Frequently Asked Questions

How to, Helpful tips and FAQ

What is solar monitoring?
Each solar system comes with energy production and in some cases energy consumption monitoring capabilities and is accessed through an app on your phone or through the inverter manufacturers monitoring website. As such inverters have the ability to be connected to the internet to share its data with the app or website.

In South Australia it is a legal requirement for solar systems to be able to be monitored and in some cases if a customer does not have WiFi at their home specific inverter brands with WiFi dongles will have to be used to meet these requirements.

Production monitoring: All solar systems have production monitoring capabilities. This allows you to see how much electricity your solar system is producing and any one time and a record of production over time. This allows you to track how well your solar system is working.

Consumption monitoring: Not all solar systems have consumption monitoring as a smart meter specific to your inverter is required for this and comes at an additional cost. Some systems require this smart meter in specific scenarios such as when limiting how much power can be exported to the electricity grid.

Consumption monitoring not only shows and tracks your solar production, but also how much of your solar power and grid power is being consumed and when. This allows your greater control over how and when you use your power to maximise the value gained from your system.

Which is best for you: In our experience the novelty of monitoring your system wears off for most people within a few weeks. Our recommendation is that you check your monitoring app once per week for any faults or irregularities and if you find one follow the steps in “What to do if your system shows a fault”

How to setup your monitoring
When your solar system is installed we will set up your system monitoring, this allows both us and you to monitor your system to ensure it is producing and working correctly.

When we set up your monitoring an email will be sent to you from your inverter manufacturer’s monitoring platform.

This email will contain a link to download the monitoring app for your phone whether it be Apple or Android.

Once the app is downloaded you simply login using your email address as the user name and set a password. You can use this same username and password to login through the manufacturers monitoring website.

Be sure to keep an eye on your email (and spam folder) in the days following your installation for the link.

What to do if your system shows a fault
If your inverter has a fault this will be registered on your monitoring app and in most cases on the screen on the front of your inverter if it has one.

There are many reasons a fault can take place, whether it be in relation to the internet connection for your inverter, an issue with the grid such as a blackout, a software update is required, or an actual issue with the system.
Most issues can be resolved remotely by us or your inverter manufacturer, however some may require a site visit by an electrician.

If your system registers a fault you should first look up the fault code online using Google, your preferred search engine, or directly on your inverter manufacturers website.

When you look up the fault code you will also find instructions on how to resolve the fault, whether it be a simple system reset, contacting the manufacturer or contacting us. If a site visit is required or you are directed to contact your installer, please contact us through email.

List your name and the fault code in the subject line with a description in the body of your email.

It is best to first look up a fault code online before contacting our support line as most faults can be resolved by first turning the system off and on again, or are to do with internet connection issues.

How to turn your system on and off again
Whilst each brand of panels and inverter are different, all have the same basic requirements for system shutdown and startup: An AC Isolator in the meter board or sub board labelled “Inverter Supply Main Switch”, A DC isolator mounted next to the inverter and the switch on the inverter itself.

The Shut-down procedure for each inverter is labelled on the front of the inverter. The start up procedure is the shut-down procedure reversed.

How to shut down your inverter:

Turn off the “Inverter Supply Main Switch” on your Meter Board or Sub Board. Turn off the DC isolator mounted next to your inverter. Turn off the inverter itself. The switch for the inverter is located on the side or underneath the inverter.

How to restart your system: Follow the Shut-down procedure labelled on the front of your inverter in reverse order.

NOTE: The Switch on the inverter can be quite stiff and takes a little elbow grease, but most people can get it, it will click when it is in place.

Turning off the AC and DC Isolators isolates the flow of power in different sections of the system, this is for safety reasons and as such it is important to follow the procedure in the correct order as labelled on your inverter when shutting down the system.

How to organise servicing of your system
If your solar system has a fault you can log it through our contact page. Your fault or issue will be sent to the correct team member who will at first try to resolve the issue remotely (Most issues can be resolved this way). They will then contact you with either the resolution or next steps. This is the most efficient way we have found to handle issues and get you back up and running.
What to do if your electricity bills are higher than expected after installation

There are a few reasons this can happen and most are due to a misunderstanding of the electricity bill.

1. The solar system was not yet turned on during the billing period or for only a portion of the billing period; Often your solar system will first be turned on part way through a billing period and as such will not show a full quarters benefit.

2. The solar system was not turned on at the time of installation. In most instances a solar system can not be turned on until your electricity meter has been changed or reprogrammed by your electricity retailer. The retailer has 15 business days from the day of receiving the metering request (We send this for you within 48 hours of installation) to upgrade or replace the meter and the solar system cannot be turned on until this has been done.

