The Importance of Shopping Local and Supporting Small Businesses
Often the reason business owners decide to branch out on their own is because they feel as though they can offer a better service or product than what is currently available, because of this there are so many benefits to shopping local and supporting small businesses.
We’ll delve deeper into a couple of those benefits and also talk about the different ways you can show your support.
A Better Shopping Experience
In today’s fast-paced world, online shopping is the preferred method of shopping. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s cheaper however it completely eliminates human interaction. When you shop in store, you’re getting the desired product and/or service as well as an experience. The character of the business will often reflect the owner’s personality and by choosing to visit the store, you’re not only giving yourself the opportunity to get to know the person behind the service and/or product but you’re also giving them the opportunity to get to know you. Often, you’ll find employees will happily take the time to listen to your needs and find you the best solution because they care (and not just about your money) which is difficult to say about larger corporations with monthly sales targets determined by an interstate head office.
Strengthen the Local Economy
When you shop local, it comes back to full circle. Let’s break that down, shall we? By spending money, you’re creating demand. By creating a demand, there is an increased need for jobs. With an increased need for jobs, there are lower unemployment rates and lower unemployment rates lead to more people having a disposable income. That disposable income will (hopefully) be spent locally which then creates more demand and starts the cycle all over again.
It’s simple, when you shop local – you’re investing in your community.
So, how can you support local and small businesses?
Spend money, of course – particularly important during the holiday season! However, if you are unable to do so here are a couple of other ways to show your support for free.
Talk to your friends and family, share a Facebook or Instagram page or leave a positive review for others to see.
Educate Yourself Research the local businesses in your area and make some time to go see what they have to offer.
Unfortunately, owning a business is tough these days. Online shopping and large franchises pose bigger and bigger issues to business owner’s every day. So remember that when you support a local or small business – you’re supporting local people, local jobs and someone’s dream.
Over the years we’ve become accustomed to hearing the same questions relating to having a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed. So, as we are dedicated to education and helping our customers as much as we can, we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you on your journey.
1. What is a grid-connected solar system?
A home without a solar system draws its energy from the electricity grid. A grid-connected solar system is a solar PV system that is connected to the electricity grid. Your household will consume the energy that is created from your solar system first, and if more is needed, it will draw the remaining electricity from the grid. It also allows your system to send power back out to the grid. If your household is not consuming the entire amount of energy that your system is creating, then that surplus is sent back out to the electricity grid. This surplus is measured and credited back onto your power bill. Depending on what state you live in and what electricity supplier you are with, this value will vary.
2. How much will my solar system cost me?
As an extremely broad question, the answer is dependent on a number of factors. The final price depends on what brand of system you choose, how many panels you have installed, whether you decide on a string inverter or microinverter and much more.
ALWAYS get multiple quotes to compare prices and remember that the most expensive quote doesn’t necessarily mean equate to the best system. In South Australia, on average a 5kW (kilowatt) system costs approximately $5,500 but there are some elements that will affect this price.
3. What size system do I need?
To answer this question, your system designer will need to understand your energy habits such as your daily usage amount, your energy usage patterns, your location, etc. From here, they will be able to offer you the correct sized system. While your installer should be able to offer you a rough estimate just by receiving your latest electricity bill, they should not be able to present you with an ACCURATE system size without first asking these questions.
4. How many solar panels will I need?
Once your installer determines the system size that your household requires, they will then look at what panels will best suit your system. Not all panels are created the same, or yield the same amount. So your installer should be working out which panels are most appropriate for your lifestyle and energy patterns. They will also need to look at elements such as your roof size and budget.
5. Will anything else affect the price of my system?
There are a few added elements that will affect the overall price of your system. Each solar PV system is tailored individually, so don’t assume that just because your family member has a 5kW system with X amount of panels on their home, means that you will pay the same price for the same system. Factors need to be taken into account such as additional labour costs for things like a double storey roof, panel mounting brackets to angle your panels correctly if your roof is flat and much more.
6. How much money will I save with my solar system?
Typically, it can take anywhere from four to six years for a system to pay itself off in South Australia. Payback times depend on a number of things such as your location, your energy consumption, daily usage patterns, how well you maintain your system, the size of your system and your feed-in tariff.
