28 Feb Tariff Rates, Rebates, and More – Solar Language Explained
Posted at 11:40h
AC and DC – isn’t that a band?
Feed-in rates, tariff, rebates, cells, the grid, meter boxes, inverters…
There’s a lot of weird words around solar. Luckily, every bizarre term has an easier explanation.
Feed-In Tariffs and Rates
“Tariff” is probably the word you’ll see most frequently when researching solar. What does it actually mean, though?
For starters, it can be called a tariff, a feed-in-rate, or a feed-in tariff. It’s basically a payment that you get when your solar system feeds electricity back to the grid. Although the Queensland government does set a feed-in tariff rate, some companies voluntarily set a higher rate. The higher the rate, the more money you’ll get off your electricity bill. The rates are currently set at an excellent rate by the government to encourage installation and to reduce your payback time – score!
Some people produce sell so much energy back to the grid that they actually receive a credit on their bills. This is because they are maximising their energy production through an efficient installation, and are being energy efficient at all times of the day.
AC vs. DC Power
AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) are both just a description of how electricity flows.
DC is the form of electricity your house receives from your solar panels. It’s a constant and direct flow. It’s a reliable flow but is only ideal for short distances when at a lower voltage, which is why it isn’t used for mains.
AC is the form of electricity that your house uses, and the form that the electric grid provides. It moves in a ‘waveform’, and as such can move in many directions. It’s used because generating and transporting AC electricity is easy. Additionally, when it’s transmitted at a higher voltage (such as across power lines), not much energy is lost.
Inverters convert the DC electricity from your panels into AC electricity for your house! As we saw before, this is crucial, as AC is the only form that your household appliances can use.
Meter Box Upgrade
What is it, and why do you need it? Well, the answer is, you might not actually need it!
A meter box reading occurs after installation. Your energy company comes out to check that your meter box is capable of running a solar system. If it is, they will connect it and you’ll be set to go. If it’s an old meter – that is, one that is not an ‘interval’ or ‘smart’ meter – they will have to upgrade it. Depending on who your retailer is, this could be anywhere from no cost (with Diamond Energy), to up to $700! It’s worth checking with your energy retailer before installation, and changing to another company if it’s going to be expensive!
STCs (Small technology certificates) are how you get rebates. You receive one for every megawatt of energy your system will produce between your installation and 2031. Each certificate is worth a certain amount, and this value changes from year to year. They can go for up to $38 each but are more frequently worth around $30.
For example, if you had a 5kW system installed, it would produce approximately 96MWh between now and 2031, so you’d be able to get 96 STCs.
Multiply this by $38, and you can get up to $3,650! This is the ‘rebate’ that we hear about.
This discount is built into the system prices that you see quoted – so bear in mind that the prices you see are already reduced.
kW and kWh’s
KiloWatts (kW) and kiloWatt hours (kWh) are used to describe different aspects of your system. kW describes the power of your system, and is used to describe the ‘size’ of it. This basically just measures the maximum power your panels can produce.
However, a kWh measures how much usable energy it generates. It doesn’t mean that it produces a certain amount of kW per hour. Each kW in a system can be expected to produce an average of a little over 4KWh. For example, if you had a 2kW system, it would be able to cover around 8kWh of energy use in a day.
What is this PV you keep seeing? It stands for photovoltaic – ‘photo’ meaning light, ‘voltaic’ meaning electricity. It essentially just describes how the solar cell converts sunlight into usable energy. The cells have an electric field, and when a sunlight ‘photon’ knocks into one of the electrons in the field, it generates energy.
Panels and Cells
Cells are the small squares you can see in a solar panel. These cells are what convert sunlight into DC electricity. However, each cell is small and can only produce a limited amount of energy. Due to individual limitations, many cells are joined together to create one panel. When joined, the cells work more efficiently as they can generate higher currents together. Multiple panels are then installed together, along with an inverter, to create the system.
Return on Investment
The time it takes for you to receive a return on your investment can vary. This is due to a variety of factors, such as:
– your current electricity bills
– how much power you use during the day
– the size of the system
– your energy company’s feed-in-tariff
The average SolarKraft customer pays off their system in 3-5 years, and enjoy the benefits for years to come. We’re focused on providing secure long-term investment for future gain, not short-term savings that result in future pain. We believe in “do it once, do it right”. SolarKraft offers a range of payment options, including $0 upfront
, to help tailor your system to your needs.