Answer: LGCs are available for solar energy systems that are above 100kW in size. In a similar way to STCs, LGCs are a government incentive for installing solar energy systems, however the way in which the incentive is applied to the system is different to STCs. The main difference is that they cannot be deemed upfront like STCs can.
As a guide, one LGC is equal to one megawatt hour of eligible renewable electricity. Once created and validated, these certificates act as a form of currency and can be sold and transferred to other individuals and businesses at a negotiated price. LGCs are usually sold to electricity retailers, who are required to surrender a set number of certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator each year.
For more detailed information on LGCs, visit the Clean Energy Regulator website.
Answer: STCs are government incentives that help to reduce the upfront cost of installing your energy solution, and apply to systems that are below 100kW in size. In other words, all residential size systems and some commercial size systems. The number and value of STCs your solution receives differs depending on its size and location in Australia. To be eligible for STCs, your solar solution needs to be installed by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer, and ZEN only uses Clean Energy Council accredited installers.
For more detailed information on STCs, visit the Clean Energy Regulator website.
Answer: A solar feed-in-tariff is the amount that your electricity retailer pays you for any electricity your solar energy solution generates that you don’t use or store, and is instead fed back into the grid.
Feed-in tariffs differ between states and retailers, and between the years in which a solar energy system was installed. If you are unsure of the feed-in tariff you should be getting for your solar energy or how long you will be receiving that tariff for, speak to your electricity retailer or an energy advisory service in your area.
Answer: Solar energy systems are pretty much maintenance free. The only things you should really consider on a regular basis are to ensure that your solar panels are clean and free of any dust or debris, and to make sure that any trees or vegetation are pruned as necessary to minimise shading on your panels.
Answer: In a blackout, your solar energy system will stop producing electricity. This mandatory safety measure is imposed to protect people that might be working on the poles and wires in your area to restore power during the blackout. As soon as power is returned to the grid, the ability to generate electricity from your solar panels will return.
If you have an energy storage system connected to your property, you may be able to have some electricity in the event of a blackout. However, the exact amount of energy you will have, what you can power, and for how long, will depend on a range of factors. Your ZEN Energy consultant can take you through the options that are available for blackout power from the energy storage solutions we provide.
Answer: The time it takes to have your solution installed and up and running will depend on a few factors like the size of your system, and how long your energy provider takes to arrange any necessary meter alterations and your grid connection. ZEN Energy will help you with all necessary paperwork and arrange the required applications for your solution, but unfortunately we cannot control how long your energy provider takes to carry out their work and have you up and running. We will however keep you in the loop regarding the progress of your solution and any holdups along the way. The ZEN installation itself will typically take up to one day for a residential size system.
Answer: In most circumstances, there will need to be some alteration to your existing electricity meter as part of a solar or energy storage installation. The exact type of alteration will depend on a range of factors, but will typically be anything from a simple reprogramming for newer meters through to a full meter replacement and upgraded for older meters. ZEN will submit all the necessary paperwork on your behalf. Unless your retailer tries to contact you regarding your account with them, you will not need to do anything through this process. ZEN arranges the necessary meter work on your behalf, and we will advise you of the date it will all happen once we have been advised.
Answer: The amount of money you could save on power bills by installing solar or energy storage will be influenced by a number of factors, such as:
- Your electricity usage and the size of your solar or energy storage system – if you use more power than your system is capable of producing or storing, your savings will be reduced. This can be avoided by choosing the right-sized solution for your needs.
- Your feed-in tariff – the amount your electricity retailer pays you (typically in cents per kilowatt hours) for any excess energy your solar panels generate.
- Your usage patterns – solar panels can only generate electricity while the sun is shining. This means that if your solution doesn’t include energy storage, a property that use a lot of energy during the day may see greater savings than those that consume most of their energy at night. However if you include energy storage in your solution, the times of day or night that you use energy become less important as you’ll be able to use solar energy both day and night.
