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.
Electricity should be seen as a tool and the ways that we can use it are endless. But we can’t forget just how dangerous it can be when installed incorrectly, not properly maintained or used without care. Issues such as flickering light, tripping circuit breakers, electric shocks and much more, all indicate possible points of concern with your home’s electrical circuit. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, please call us today to have them inspected to ensure your’s and your family’s safety.
1. Tripping Circuit Breakers
Many people are unsure about the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers within their home. Circuit breakers provide protection for your WIRING and ELECTRICALS within your home by opening the circuit when a fault is detected. They do not provide personal protection from electric shock. There are three main reasons why your circuit breaker might trip within your home.
One of the most common reasons is that you are ‘overloading your circuit’. This is an electric circuit that is carrying more current than what it can handle, running the risk of causing a fire or an injury through overheating. For example, in one outlet you may have a powerboard plugged in, that is overloaded with cords and adaptors that, simultaneously, are drawing too much current. Your outlet/powerboard may not be able to handle such a large current and therefore runs the risk of overheating. Your circuit breaker would trip to avoid any overheating, minimising your chances of getting hurt.
Your circuit breaker may also trip due to a ‘short circuit’. In your homes electrical circuit, this occurs when a live wire touches a neutral wire, resulting in high current and therefore triggering your circuit breaker. There are many reasons why these two wires can come into contact with one another. Your attachments in your home may be extremely old and deteriorated, possibly have been chewed through by an animal or pest causing them to become loose, or caused by a faulty appliance.
Ground faults are another reason why your circuit breaker may be tripped. A ground fault is when electricity finds an unplanned path to ground and are often caused by damaged wiring or faulty/old appliances. They often occur in ‘wet’ areas of the house such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
Sometimes faulty circuit breakers can be installed unknowingly. These circuit breakers can trip at lower current ratings than what are specified. If this were the case, your circuit breaker might be tripping quite frequently and need replacing immediately.
If your circuit breaker trips, identify why it may have happened and eliminate the chances of it happening again. If you cannot find the cause, or it electrically more advanced than simply unplugging a device, call an electrician today.
2. Frequent Power Surges
Power surges in the home can be caused by a number of reasons, most of them within your control. They occur when there is an interruption to the normal flow of electricity within the home, or when there is a sudden influx of electricity into the system.
Internal power surges are most common, and may include:
Power hungry devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners being switched on.
External influences include:
Animals chewing through wiring
Fallen tree limbs touching power lines.
While the actual surge of electricity is generally extremely quick, the damage that it can have on your appliances can last a lot longer. Frequent power surges can damage your electrical devices componentry and reduce their life expectancy.
To protect yourself from power surges in the home, you need surge protectors installed. There are three different types of surge protectors you can choose from:
Portable surge protectors: These plug into an outlet and protect the device that is plugged into them. While cheaper than other options, these run the risk of only being able to be used once.
Powerpoint surge protectors: These surge protectors are installed within the powerpoint itself, and therefore must be fitted by a qualified electrician. They protect anything that is plugged into that powerpoint.
Main switchboard: Installed by a licenced electrician at your switchboard, these surge protection devices (SPDs) protect your entire circuit from a power surge. Should a fault occur, they switch off the power to your entire home keeping you and your family safe.
It’s important to remember that these are all different types of surge arrestors, and are used for different types of surges and in most cases, two types will be safest for your property. The primary type is used for large surges such as lightning strikes, to protect your motors or non-sensitive equipment. The secondary type can be utilised to protect your electronics.
3. Buzzing/Humming Outlets and Switches
A number of issues in the home can cause outlets and switches to buzz – some are normal and some may be an indication that there is something else going on. Generally, there is no need to worry, but if you are concerned, then call us today to complete an electrical inspection.
Dimmer switches work by ‘chopping up’ the current between the switch and the light, so rather than actually dimming the light itself, it flickers rapidly enough so that it appears dim. It is this ‘chopping up’ of the current that can produce vibration and therefore cause a buzzing noise. High-quality dimmer switches should have a filter to reduce this buzz, but if the noise intensifies it may be another issue. It may be a sign that you have an LED or CFL globe installed that is being controlled by a dimmer built for an incandescent globe. Your globes may also flicker if this was the issue. It could also be a sign of an overloaded switch. Dimmer switches are rated according to the maximum wattage that they can handle. If you have a globe in your fixture that’s wattage is higher than what the switch can control, then you may hear some buzzing and need to upgrade your switch.
