SolarQuotes TV Ep. 3: Panel Punishment, Solar Fires, Battery Chat + More

The solar fire hazard that could soon be addressed, karate vs. crystalline in a full-on solar panel punishment test, why home batteries are still so pricey, the dark side of solar – all this and more!

Solar Energy News – DC Isolators

0:34​ – It’s looking like something the solar industry has wanted to get rid of for years is finally going to happen – problematic rooftop DC isolators. This “safety” device is responsible for a significant proportion of solar power system fires.

“It really is a great example of unintended consequences,” says Finn. “It’s the solar version of a cane toad.”

Finn talks about the problem, proposed changes to the relevant Australian Standard that requires their use and what may replace them. If the changes and intended replacement are adopted, it will be a win-win-win – for fireys, for installers and for system owners.

Field Test – Karate Vs. Crystalline

3:06 – This is the ultimate solar panel punishment test. Finn and Winaico Australia’s Blair Pester carry out a series of tests with the assistance of thermal imaging to illustrate what can happen to a panel if it isn’t handled, installed and generally treated correctly. The damage isn’t always apparent to the unaided eye.

Then they pile on the damage with the scientific “bouncy-standing test”, and the “abusey karate-kicky test”. Finn delivers a kick that looks as though it did as much damage to him as to the panel.

The main takeaways from the test (aside from not doing bouncy-standing and karate-kicky stuff) is to ensure you choose solar panels from a manufacturer that packages them properly and find a solar installer that will handle the modules with due care.

Humans Of Solar – Paul

8:09​ – This month, we meet Paul from Adelaide who had panels installed and then crunched the numbers to determine the financial performance of his system – and he was very pleased after being a somewhat reluctant convert.

Ned’s Review – The Dark Side Of Solar

11:29​ – It’s not all sunshine and lollipops in this industry – here’s an example of what can happen when you get a cut-price system and you don’t do your research.

Ask Finn – Tesla Model Y As A Home Battery

13:27​ – Dave is thinking of purchasing a Tesla Model Y electric vehicle and using it as a home battery system to supply overnight power. Doable? Finn weighs in.

Ask Finn – Keeping QLD’s Premium FiT

14:11​ – (Another) David was one of the early adopters of solar power in Queensland; so he receives the very generous legacy feed-in tariff. He wants to move some circuits off grid and without losing the FiT. Finn advises.

Ask Finn – System Maintenance

15:23​ – Altholas asks about ongoing maintenance tips for a solar system that Finn would recommend.

Ask Finn – Scruffy Finn

15:49​ – William comments on Finn’s personal presentation in the last episode. Heeding the feedback, changes are made (and not just to Finn).

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

16:42​ – And that sponsor is SolarQuotes – check out the the energetic new SQ ad depicting an event that may be illegal in some states.

Installer Profile – Goliath Solar And Electrical

17:53​ – A look at one of SQ’s platinum-rated partners, Goliath Solar and Electrical, in their own words. Born from adversity, the company has evolved into a well-established and highly-respected business.

Solar Tech – Budget Manufacturers Go Premium

19:48​ – Finn talks about budget manufacturers playing in the premium end of the industry, such as Leapton Solar panels’ new 25 year product warranty and Goodwe producing premium inverters for GE.

Ronald’s Wrap – Battery Prices

21:30​ – Why haven’t home battery prices dropped to the levels forecast previously? Ronald thinks it’s because of the rather crappy reliability of home batteries – meaning manufacturers are pricing in problems occurring while a battery is under warranty.

“And that’s why at SolarQuotes, if you want a battery we say go with the really big brands who will have a brand to defend, who will honour their warranty,” says Finn. “But if you just want to save money, you don’t need to buy a battery. You can get tiny, zero or even negative bills in most parts of Australia just with a decent sized solar system.”

Learn more about solar battery storage.

Reliable Home Batteries – A Poem

25:14​ – In his role of SQ Poet Laureate, Ronald gains inspiration from Dorothea Mackellar’s “My Country” as the basis for his literary masterpiece on yearning for reliable home batteries.

Finn’ally – Silicon Solar Cell Anniversary

27:28​ – April marks the 64th anniversary of the patenting of the first silicon-based solar cell by Bell Labs, which had a conversion efficiency of just 6%. This event has inspired Finn to burst into song. You’ve been warned.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Just on the chart showing prices for home and car batteries, can you please provide details of or a link to the original source of data?

    Data source should always be shown on charts.

    thanks

  2. I wonder if Finn can qualify something about his answer to the question about adding an ATS to an off-grid backup power supply.

    If an off-grid power supply is available for power backup to a home via a cutover switch, e.g. like I currently have with my generator, then the cutover switch (be it manual or automated) means the home’s backed up circuits can be supplied by either the grid or by the off-grid supply (but never both). The off-grid supply never sees nor is connected to the grid.

    I thought this separation of alternative supply from the grid was the whole point of such a switch?

    So I’m a bit confused by Finn’s advice that it can’t be done.

    BTW I’m about to do something very similar to what the person asking the question is (off-grid solar+battery+off-grid inverter) and it will have UPS like cutover (10ms) from grid to off-grid backup supply. There are off-grid inverters available which enable this functionality.

    • It can be done – but it is likely you will lose your eligibility for the premium feed-in-tariff. At best it’s a grey area – and you are at the mercy of the DNSP. There is no grey area without an ATS because the off-grid system is physically separated from the grid – there are no common components.

      You could charge your battery from the grid with a rectifier – and I think you’d be OK – but you still risk having a technical argument with your DNSP.

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