10 December 2016. Another year draws to a close and the Adelaide solar panel installation industry has seen probably the greatest amount of change this year compared to the last few years. The biggest ‘game changer’ has certainly been the remarkable level of interest shown by South Australians in embracing solar battery storage technology. It is estimated that between five and twenty percent of new residential solar power installations (yes, it is hard to pin down the precise figure!) are now incorporating solar battery storage technology. The emergency of  lithium-ion battery technology has meant that storage of solar panel generated electricity will become ‘mainstream’ within the next five years and most Adelaide solar companies will be offering a solar battery storage option. Lithium-ion batteries offer huge benefits over ‘traditional’ sealed lead acid battery technology, the main benefits being:

  • Astoundingly high energy densities possible. depending on their design,  lithium-ion batteries can store large amounts of electrical energy in a small physical size. This means that for an ‘average’ home,  lithium-ion battery packs that can run most electrical appliances for a reasonable mount of time to the total night time usage without calling for a huge (physically) battery bank.
  • Minimal ‘self discharge’ characteristic. The problem with many of the traditional battery technologies was that they suffered from internal electrical discharge – so even when no external load was applied to the battery, those batteries would slowly discharge – wasting precious stored solar energy. Lithium ion batteries have minimal self discharge characteristics
  • High Cycle Life Characteristics. Lithium ion batteries can be charged and discharged many more times than sealed lead acid batteries. this is a critical specification as the rated number of charge / discharge cycles is a reasonable measure as to the longevity of the battery system.

Getting Quoted For Solar Power Installation – Basic Consumer ‘Savvy’ Remains Important

If you are looking to get solar panels installed, then, like any major purchase you make, it is imperative to do your research. Adelaide solar installation companies vary hugely in their ‘approach’ to solar installation and by arming yourself with a reasonable amount of knowledge on how solar systems work, how they may (or may not) benefit your individual power needs, the type of solar panels and solar inverters that have a decent track record in South Australia and the integrity and track record of the installers you use are all key components in minimising any problems down the track.

Fundamentals, like getting all quotations for solar installation in writing, with full details of the model and brand of the solar panels and solar inverter that will a typical solar inverterbe installed, the likely power generated by the system, the likely savings to your power bills and an estimate as to the likely ‘payback period of the solar system’ are all required. Over the next few months we will drill down into the specifics of solar power system component selection – which brands have a ‘tried and tested’ track record of reliable operation in Adelaide and which solar panels and solar inverters have solid distributor (NOT installer) back up, should there be, for example, any warranty claim issues down the track. Because solar companies and installers come and go it is worth thinking about the ‘worth’ of any written solar warranties. If a solar company offers a 10 year or 25 year warranty on ‘x’ brand of solar panels and your solar installer goes out of business in 2 years time, what support are you likely to get from the distributor of those components, if any? Worth thinking about before signing up for any solar system.

Solar Panel Emerging Technologies. National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV)

The National Center for Photovoltaics, based in the U.S. is a leader in developing and co sponsoring research into solar panels and phot voltaics with emphasis on creating solar panels with higher efficiencies (that is solar cells that generate a higher electrical output for a given amount of received sunshine) and lowering the cost of solar panels. They publish the solar cell efficiencies chart which gives a fascinating insight into the progress in the development of ever more efficient solar panels:

Solar Cell Efficiency

Image Courtesy Of http://www.nrel.gov/pv/

For anyone wanting to follow developments in photo-voltaics the site http://www.nrel.gov/pv/ is well worth following.

Adelaide Solar Industry – Trends In 2017?

Our predictions for the Adelaide residential solar power industry in 2017 include:

  • continued growth in uptake of solar battery storage systems
  • continuation of a ‘minimal’ S.A. feed in tariff offered by energy retailers
  • next generation higher efficiency solar panel offerings coming onto the market
  • stabilization of solar system pricing. there will always be solar installers trying to offer the ‘cheapest possible’ systems – tread with caution!
  • Adelaide will continue to be a city that embraces roof top solar