If an outlet in your home is buzzing, then it may be a sign of an overload or bad wiring. The wires in your home may have become loose, which can cause them to hum. This is more prevalent in older homes with outdated, old, or worn out wires, but there may also be a chance that they have been installed incorrectly. To see whether it is the outlet itself, or possibly an overload, try plugging in a different appliance to see if the outlets continue to buzz. Only do this if it is safe to do so, but if you are in doubt, please do not touch it. Instead, call us today to organise an inspection. Any loose wires or connections within the home shouldn’t be ignored, as larger, more serious issues can result.
4. Electric Shocks
An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical energy source. This electrical energy then flows through the person’s body and causes a shock. Exposure to an electric shock can cause anywhere from no injury at all, if you’re lucky, to serious health issues and even death. It’s important to distinguish between whether you have experienced an electric shock, or simply a static shock.
Static shocks are simply the build up of a negative electric charge on the surface of an object. Negative charges are carried by paricles called electrons, which are found in all matter. Most electrons are packed within matter, but sometimes they can sit on the surface. If two objects come into contact with one another, the electrons on the surface will move to the material with the greatest bonding strength or pull (such as your body). This movement of electrons is the ‘zap’ that you experience, which is completely harmless.
Static shocks are nothing more than annoying, but electric shocks are a much larger cause for concern. Depending on the duration and intensity of the shock, you may experience:
Burns to the skin or internal tissues.
Loss of consciousness.
Loss of breath.
Interruption to the natural rhythm of the heartbeat, causing it to beat out of rhythm or not at all.
There are many situations within your home where you could experience an electrical shock. These include:
Damaged or frayed electrical cords and wiring.
Electrical appliances coming into contact with water.
Incorrect or deteriorated household wiring.
Downed powerlines or lighting strikes.
If you are certain that you are experiencing electrical shocks within your home, do not hesitate any longer. Call us today to organise a site inspection before it worsens. Electricity is extremely useful within the home, but it can also be extremely dangerous.
5. Higher Than Average Electrical Bills
If you have noticed that your electrical bills have been higher than average, there may be a few reasons why. Certain things that can cause higher electrical bills include:
Keeping appliances plugged in and turned on when not in use.
Increased electricity rates.
Leaks in your hot water system.
New appliances, such a larger televisions, can use a lot more power, so be sure to purchase appliances that are ‘energy smart’.
Higher electricity bills may also be the result of old appliances or wiring within the home. Older appliances can degrade and lose their efficiency over time causing them to become large consumers of electricity. It’s important to maintain your appliances and update them when necessary to avoid paying too much for electricity. Faulty or degrading wiring can also consume larger amounts of power as it deteriorates, just to provide appliances with the necessary amount of power. It’s important to distinguish what may be causing this spike is power usage so that you can amend it. If you are unsure, call an electrician today.
I’m experiencing issues with my electricals, now what?
If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, or possibly something else, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Your safety is paramount to us. Most electrical issues are typically quite detailed and as electricity can be extremely dangerous when not handled correctly, it’s important that you let a professional perform the necessary actions. Please call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 for any electrical related issues.
Electricity in the home can be a marvelous tool. It can be a source of light, heat, entertainment and much more! But when it is neglected, it can become more dangerous than helpful. Have a think back to the last time that you had your home or business’s electrical system checked to make sure that everything is working safely and is compliant with the latest regulations and standards. Have you EVER had an electrical inspection carried out? Is your home old or recently built? Or maybe you are in the process of purchasing. It may be time to have an inspection done to keep you and your family safe.
According to Master Electricians Australia, 15 people on average are killed in Australia each year from electrical-related deaths inside of their homes and 300 people on average, are hospitalised. The Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council also states that between 2016 and 2017 90% of the people who were fatally electrocuted in their homes were members of the general public (i.e. non-professionals).
Many electrical issues in the home go undetected to the untrained eye. This is why it is extremely important to have your home’s electrical safety inspected to ensure that you and your family can live your days free of risk.
What Happens During An Electrical Inspection?
During an inspection, the electrician will visually inspect your home or business’s electrical system ensuring that all wiring, system, and components meet the relevant legal standards.
