Frequently Asked Questions
Operation, Cleaning and Maintenance
Once installed, solar electricity generating systems are generally fully automatic and require no daily input from the owner of the system. Three or four times a year the surface of the solar modules should be cleaned with water to remove any build up of dust or dirt,
We recommend having your solar panels and electrical connections surveyed with an infra-red camera after having the system for two years. We also maintain and service solar systems to ensure that your investment is running smoothly and safely. Please contact us for further information about maintaining your panels.
Different Types of Solar Panel
At this point in time there are two basic types of solar module commercially available – thin film (or amorphous) modules and crystalline modules.
Within the crystalline category there are two sub groups – polycrystalline (generally a blue colour) and monocrystalline (almost black) modules. Crystalline panels are the most widely sold types of panels in Australia.
Thin film modules use less silicon and are quicker to manufacture than crystalline modules. As a consequence they are generally a little cheaper for the same power rating. The trade off is that they are about a third less efficient as crystalline modules in space efficiency. However, their physical properties mean that in our harsh Australian climate, they can out-perform crystalline modules in the heat, low light and partial shade.
Effect of Shading
Thin film and crystalline modules behave differently when partially shaded. If a crystalline module is partially obscured by solid shade, then the module will stop producing and system performance will drop markedly. If too many panels in a group are shaded, the entire group of panels may stop producing. Incorporating micro-inverters into a crystalline solar system can prevent this from occurring because each panel is isolated. Meaning that losing one panels' output will not affect the other panels.
Thin film modules on the other hand will continue to provide an output under such conditions, proportionally reduced by the area exposed to shading. Potential shading is an important factor in determining the best type of system for a particular application.
Aspect and Inclination
Ideally, the best arrangement for solar modules is north facing, inclined at an optimal angle for your location (35 degrees for Adelaide). Although an alignment within 15° of north, and an inclination of between 20° and 40° has less than 3% impact on performance.
Your technician will take these factors into account when designing your system in order to maximize your system output. Locating photovoltaic modules on the east or west roofs will reduce output (by up to 20%), but may make the most of peak usage and therefore be a better option for financial gain.