- Where you live – some areas of Australia receive a lot more sunlight than others, and therefore the same size system will produce different amounts of energy depending on where in the country it is installed. For example, a solar energy system in sunny Brisbane will usually create more energy over a year than the same one in down in Hobart.
ZEN Energy takes all of these factors into account when we present the benefits of your solution to you, and your ZEN Energy Consultant will be able to take you through how we do it.
And beware of other companies that might suggest their systems can give you much higher savings than the same system from ZEN. In many circumstances you might find the other company hasn’t considered all the factors we have, or may have made some guesses or assumptions that don’t actually fit with your situation. If you see a large difference between what ZEN suggests your system will do compared to what another company is saying, speak to your ZEN Energy Consultant to see if they can explain the differences for you.
Answer: We use only proven, reliable products that we are happy to put our name to and would be happy to have on our own properties. We also make sure that every product we offer is backed by strong warranties direct from the manufacturers. At the time of your quotation, your ZEN Energy consultant will outline which panels and inverters we have chosen for your solution, and their warranties.
Answer: The answer to this really depends on how and when you use energy. Thanks to the fall in solar panel prices over the years, the days of having to have all of your solar panels north-facing to make sure you produced enough energy to justify the cost of your system are gone, and its now just as important to make sure your panels match your energy usage. For example, having solar panels on your east facing roof aspects is perfect for those that use a lot of energy in the morning as they will capture the morning sun and give you electricity when you need at most. And similarly, having some of your solar panels on west facing roof aspects is perfect if you use a lot of energy in the afternoon or early evening, as many people do in summer to cool down their house at the end of the day. A mix of east, west, and north facing panels is often a good mix to provide you with clean and green solar energy throughout the day, and if you include energy storage then this mix also helps give your battery a nice consistent stream of energy to collect throughout the day.
This is why we ask the questions that some other companies might not, to understand your specific needs and select a solution to suit. As always, your ZEN Energy consultant will be the best person to recommend how solar panels should be placed on your property.
Answer: The cost of your solution will depend on factors such as the size you need, whether it includes energy storage, what needs to be done to have it safely and well installed on your property, and the quality of the components that you want to have installed. However in many circumstances, a well-designed and appropriately sized solution could pay itself back in around 7 to 10 years if it includes energy storage, and as quick as 3 to 5 years for a standard solar energy system. Your ZEN Energy consultant will be the best person to advise you on the price of your solution and how quickly you should expect it to pay itself back.
Answer: The type and size of energy storage system that is best for you will depend on several factors, such as how and when you use energy, how much (if any) solar energy you currently send back to the grid, how much backup power you need in the event of a blackout, and site factors such as the details of any existing solar energy systems at your property and the available space for an energy storage system. Its also important to know that solar energy and energy storage systems are sized differently, so having a 5kW solar energy system doesn’t mean you need a 5kWh energy storage system. Your ZEN Energy consultant will be able to help guide you through the options and determine a solution that fits your needs and budget.
Answer: The type and size of solar energy system that is best for you will depend on several factors, such as how and when you use energy, how much you pay for that energy, and site factors such as you available roof space, the orientation of your roof, and issues such as shading. Your ZEN Energy consultant will be able to help guide you through the options and determine a solution that fits your needs and budget.
Answer: In most circumstances, a property will be suitable for solar energy and it will just be a case of determining how the solution is best installed on your property and the benefits it will provide. Determining these details will depend on several factors, such as the orientation and space available for solar panels, any shading on the space available, the state and age of your switchboard, and your current electricity usage.
Situations where ZEN Energy may recommend that your property is not suitable for solar may include if you have very little available area for panels, you have a lot of consistent shading on the available areas, or your switchboard needs significant work to safely accommodate a solar energy or energy storage solution. However even in these cases, your ZEN Energy consultant will talk you through the restrictions with your property before helping you decide whether or not to proceed with solar at your property.
