Going solar?

Things you should know about going solar

Making the decision to install solar on your home or business is very exciting.

Understand more with the following frequently asked questions.

How does solar work in my home?

Installing a solar system on the roof of your home makes you a generator of renewable energy.

Your solar system will generate pure electricity from the sun during the day.

The pure electricity from your solar system will be used in your home first and reduce the electricity you use from the grid (which is the electricity you pay for). If you have a gross metering system in NSW all generated electricity will be fed into the grid and will appear as a credit on your bill.

Any unused pure electricity from your solar system, will be fed into your local grid. We will pay you for this excess electricity and it is called a feed-in credit. You will continue to receive an electricity bill. A solar system will reduce your electricity bill but won’t necessarily eliminate it.

Having your own solar system allows you to have more energy independence and enable you to reduce your bill and your impact on the environment. You can feel good about that.

What size solar system do I need?

Your particular circumstances and the way you use electricity will  impact what size solar system is best for you. Here are some smart tips to be aware of when making the decision.

Research. When do you use your electricity? Is there room to move? If you use a large amount of electricity during the day when the sun is shining, a larger solar system can help you offset the electricity you buy from the grid. However, if you only use a small amount of electricity during the day, a smaller system might be better. Are you able to get shifty and move your electricity usage around to benefit from the electricity generated by your solar system?

Consider your electricity usage now and in the future. If your electricity usage is likely to increase due to factors such as; additional appliances, a new swimming pool, renovations or new household members, then you may want to consider a system that is a little larger.

Budget. How much are you prepared to pay?

Space. How much unshaded roof space do you have? You need the sun to shine on your solar system for optimal performance.

Orientation. Which direction will the solar panels on your roof be facing? North or west facing will generate more electricity as they have the most sun exposure.

From our experience, the most common method of sizing a solar system for a typical home is to aim for about 30% of the electricity you generate to be fed into the grid. This allows for increased electricity usage in the future. A home with limited electricity growth expected in the future may choose a smaller solar system.

If you’d like to know more about average daily solar generation for different system sizes have a look at the Clean Energy Council guide. Keep in mind factors such as panel orientation, angle, shading and dirt can all impact your solar generation.

How do I select a solar system?

Your new solar system will comprise solar panels and an inverter.

There are many brands of solar panels and inverters, with a large amount of information available through our Pure Power solar installers and over the internet.

Some of the key things to consider in choosing both solar panels and inverters include;

  • Warranty  What is actually covered in the warranty? Who supports the warranty? How long does the warranty last for? Do you have to pay anything if you have a warranty claim?
  • Efficiency  How efficient are the panels? Higher efficiency panels take up less physical space on your roof compared to lower efficiency panels. If you are tight for roof space, you may consider opting for higher efficiency solar panels.
  • Degradation rates This is a measure of loss of efficiency over time.
  • How much are you prepared to pay?

How do I select a solar system installer?

You should shop around when selecting  a solar system. This allows you to talk to different installers and find out what options you have and obtain several quotes.

You may also want to speak to people in your area, friends and family that have installed solar to get more tips and feedback.

We highly recommend that you only consider Clean Energy Council accredited solar installers as they must meet certain minimum standards.

We also recommend you talk to to some of our Pure Power solar installers, who are some of the most experienced in the industry. They work closely with us to ensure you receive good quality service and a smooth transition to solar. If you get your new solar system installed with a Pure Power solar installer, they can also provide you with special feed-in credit offers, 

Can I store the excess electricity from my solar system to use later?

If your solar system generates more electricity than you need at a particular time then the excess is fed into your local power grid. This excess electricity will receive a feed-in credit.

You will need to install a battery storage unit to store the excess electricity for later use.

Will I get electricity at night?

If you have installed a solar system and are connected to your local grid, you will be able to source electricity at all times of the day and night. The electricity your solar system generates is used in your home or business first and any additional electricity you need will come from your local power grid. This is the electricity you pay for. 

Do I need a new meter? If so, how do I get one?