Ensuring that you have the correct sized system will speed up your payback times. Having a system that is large enough is important as it will not only cover your power consumption, but it will maximise your return on investment. But having a system that is too large will mean that you’re exporting a large surplus of energy back into the grid and as feed-in tariffs are no longer as high, you will be selling your power for less than your electricity rates. So it’s important to ensure that your system is correctly sized to maximise your return.
7. Is my roof right for solar?
Not every roof is suitable to have a solar system installed on it. Generally, there are six key factors that will determine the suitability of your system.
Orientation: While a north-facing roof is best for optimum production in South Australia, it has been proven that panels facing north.
Shade: Solar panels only produce maximum energy in full sunlight. If a part of a panel becomes
shaded, then the output level is reduced. It is therefore necessary that your roof does not experience any shade if possible. Vegetation and overgrown trees can easily be removed, but shade from chimneys or poles on the roof is much more difficult to work around. If there are certain ares of you roof that do experience shading during the day, then your installer may offer you a system with microinverters to avoid your output dropping too much.
Size: Your roof has to be large enough to have the space for the number of panels that you require. The minimum sized system that can be installed in Australia is a 1.5kW, which generally equates to 6 solar panels. If your roof is not large enough for 6 solar panels, then you may need to look at other options.
Age: The age of your roof will be an indication of its structural integrity. If you are in an older home and are unsure about whether your roof will be able to safely support a solar system then it is best to have an inspection done beforehand.
Pitch: Solar panels
generate maximum power when they are positioned perpendicular to the sun. Your installer will need to take the pitch of your roof into account when installing your panels at the optimal angle. If the pitch of your roof is too flat or too steep, then your installer will need to use mounting brackets to angle the panels correctly for maximum yield.
Material: While solar panels can generally be installed on any roof, there are some exceptions. Metal roofs are often the best to install a system on, while tile roofs can be quite fragile and generate an extra cost.
8. Does the temperature during the day affect production results? Does hotter weather equal greater energy production?
Many people believe that hotter weather produces more energy, however, it is much the opposite. The hotter the day, the less energy that your system will produce. This is because a solar system converts LIGHT into energy and not HEAT.
A solar panel has an optimal temperate range that is best for producing the greatest amount of energy. As the temperature rises out of this optimal range, the production efficiency begins to decrease. Excessive heat is therefore detrimental for a solar panel’s production. Instead, the days that you will find you produce the most energy are on sunny, cooler days.
9. Is there any maintenance involved in having a solar system on my roof?
Despite the rumours, solar panels are NOT self-cleaning. So, like any other appliance or installation around the home or office, we do ask that you occasionally inspect and perform a small amount of maintenance on it. You can find a copy of our maintenance manual here.
10. Do I need developmental approval to have a solar system installed?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to get council or planning approval when having a solar system installed, however, there are a few instances in which you may. If you live in a council strata development, then getting approval from the body corporate may be required, or if you live in a heritage listed home then you will need to get council approval. If you are unsure whether or not you should be receiving approval, you can ask your solar installer or local council for guidance.
11. Will I still be using energy from the grid?
Yes. Your solar system only generates energy when there is sunlight, and when this energy is generated it needs to be used immediately. At night time when there is no energy being produced, your system will draw energy from the electricity grid so that you can continue to use the appliances within your home. Should you have a battery system however, it can store energy produced by your system to use when your system is not generating power.
Solar systems are all individually tailored to ensure maximum power generation for your household. If you have any further questions, please do not hestitate to give us a call on (08) 8297 3422 today, to speak to one of our qualified installers.
Our hot South Australian climate means that we rely a lot on our air conditioners in our homes and businesses to keep us cool and comfortable. But air conditioners are a lot like cars – they need regular servicing and maintenance to run at their most efficient.
Regular servicing should be carried out yearly, but every now and then small issues may arise which can indicate a need for a technician to thoroughly inspect it.
Here are some signs that you may need to book a service:
1. Your System Isn’t Cooling
If your system isn’t doing what it is designed to do, then it needs an inspection. A unit that isn’t blowing out cold air may indicate an issue with its compressor, mechanical failure within the system or that the system has lost its refrigerant charge. Neither cause is impossible to fix, but you will need to have it seen to if you plan on using your system to stay cool throughout summer.
