Micro Inverters VS String Inverters

Installation of a Fronius String Inverter

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.

String Inverters

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.

Installation of Fronius String Inverters
Fronius String Inverter

Microinverters

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.

Installed Micro Inverters on a tin roof.
Green Efficient Living installation of Micro Inverters on a residential roof.

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.

Diagram showing the difference in output between microinverters and string invertersEnphase 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. 

Safety

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.

Panels positioned all over roof of home and garden shed.
Green Efficient Living installation of a system with Enphase microinverters. Notice the panel positioning all over the house and the garden sheds.
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 2.24.01 pm
The overall panel production for the above image. Notice the difference in overall production between each panel thanks to the installation of microinverters.

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.  

Cost

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.  

VERDICT

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.

String Inverters Microinverters

System Performance

 

Safety

 

Flexibility & Expansion

 

Cost

✔ Upfront Costs

 

✔ Long-term Investment

 

Maintenance & Repair ✔ Easier to service

 

✔ Easier to Monitor

 

Winter Is Here

If you live in Adelaide, you would surely understand just how drastically the temperature can change between summer and winter. One moment you are sitting in a puddle of your own sweat and within a matter of weeks, you are sitting in that same spot, with four layers of clothing on, clutching your coffee close to you.

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, winter is here and we think that it is time that you understand how to best care for and use your reverse cycle air conditioner during the colder weather to maximise your energy efficiency and save on your bills (you will thank us later).

Hitachi Wall Split Reverse Cycle Air ConditionerWhat Is Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning?

The name suggests it all. A reverse cycle air conditioner is one that can both cool your home in summer and keep you warm during winter.

A refrigerant is passed through an external coil, absorbing heat from the outside air. This refrigerant is then pumped through a compressor, into a fan coil unit inside the home, which then releases warm air into your room. When in heating mode, the unit works in the opposite or reverse way to when it is cooling.

Note: It absolutely does not have to be warm outside for this process to be successful. Reverse cycle air conditioners can perform this function in even the lowest of temperatures.

Benefits Of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners

The first and in our opinion, the greatest benefit of reverse cycle air conditioners is that they are extremely efficient when it comes to their energy use and their cost over time. Most portable heaters or gas heaters may be cheaper to buy outright, but their energy usage is much higher than that of a reverse cycle system and therefore will cost you much more over time to run.

Another benefit is when purchasing a reverse cycle air conditioner, you are purchasing two systems in one and avoiding having to purchase both a cooling system and a heating system, thereby saving you money.

Reverse cycle air conditioners also help to purify the air during operation by trapping airborne particles. Some systems may also rid the air of odours and remove bacteria and viruses, which is especially handy in the homes of allergy sufferers and people with asthma.

Wall Split Air Conditioning Unit
Wall Split unit installed by Green Efficient Living

How To Prepare Your System For Winter

If you do already have a reverse cycle system installed in your home, there are a few things that you can do before the cold weather really sets in.

Clean Your Filters 

We have already written a blog on the importance of making sure that your filters are clean (read here), but we can’t stress enough just how damaging blocked filters can be. Blocked or dirty filters are often the first issue that we look for when on a service call, due to the fact that…

Adjust Your Thermostat 

Most people think that turning their heater up to 26 degrees in winter will warm the room up faster and keep them warmer for longer. All this will do is result in your system working harder and your energy bills increasing. During winter, have your system set to 18-22 degrees. Your room will still warm up just as fast and you will still feel just as warm, you just won’t be paying the extra on your energy bills or shortening the life of your system. It has been estimated that increasing the temperature on your air conditioner by just one degree can increase your costs by a large ten per cent!

Have It Serviced 

One very important point to remember is to have your system professionally serviced before a long summer or winter of using it. When a technician services your system, they make sure that everything is working as it should be and that your system is still providing the most energy efficient service that it can for your needs.

Conclusion

Using your reverse cycle air conditioner is no different in winter than it is in summer. Just remember to keep the temperature down, you will still stay warm, and to make sure your filters are clean. If you haven’t had your system serviced yet, Green Efficient Living have a special offer for you! You can have your Ducted Reverse Cycle system serviced from a low $200 ex GST, or a High Wall Split from $170 ex GST. Our offer ends VERY soon, so give us a call today to make sure that your system isn’t costing you more than it should this winter!

 

Is Your Air Conditioner Faulty Or Are Your Filters Blocked?

An example of dirty air conditioner filters covered in dust

Is Your Air Conditioner Faulty or Are Your Filters Blocked?