Some elements of the inspection will be simply a basic visual audit with recommendations regarding non-compliant components. Others will be an in-depth audit ensuring continuity of electrical system and safety switches are tested, the polarity of the outlets. Unfortunately, as most of the electrical system is inaccessible in wall cavities, a thorough visual inspection with a testing of the electrical system is the extent that can be carried out without perforating the wall.
It is important to ensure that the person that is completing the electrical inspection on your home or business is qualified to do so. By ensuring this, you will have peace of mind knowing that they are aware of and trained on the issues to be aware of and recommend how to fix the problems should they find anything.
When Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?
Despite the importance of electrical inspections, they do not need to be carried out annually. Typically, every three to five years should suffice. Technology is constantly changing and as a result, so are the electrical standards and regulations of compliance. However, there are three major situations in which you should have an electrical inspection completed immediately.
1. If you have an older home.
As mentioned, electrical standards and technology are constantly developing and changing, and therefore, the wiring that is in an older home may be severely outdated and unable to cope with the load requirement of some modern technological appliances. It also means that it may be weathered and worn and unsafe to continue using.
2. If you have experienced a major storm recently.
South Australia can experience its fair share of wild weather and sometimes, extreme weather can cause damage to the electrical elements within a home. While you may notice any damage, it is also important to seek the qualified advice of a professional to ensure that any safety features and internal elements have not been damaged. It is especially important to have an inspection completed if appliances in your home stop working after a storm.
3. Before purchasing a new property.
It is strongly recommended that you have a building inspection completed before purchasing a property. While a building inspector will examine the structural components of your home and some minor electrical components, they won’t go into much depth. They may flick switches, check that you have smoke alarms and monitor some appliances, but to ensure your home’s electrical integrity, having an in-depth inspection completed is strongly recommended.
Your electrician will be able to identify in more depth, any significant electrical issues that your home may experience and take a closer look at the wiring that is installed. You can never be too sure of what work the previous owner may have had done in your home, or if they even used a qualified and licensed professional. Having an inspection done will ensure that you do not get presented with a hefty bill or an unsafe home after purchase.
Why Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?
1. To identify any faulty wiring.
Faulty wiring is a common cause of fires and injuries by electrocution. As mentioned, every year in Australia, there are roughly 300 people admitted to hospital as a result of electrical malfunctions within their homes. Electrical wiring has a certain lifespan, so just because it may have been safe ten years ago, doesn’t mean that its age hasn’t impacted its safety today. Many old homes have never had their wiring upgraded and wiring safety and efficiency have come a long way in a short span of time. Power and lighting circuits are now required to all be on individual safety switches. This came into effect in 1991, so if your home was built before that, then chances are your electrical system is non-compliant and not protected.
2. To notice any issues with your smoke alarms.
A smoke alarm can help save lives by providing you and your family with a strong warning if there is a fire in your home. Legislative requirements state that it is compulsory that ALL South Australian homes be fitted with a working smoke alarm and there are a few rules and regulations as to where the smoke alarm should be located and whether there should be more than one. Smoke alarms are now required to be hardwired, with a battery for back up.
Many injuries and fatalities from fires in Australian homes would have easily been prevented if a smoke alarm was present, or if their smoke alarm was working. Over time, some smoke alarms have become outdated and no longer comply with Australian standards.
During an electrical inspection, the electrician will note your smoke alarms location/s, whether you have enough in your home and whether they are working and compliant.
3. Identifying overloaded circuits.
Electrical circuits are designed to have a limited amount of electrical current. An overloaded circuit occurs when there is more demand on the circuit than it can safely handle.
If your home has limited outlets, you can be tempted to utilise multiple powerboards which would increase the demand on the circuit. When the limit is exceeded, the circuit breaker should trip, shutting off the power and removing the threat to your safety. If the circuit breaker was to fail, an overload on the circuit would cause the wiring to overheat and the wire insulation to melt, which may result in a fire.
Electrical installations can age and can become overloaded very easily, particularly in old homes where the wiring was not designed for the number of electrical appliances in use today.