3. You have not changed your default solar electricity plan with your electricity retailer; In most cases your retailer will put you onto a default solar plan by the time they have upgraded your meter. Their default plans are most often the one that gives you the least value and as such we recommend reviewing your retailer and plan as soon as your meter has been upgraded (but not before). We can not influence or control the plan you have with your retailer or any delays they may have in changing your meter.

Ultimately this is your responsibility and we can only make recommendations based on market data available at any given time. Electricity retailers are constantly changing their available plans and so we recommend reviewing your plan every 6 – 12 months to ensure you are getting the best value.

Once you have checked these as possible reasons for the bill not being what you expect, then you should email us. Use your name and “Please Analyse My Bill” in the subject line of the heading, provide a description in the body and attach the bill in question, the previous bill and the bill from before your solar was installed if possible.

We will analyse the bills and then contact you with a resolution or next steps.

How to compare energy retailers and choose a plan

When comparing electricity retailers, their plans and making recommendations on them we use www.wattever.com.au

This is the only fully independent and reliably up to date website we have found that lists every single retailer in the country and their available plans.

They give you the ability to search by feed in tariff (what retailers pay you for power you sell to the grid) and by cost of power.

You should consider how you use power when choosing a plan. If you have a system much larger than your needs or have low day time usage and sell lots of your solar power back to the grid then a high feed in tariff is what will give you the most value. If you are home a lot, use lots of your solar power and don’t sell much back to the grid then a low rate for power you buy is what will give you the most value.

These days most retails offer feed in tariffs that are maximum a third of the rate you pay for power and so you will need to sell 3 kwhs of power to the grid during the day to cover 1 kwh of usage during the night.

Generally plans with a higher feed in tariff will also have a higher rate for power you buy too, so being on the right plan is an important aspect of maximising the value of your solar system.

Whilst it is frustrating that retailers don’t pay the same for power you sell to them as you pay for power they sell to you, you are effectively selling power to them at a wholesale rate.

How to read your electricity bill

Link to an image that highlights different sections of a power bill with explanations of what they are

Your electricity bill only shows the value of the excess solar power you didn’t consume and sold to the grid.
The vast majority of the value from your system is in the power consumed, not the power sold. This is because every kwh consumed generally has 3 times the value of a kwh sold. This means you need a combination of your electricity bill and your systems production monitoring data to work out the value generated by your system.

We are of course always happy to do this for you at your request via email, please provide a copy of your electricity bill in the email for analysis.

How to maximise the value of your solar system

The biggest step towards maximising the value of your solar system is doing your heaviest load task while your system is generating the power.

Generally for every kwh of power from your solar you consume instead of sell you get 3 times the value.

The heaviest load items and tasks are usually: Heating and cooling of any kind; aircon, heater, running of pool filters and heaters, heating spas, using the dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, vacuuming floors etc.

Most of these accessories can be set with timers and small habits can be changed such as packing the dishwasher at night and running it in the morning.

You also need to consider the direction your panels face as this determines what times of day you will produce power. An eastern facing system produces power in the morning and so your heaviest load items should be used in the morning. A western facing system produces power in the afternoon and so heavy load items should be used in the afternoon. 

The person that designs your solar system should also take your habits and regular times you are at home and away into consideration when designing your system as this will affect the value gained from your system.

If you are not at home during the day and use most of your power in the morning and afternoon then your system should be east-west facing as this will allow you to consume the most power and therefore gain the most value from your system.

Even though a northern only facing system may produce more power than an east/west split the east/west split may allow for higher self consumption and therefore higher value gained overall.

There are many things that can co strain a system design, so if a system cannot be designed to suit your habits try to change some of your habits to suit the system you have, as maximising consumption could be worth hundreds of dollars a year to you.

How to calculate the dollar value benefit of your solar for a 3 month billing period

Your electricity bill shows how much power you have sold back to the grid for a quarter, the rate at which they buy the power off you and the total dollar value of the power sold.

Take total kwh production for the quarter from solar monitoring app.

Take total kwh feed in from electricity bill.

Minus kwh feed in from total kwh production.

Times balance of kwhs by cents per watt rate of power of your electricity retailer.

Add the amount to the total feed in credit amount and you have the dollar value of your solar production for a quarter.

What makes a good solar company

The 2 most important factors that determine any good solar company are longevity and servicing.

Solar is a long term product, any decent system will be on your home or business roof for 30+ years, but that only matters if it works.

Despite the cost or quality of any product they all can have issues and many of these issues require an installer to fix them.

The issue in the solar industry is that there are lots of fly by nighter and cowboy companies that are only in the industry to make a quick buck.

Because of this there are very few solar installers around that are willing to service other companies installations as they don’t want to risk being liable over someone else’s potentially poor quality work.