Here at Green Efficient Living, we receive many phone calls a week from worried customers believing that their air conditioners are faulty. However, after visiting the site to service the system and inspect the issue, we can see that the underlying cause is often dirty filters.

Air conditioner filters are not only important at maintaining your air quality and comfort, but being another crucial part of the system, they also assist in ensuring that your entire system is running as smoothly as possible. It is therefore important to make sure that you remember to inspect your filters before summer and to monitor them throughout the time your system is being used.

IMG_2535
An example of neglected air conditioning filters in a GEL customer’s home.

Why Is It So Important To Keep Your Filters Clean?

When air conditioner filters become blocked, they cannot only cause health issues, but they can also result in symptoms that can imitate a faulty or broken air conditioner. From experience, customers whos filters are blocked, often jump to conclusions and believe that their air conditioner is faulty. There are three main symptoms of blocked air filters that may resemble a faulty system.

1. Air Quality

The purpose of your air conditioner’s filters is basic. They filter out the dust, debris and bacteria from the air and circulate clean, high-quality air back into your home. When your filters become blocked, they cannot filter out the nasty particles as easily and they end up getting fed back into your home’s air supply. This means that the air that you are breathing is not as clean as it should be which can lead to health issues and make it difficult for allergy sufferers

2. Performance

When your filters are blocked it causes your system to overwork as it tries harder to filter out the mess of contaminants caught within it. This overworking of your system can quickly deteriorate your system’s level of performance and health.

3. Energy Efficiency

As mentioned, when your filters are blocked your system has to work harder just to achieve the same level of performance. This means that it is consuming more energy and becoming a lot more costly to run.

At Green Efficient Living, we believe that cleaning or replacing your air conditioner’s filters is one of the most important tasks is maintaining the longevity of your system’s health. Blocked filters can reduce a system’s efficiency significantly and replacing or cleaning them can lower your system’s energy consumption anywhere from 5% to 15%.

Homes that rely on their air conditioner’s regularly should clean or replace their filters every 3-5 months. If you only use it throughout the warmer months, then cleaning or replacing them at the same time that you have your pre-summer service done is a good idea.

How To Tell If Your Filters Need Replacing

Aside from calling out a technician, there are ways to tell if your system’s filters are blocked.

1. Smell

The first is that you may notice that there is a dusty smell, or dust particles coming from the vents in your unit. If this is the case, it could mean that there is a big build up of debris in your filters and it is time for a clean!

2. Higher-than-normal Energy Bills

If you’ve noticed that you haven’t been using your system any differently than normal, but your energy bills are slightly higher, this may also be a sign that your system is consuming more energy because its filters are clogged.

3. Unusual System Activity

If you are noticing that your unit is starting to play up, or it is not running as it should, don’t jump to conclusions. Follow the instructions and check your filters first. You may be surprised to find just how blocked they could be!

A general rule of thumb is if you cannot remember the last time that you cleaned or replaced your filters, then now is the time to do it!

IMG_0989
Another example of just how much dust can build up on your filters.

How To Care For Your Filters

Some air conditioners come with reusable, cleanable filters, whereas others may have replaceable ones. You should have received a user manual when your system was installed that outlines in detail exactly how to care for your filters.

If your unit is one with replaceable filters, this job is generally fairly easy. Filters can be bought through your installer, or through a company such as Ductair.

If your unit has reusable filters, then following the user manual will ensure that your filters get cleaned and replaced in the correct way. Generally vacuuming the dust off of them or hosing them down with warm water is the safest way to clean them. Be aware that they are fragile so take caution. Always let them dry before reinstalling them, and never use the system without reinstalling them first. Reusable filters don’t last forever though, so be sure to replace it every 2-3 years or so. When having a service performed by a technician on your system, they should be able to inform you of whether or not your filters need replacing.

If you are experiencing issues with your air conditioner, try taking a look at your filters before calling out a technicians. If you aren’t confident with this task, Green Efficient Living service technicians are always more than happy to help! We have a dedicated service team on the road each day, so no mater what issue you are experiencing, we can help. Call today on (08) 8297 3422.

Glare – Annoying or Harmful?

Glare from a street lamp

We spend many hours in the home or office, surrounded by unnatural lighting that causes issues many people are unaware of. Glare is one of these issues that seems to be considered more of an annoyance than a health issue. But glare can cause many serious issues if not dealt with correctly. In this blog, we discuss just what glare is, how it can affect your health more than you think, and how to eliminate it.

What Is Glare?