The most obvious sign of an overloaded circuit is the circuit breaker tripping and shutting off the power. However, some other signs to look out for are:
Buzzing outlets or switches
Outlets or switches that are warm to the touch
Power tools or appliances that seem to lack power
During an electrical inspection, the electrician will identify the electrical demands of your circuits and provide you with any corrections that are necessary to avoid serious threats to your safety. These corrections may be the installation of new and additional circuits or reducing the load on each existing circuit.
4. Ensuring that your home’s electrical system is up to code and is compliant
There are certain electrical standards that your home’s electrical installation and wiring must comply with. It is impossible to know what type of work has been done on your home previously, and whether the previous owner used a licensed or unlicensed technician.
Understanding the current state of your electrical system is extremely important to be aware of your level of safety within your home and how much money you may need to pay to fix the legal issues.
In Austalia, it is illegal to complete your own electrical work if you are not a qualified tradesman. Licensed tradespeople have the equipment, training, certification, and knowledge to do the necessary work safely and in accordance with appropriate regulations and rules.
For the safety of you and your family in your home, it is clear to see why spending a little bit of money in the short term on an electrical inspection, may save you much more in the future, including your lives. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home or business’s electrical system to ensure that it is compliant and running as it should be.
We’ve heard it all before: ‘change your globes to LED globes!’ But why? Are LED globes really as good as they say? Is there really any point spending time and money switching your existing globes to LED ones? Why are LED globes so good?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and is an increasingly popular alternative to your standard halogen, incandescent, or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) globes. If you haven’t already substituted your current globes for LED ones in your home or business, then your lighting would already contain one of the other three options mentioned.
What Are Your Lighting Options?
Firstly, let’s look closely at the other traditional options. Not too long ago, you had the choice of incandescent globes, halogen globes, CFLs and LEDs however, it has been predicted that halogen lights will disappear from Australia within the next two years as the country shifts towards more efficient and environmentally options. Australia began the phasing out of poor-performing incandescents in 2007, requiring homeowners and businesses to instead install energy efficient lighting to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Then in 2010, the Australian Government then enacted a ‘Minimum Energy Performance Standard’ law ensuring only the highest performing products are to be available. However, these standards relating to incandescents, halogens and CFLs still do not meet the same energy efficiency as LEDs.
Your CFL bulbs are reasonably cheap to buy but can cost you more to run over time. They can also wear out faster if put in a light fitting that is switched on and off constantly, such as your bathroom or kitchen. They can’t be used outside very often as they don’t work well in extreme heat or cold and can take a little longer to reach maximum brightness. They do, however, have a slightly longer lifespan than incandescents and halogens, and are slightly more energy efficient.
They work via a chemical reaction known as fluorescence. The tube contains mercury that becomes ‘excited’ as electricity is passed through the system. When the mercury begins to settle, it gives off light.
Incandescent globes were simple and cheap to manufacture and therefore purchase, but besides that and their bright light, the pros stopped there! Their lifespan is extremely short and they lose around 90% of their energy to heat. However, despite this, they were probably the most common light bulb that you had in your home currently until the government placed a heavy regulation on the sale of incandescents operating at a certain energy efficiency.
Incandescent globes have the classic ‘light globe’ shape. They contain a mental filament made of tungsten inside, that acts as a bridge for electricity to flow over. As the electricity surges, the filament heats up and it begins to glow giving off light. This is also the reason why the globe gives off so much of its energy as heat, and why it is often hot to touch straight after it has been turned off.
Halogen globes are a type of incandescent light, however, are stronger, designed to withstand higher pressures than incandescents and are around 30% more efficient. But while they are labelled as ‘low voltage’, they still use approximately 35W to 50W per globe, so they are still not an efficient choice to have within the home. They can also become quite hot and can, in some circumstances, becomes quite hazardous.
LEDs are often the more expensive option to purchase per globe compared to their more traditional counterparts, however, they are longer lasting and much cheaper to run! Using around 75% less energy than CFL globes and lasting two to three times as long, when we look at LED globes in comparison to the other options, it is clear to see just they’re the obvious choice!
What Are The Benefits Of LEDs?