This means having your system installed by a company that has a plan for how they are going to be around for the long term and be willing to service your system at no cost for its lifetime.

This is the only way to ensure you will have a working system regardless of the quality of the equipment that is used.

A company that has a plan for how they will stay in business, be around to service their customers and is willing to do it at no cost is a company that cannot risk doing poor quality installations or using poor quality equipment.

We believe the only way to ensure you are having a risk free installation is to ensure the company that installs your solar system ticks the following boxes:

1. Has been in business for at least 10 years – this is the only way to ensure you are working with an experienced company that has made it through the hardest few years of business and has seen and overcome the many hurdles and complications this industry throws at you, it is also the only way to ensure you avoid fly by nighters. It doesn’t necessarily mean 10 years doing solar, but 10 years in business means they have some staying power.

2. They have their own inhouse employed installers. Too many solar companies use contractors for installs and then use them as scapegoats to not take responsibility for customer issues. This leaves people in the lurch with little hope of getting their system fixed, most likely having to replace it entirely.

3. They do something other than residential solar. This is purely because this industry is very heavily reliant on the government rebate, which only has 8 years left in it. Once the rebate is gone solar will be far less affordable, reducing sales and forcing companies that don’t have other streams of income to close. They will avoid this by just closing the day the rebate is gone or before.

4. They are an Approved Retailer with the Clean Energy Council. There are 2 statuses a solar company can have, Accredited Installers and Approved Retailers. To become an accredited installer is a few weeks course and does not require you to be an electrician. Accredited installers are not even required to have an electrician on site for your installation and simply require an electrician to sign off on a job. This allows room for most of the work to be done by apprentices and laborers instead of qualified professionals, allowing some companies to do cheap, low-quality installs.

Approved Retailers like us on the other hand have been through a 12 month auditing process with the Clean Energy Council having every job during that time audited and frequent audits after that to ensure quality work is being done. Approved Retailers are also required to have an Electrician on site from start to finish of your installation. We take it a step further and only use fully qualified electricians and fully qualified roofers for our installations.

There are more than 10,000 Accredited Installers in Australia and only a few hundred Approved Retailers.

Why do we use the products we use

As we provide our own personal guarantee on your systems production for the first 1o years it is essential that we use quality equipment with low failure rates and have good relationships with the wholesalers and manufacturers of these products.

We have a high criteria that products have to meet for us to offer them, we then choose the best value for money options out of the products that meet our criteria.

This means some products we offer may change over time, but we will still honor our production guarantee regardless.

What risks are involved with solar

There are various areas of the solar purchasing process that can be a risk, being poor quality products, poor quality or non existent service from solar companies, or poor quality installations.

Across the board these risks go from mere financial risk by potentially buying a faulty system that doesn’t do what you were promised to the worst case scenarios of poor quality products or poor quality installations leading to fires.

By following our guidance in the “What makes a good solar company” section you can ensure you avoid these risks all together.

What is the process of buying solar from start to finish

First contact, either by entering your details online or contacting us directly.

During a phone call we determine your house is suitable for solar and if so book an appointment with one of our solar specialists.

Our specialist will come to your home, take photos of your roof and meter board to be checked by our head electrician. Upon the electrician’s advice the specialist will design your system, create a savings analysis and proposal for you, answering any questions and explaining everything you need to know about solar, products, the industry and how you save money along the way.

If solar does not suit your property or situation for any reason the specialist will advise you of this. If you require finance for your system the specialist can provide all the information and even help with your application on the day.

Once an installation date has been booked we will apply for installation approval with the network provider i.e SAPN for SA for Energex for Qld.

Most installations only take a day, however some larger or more complicated systems can take longer.

Within 24 hours of installation we will send the metering request to your electricity retailer, they then have 15 business days to replace or reprogram your meter whichever is required.

In most cases your solar system will have to remain switched off until the meter is upgraded, generally the contractor upgrading the meter would then also turn your solar system on. If not, we will talk you through it.

If you choose to pay outright, payment will be due on the day of installation, not after the meter is changed. However if you choose finance repayments usually begin 30 days after installation and as such the meter would be upgraded by then in most cases and the system would be active.

Once your meter has been changed and your system switched on you then co tact your retailer or a new retailer to be put onto a plan that suits your needs.

How long does it take to be installed

We endeavour to keep all installations within 1-2 weeks of booking. As any time spent keeping the customer waiting is time costing them money on electricity bills. Most installations are completed within a day depending on system size and complexity.

Commercial installations are a minimum of 2 weeks between booking and installation to gain network approvals.

How long does it take to see a benefit

In most instances if the system is bought on finance you can be saving money or at the very least breaking even from day 1 of the system being active.