2. Reduced Airflow
If air is not circulating through your rooms as strongly, then your unit’s fitler may be clogged, it’s ductwork may be squashed or damaged or its zone motors may have malfunctioned. It’s important to clean your filters regularly as mentioned here, to avoid overworking your system. But damaged ductwork or zone motor failure needs to be left for a technician to inspect and attend to during a service.
Regularly using your system when it is struggling to maintain airflow can severely overwork your system’s compressor and can easily cause extra damage.
3. Strange Smells or Noises
During operation, an air conditioner should be relatively silent. It should also not be emitting any strange smells after being turned on. If your unit is doing one, or both of these things, then a service is needed immediately to get to the bottom of it.
One role of an air conditioner is to filter dust and small debris from the air, as well as dehumidifying it. A musty smell may indicate that there is dust entering your ductwork or a build-up of foreign material on your indoor coil, which can be harmful to your health if you breathe it in, and potentially dangerous to asthmatics.
A burning smell though may indicate something far more serious such as overheating of internal components, loose wire connections, mechanical issues, etc. If your system is giving off a burning smell it is best to turn it off and discontinue use until you can schedule a time for a technician to inspect it.
Depending on what noise you are hearing coming from your unit, there may be a number of issues it could be:
Humming or Rattling
An air conditioner naturally hums due to the mechanics involved with it. But if a light hum or whir turns into a much more sinister noise, often followed by a rattling, then it may indicate that a fan is loose, there is debris caught in your unit, there are issues with your ductwork or more.
Any grinding noise coming from your unit during operation is cause for concern and needs immediate attention from a professional. This noise may indicate serious mechanical issues within your system and operation should cease immediately.
A hissing sound can either indicate a minor issue such as a water leak, or a major issue such as a refrigerant leak. If you are untrained, distinguishing between the two can be difficult, so it is best to have a professional take a look at it.
Any other noises coming from your system during operation should also be investigated by a professional. It is better to be on the safe side and have a clean, healthy running unit, than one that may fall apart at the wrong time of the year, or worse yet, create an unsafe situation.
As mentioned, if your unit is leaking it can either be a minor issue that results in a quick fix or a major issue that can have an unsuspected effect on your home. If you do notice a leak, it is important to cease the systems operation and contact your installer/service mechanic. They will ask a number of questions that can help them distinguish what the leak might be and just how serious it is. Water leaking from your unit isn’t a large issue and is generally a quick fix, however a refrigerant leak is potentially dangerous. Don’t try to distinguish between the two yourself. Call a professional and have them assess the situation.
5. High Energy Bills
If your energy bills seem higher than normal but you are not using your system any differently, then there may be an underlying reason why. When you don’t maintain your air conditioner regularly, it will become less energy efficient and your energy bills will start to rise. This may be due to issues with your ductwork, you may not be using your system correctly, or maybe your unit is reaching the end of its life.
If you are finding that one, or a number of these issues are occuring during operation of your system, the best thing to do is schedule a technician to do a thorough inspection and service on it to find the leading causes.
As summer is fast approaching, the smartest thing to do is to have a professional from Green Efficient Living come and do a pre-summer service on your unit to ensure that it is in prime working condition before constant use during the upcoming hot weather.
Note: Green Efficient Living is currently holding their annual Pre-Summer Service Sale! Take advantage of our discounted prices and have your unit serviced before the hot weather hits! Click here to find out more.
What Is Solar Shading and How Can You Deal With It?
We all know by know that solar panels produce electricity from the sunlight. So it makes sense that when there is shade cast upon them, they produce less electricity. It would seem fairly obvious that the power output produced by the panels is reduced proportionally to the amount of area that is shaded – this isn’t true.
Most domestic solar systems include anywhere between 5-30 panels, and most of the time these panels are connected in a ‘string’. Smaller systems may only have one string while larger scale systems may have more. We find it easiest to explain a string of panels as a string of Christmas lights. Electricity flows from one bulb to the next, lighting up the entire string of lights. However, when one bulb blows, the whole string of lights fails. This is the same for a solar system connected in strong. Even if a small amount of shade falls on just one cell in the panel, the output of the whole string of panels is reduced for as long as the shadow remains. Instead, it is because when one panel fails, it begins to become an energy consumer, rather than an energy generator. The shaded panel begins to draw power from the other panels, who in turn are not producing their optimum or maximum output.
