PV systems are also used to offset and operate all kinds of electrical systems, including lights, cooling systems, and appliances.
Today’s modules can be built into glass skylights and walls. Some resemble traditional roof shingles. Architects can use building-integrated PV (BIPV) to design buildings that are environmentally-responsive, aesthetically-pleasing, and produce their own power. BIPV provides a dual-use building material, reduces PV system costs by using the building as the mounting or support structure, and reduces utility bills through on-site power production.
Can I design and install a PV system myself?
Normally our answer would be no, unless you’re a licensed electrician with CEC accreditation.
Even if you are a licensed electrician, we still suggest using experienced professionals to design and install anything more than the simplest application, for the following reasons:
- You must be certified via the Clean Energy Council in order to be eligible for the government’s grands and possibly in order to collec the feed-in tariff as well.
- You might void the manufacturer’s warranties.
- You might not have a functional system after spending your hard-earned money on the system.
What's the difference between PV and other solar technologies?
There are four main types of solar energy technologies:
- Photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
- Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, which concentrate the sun’s energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
- Solar water heating systems, which contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a working fluid that, in turn, is used to heat water.
- Transpired solar collectors, or solar walls, which use solar energy to preheat ventilation air for a building.
What is solar photovoltaic energy?
Photovoltaic (PV) energy is a renewable energy system which uses a series of PV modules to convert sunlight into electricity. The modules consist of “cells” made from thin layers of semi-conductor material and these cells generate an electrical charge when sunlight hits them. The cells are incorporated into panels which are usually mounted on rooftops.
What are STCs?
STCs are Small-scale Technology Certificates – a form of currency created by the installation of renewable energy systems. The larger the system, the more STCs it generates and you can keep them, sell them on or sign them over to us at Halcol in exchange for a reduction in the cost of your PV system.
How do solar or PV panels work?
Sunlight hits the PV cells and gets converted into clean electricity, which is then sent through an inverter, where it’s converted from direct current to alternating current – the current your appliances work on. If you produce more power than you actually need, you can export it to the grid and once the sun has set, you start drawing power from the grid.
What are the main benefits of a PV system?
Having a solar system means you have a long-term source of free electricity. You’re immune to price rises and you’re helping to reduce our reliance on coal-fired power and your own carbon footprint. Most PV systems also have minimal maintenance requirements.
Where can my panels go?
Your panels should be installed where they’ll get the most sunlight possible. You need to avoid areas where there are overhanging trees or buildings that will cast shadows for part or all of the day. Your best location is on a north-facing roof, preferably at a 30-degree angle. If you can’t manage this, then east and west-facing panels will still operate at 90% of the capacity of a north facing array. Halcol offers a range of mounting and orientation options.
Does the angle and orientation matter?
Yes, but if you can’t do 30 degrees north-facing, then 10-degree, east-facing and 50-degree, west-facing arrays will only lose you 10% of the power.
Is shade bad news?
Very bad news. Even a small amount of shade can really diminish your output. PV modules are linked in a series so the module with the lowest amount of sunlight hitting it determines the voltage of the entire string. Halcol performs a site survey before your installation to detect shady areas and advise you on how to deal with them.
Do PV panels need much maintenance and cleaning?
A PV array has no moving parts (and is silent!), so there’s very little maintenance needed. Rain will clean the panels effectively most of the time, but if grime does build up then this can affect performance. However, if the array is at least 15 degrees, most dust, sand and leaves will fall away or be rinsed away by rain. If your system does become soiled it can be cleaned with a hose. An annual clean is recommended just to maintain performance.
What size of system do I need?
How long is a string of modules? There’s no set answer to this as it depends on how much you have to spend, how much power you want or need to generate and how much unshaded space you have. You’ll still be connected to the grid so you don’t need to create 100% of your power with your panels. Just halving your grid consumption will make a serious dent in your annual power bills and your CO2 emissions, so Halcol will talk to you and recommend the best size of system for you.
Can I produce more energy than I use?
Yes; many people do, in fact. When you produce excess electricity, it’ll flow back into the grid and other people can use it. Once your array is in place we’ll ask your electricity provider to install a bi-directional meter to measure how much power you send out and how much you buy in. You’ll receive a credit for the amounts you export. This lowers your bills, and in some cases even makes you a profit as some energy companies pay 11c per kWh!
How much will a PV system cost?
This depends on how big a system you want and how difficult the installation will be, both in terms of roof access and complexity. We can give you an accurate quote if we make a site visit. It’s a worthwhile investment, though, because you’re insulated from rising energy prices and if you sell your home, you’ll get a better price.
How long does an installation take?
Depending on the complexity, your array will be ready between two and eight weeks after we’ve devised and approved the design. The actual installation usually takes a day, depending on your building and the design.
How long will my modules last?
Most modules have a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years and a lifetime of at least 40 years, while inverters have at least a five-year warranty.
Does Halcol Energy service all Australia?
Not yet! At present we’re in Bokarina and Brisbane so we’re covering Queensland. However, we’ve got big plans and all our contractors are licensed to install PV systems all over the country, so hang on!
Can I train with Halcol to become an installation engineer?
If you’re a fully-qualified electrician you may be able to train with us, so give us a call.