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A mini power station on your roof

Australia is fortunate to have the highest average solar radiation of any continent in the world. Harnessing the sun’s energy to power your home is an effective solution to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions as well as the financial burden of rising electricity costs.

Solar power is a zero-emission electricity source. Just one megawatt hour (MWh) of solar-derived electricity avoids approximately one tonne of CO2. While it might be true that solar cannot generate electricity all the time, it does generate electricity when it is needed most – during peak demand hours of the day, such as hot periods when we all run air-conditioners.

Renewable energy is a sustainable resource meaning we can avoid the depletion of natural resources for future generations. Solar energy is also clean as it does not produce carbon dioxide and there is no water consumption, thermal pollution, waste, noise or adverse land-use impacts.

Nicholls Solar is an Australian owned and operated company that provides solar power solutions and quality installations. According to Nicholls Solar General Manager, Pred Vucetic, in Australia we live in the perfect climate for solar power. “Lots of sun and not much rain makes the conversion from sunlight to power both direct and effective.”

“The best thing about solar power is that once your system is operating, any power that it produces is renewable and free,” said Pred. “Installing a 1.5kW grid connectable system is a great step toward helping our environment as it is the equivalent of planting approximately 93 trees or reducing your greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1.86 tonnes each year.”

With solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on your home, any surplus power is fed back into the grid and your power company will pay you a premium rate for the extra power your system produces. This can significantly reduce your electricity bill and could even have you receiving a cheque from the power company. In the event of a blackout, the system will shut down for safety reasons.

Nicholls SolarNicholls Solar’s package includes:

  • Monocrystalline Silicon panels
  • Grid connect inverter
  • Powder coated weatherproof inverter housing (if required)
  • Aluminium roof mount frames
  • AC and DC circuit breakers
  • All cabling
  • All signage required by Australian Standards (AS4777)

“Electricity prices are expected to increase by up to 64% over the next 3 years¹ so an investment in solar power also protects against increasing electricity costs,” said Pred. “With a 25 year performance warranty and a 40 year design life, the popularity of solar panels is being driven by great returns.”

The great thing about a grid connectable system is that the power you are generating but not using, can be utilised by someone else. For example, when you are at work or on holidays the power generated from your solar system is fed back onto the grid and the power meter at your home would record this as a credit.

A 1kW system should produce about 4.5kW/hours a day on average. A 1.5kW system will yield 7kW/hours of electricity. The amount of power produced will also depend on panel angle, temperature, shading and weather conditions. “We use the Solar Pathfinder program to accurately predict the annual power output of your system based on the specific solar conditions around your home,” said Pred.

“Most systems are mounted on the roof, but we can also mount them on the ground if you have a large block. Ground mounting is ideal if you have limited roof space, or your roof is subject to regular shading.”

“We can also supply and install ‘tracking’ systems, where the panels are mounted on a pole and the panels move during the day, according to the position of the sun. They are more expensive to install but can provide an extra three hours of effective sunlight per day.”

Another benefit of installing a solar system is the increase in the value of your home. This results not only from the installation cost having already been incurred but also the projected power savings over the life of the system.

According to the Clean Energy Council², as at the end of July 2009, more than 41,000 homes across Australia have solar PV installed. The Federal Government has committed to a Renewable Energy Target (RET) to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply comes from renewable energy sources by 2020. The RET scheme provides purchasers of solar PV with solar credits to assist with system set-up costs.

Nicholls Solar is part of the Nicholls Group and is a member of Master Builders Australia and Engineers Australia. The company is fully accredited by the Clean Energy Council who also approves its panels for use in Australia.

To guarantee high quality installations, Nicholls uses trained employees rather than sub-contractors to install all systems. Nicholls provides a single point of contact for the whole installation by also taking care of all the regulatory, government and utility paperwork.

¹ Ref - Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) March 2010. ²The Clean Energy Council (CEC) is the peak body representing Australia’s clean energy sector. It is an industry association made up of more than 350 member companies operating in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. More information is available at www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does solar photovoltaic work?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels harness the sun’s energy to generate zero emission electricity. They work by converting light energy directly into electricity by transferring photon energy into electrical energy. The conversion takes place within cells of specially fabricated semiconductor crystals.

Q: Will solar power work at my home?
Solar power works at most homes if the panels are located at the area of the roof that faces north and this roof surface area is in excess of 10 square metres. Another factor is shading from large trees. The panels should be located where there is minimal shading between 10am and 2.30pm.

Q: Will solar cover all of my electricity needs?
Sunlight must be present for the solar modules to produce power. Therefore, at night you are likely to draw power from your power authority. However, a solar PV system does not need to provide all of the electricity you need to be of great value. Cutting your electricity by 25-50 per cent is typically the most cost-efficient approach for home solar power.

Q: Will the system make hot water?
Solar PV systems do not make hot water but generate power to run lights, appliances and other electrical devices in your home such as motors and pumps.

Q: How hard is it to retrofit the system?
Nicholls Solar hardware is installed with virtually no modification to your house. The framing kits are incorporated into your existing roof. With a tile roof, the tiles are removed and the frame is mounted to the beams inside your roof, before the tile is replaced. Cables are run behind the walls and conduit used where required so that the aesthetics of your home are maintained.

Q: What if I need a new roof or am building a new house?
This is the ideal situation for installing solar. Before laying the roof, you can install flashable mounting brackets that provide the highest level of protection from leakage.