Q & A – Frequently Asked
At Solar Service Group we have found there are a number of commonly asked questions by our Customers. Below you will find answers to these that should assist you.
If you can’t find the answer to your question or have a general question or comment about this website, please contact us on 1300 40 41 42.
What are the benefits of a battery storage?
- Maximise your self-consumption of solar power – store excess energy you generate by solar.
- Reduce your network costs – control when you use power and how much you pay for it.
- Keep the lights on if you lose power – your own backup plan for when the power goes out.
How can I monitor my battery and energy usage?
You can monitor your battery, solar generation and energy usage on the Enphase battery with the Enphase Envoy-S monitoring system. For other batteries, carbonTrack monitoring system can be used, not just for energy usage, but a total home management system.
Is battery storage safe?
The Enphase system is one of the safest systems out on the market now. It is a not a high voltage DC in system. The cells safety-tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland. The battery has Prismatic cells that are highly stable over time.
Can I go off grid?
The short answer to this question is that unless your electricity usage is minimal (around 5-15 kilowatt-hours per day), it’s not very easy to disconnect from the grid and still have all the comforts (and/or necessities) you’re accustomed to. Even with the cost of solar and energy storage falling, installing batteries really still only makes financial sense in a handful of situations.
Can I save money with a battery?
Yes you can save money by not paying for your energy at night. By installing a battery system, you will be making your solar panels work for you at night.
How long does a battery last?
A fully-charged medium-sized system could store sufficient energy to power during the evening your lights and lower-powered items like your fridge-freezer, TV and laptop. Over four or five hours, all of these together will use at most a few “units” or kiloWatt-hours (kWh), of electricity.
Is my solar system covered by a warranty?
Most solar systems sold within Australia are issued with a comprehensive warranty on products and installation, however it is common for these warranties to be void should your system not be serviced or maintained. Unfortunately, some Australian solar home owners have found themselves without warranties and ongoing support, these are generally due to:
- The solar company who completed the installation is no longer trading or has gone into liquidation
- The manufacturer of your solar inverter, panels or solar components is no longer trading or has gone into liquidation
- Solar homeowners have made alterations or upgraded their system within the warranty period
- The solar system warranty has now expired
It is important to understand your warranty requirements.
Please refer to your initial documentation from your installation company for product brands and warranty cover. Should your installation company no longer be trading we can also assist you with servicing, maintenance, fault repair and upgrading your existing system.
Full warranty documentation and contact details for most inverters and panels are available on our website. For more specific information about your system and warranty support please contact your product supplier or our Customer Care team on 1300 40 41 42.
What should I do if my inverter screen is blank?
If your inverter screen is blank there may not necessarily be a fault. When the sunlight is low and not strong enough to turn the inverter on it may cause your inverter to go into standby mode. If you experience a blank screen during daylight hours please complete our start up procedure located or call Solar Service Group on 1300 40 41 42.
Should I get my solar system serviced?
Solar PV servicing through Solar Service Group is an easy and affordable way to ensure that your solar power system is functioning at peak capacity. It is important that solar home owners have their system checked regularly to ensure the system is meeting current Australian Standards and more importantly, safe from potential electrical and fire hazards.
Most power distributors and retailers within Australia recommend or require solar home owners to have their system serviced and maintained annually.
Outside of the important safety and efficiency considerations, it is important to check your warranty documentation if you have not had your system serviced within a twelve (12) month period. Many installation companies and solar suppliers will not cover you in the event that something goes wrong with your system and you have not maintained your system by a qualified electrician.
What does my warranty cover?
It is common for Australian solar installations to have multiple warranties associated to each PV system. Your installation company may have an independent warranty clause so it is important that you refer to your installation documentation or contact your installer group.
Warranties offered within solar can go up to 30 years for your protection, however each component of your system and the installation may have varied warranty periods. For major inverter and panel brands, please visit our warranty page where available warranty guides are available.
If your installation company is no longer trading you may have a void warranty. For further information please contact our Customer Care team on 1300 40 41 42 and we will be able to assist with further information of fault repair.
Will my solar panels withstand extreme weather conditions?
Solar panels and inverters are designed to be located outdoors and withstand extreme weather conditions, from blistering heat to freezing cold. It is recommended that your inverter is not located in direct sunlight where possible as this could compromise the efficiency. Over time, the harsh Australian weather can sometimes impact the supporting tilt kits, cabling, conduit and silicon seals so it is important to have your system regularly checked for any weather damage and hazards.
If you have recently had severe storms or hail at your property a system health check or service is essential to ensure your system is safe and operating efficiently. For a quote or further information please contact our Customer Care team on 1300 40 41 42.
Why Should I get a Service?
There are many reasons why it is important to service and maintain your PV solar system. It is a requirement for solar home owners to regularly have their system maintained and serviced for safety, hazard and efficiency. Just like your car that is required to be serviced for roadworthy conditions, your solar system is made up of electrical functioning components that need servicing and maintenance. Most of the major components of your solar system are exposed to the natural weather elements so they need to be regularly checked for wear and tear.