The first and most beneficial reason is that they are extremely energy efficient and will save you money on your electricity bills. They use less power (watts) per unit of light (lumens) and can, therefore, provide up to around 100 to 200 lumens per watt. In contrast, CFL globes use around ten times the amount of Watts as LED globes. Incandescent globes also lose a lot of their energy to heat rather than light (90-95% to be exact), so they are extremely inefficient to run. For reference, a 60W (watt) incandescent bulb will only put out as much light as an 8W LED bulb! It doesn’t really make sense to put these globes in your space, when 95% of what you are paying for, you are not able to utilise. So while they might seem the perfect option upfront due to their low cost, they are considered a much more inefficient option than LEDs. In a typical Australian household, lighting makes up for about 7-10% of your electricity bill (sa.gov.au). So when you think about how much you rely on lighting in your home to live comfortably, ensuring that you have the most energy efficient lighting is a small change that you can make to save big on your bills.
Another positive is that they have a much longer lifespan than other traditional globes. To put it into perspective, an average lifespan of an LED globe is between 15,000 to 50,000 hours, while halogen globes last a mere 1,000 to 5,000 hours. So the need to consistently purchase and change your globes lessens when you purchase LED globes. That means less money spent on always buying new globes!
Environmentally Friendly and Recyclable
LED lights are non-toxic, better for the environment and your family and currently the greenest choice on the market today! CFL globes, along with fluorescent tubes, contain a small amount of mercury, a requirement of 5 milligrams according to Australian Standard (environment.gov.au). While this amount of the toxic mercury does means that handling CFL bulbs requires more care and precautions, the short-term nature of the potential exposure when broken does not create a potentially large risk. Gloves should be worn to clean up a broken or no longer working CFL bulb and the remnants should be placed in a plastic bag and given to a nearby waste or disposal centre to avoid the mercury from entering the environment. To find a centre near you, head to www.recyclingnearyou.com.au. Incandescents and halogen globes cannot be recycled due to the fact that they contain a Tungsten filament that cannot be reused, but they may be able to be taken to the same recycling centres as CFLs. The best way to dispose of these globes is to simply wrap them in a few layers of paper and throw them in the garbage, not the most environmentally friendly option, or call your local disposal centre to see if they will take them. LED globes, however, do not contain any hazardous materials, are not made of glass and are completely recyclable. So if they break or stop working, simply wrap them in paper and place in your recycling bin! Safe on your family and the environment!
More Flexible Lighting Options
LEDs are considered to be ‘directional’ light sources, meaning that they can be designed to emit light in a specific direction. Those with LEDs installed in their homes can look forward to focused and concentrated light because of this, and a more energy efficient result. Incandescent and CFL globes emit light in all directions, meaning that they are often radiating heat and light in directions where it is not needed, wasting energy and your money. Having the ability to focus your lighting in your desired direction, means that your lights do not have to work as hard to illuminate the space, and therefore your energy bills stay lower.
LEDs can withstand frequent switching on and off making them perfect for outdoor flashing light displays, sensor lighting, or in areas such as the kitchen, or bedroom where lighting is commonly turned on and off. As well as this, LEDs are able to to be successfully dimmed. Most traditional lights can only be dimmed to 30% of their light output before they stop working, but LEDs are able to operate at a mere 10% of their light output (when used with LED suitable componentry).
Durability and Safety
As previously mentioned, LEDs are much more durable and able to withstand harsh weather conditions due to their ability to operate under extreme temperatures and low voltages. This enables you to place them anywhere around your home, indoors or outdoors, as the cold, wind, rain and extreme heat will not affect them. LEDs also do not contain any filaments or glass enclosures but are instead mounted on a circuit board with soldered leads. This makes them virtually unbreakable and able to withstand shocks, vibrations and external impacts. Safety is no concern with LEDs as they do not give off heat and contain no harmful chemicals.
LED Lighting can be used outside due to its durability.
While different globes work for different situations, it’s obvious to see why LED globes are the clear choice to have within your home or business. With halogens and incandescents slowly being phased out, the only competition that still stands are the traditional CFL globes. Despite CFLs still being a good choice, the benefits of LEDs in comparison far surpass those of CFLs. If you are looking to have new lighting installed in your home, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to see what we can do!
Should You Get A String Inverter or Microinverters?
If you are considering having a solar PV system installed on your home or business, one of the key decisions that you will have to make is whether to have a string inverter or micro-inverters installed.
Inverters play a crucial role in the production of solar energy, so it pays to choose the right one. When the sun hits the solar panels, the light energy is transformed into direct current (DC). Unfortunately, your house or business runs on alternating current (AC) and therefore an inverter is needed. The inverter converts the DC into AC to make it accessible to your home or business.
