With electricity prices through the roof and concerns around environmental sustainability intensifying, more and more Australians are looking to alternative energy sources such as solar power and solar hot water
The application of solar power is booming all over the world as consumers hunt for ways to keep their bills down and reduce their carbon footprint. In Australia – where the sun-drenched climate is ideal for generation of solar energy – a "solar revolution" is well on its way.
It is generally accepted that solar energy is the greenest, cleanest, most viable source of energy available for powering a home. Solar power is renewable – a natural energy source that is self-replenishing and, thus, essentially inexhaustible. Further, solar energy does not contribute to global warming and produces no waste and no pollution.
And these days – thanks to government incentives and emerging technologies – making the switch to solar power has become a real option for Australian households.
The advantages of installing solar power in the home are numerous and wide-reaching. The environmental benefits are clear; in addition to reducing the household's reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source, grid-connect solar panel systems – used in developed areas with access to the main power network – also feed surplus renewable energy back into the main electricity grid.
This is good news for the family budget. Not only can a grid-connect solar panel system save approximately 2,000 kWh each year, significantly reducing power expenses, but households may also be eligible to collect premium prices for generating excess power. These prices – known as "feed-in tariffs" – are paid by utility suppliers for energy fed back into the main grid, and vary according to the supplier and the state.
For those who live in remote areas with no access to the mains power grid, off-grid solar power systems are available. Off-grid systems supply solar electricity through an inverter, at the same time storing energy in a battery for use at night or in bad weather. If storage levels are low, a generator can be used for power and to recharge the battery.
Grid-connect solar panel systems convert sunlight into electricity without making a sound and last for decades with virtually no maintenance required.