For most Australian households, energy usage is increasing year on year as we use more appliances and more electronic devices, and this trend is only set to continue dramatically over the next 10 years.
I’m Jonathan Fisk from Solaray Energy and today we’re going to run you through how a smart solar system with solar battery storage, electric vehicle charging and clever monitoring software, can protect you from rising costs and grid blackouts as your usage grows.
To achieve this is a lot more than just throwing some solar panels on the roof and hoping they work. We’re going to showcase you through a smarter, safer solar system that really future-proofs your home.
The regional lifestyle has a lot of appeal – the fresh air, the country town feel where neighbours all know each other, a chance to get away from the intensity of city living.
However rural properties can have two big drawbacks: One is they use lots of power and two, they can often suffer from blackouts.
So whether it’s a larger home on acreage or a large home in Greater Sydney, you can have the same issue.
The average energy usage of a four-person regional home is three-times higher than the same size home in suburban Sydney. And in fact we have some regional customers whose average usage is more than 10 times that of their Sydney-based counterparts. So if you’re using upwards of say 45 kilowatt hours a day, you just don’t need a simple domestic solar panel system. You need a well-designed, smart, residential energy management system.
The system we’re looking at today has 22 kilowatts of high efficiency solar panels, paired with 18 kilowatts of SolarEdge inverters with DC optimisers. This is not only safer than older style solar systems, but also allows the panels to operate independently, dramatically increasing the potential yield.
This installation also features two 13.5 kilowatt hour Tesla Powerwall batteries, that can be charged either from the solar or from the grid if needed, along with two electric vehicle chargers.
This whole system is overlaid with Solar Analytics – a very clever piece of online monitoring software that offers more savings, more insights, and more confidence in your system’s performance.
Let’s start by looking at the solar PV system.
Why a big system?
Larger homes these days are using a lot more power. People are installing air conditioners. People are putting in swimming pools. We’re just using a lot more electricity and we’ve got to do something about it. And don’t forget – electric vehicles are coming.
Most solar power systems today are installed with module level power electronics or MLPE. This technology gives you a much safer solution, much greater control of your solar power, and importantly the most efficient output from the system today. One of the things this gives us is design flexibility, and simply that means we can put more panels, in more locations on your roof, for great efficiency out of your system.
Beyond the quality of the solar panels we put on your roof, an important part is the inverter. The solution we’re talking about today uses SolarEdge inverters with DC optimisers, so I’ve invited Carlos along today from SolarEdge to tell us a bit more about this solution.
So Carlos, what is an optimiser?
A DC optimiser like we can see here, is essentially a little box that sits up on your roof, sits behind the panels and has a number of functions in it that it essentially looks after the yield, it looks after safety and it looks after monitoring, and it comes with a 25 year warranty, so it’s guaranteed for the life of the system.
So let’s talk about monitoring and performance visibility. Why is that so important?
I think it’s critically important, because essentially the solar panels make up the largest and most expensive part of a solar system. It’s important to be able to ensure that every component is performing exactly as it should be, and helps to keep the panel manufacturers honest. Otherwise you’re assuming that everything is fine over the next 20 years with what is sitting on your roof. It basically gives you peace of mind and gives the installer access to ensure that this is the case.
So can you tell us more about the safety benefits of a SolarEdge solution?
It’s not that traditional inverter systems aren’t safe – they are. They’ve been installed for a number of years. It’s that the SolarEdge system is a safer solution.
Through the optimisers, in the event that there is an issue on the roof or there is a fault detected, the inverter will switch the voltage on the roof down to what we call a safe voltage – so 1 volt DC per optimiser – ensuring that it’s essentially touch-safe. This is in comparison to a traditional solar system that could, when you’re using a traditional inverter, could have voltages on your roof up to 1,000 volts DC.
With a SolarEdge system it’s not that we’re unsafe, it’s that we are able to control the voltage, whereas with a string inverter technology it’s uncontrolled voltage on the roof.
So what that means is for us – that for service personnel, for people that are coming to do maintenance work potentially on your roof, or for homeowners and their families – that SolarEdge is a safer solution for everyone.