Your existing  meter may or may not support solar, even if it is a smart meter or relatively new.

When you install solar panels you will need a bi-directional meter. This is a meter that can record the amount of solar electricity you feed into the grid as well as the amount of electricity you use from the grid.  If you have a smart meter it may need to be reprogrammed to make sure it measures the electricity fed into to the grid. We will manage this for you and deal with your local poles and wire company.

The costs of upgrading or reprogramming your meter vary depending on where you live and the requirements of your poles and wires company. Ask your installer about the meter requirements in your area or visit the website of your local poles and wires company.

For information on metering charges we pass on from your poles and wires company, have a look at our service fees and charges

How does solar affect my bill?

When you install a solar system, you will continue to receive an electricity bill.

The more pure electricity your solar panels generate, the less electricity you need to buy from the grid, and the lower your electricity bills. That’s going to put a smile on your face!

When the sun’s rays are shining on your solar system, the pure electricity that is generated will supply your home first. If your solar system is producing less electricity than you need at any time (for example in the evenings) you will use electricity from the grid.

You only pay for the electricity that is used from the grid.

We will pay you for any electricity your solar system generates that is fed into the grid. This is called a feed in credit and it will reduce your bill even further! If you are receiving a high feed-in tariff, your bill may be negative, which means that we owe you! Unlike most electricity retailers, if your bill is in credit for more than $50 at the end of a billing period, we will transfer the full balance into your nominated bank account at no cost to you. This is just another way we support solar customers.

You can see our section on how to read your bill for some examples.

Should I think about Time of Use rates with solar?

Households with All-day rates are charged the same electricity rates 24/7.

With Time of Use (TOU) you are charged different rates for the electricity you consume at different times of the day (for example peak, shoulder and off-peak). TOU rates and times differ depending on your poles and wires company (Distributor).

If you have a solar system, a TOU capable meter and some ability to shift when you use electricity, you may benefit from TOU rates. Have a look at getting shifty with solar for some smart tips on shifting your electricity usage and reducing your bill.

If you have any questions about TOU and whether it is  right for you, please get in touch. 

How do I get the best return from my solar system investment?

There are many things that can help you get the best return from your solar system, there is no single answer. We are all different and use electricity differently. We’re here to help work out what is the best for you.

Have a look at our smart energy tips for help on how to best utilise your solar, reduce your electricity usage from the grid and your bill.

Check out our feed in credits and tips & traps to be aware of when researching other electricity retailers.  Need some more help?  That’s why we are here, contact us and we can help you work through the options.

Will there be delays in my bill when I go solar?

To create your bill we use meter data provided to us by your poles and wires company.  Your billing cycle (generally quarterly for homes and monthly for businesses) is not likely to change by moving to solar. However, the upgrade and/or reprogramming of your meter can create delays in the first bill being sent.

Some electricity retailers use “estimates” of your usage as a basis of billing, particularly if your meter is not accessible or in remote areas. Estimates may not include export of electricity so if you decide to install solar ensure your meter is accessible when it is time for a meter read. You don’t want to miss out on your feed in credits. We will wait for the actual meter data before we prepare your bill to ensure we include any feed in credits for you. 

Do I have to stay with my existing electricity retailer when I move to solar?

Many people are incorrectly informed that they need to stay with their existing electricity retailer until their meter is upgraded or reprogrammed. This simply is not the case and can be a trap to lock you in to a poor contract with an electricity retailer that is not solar friendly.

The best time to start moving to Diamond Energy is when you make the commitment to install solar. We work directly with installers to pro-actively monitor the process, help you get connected quickly and help you get the most out of your solar investment. See our tips and traps with electricity retailer offers for more information.

When you start your solar journey it is nice to have someone you can trust, someone that can help you understand what you need to do and help you get the most out of your solar system. That’s where we come in!

We will ensure you have a smooth transition, keep you updated along the way and provide you with smart tips and guidance long after you’re installed. This is our job as a truly solar friendly electricity retailer.

The Clean Energy Council has a guide to installing solar that has really helpful information covering every stage of solar.