ZEN Energy solar systems make solar energy easy and affordable for you.
Turning to the sun to provide energy for your home is one of the best investments you can make. Powering your home with solar panels means you can lower your energy bills, protect yourself from rising electricity costs, and reduce your impact on the environment.
How do solar systems work?
A standard solar energy system consists of photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted to your roof, with the panels connected to an inverter (or multiple inverters) on your wall in your home.
This inverter is connected to your home’s switchboard, forming a link between the solar panels on your roof and the energy requirements of your home. When sunlight hits the PV cells in the solar panels, electrons inside the panels are knocked loose and move around.
These loose electrons are captured and start to move in the same direction around a circuit, which ultimately forms direct current (DC) electricity. This DC electricity moves down the wires from your solar panels to the inverter (or inverters) on your wall, where the inverter converts this DC electricity into alternating current (AC) power to be used in your home.
What makes up a solar system?
Solar panels and mounting frames
Your solar panels can be placed in strategic locations on your roof, based on the sunshine hours in your area and your energy needs, to maximise your savings.
The mounting frames secure the panels to your roof. High-quality mounting frames are incredibly important to support your investment. Installation should be safe and secure and conducted by qualified, Clean Energy Council-approved installers.
Although your panels may capture a lot of sunlight, the type and size of inverter you install will have a large effect on the amount of solar-generated electricity that can actually be converted and used in your home.
You could think of the solar inverter as the ‘brains’ of your system: many people think the panels are the most important aspect, but it’s the inverter that tells them what to do. This makes it one of the most important components of your solar system to consider.
Cables, switches & monitoring equipment
Just like any electrical systems, cables and switches are needed to connect your solar system components to each other, and your inverter to your switchboard.
You may also have monitoring devices to help you track and understand your system’s performance. This information helps you understand your solar energy production and usage, and how you can optimise self-consumption.
What size system do I need?
When going solar, it’s likely you’ll want to run your home on as little energy from the grid as possible to optimise your energy savings and minimise the payback period.
The number of solar panels you’ll need is directly related to both your current energy usage and your energy goals. There are two key aspects to consider when evaluating which size system is suitable for your home:
How much electricity do you use?
Different households can vary greatly in electricity consumption. A family of five in a large home will likely use much more electricity than a couple in a small townhouse.
- A suburban home with two adults and two kids, with many appliances in use, might consume anywhere between 30 and 50 kWh a day.
- An adult couple with no kids could consume around 15 to 30 kWh a day.
- A single adult in an apartment could consume as little as 10kWh a day.
These numbers are only estimates, and each household will be different. The best way to get the most accurate understanding of your own energy consumption is to review your most recent power bills which should indicate your average daily energy usage in kilowatt-hours, and how it changes over the months and seasons.
When do you most often use electricity?
Whether you use electricity during the day or night may influence the size of the solar system you need, and whether adding a battery also makes sense. The time of day that you use energy could also influence the best position to install your panels on your roof.
- If you mostly use electricity during the morning, it would be best to place your solar panels on an east-facing roof location.
- If you use energy most often during the afternoon or night, place your solar panels on a west-facing roof, or add a battery into your energy system to use solar energy when the sun isn’t shining.
- If you produce more energy than you use, you can sell that excess energy back to the grid. This is called a feed-in tariff. With a battery, you’ll be able to save even more by storing the energy your system produces and using it later, rather than selling it back to the grid.
A 5kW system is generally considered a good entry-level system.
A 5kW system will reduce your bills, but may not cover all of your electricity needs, depending on your household size and lifestyle.
Depending on where you are in Australia, a 5kW system will produce an average of around 20kWh of energy for your home every day – a little more in summer, a little less in winter – which is close to the energy usage of a smaller Australian home. But for larger homes, large families, or those with lots of appliances, large air conditioning or even a pool, a bigger system might be required.
With a 10kW size system, many homes can get really close to wiping out their electricity bills.
A 10kW system is at the upper end of typical residential size systems. However, these systems are becoming more and more common as the price of solar comes down and the cost of electricity increases. Installations of this size are typically considered by homeowners with really high energy use and bills to match, or those with average energy use that are looking to add a battery at the same time to take them as close as possible to off-grid.
A 10kW system will produce around 40kWh of energy on an average day, which is closer to the usage of an energy-hungry large home or multiple family members. At this level, many people look to add a battery at the same time, as combining the two technologies together can get a home as much as 90 to 95% self-sufficient.
Get help with figuring out your ideal system size
A solar energy system will help you reduce the amount of energy you purchase from the grid, reducing your electricity bills.
There are many important factors to consider when choosing your system size, to ensure you maximise the value of your solar system. Here are some steps you can take to start evaluating what size system would suit your home:
- Review your electricity bills: when are you most using energy, and how much energy are you using?
You can even send your electricity bills to our team, and we can help review them!
- Understand which direction your house faces
Our team can have a look at your roof for potential panel placement.
- Understand the incentives you may be eligible for, including whether your electricity retailer provides a feed-in tariff and your financing options.
- Calculate your payback period: this is the length of time it takes for your solar system to pay back your initial investment and begin generating pure savings – and free electricity!
Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer
Deciding which solar retailer to choose can be a difficult decision. That’s why at ZEN, we’ve been working hard to make that decision easy.
Through extensive research and development, ZEN Energy only provides the highest quality and most efficient products, ensuring that you have a solution that is designed for you, built to last, and backed by Australian-based customer support. All you need to decide is what system size suits you – and we can help you with that too!
ZEN Energy is a proud Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer, and all ZEN systems are expertly installed by Clean Energy Council accredited installers for efficiency and reliability.
Storing power produced by your system
If you’re generating more electricity than you use or generating electricity while you’re not home, this extra power is sent back to the grid. You might receive a credit from your electricity provider in return for this electricity, called a ‘feed-in tariff’. While this feed-in tariff is a great benefit of generating extra power, you’ll still need to rely on the grid at night for your electricity needs.
Battery storage enables you to store this excess energy, ready to use when the sun isn’t shining. You’ll be making the most of your solar panels and, with the right system, you could be one of the few households in your suburb with power in a blackout!
Why ZEN Energy?
ZEN Energy is proudly Australian, and has been since our beginnings in 2004.
Solar & storage experts
With over 10 years experience, we’re specialists in our field, and we know solar & battery storage back to front.
A solution designed specifically for you
We find out how much energy you use, when you use it, and what you pay, then design a system specifically to suit your needs.
We won’t lock you in
When you install a solar & storage system with ZEN Energy, we won’t lock you in to any ongoing contracts or agreements.
ZEN Technology Partners
After rigorous testing, only the best products and companies are welcomed to the fold as ZEN Technology Partners.
Australian-based customer support
ZEN Energy’s Australian-based customer support team are your first point of contact for any questions or claims.
What our customers say
“Our solar energy is covering at least one quarter of our overall energy use, so now each month when Karen pays the electricity bill, there’s more money left in our pocket than there used to be.”
Brett Pontt, ZEN Energy Customer
Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Systems
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
While the idea of going completely “off-grid” is attractive to many people, you should always consider your energy goals when determining what type of system would suit you best, as well as your budget.
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.
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.
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.