There are many different factors that can result in solar panel shading. Shade from overgrown vegetation (trees and plants), cloud cover, dirt, bird feces, etc. all cause an effect on overall power production. During the design and layout stage of having your solar system installed, your installer should have taken a look at your roof from above, using technology, and be taking into account many factors such as optimal sun direction. They should be designing your system to sit in a location where it is not shadowed for half of the day, e.g. behind a chimney or a tree.
Fortunately, while there aren’t many ways to completely eliminate solar shading, there are ways to manage it.
How To Manage Solar Shading
1. Regular cleaning of your panels
Cleaning your panels every three or so months ensures that they stay free of any on-surface shading that may occur. Running a hose from the top of your roof, directly down to wash away leaf litter and debris that can get caught on top of your panels. Using a squeegee or cloth to gently clean the more tough dirt and grime is fine, but scourers and high-pressure water cleaners are not.
2. Be aware of vegetation
Be aware of overgrown plants and trees that may cast a shadow on your panels. Make a point observing this every three months or so, to ensure that your panels remain in maximum sunlight for as long as they can. Also, remember to observe this at all times of the day, to see how they are affected as the sun moves.
3. Micro Inverters
Microinverters are just as the name suggests, however, they are much smaller and designed to sit underneath each individual panel. They perform the same function as a string inverter, however, they accept the output of that panel only, rather than a series of panels collectively. This maximises your total production output because if one panel fails, the others are not compromised.
They are slightly more expensive upfront, but as time goes on, the product price is dropping. Microinverters allow for an expansion of your system, so there are no restrictions when it comes to your system’s future and they are often labeled as the safer choice due to the minimised voltage running through them.
4. DC Optimisers
DC Optimisers are similar to microinverters in that they are also located on each individual panel. However, DC Optimisers, or power optimisers, are used in systems where a string inverter is involved. These DC Optimisers work with the string inverter to enable the maximum production from each panel individually, despite the fact that the panels are connected in a string. When a panel becomes shaded and its power output differs from the unshaded panels, the optimisers correct ‘mismatch’ of energy production between each panel by allowing it to function at its Maximum Power Point (MPP), and then converting that energy to the optimum voltage and current for the string inverter.
All of these factors should be looked at by your solar installer and they should be informing you of the best choice for your situation and requirements. Green Efficient Living solar installers use a number of programs to look at all of the factors required to provide you with a system that will work best for you.
To speak to one of our solar professionals today, call (08) 8297 3422 or fill out a request form on our contact page.
Green Efficient Living made it very clear at the inception of our company that we would only align ourselves with businesses who project the same values as us. These values focus on providing our customers with high quality and reliable products, impeccable customer service, a dedication to innovation and being strong advocates for reducing environmental impact.
This is why Green Efficient Living promote and install Enphase Energy products for our solar installations. Enphase is a company dedicated to pushing the boundaries of solar technology and are passionate about developing new technologies that make energy ‘more intelligent, more connected and cost effective’.
They design and manufacture products for solar generation, energy storage and web-based monitoring and are currently the market leader in microinverter manufacturing and distribution. The company was founded in 2006 and since then has grown to become a global leader in solar energy technology. In 2008, they introduced the world’s first microinverter system and just three years later they hit the milestone of having shipped one million micro inverters worldwide.
Eight years on and they have begun operating in 21 countries across the globe, opened their own research and development facility in New Zealand (March 2016), and have shipped over 15 million microinverters worldwide. During this time, they have won awards such as ’14th Fastest Growing Company (2013)’, ‘Technology Pioneer (2013)’, and ‘#1 Residential Inverter Supplier’.
But it isn’t just their size or expertise that makes them the industry leader and Green Efficient Living‘s choice. It’s their dedication to providing the very best products and services for their customers. Their web-based monitoring software, MyEnlighten, allows for complete connection and communication between your solar PV system and your home via an app on your phone or tablet. It lets you track your energy production in real time and monitor your system’s health through a status indicator. It also allows your solar installer to monitor and track your system’s production to make sure that everything is running as it should be.
Enphase also has an Australian head office, which can give you peace of mind knowing that if something was to go wrong, or if you have any questions as all, we can easily get in touch with somebody local and get you an answer straight away.