Answer: The ability to add more panels or energy storage to your existing solar energy system will depend on a few factors, such as receiving the appropriate approvals from your distributor, on suitable solar panels still being available (if you are looking to add more panels), and on any upgrades meeting current Australian Standards. If you are just looking to add panels to your existing system, nowadays the most cost-effective option is often just to add a second solar energy system to your property that sits side-by-side with your current system.
Please be aware that upgrading your system with more panels or energy storage may also result in losing your current feed-in tariff, and the requirements for adding panels or energy storage may differ from state to state. A ZEN Energy consultant will be able to take you through these requirements and guide you down the best path.
Answer: All solar energy solutions provided by ZEN can have energy storage added to them at a later stage. This means you can make an investment in solar panels and start saving on your bills today, with complete confidence that you’ll be able to update to energy storage down the track if you want to.
Answer: Energy storage is the future of solar energy, and gives you the ability to use more of your own clean, green, economic solar energy in your property rather than relying on the electricity grid. With energy storage, you can create solar energy during the day and have it stored in your battery to use at night or in the early morning hours when the sun isn’t shining. This means that with energy storage, your solar energy system can go from covering 30 to 50% of your electricity needs to covering 70, 80, or even 90% of your electricity needs. And with the right systems and the right installation, energy storage can also provide you a level of backup power in the event of a blackout.
Of course, energy storage is still a new idea to many, and the benefits can be difficult to understand. Your ZEN Energy consultant will be able to take you through how an energy storage solution from ZEN could help save you money and decrease your reliance on the energy grid.
Answer: Producing and using your own clean, green, economic solar energy is a great way to reduce your electricity bill and protect yourself against the impact of rising electricity prices.
It’s a financially smart investment. Once you have your solar energy system installed, the savings you make will be instant, and will only increase as the price of electricity increases.
It’s sustainable. In a world that is rightly becoming ever-more concerned about our impact on the environment and climate change, electricity generated directly from the sun is much more sustainable than burning fossil fuels.
It’s renewable. As long as the sun continues to shine, solar energy will never run out.
It’s emission free. The production of solar energy is a completely silent, completely odour free process that you don’t even notice is happening.
Answer: ‘Grid connect’ solar energy systems are the most common of solar energy systems in Australia, and just as it sounds means that your system is connected to the electricity grid. This has two benefits for you. Firstly, any solar energy you produce but do not need can be exported to the grid and provide you with a small credit from your electricity retailer. And secondly, you still have the electricity grid there to provide your home or business with electricity at times when your solar energy system is not producing enough solar energy to cover the amount of electricity that you need at that same point in time.
‘Off grid’ (or standalone) solar energy systems are a bit different, in that they are not connected to the electricity grid. These systems are most typically installed in remote areas that have a limited or no available connection to the grid, or areas where the grid electricity connection is unreliable or unstable. Unlike grid connect systems, off grid systems do not have the electricity grid as a backup and therefore they must be designed with enough battery backup and/or a diesel generator to supply the property with sufficient electricity during periods of inclement weather or low solar energy production.
Whilst the idea of going completely “off grid” is attractive to many people, you should always consider what your main electricity goals are when determining what sort of system would suit you best, and also what your budget is. Your ZEN Energy consultant will be able to help guide you through the options and determine a solution that fits your needs and budget.
Answer: A standard solar energy system consists of photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted to your roof, and an inverter or inverters that converts the direct current (DC) electricity that the panels produce into alternating current (AC) power that is used in your home or business.
If your system does not have a battery connected to it, any solar energy you produce and do not consume straight away will be exported to the electricity grid and you will receive a small credit from your electricity retailer for this exported energy.
If your system does have a battery connected to it, any solar energy you produce and do not consume straight away will first be directed to your battery to store the energy for use later on when you need it (for example at night or when it is cloudy). Any extra solar energy will then only be exported to the electricity grid once your battery is fully charged.