Solar Energy FAQ

Customers regularly ask us how a solar energy system works. They’re also curious about the various components of solar systems. Below, we have listed some of the more commonly asked questions about solar energy and solar battery storage.

What’s an inverter?
An inverter is used to convert the direct current (DC) energy produced from your solar system to alternating current (AC), which you can use in your home.
How does an inverter work?
A solar inverter works by converting the DC produced by solar modules to AC that is consumed within the home or business or exported to the grid.
What’s a hybrid inverter?

A solar hybrid inverter converts DC energy to AC power you can use in your home in the same way that a normal string inverter does. Additionally, a hybrid inverter includes a component that allows it to direct the energy from your system to a battery or to the grid if there is excess power and allow your system to utilize the charge in the battery when needed.

What’s a solar module?
A solar module is a collection of solar cells joined together with wire. It is usually housed within a fixed metal frame.
What’s a solar cell?

A solar cell is a wafer of silicone that reacts with solar irradiation to produce electricity. One side of the cell is positive, and one side is negative.

How does a solar module work?

Each of the solar cells in a solar module is two wafers of silicone. One is laced with an element to cause it to have a slightly negative charge (this is the top wafer) the other is laced with an element that causes it to have a slightly positive charge. The difference in charge, between positive and negative, creates an electromagnetic field.

When solar irradiation from the sun strikes the two silicon wafers, it dislodges and electron which flows into the conductor connected to the cell. These electrons then flow along the wires that join all the cells in a module until they reach the junction box part of the module. The junction box has two cables (positive and negative) coming out of it. These cables are connected to other modules to form a string. The string(s) are connected to the inverter to form the solar energy system.

What’s an optimiser?
An optimiser is a device that connects directly to an individual solar module with the aim of increasing the yield of that module.
Do I need optimisers?
Optimisers are most commonly used in situations where partial string shading is an issue.
How do optimisers work?

An optimiser is essentially a module level MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker). It steps up or down the voltage of the module to match that of the neighbouring modules to maximise the efficiency.

What is MPPT?
MPPT Stands for Maximum Power Point Tracker. Modules have a point where they produce the maximum amount of power possible. This maximum varies with temperature and solar irradiation. A MPPT changes the voltage output of the module to ensure it is producing power at its maximum.
What’s a battery?
A battery is a device in which to store solar energy.
Can I introduce a battery to my solar system?
It is almost always technically possible to add a battery to your existing system. HOWEVER – there are many different shapes and sizes of systems out there so retrofitting is never a one-size- fits-all scenario.
Can I upgrade my solar energy system?
Almost always it is technically possible. There are many decisions to be considered when weighing the merits of upgrading your solar energy system.
What is a feed in tariff (FIT)?
The FIT is the amount you are paid by your retailer for the energy you produce from your solar energy system when you export to the grid. Talk to your energy retailer for their current offering.
What happens to my FIT if I get a battery?
In most situations, you will lose your FIT if you retrofit. We recommend you talk to your network provider and energy retailer.
Have I missed the boat with solar energy?
Definitely NOT! In the short to medium term power in Australia is going to get more expensive and not less expensive. If you can self-consume the power from your solar energy system while its being generated or by storing it (i.e. with a battery) and using it later, you WILL benefit financially.