Safety really should be at the forefront of your mind, and any investor in a solar system, whether it’s for a home or for business, given that the solar power system is going to be on the roof for 10, 20, 30 years, and particularly for areas that are prone to bushfires, floods, cyclones, etc., but even just for any regular homeowner, safety should be at the forefront of your investment.
Solar batteries are at the heart of any Energy Management System – but what do they do?
Well, as you know, solar produces power during daylight hours and if you’re producing more than you’re using, it sends it out to the grid and you get a very small feed-in tariff for it.
These batteries store that excess power during the day so that you can use them at nighttime, often when power’s more expensive. And just as importantly, solar batteries will provide backup power if the grid goes down or there’s a power outage. Combined with a smart solar system, it will use solar during the day to charge the batteries even without the grid, and again that will keep your house running at night, so you can survive a blackout for days and days and days, if not weeks.
The heart of the solar battery system is the software that manages it – and that’s why we use the Tesla.
Tesla Powerwalls [at the time of this filming] are the most sophisticated and smartest solar batteries on the market, both with the software that manages and runs them, that optimises itself to reduce your bills, reduce your usage, and really provide the greatest savings for you, combined with a fantastic app on your phone that gives you everything you need with as much or as little detail as you want.
And all the products you’ve seen in this installation are fully supported by not only manufacturers warranties, but Solaray’s full-service warranties as well.
If you don’t already own an electric vehicle, the chances are the next car you buy will be electric, and if it’s not that one, it’ll almost certainly be the one after that.
What happens when you buy an electric vehicle is, you’re actually transferring all the money you spent on petrol, and using electricity instead. So for every hundred dollars you’ve been spending on petrol up until now, when you get an EV, you’re going to be spending [depending on your usage] probably around 40 dollars in electricity. And of course with a solar and storage system, you can turn that 40 dollars into zero dollars, along with zero emissions.
Online monitoring is about making sure you can see what’s going on with your system, and understand how much power you’re generating, and what the status is.
Most systems come with their own level of monitoring – Tesla Powerwalls, SolarEdge inverters, all have their own solutions, but in this system we’ve also overlaid Solar Analytics. Today I’ve invited Nigel along to tell us a bit more about Solar Analytics.
Nigel, what is Solar Analytics?
We’re more than an app, we’re actually a service – with true performance monitoring, not just critical faults. Designed and developed in Australia, our app allows you to measure anything – inverters, batteries, sub-circuits or major appliances. It has up to five-second live data to give you incredible detail when you need it, as well as automated alerts and notifications which let us do the hard work for you.
The app will show you how to use electricity to optimise your savings, and help you pick the right energy plan to suit your home.
And what are the main benefits?
The main benefit is that you can visualise your energy consumption which helps you save money.
The second feature, which is fairly new actually and everyone really loves, is Plan Optimiser. What Plan Optimiser does is takes the guesswork out of saving on energy bills using real data and allows us to pick the best energy plan for you.
Also, our savings analysis is one of the best in the business. We really focus on bringing the savings up to the surface so people can see what they’ve been looking for – and that is savings.
We’ve also got a battery calculator – again based on real data – that enables the user to at any point in time calculate the perfect battery size.
In simple terms, we try to take all the hard work out of managing a solar system. Solar Analytics will deliver more savings, more insights, and more confidence – and we’ll look after the system, so you don’t have to.
So what you’ve seen is the grand design of residential energy management systems.
You’ve seen a system that will give you energy independence. That will run independently of the grid when you need to. That will reduce your power costs for now and for decades to come. That will charge your electric vehicles either now or when you get them, as cost-effectively as possible.
And most importantly, it will allow you to run your house for all its energy for either close to or perhaps even zero dollars – whilst generating zero emissions.
If you’d like to explore whether a system like this might work for your home, please click on the link and request a call back. One of our team will run through the options with you – no high pressure sales tactics – and they’ll run through what might work and what might not work for you.
We look forward to helping you with your smarter, safer solar and storage system.