The safety of your home and your family is number one! Since solar was introduced in Australia there have been a number of solar components that have been recalled nationally and these are still being identified today. These components have been recalled for causing serious fire and electrical hazards and our team at Solar Service Group prioritise the identification and swap of these components in each service.
The reduction of efficiency can be extreme if your panels are shaded with build-up for long periods of time. Having your solar panels cleaned as part of your service can increase your power generation by up to 10% and is a great way to increase electricity savings and improve the overall generation of your solar panels.
By installing solar, your roof becomes a small generation plant producing energy. Electricity passes through many components and should there be a fault there is potential that your system will not produce electricity, or even cause a fire hazard or electrical surge.
If your system is not functioning to its full potential then you could be wasting the money invested in your solar system. When your system is serviced by a qualified solar technician you can remain confident that you’re maximising your savings and your home and family are protected.
How often should a service be completed on my solar system?
It is important to have a service at least every two (2) years due to the electrical nature of your solar system installation.
Most Australian retailers and distributors recommend or require that servicing is conducted annually by a professional, qualified electrician.
Considerations should be made for your warranty and any home and contents insurance policy. Should you not regularly maintain your system it may impact the solar warranty offered to you, and more importantly, your home insurance policy may be impacted or void should you not have serviced your solar system and fire or damage occurs at your home. For further information on your insurance cover, please contact your insurance company directly.
What happens if I chose not to service my solar system?
The impacts of not servicing your solar system are varied. There are many things to consider, question and research should you choose not to have your system serviced after a maximum of two (2) years from installation or your last service:
- Is my system running at peak efficiency and am I saving what I should be?
- Is it safe? Does my installed system meet the current minimum Australian Standards for solar installation?
- Will my solar system warranty be void if my system has not been maintained?
- Will my house be protected under my home and contents insurance if I have not maintained my system?
- Could I have dangerous recalled components as part of my installation that is a fire and/or electrical hazard?
Most Australian retailers and distributors recommend that servicing is conducted annually by a professional, qualified technician.
Considerations should be made for your warranty and any home and contents insurance policy. Should you not regularly maintain your system it may impact the solar warranty offered to you, and more importantly, your home insurance policy may be impacted or void should you fail to service your solar system and fire or damage occurs at your home. For further information on your insurance cover, please contact your insurance company directly.
What do I do if I have a recalled product or something needs replacing?
Each recalled product has an independent process for repair or replacement. If you are unsure of whether you have a recalled component, Solar Service Group can assist in identifying any recalls and replacements.
Many suppliers of recalled solar components are no longer trading or are in liquidation. Should part of your solar system be identified as a recalled product, Solar Service Group can assist in replacing any hazardous or recalled component/s and ensure the ongoing safety of your solar system.
Should your recalled component be identified over the telephone, our Customer Care team can assist you and point you in the right direction to have your system repaired.
In the event that your system has a recalled product, Solar Service Group can assist in the replacement and repair of your solar system.
How long does a service take and do I need to be home?
A comprehensive solar system service can take between 45-60 minutes when conducted by a team of two solar technicians. Depending on the access, pitch and height of your solar installation the on-site timeframe may increase where additional safety equipment and harnesses are required.
Further time will be required should your solar system package include a thorough panel clean.
Providing we have your permission to attend your property you will not be required to be home unless internal access is required. Our Customer Care team will qualify whether your attendance is required prior to confirming your solar service appointment. To book a service please call 1300 40 41 42 or complete your details here and we’ll contact you!
What is the waiting period from booking to servicing?
For all metropolitan areas nationally we aim to offer an available service time frame within 3-5 business days. For our customers that exceed 50km radius of capital cities, we will offer a solar service time frame between 5-10 business days.
In the event that you have an emergency fault or serious outage, we will offer a priority service. The attendance time frame will be determined by the nature of fault.
How do I know if I’m getting the most out of my solar system?
When investing in solar there are household behaviours that you and your family can introduce to get the most out of your PV solar system. It is important to understand any FIT (feed in tariff) or buyback scheme you have associated with your system, as this will determine the changes you should make.
A few tips to reduce your energy usage are:
- Regular appliances like your television, computer, gaming console, microwave and washing machine can consume power in standby mode even when you’re not using them. Switch your appliances off at the power point for items you do not use regularly, or when you go away for a period of time.
- Turn off your seldom-used appliances. That extra fridge or freezer you have in your garage that contains drinks, or perhaps only a few items could be costing you over $100.00 per year to run. Where possible, consolidate your items into one fridge/freezer.
- If you are on a lower FIT (feed in tariff) use your major appliances during daylight hours. The next time you invest in a new dishwasher, clothes dryer or washing machine, invest in a model that has a timer so you can ensure you’re utilising these household appliances in peak solar production times.
- Check your appliances for defects/faults. Something as simple as a broken seal on your refrigerator or freezer could result in excessive power usage as your whitegoods are working overtime to reduce temperatures.
- We love a good dishwasher! Scrape excess scraps from your dishes but don’t rinse them thoroughly before you put them in your dishwasher unless they are baked on, this just wastes time and water. You should only ever use your dishwasher for full loads in short cycles and if you’re not going to be home, don’t use the drying feature. If you have a timer, remember to use it in daylight hours so your solar is producing the energy (if you have a lower FIT).