They have a passion for providing an alternative energy resource that reduces our environmental impact and are driven by a sense of responsibility towards our planet and communities. Their systems have already helped to offset almost 6 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide worldwide…yes, 6 TRILLION! And that number is continuously growing.
Consistent and rigorous quality testing means that their products are at a consistently high level and are reliable in all conditions and climates. All Enphase products undergo one million ‘power-on’ hours of accelerated, long-term reliability testing prior to their release. Our confidence their products extends far beyond our business, as we have installed them in our own homes as well! This way, our customers can be assured that their products and systems are there to last.
Green Efficient Living always have our customers in the forefront of our minds with every decision that we make, so it is imperative to us that we work with companies who see the same value in that. This is why we use Enphase microinverters.
If you are considering having a solar PV system installed, or to see the MyEnlighten app working in real time, come into our office and let us discuss how using Enphase micro inverters can work for you. Alternatively, you can contact us here!
Think about how many electrical appliances you have in your home that are almost permanently plugged into an outlet in your wall. Your home entertainment system, such as your stereo and television; your lighting; computer; phone charger; kitchen appliances, the list is endless. Did you know that in less than seconds these appliances can be destroyed if they aren’t protected when a power surge strikes? Did you even know that you could protect them? Surge Protection Devices/Surge Protectors (SPDs) are relatively cheap and easy to have installed, and they can save you a lot of money in the long run.
What is a power spike/surge?
Power spikes or power surges are increases in your home’s electrical current and occur when the voltage is boosted and suddenly increases. A power spike is a short increase in voltage, acting over a small amount of time and generally causes minimal damage. A power surge, however, is a much larger influx that lasts longer and can be much more detrimental.
The most common cause of power spikes/surges are impacts on the electrical grid near your home or office, such as downed power lines or transformers. When this happens the large amount of electricity that has suddenly been disrupted needs somewhere to go, and is therefore thrust into the power lines on the street and into your home or office.
While your devices may not want to accept this influx of energy, the current is so powerful that they have no choice. If your devices are not protected at this time, the increase of energy can be too much for your appliances and they can be destroyed. This can end up being a safety hazard and a large expense on your behalf.
Lightning storms are also a cause of power surges, however during this time you should not rely solely on your surge protectors. With the influx during this time being so large, the only guaranteed way to protect your appliances during a lightning storm is to unplug them from the wall directly.
How do surge protectors help?
There are a number of methods that surge protectors use to protect your appliances. No matter what method they use though, the general idea is the same. All surge protectors keep the voltage levels flowing to your appliances below the safety threshold.
The most common method of doing this is by absorbing a large portion of the over-voltage and diverting the rest back to earth. This way your appliances only receive the same amount of energy that they always have.
It is important to understand that not all surge protectors are the same. There are different classes of surge protectors to defend your appliances from different forms of current impulses.
These surge protectors are suitable in high risk areas that have a high probability of direct lightning strikes and are to be used in conjunction with lightning rods. They employ the ‘spark gap’ method and are perfect for buildings that require a larger amount of protection. Buildings such as petrol stations, hospitals, banks, tc should all have a class 1 SPD installed.
This is the most common and inexpensive form of power surge defence. These surge protectors can prevent the spread of over-voltage in the electrical installations and protect the equipment connected to it, such as home appliances and power tools. This is the one that home owners should be looking to have installed as a first line of defence against power surges that occur through downed power lines or transformers in the street. Just like class 1 SPDs, these are also installed in the main switchboard in your home.
Class 3 surge protectors have a low discharge capacity and therefore must be installed as an addition to a class 2 SPD. They are to be installed at the terminal, as close as possible to the appliance being protected.
The Fine Print
Always ensure that when having surge protectors installed that you always read the fine print. Some companies will offer warranties on your appliances if they are damaged whilst connected to their surge protectors. However, these warranties aren’t always applicable and may be voided for many reasons.
The Bottom Line
To summarise, a Class 1 SPD is to be used at the origin of the installation, a Class 2 SPD is to be installed at the switchboard, and a Class 3 SPD is to be used near the terminal equipment.
The bottom line is that purchasing a Surge Protection Device is never a bad idea. If your home doesn’t have one, the damage that can be caused to your appliances and yourself can be extensive. Home and business owners should be putting every practice into place to ensure that their appliances and buildings are protected from excessive currents and further damage.
For more information, or to have a Surge Protection Device installed, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422.