There are two main types of inverters that your solar power system can use – string inverters and microinverters. Depending on certain factors such as your location, energy needs, energy usage patterns, amount of shading on your home, one type of inverter may be better suited to your system than the other. Green Efficient Living is here to help you decide which one is better for you.
A string inverter, or central inverter, is a large box that is generally located on the wall on the outside of your home, or close to your fuse box/electricity meter. There is usually one, maybe two, string inverters on each residential solar installation and they operate in series array or series circuit.
Microinverters perform the same role as string inverters, however, they are much smaller and designed to sit underneath each individual panel. They accept the current of each panel individually rather than a series of panels collectively. This ultimately means that there is the same number of inverters on your roof as there are panels.
So Which One Is Best?
There are many factors that need to be considered when deciding which inverter type is right for you. Your solar installer will have to look at which direction your roof is facing, how much shade it is receiving, your energy production goals and much more, before determining which inverter is right for your system. Independent of those factors, however, there are major differences between the two types of inverters.
System Performance and Energy Output
One advantage of microinverters is that there is never a single point of failure that can affect the whole system. As microinverters operate independently of one another, they result in a more effective output overall. This means that if an outside influence such as shading from dirt and grime, overcast weather conditions, overgrown vegetation, etc. cause an effect on one panel, the entire system’s performance is not compromised.
However, systems with string inverters risk losing their entire system’s maximum performance if one panel becomes affected or fails. As they are connected in series, if one panel is affected by outside influences (mentioned above) or performance failure, then your entire system will not function to its maximum potential. The rest of the unaffected panels outputs will drop to match.
Enphase Diagram Comparing Microinverters (left) to String Inverters (right)
Winner = If your roof receives shading, or you’re in an area that receives a lot of cloud cover, then microinverters are your best option for maximum production.
When having microinverters installed, there is also a reduced safety risk as they operate at a much lower voltage than string inverters. As string inverters accept the voltage of the entire system, you can have up to 600 volts DC on a domestic system, or more, running through your home. If this voltage were to arc, your system will fail, a large bang may occur, and in worst cases, a fire may result! This is why it is paramount that you find a reputable installer to ensure that your system is installed to the highest quality.
Winner = Microinverters have been labelled as the safer option as they eliminate the need for this high voltage wiring.
Flexibility and Expansion
String inverters have a limited number of panels that they can accept, so depending on how many panels are already in your system, you may find it hard to add more at a later date. Microinverters allows for increased expansion in the future – all that you will need to do is add more panels and more inverters. Their independent operation also means that you are not limited when it comes to their orientation either. You can add panels on any side of the roof, at independent angles, and still yield the same amount of electricity. However, with string inverters, all of your panels must be connected in the same orientation and facing the same way.
Most string inverters, however, do have two independent inputs, or mmpt’s. This means that two arrays of panels can work independently of one another via the same inverter.
Winner = Microinverters allow for your system to be expanded in the future as well as a lot more flexibility with your panels positioning and orientation.
While prices may vary between states, installers, manufacturers, etc. statistics show that microinverters are still the more expensive option.
However, cost does not only cover the initial expense up front but also the overall savings that you will receive throughout the life of your system and the speed at which you recuperate your initial expenses. While string inverters may not be a larger initial expense, your overall production will be greater with microinverters and therefore may result in larger savings on your bills in the long run.
Winner = For an initial lower cost, string inverters are the better option. However, for long-term investments, the upfront costs of microinverters will be recouped over the lifespan of the system.
Maintenance and Repair
One large advantage of microinverters is their panel-level monitoring. While the homeowner is not able to see the individual values of production, your technician has access to each inverters performance via a system monitoring program. This means that they can easily monitor how your inverters and panels are performing without the need to perform an inspection. String inverters can only let your technician monitor the system’s overall production.
However, as microinverters are located on the roof of your home, maintenance and repairs can become a lot more costly and time-consuming. If a panel or inverter develops a fault, your technician will have to get onto the roof to have access to your inverters and panels.
A string inverter, on the other hand, is more cost-effective and timely to repair as it is located on the wall of your home down on the ground. This means that your technician avoids the lengthy process of having to get onto your roof to repair the fault.