Glare is defined by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) as ‘visual conditions in which there is excessive contrast or inappropriate distribution of light sources that disturbs the observer of limits the ability to distinguish details and objects’. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) describes it more simply as too much light and ‘an excessive contrast in which the range of luminance in the field of view is too great’. Whatever the definition is, while you may think that a small amount of glare is simply just annoying, it may be doing more damage to your health than you think.

Glare from a street lamp
Glare from a street lamp. Photographer: Bob Parks

Why Is Glare Bad?

Glare can cause many health issues, ranging from being a minor annoyance that causes some discomfort and squinting, to serious eye strain, impaired vision, decreased safety, visual and bodily discomfort, injury to your eyes and a decrease in your overall health. It is also one of the leading causes of eye strain, less-than-optimal vision, and serious eye damage.

Think about how many times you have sat there and seen a flicker of light reflecting off of the table in a room. You squint your eyes to reduce its effect, or your turn your body away so that you cannot see it. While this may seem annoying, the squinting and straining of your eyes can cause serious headaches and vision impairment, and the position of your body may cause muscle strain and discomfort.

This minor annoyance has now presented itself with serious outcomes if left untreated.

Why Does Glare Occur?

Glare occurs where a ‘source of unshielded light is brighter than the average field’ or when there is a stark contrast between a bright light and the average light of an area. To explain this further, a street lamp may not cause glare at dusk, but that same lamp may cause glare in pitch black darkness. This is because the contrast between the light from the lamp and the surrounding area is greater at night than it is at dusk.

The most common reasons why glare occurs around the home or office are computer screens, sunlight, and incorrectly shielded light and poor lighting design. The proper precautions must, therefore, be taken in order to eliminate glare and provide a healthy and productive environment. Good lighting design must be considered to diffuse the light in the room evenly to reduce the luminance or contrast. The luminance must be balanced and uniform within a room to reduce or eliminate glare and make your working or living space entirely comfortable.

Glare from a reflection
Glare caused by the harsh direct lighting onto the table and the glass from the staircase.

How Can Glare Be Eliminated?

Thankfully, there are many ways to control glare so that your days can continue with little annoyance and ensuring that the light is uniform throughout the room is the best way of making this happen. To do this:

  • Install blinds that allow light to filter through softly, but remove the harshness of direct sunlight.
  • Install dimmers that allow you to adjust your lighting accordingly. This makes it easier to control your lighting as the daylight changes throughout the day.
  • Make sure that your lighting is indirectly situated. It may help to have a professional from GEL assist you with this. Having light directed upwards so that it can bounce off the ceilings and walls rather than direct light that is situated downwards is important in dispersing light evenly.
  • Try to position your computer screen away from a window and so there is no light reflecting off of the screen. Computers emit a lot of glare so it can help to have a soft light source from behind. Sit a lamp with an LED light, behind your screen to soften the contrast and reduce the glare.
  • Move shiny surfaces, such as glossy tables, away from direct sunlight that can cause harsh reflections. Choosing surfaces with a matte finish will also assist in reducing the glare even further.
  • Keep your wall colours soft so that when the light hits them, there is very little contrast and reflection.

If you are designing your lighting for your home or office, or if you are experiencing lighting issues, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 or click here.

 

 

 

 

Are You Getting Tingles From Your Taps?

Artwork of a man holding live electrical cables

Note: NEVER ignore an electric shock or tingles from anywhere in your home, whether it is from a tap, a pipe or an appliance. It may be a warning sign that there is something more serious going on with your home’s electricity supply and here at Green Efficient Living, we take electrical safety extremely seriously.

Recently a fault in the earthing system outside a Perth home, caused a young girl to suffer a life-threatening electric shock from touching a garden tap. Have you ever experienced a small electric shock or tingle whilst touching a tap in your home?

Getting an electric shock from anywhere in your home should never be ignored – without attention, it may become dangerous! It is generally a warning sign that your electricity is not flowing through your home as it should be, and there may be a few reasons why.

WHY DO WE EXPERIENCE ELECTRICAL SHOCKS OR TINGLES WITHIN THE HOME?

A bad earth connection or a poor neutral wire/neutral bond are the most common reasons why people experience electric shocks. For electricity to flow within your home to a light or to an appliance, a complete path (circuit) must be provided for it to return to the electricity supply. The active wire carries the electricity from the electricity supply, while the neutral wire returns the electricity to the electricity supply – so there are always at least two wires to each appliance. Many appliances these days have a green-yellow wire (earth wire) connected to it, in which the other end is connected to an earth stake. A current will always take the path of least resistance so if your earth connection is good then the current will flow freely down this path instead of flowing through you. An earth connection using an electrical earth stake is essential for the effective operation of safety switches.  

