More spring and summer sun - more electricity for you
How does the sun make electricity on my roof?
The panels on your roof are called photovoltaic cells or PV cells which means when the sunlight hits the panels the silicon in the panels becomes hot and emits electrons which travel along the silicon conductor making electricity as direct current (DC).
However, this electricity has to be changed to alternating current (AC ) so it can be used for your home or business. To do this an inverter is used, a small box like a metre box does the work and is located inside your roof space or on your wall.
The electricity made from the sun is called renewable energy because the sun will be there for another 5,000,000,000 years
(5 billion years) before it dies. A bit beyond our lifetime. Humans may well be on another planet or in another solar system by then as our sun, our lifeblood, will have expanded and consumed our earth by then.
It can go to your home and power some of your appliances or it can go back to the electricity company that provides you with power (‘the grid’).
If it goes to the electricity company do they give me a discount on my electricity?
Yes. The electricity company can take the electricity from you, called ‘going back to the grid’. Instead of electricity coming to you via power lines you are sending it back to them via the same power lines.
It does depend on what plan you sign up for from the solar company. There are many companies and many types of roof solar panels.
Yes. Some panels can make more electricity than others. New ones just released are called 315 watt or more electricity generating panels. Check the capacity of the solar panels the companies are offering. The higher the watts the less number of solar panels you need.
The ABC Catalyst video below explores the possibilities of solar energy (Courtesy ABC 2015)
What choices do I have when it comes to putting panels on my roof?
There are now three choices for putting PV solar panels on your roof. You can
1. Buy the whole lot of panels, usually 8 is the minimum, and pay upfront
2. Pay on an installment plan usually 3-5 years
3. Lease the panels and there are several ways of leasing with no up-front payment. The PV supplier pays for maintenance and efficiency of the panels by monitoring their performance. You are charged a lease payment each month.
One more thing: the new panel systems can come with micro-inverters meaning a small box for each panel so if there is shade on one panel then the other panels still work. Up until recently if one panel was in shade, then the whole panel system closed down and no power was made for you.
Yes. Some packages of solar PV systems allow for future storage. This technology is expected to reach Australia in November. It is already used in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Do you have any questions about solar power?
Email us on email@example.com