Winner = There are definitely pros and cons to both. System and fault monitoring are easier in microinverters, however, maintenance and repair are easier in string inverters. Microinverters also have the added ease of service should it ever come to needing to claim your performance warranty.
Both string inverters and microinverters have their pros and cons. While it may seem that microinverters are the clear winner, this is not always the case. Should your home and roof receive minimal shading, your energy usage be predominantly throughout the day, and you have no intentions to expand your system in the future, then there is no reason why you should not use a string inverter. However, if your roof is one that receives shading in certain areas throughout the day, then microinverters may be the better option.
Your solar installer should be asking you a number of questions during your consultation to distinguish which inverter will benefit you the most.
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!
What Questions To Ask When Buying An Air Conditioner
These days, air conditioners come in many sizes and with many different upgrades and new developments. There are also different companies and installers out there who can sometimes offer vastly different quotes for the same system. So how can you be sure that you are being quoted the best system for you? It’s important to always ask questions of your installer before approving any work. Here are just a small list of questions to ask your installer when buying an air conditioner, to ensure that you are getting the best system for your home and lifestyle.
1. What type of air conditioner do I need?
There are a number of reasons why one type of air conditioner may be better suited to your home than another. What type of climate do you live in? For example, evaporative air conditioners work brilliantly in drier climates, but not as effectively in tropical, humid climates. Are you looking for a system that will cool one room only? If so, maybe a high wall split is best, or possibly an air conditioner with zoning capabilities. It is important to discuss all of your needs and desires with your installer to ensure that you are getting the most accurate system for your situation and location. Make sure that you are prepared with all of the information before you meet with them.
2. What size air conditioner do I need?
As explained in our previous blog (here), the right size air conditioner is dependent on a lot of factors. For example, are you looking to cool your whole home or just a few rooms? is your home open plan living? How many windows does your home have? It is important that your installer asks all of these questions before they offer you an exact system. Ensuring that your installer has made a trip to your home, or has a copy of your housing plan so that they can do a load calculation and offer you the correct size for your space. This will ensure that you are being quoted the best unit based on power, efficiency and cooling capacity.
3. What new features or technological additions do I require?
These days, air conditioners can be tailored to meet your exact requirements and desires thanks to modern technology. So make sure that you consider which extras you may want or need to personalise your system. Do you require a remote control for ease of use, or are you okay walking to the touchpad on the wall each time? Are you after zoning so you can only cool specific rooms at certain times? Maybe you are looking to have a system that can be controlled from an app on your phone? If you aren’t sure of all of the additions that can come with a system these days, be sure to ask your installer. Let them know which features you may need and work from there. Be aware that most of the time, technological additions can add to the price of the system.
4. What is my budget?
The best thing to do is have an idea of how much you are able to spend. This will let your installer know what type of system they can offer you and what optional extras may be available. Always get more than one quote to get an average idea of how much you should be spending.
5. What is the energy rating of the system?
These days, air conditioning systems should chew through your energy bills. In fact, your installer SHOULD be designing you a system that will be the most cost effective and energy efficient for you to run. This will ensure that your unit lasts longer and save your money in the long run.
6. Who will be doing the installation? Does the company use contractors to install their work?
This is an important question to ask because it lets you know how many companies you will be dealing with and the integrity of those companies. The company that you purchase the system through may use contractors to install it, rather than employing their own technicians to carry out the installation themselves. This addition of an extra party can result in many issues such as unnecessary added costs, communication breakdown, hassle, warranty issues and unexpected poor quality of work and service.
7. If they do use contractors, are the installers qualified to handle warranty repairs and/or servicing?
Green Efficient Living employ all of their own technicians that are all certified installers (Cert. III). This means that they are all fully qualified to handle all installations, warranty repairs and servicing systems of all sizes. Many companies use Cert. II qualified installers that are not qualified to handle all warranty repairs and servicing and can only work on systems under 18kW. For the reliability and quality of your home or business’s system and to ensure that all warranties remain valid, it pays to ask how qualified your installers are.
8. Does the company also provide maintenance services?
It is important to know whether the company who installs your air conditioner also provides servicing and maintenance services. This will ensure that should any warranty issues occur further down the line, that the company servicing your system is familiar with it and has records of it. Green Efficient Living provides comprehensive service and maintenance services to all of our clients and we make that we keep them updated when their next service is due.