If you have received an electric shock when you have touched a tap, it may be because an active wire from an appliance is touching a metal pipe somewhere in your home and there is now electricity flowing through that pipe. If your earth wire is connected correctly, it should trip your safety switch or circuit breaker and remove any safety issues before you touch your tap. A fault in the earth connection means that the safety switch or circuit breaker cannot be activated and the pipe now becomes live. When you touch the tap, and your feet are on the ground, you complete the circuit, so electricity can flow through you and you experience the electric shock.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/10920520/The-devices-quietly-running-up-your-energy-bills.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/

I’VE BEEN SHOCKED! NOW WHAT?

Before jumping to any conclusions, there are some questions that you can ask yourself. Do you experience the sensation the whole time your hand is on the tap, or do you just get a small shock when you first touch it? Do you get a shock when the water is running, or only when it is not running? Does it happen in just one area of your home or from multiple locations throughout your home? Have your neighbours experienced the same thing?

Firstly you need to distinguish whether it is simply a static shock, or something more serious. Static shocks are experienced very suddenly and are of very short duration and once the shock is experienced, the item can then generally be safely touched without experiencing it again. Static electricity is an electrical charge trapped on the surface of an object. The charge will remain there until the object is touched and the electricity can escape to an object with a weaker electrical charge. However, while static shocks may not seem as serious as other types of electrical shocks, they are still a sign that your earth connection is not as it should be.

If the shock is a lot worse than a static shock, then the situation is quite serious. If you are left feeling burnt or are experiencing pain in that area, have experienced the shock more than once, are experiencing it multiple areas of your home, or are experiencing other electrical phenomena such as flickering lights or the sound of electricity zapping, then call your electrician immediately!

It may seem unimportant, but it is worth speaking to your neighbours. If they seem to be experiencing the same issues, then it may be a faulty transformer or connection outside of your home and the appropriate company will need to be called immediately. Generally, this is the emergency number that can be found on the bottom of your electricity bill.

http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/
http://news.warwickshire.gov.uk/blog/2012/09/25/be-a-bright-spark-during-electrical-fire-safety-week/

There are many things to remember when it comes to experiencing shocks within your home.

FIRSTLY

The first is that it should never be ignored! As mentioned, it can often be a sign that there is something wrong with your electrical circuit within your home, and it needs to be fixed immediately before the situation worsens!

SECONDLY

The second is remembering what to do in the event that somebody becomes electrocuted. Call 000 first and NEVER touch them while there is still live power running through the home. Always check for danger to yourself, and switch off the power before touching them. Once the power has been shut down, remove the patient from the electrical supply without directly touching them – instead use a non-conductive, dry material such as a wooden broom handle.

Find the full Electric Shock procedure from St Johns Ambulance here.

If you are concerned about any electrical faults within your home, or feel as though you would like an electrical assessment, please don’t hesitate to call Green Efficient Living on (08) 8297 3422. We will do a thorough examination of your home to ensure that you and your family are safe.

 

Solar Shading – What Is It and How Do You Deal With It?

Up-close image of a residential solar installation being partially shaded by trees

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.

https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/articles/string-layout-shade-mitigation
https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/articles/string-layout-shade-mitigation

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.

https://singingvegan.com/solar-power-best-worst-customer-service/
https://singingvegan.com/solar-power-best-worst-customer-service/

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.

Questions To Ask Before Buying An Air Conditioner

Return Air Grilles above a Kitchen

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.

Home Air Conditioner
An example of a plan drawn up by Green Efficient Living. We use exact measurements of your home to ensure that the system is the correct one for you.

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.

 

e3-energy-rating-label-star-rating-heating-cooling-air-conditioner
The star rating for air conditioners is determined differently to other appliances. For air conditioners, the measure of energy efficiency is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and the Coefficient of Performance (COP) for heating.

 

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.

Surge Protectors – Do You Have Them?

Working Safety Switch

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.

Class 1

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.

Class 2

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

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.

Hager Surge Protectors
Examples of surge protectors that may be used in your home.

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.

Is Your Air Conditioner Size Right?

Return Air Grilles above a Kitchen

The Importance Of Having A Correctly Sized Air Conditioning System

Adelaide can suffer through scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters, so it pays to have the perfect heating and cooling system in your home. When it comes to purchasing an air conditioning system, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. One of the most important ones is the size of the system itself. You may feel as though it is wise to save a few pennies and choose the undersized system, or maybe you have been told that ‘bigger is better’? If any of these circumstances seem the same to you, then it may be wise to read on.

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Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White

Image displaying colour temperature

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?

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