- Don’t use a computer screen saver, this is costing you money. Rather than have your computer default to a screen saver change your settings to have the screen switch off completely.
- Choose an energy efficient appliance! The basic rule is, the more stars the better! New whitegoods are an expensive outlay initially and better star ratings are often more expensive, however your additional expense when purchasing will provide you larger savings long term. When purchasing a new fridge or freezer all model within Australia must meet Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). Don’t be caught off guard by the promotion of CFC-free models that are more expensive, all models within Australia must be CFC-free, look for the star rating to save you money!
- Washing machines are expensive! Most Australian households use their washing machine daily and in some instances do many smaller loads. Where possible, hold off a day or so and do one larger load rather than 2-3 smaller loads. Always wash your clothes in cold water, it could be saving your almost $1.00 per load. Today’s detergents do a great job cleaning in cold water so you should only do a hot water cycle for the dirtiest of loads. Some people are passionate about top loaders vs front loaders but the truth is, a front loader (in most cases) uses a lot less energy, water and detergent. If you’re not passionate either way consider switching to a front loader in your next upgrade.
- Some of us would be lost without our clothes dryer but the truth is, they are probably one of the more expensive appliances to run so the less use, the better. To reduce the cost of your dryer clean your lint filter after every load. This will often assist in the longevity and mechanics of your dryer but will also avoid your dryer running overtime. Try and dry heavy fabrics separately to lights and set your dryer to shut off with your moisture sensor setting (often referred to as ‘normal’). Never add wet items to a cycle that is midway through. If you have your heater running during winter the cheapest way is a clothes horse, or the clothes line in summer! Once again, if you have a timer, daylight hours for drying so your solar can pay the bill (lower FIT only).
- Where possible, zone off areas of your house for heating and cooling. It is common for home owners to set one temperature for the entire home, even for rooms they will not be using. Many ducted heating, cooling and split systems have zone control which could reduce your energy costs significantly.
- Household airconditioners can run overtime using excess electricity when turned on in significant heat. Where possible, pre-empt the heat rather than waiting for your home to be hot. By turning your airconditioner on early it can reduce the power usage by maintaining the temperature rather than trying to significantly cool your home. Similarly, start your heater in winter earlier on days that are expected to be cool.
- Draught-Proof your home! It sounds simple but a small runner (or, even a towel) below your doors can significantly maintain the temperature of your home. This is an important tip whenever you have your heater or airconditioner running.
- Reduce your hot water setting by 3-4 degrees. In most instances you will not notice the difference in temperature and it will reduce the energy consumption of your hot water service.
- Increase your refrigerator and freezer by 1-3 degrees. This will still ensure your food remains fresh, but will impact your overall energy bill.
How do I know if my initial installation does not meet correct Australian Standards or is dangerous?
Regular servicing by a qualified CEC (Clean Energy Council) technician is the best way to identify any substandard installation or product defects within your solar system.
As the Australian solar industry grew at a rapid rate, the demand of installation increased causing substandard workmanship, rushed installations and corners were cut in many instances. If you have not had your solar system serviced in the last 12 months, or since installation, you should consider the following points when questioning the efficiency, quality and safety of your solar system:
- Your initial installation company did not review or look into your households energy usage or consumption prior to installation
- You were not issued documentation or identification from your installer showing their current and valid CEC (clean energy council) accreditation
- Your quote for installation was significantly cheaper than others
- You have been advised by your installation company that your system is not covered within your warranty period for unknown system faults without attending site
- You were offered an immediate installation date, or installation date prior to any council, government or network connection approvals required
- Your initial installation company is no longer trading or in liquidation
- You were offered a short term warranty or no warranty documentation upon installation
- You were not offered or provided a system manual for operation, maintenance or safety information, including projected system generation
- Your inverter, panels or other components did not, or no longer appear on the CEC (clean energy council) approval list within Australia
- Negative, or no feedback on public forums
- Reluctance in offering clear after installation support or guidance by your installation company
- Failure, reluctance or refusal to supply a CES (Certificate of Electrical Safety) after installation
- Failure to provide a certificate of home warranty insurance prior to commencing installation if the total cost of your system exceeded $12,000 (NSW only)
Do you need to get access to my roof for a solar service?
It is essential that access to your solar panels and roof top is available at time of servicing or maintenance. A thorough and comprehensive service can not be conducted without this access. Should your property have significant obstacles or lack of access, further safety and access equipment may be required. In most cases, Solar Service Group will be able to quote you any additional cost prior to attending your property.
What documentation will I receive for my service?
Within 10 business days of your service or maintenance being completed our qualified technicians will prepare and supply a full itemised service report indicating work conducted and any recommendations regarding inefficiencies or safety concerns.
For your home and contents insurance policy, your insurance company may require a Certificate of Electrical Safety (CES). Solar Service Group can provide you with a CES after servicing if requested for $29.00 and lodge the appropriate documentation. Each CES is signed by the qualified licensed solar technician who conducted the work at your property.