9. What is the total cost?
This may seem like an obvious one, but be aware that sometimes the quote that you are being provided may not include all charges. Does the quote include labour and installation charges, delivery fees, etc? Make sure that they provide every cost openly and honestly and in writing so that you aren’t surprised when you receive the invoice.
10. What documentation will I be receiving?
Before the installation date, you should receive a detailed quote and contract. After the system has been installed, you should receive all manufacturers and installers warranty information, detailed maintenance information and compliance certificates. Before purchasing a system, always do research on each company and obtain multiple quotes. It may take a little longer, but the system that you end up with will be far more reliable.
If you are after a new installation, or the service or upgrade of your current one, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422.
Have you ever changed a blown lightbulb and noticed that its replacement does not match the colour of light that it gives off? What once was a nice warm glow has now become a harsh white light and all of the sudden the room no longer has the same ambience and feeling. Or when your white lit, modern kitchen now has a yellow tone that doesn’t accurately highlight the area! It’s because there is a whole colour spectrum of lighting based on colour temperature.
It’s understanding this temperature that makes it easier to choose a light that will give off the look and feel that you want in your room. But why is it that some bulbs glow a bright white, while others emit a warm orange?
Have you ever noticed how when you are away from heavily populated areas that the night sky is filled with stars? So why is it that you can’t see the same stars when you are in the city? The answer is light pollution! Thats right, light is considered a pollutant!
Light pollution is the obtrusive, excessive and unnecessary use of light used for advertising, security, street lighting, etc. that becomes misdirected and filters out towards the sky. This misdirection is due to poorly designed lighting installations and can be an issue for more than one reason. There are three different types of light pollution that occur as a result of poorly designed lighting:
Glare is caused when the excessive brightness of a light causes light scattering in the eye and reduces the contrast of what the eye can see. This reduced contrast can make it extremely difficult to distinguish scenes and settings and can be extremely hazardous when driving.
Glare light towards the eyes can cause temporary blindness and constant exposure to glare can have longer effects on the health of your eyes and it can worsen with age.
Light trespass is the unwanted light entering a property where it is not needed, for example, street lights entering through a bedroom window at night. Not only can unwanted light be annoying while you are trying to sleep, but having a disrupted sleep can also be damaging on your health.
Skyglow is when the overflow of many sources of lighting brightens the sky over inhabited areas. In other words, when there are too many bright lights outdoors in one area, it can illuminate the night sky. This form of light pollution is of greatest concern to astronomers who study the night sky. The brighter the skyglow, the lighter the night sky and therefore the less celestial objects can be seen and studied.
Why is light pollution bad?
First and foremost, light pollution is a large form of energy wastage. Lighting that emits too much light or is focused when and where it is not needed (i.e. upwards towards the sky) can have large economic consequences, as the wasted energy that is used to produce this light can contribute heavily to greenhouse gases and unnecessary expenditure.
Light pollution can also have environmental consequences and can be detrimental for both flora and wildlife that inhabit the areas. All living creatures rely on the steady rise and fall of the sun to regulate body patterns and quality of life. Their natural migratory and breeding patterns can be affected along with their ability to interact with one another.
As the rhythm of life is dependent and coordinated by the natural rise and fall of the sun, disrupting the pattern can severely impact the ecological behaviour.
The health of humans can also be affected by light pollution for almost the same reason. When we are exposed to larger amounts of light when we shouldn’t be, such as at night when we are trying to sleep our melatonin levels are suppressed. This can lead to many different issues such as sleep disorders, lowered immunity levels and increased levels of anxiety.
What can be done?
While it is understood that there are necessary reasons that areas need to be lit up during the night, such as for safety on the streets and the ability to see in the dark, there are ways that it can be reduced around the home.
The most obvious way to curb your contribution to light pollution around the home is to switch off lights when they are not needed. Do not light up your front and backyard when they are not in use. This will also save you a large amount of money on your energy bills!
Have a motion sensor installed to switch your outdoor lights on and off when appropriate.
Replace your high-energy bulbs with much more energy efficient LED ones to reduce the carbon emissions that are being discharged.
Properly shield outdoor lights to focus the light where needed and avoid any misdirection.
Use dimmers where possible to control the amount of light that is being released.