On an outright purchase the savings on electricity are from day 1 of the system being active, but will generally see a return on investment of 3-6 years depending on various factors.

How does solar work

Your solar panels collect sunlight converting around 20% of it with good quality panels into DC electricity. That electricity is sent to your inverter which then converts the electricity into AC for your house to use.

Your house then consumes that electricity prioritising the use of your solar power over grid power.

Anything over and above what you are using is sent back to the grid and your electricity retailer pays you for this power.

Your house can draw power from the grid at the same time as using your solar power if your usage needs are higher than what you are generating at any given time.

The power sold back to the grid offsets the cost of the power you buy from the grid at times your solar is not producing or your needs are higher than what you are generating.

The credits received from selling excess power to the grid can offset the cost of power bought from the grid to the point of eliminating the electricity bill entirely or even earning money from the retailer.

How do feed in tariffs work

Anything over and above what you are using is sent back to the grid and your electricity retailer pays you for this power. The rate they pay you per kwh is called a feed in tariff.

The power sold back to the grid offsets the cost of the power you buy from the grid at times your solar is not producing or your needs are higher than what you are generating.

The credits received from selling excess power to the grid can offset the cost of power bought from the grid to the point of eliminating the electricity bill entirely or even earning money from the retailer.

Each retailer pays a different feed in tariff so shopping around and comparing is important to ensure you maximise the value gained from your solar system.

Why do some people have higher feed in tariffs than others

When solar was first introduced in Australia it was incredibly expensive and even the government rebate wasn’t enough to make it affordable. As such the government introduced a premium feed in tariff which involved government contributions allowing for feed in tariffs higher than the rate of power.

This allowed small systems to generate high amounts of value and kick-started the solar revolution in Australia.
As the cost of solar came down so did the government’s contributions and in 2019 they were removed entirely. During this time all retailers paid the same feed in tariffs and it was all the way down to 5cents per kwh.

Feed in tariffs are now paid entirely by the electricity retailers and vary from retailer to retailer, with some not offering one at all and others paying more than anyone else as a means of acquiring new customers to grow their business.

Feed in tariffs being a point of competition these days means it’s likely they will continue to fluctuate over time and never disappear entirely.

Why do I need a new meter and what is the process

Not all electricity meters know how to read the direction that power is flowing. This means a Meter that is not solar compatible or programmed for solar cannot read power as being fed back to the grid and considers all power that flows through it as power that is moving into the house, not out of it, therefore charging you for the power you are trying to sell.

The other reason is that new digital meters are WiFi compatible allowing them to be read remotely. This means the retailers don’t need to pay meter readers, which is why they fund the cost of the new meter.

When can I turn my system on?

If the installers have not turned your solar system on at the time of installation then you must wait until your electricity retailer has replaced or reprogrammed your electricity meter. If you turn your system on before this time it could cost you money instead of saving it as the meter you have does not have the ability to read the direction of energy moving back into the grid and so considers it to be power bought instead of power sold.

The retailer gets 15 business days from the day of receiving the meter request we send to them to replace or reprogram your meter.

What happens if I change my internet type or provider and need to reconnect to my WiFi

If you change your internet type from ADSL to NBN for example you will require a site visit for us to reconnect your inverter to the internet. This is not a service call as there is no fault with the system so will come at a cost of $120

If you change your internet provider, but not your internet type you can reconnect the inverter to the WiFi yourself. Contact your inverter manufacturer and they will walk you through the process over the phone. Alternatively, you can email us through our contact page and we will reply with instructions for your particular inverter.

If you are not able to reconnect your inverter to the WiFi and we are required to attend the site to do it there will be a fee of $120. 

What is the Difference between a kW and a kWh

kilowatts (kW) and kilowatt-hours (kWh) are not the same. A kWh is the standard measurement on electricity bills, while a kW is a measurement of energy consumption.

If you run a 1kW appliance for an hour, it will use 1kWh. The less kW something uses, the longer it takes to use a whole kWh. For example, a 25 watt fluorescent light bulb would take 40 hours to use 1kWh.

Useful Links

For more information visit

The Australian Government Your Energy Savings
Provides a search function to find the incenti​ves or rebates which may be available to you, and information about the types of systems you can install.

Visit Website >>

Choice
Provides a solar panel buying guide and has tested solar panel performance for major brands.

Visit Website >>

CSIRO
The CSIRO has a Home Energy Saving Handbook that can show you what you can do to cut energy use. This is a paid product.

Visit Website >>

The Clean Energy Council
Provides a guide to installing solar PV on households and businesses.

Visit Website >>

Smart Energy​ Council
Provides information to consumers about installing solar panels.

Visit Website >>

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