Solar Alternatives
  by Alpine Light & Power

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar

We have some answers to some common questions. If you can't find the answer you
are looking for, please contact us as we are happy to chat about your requirements.

Off-Grid Solar Questions
I have some old batteries, can they be used?
Old batteries will need to be checked.  Standard car batteries are no good.  All batteries are better to be installed at the same time if possible. ie: all new batteries together, not one old and new ones together.  

Can I supply a house with as much electricity as on the national grid?
Yes, but adjustments are needed.  Alternatives for heating, cooking and energy efficient appliances all  help to make this fit within a reasonable budget (you could spend a lot of extra money to fit the house out to run the same as on the national grid)  

Could I put solar panels on my back garage 10 metres away from the house?
Yes you can, but it may be cheaper to run normal power from the house considering how close the buildings are. There is also no maintenance required for normal power supply, and you have more flexibility for additions.  

Do I need resource consent from local councils?
Technically you do for panels on the roof or wind generators.  It should be included in your building consent if it’s a new building.  Seek advice from your local authorities if you have concerns.  

Can I install a system?
Due to problems with home Handy Men’s lack of experience, there have been many major house fires and related problems.  Batteries can be quite lethal if not installed properly and soon you will have to be accredited to install low voltage DC installations. All 240volt AC installations has to be carried out by a qualified electrician.  

Can we combine Wind Generators and Photo Voltaic solar panels?
Yes wind is an excellent addition if you have the appropriate location and control gear can combine both inputs.  

What requirements for installation of Micro Hydro systems?
Constant water flow, creek above property with a reasonable fall.   This is the most efficient power supply because if you have a constant water flow, you don’t need battery storage.  

Can I start of with a small system at first?
Yes you can start of with a inexpensive small system and add to it as you require.  

Once installed, is there any maintenance?
Yes maintenance is crucial.  Wet cell batteries maintenance is crucial.   Also regular light fittings need replacement when blown as compact florescent bulbs can be still be using power even when they appear blown.   

Is there any preparation that needs to be down before installing the Solar System?
Preparation work for cabling and space for battery and control gear is all that is needed.  An appropriate location for solar panels is needed with angles for maximising sun hours.  

How often do I need to replace the batteries?
Batteries are replaced in ideal conditions every 8 – 10 years if you look after them.  Very badly managed and maintained batteries can need replacing after 6 – 12 months!

Grid Tied Solar Questions
What does the term  2 kilowatt or 3 kilowatt system mean?
It means you have enough Solar panels on your roof that are capable of producing 2 or 3 Kilowatts of power every hour you have direct sunlight.  

When I’m using power in my house does that mean lam not benefiting from my Solar system?
No When you’re using power, first your power from the solar panels will be used in your house first , then if there is any excess power left over it goes through your power meter and back into the grid “known as importing power into the National Power grid“ but if your power from the panels isn’t enough power you automatically  use power from the Grid , eg your producing 1000watts or 1 kilowatt but you put your kettle on which uses 2kilowatts .  So 1 kilowatt from your solar system and 1 kilowatt from the national grid combine to power that kettle.  

When do l benefit from my solar panels only when it’s importing back into the National Grid?
No , whilst your solar system produces power (daytime ) you will always have  a credit ie whether you importing or using it ,, if you import the power then it’s a deduction off your power bill,, or if you use it , its power you don’t need to buy off the power company ,.  

How long will it take for my system to pay for itself?
It all depends on your size system and what prices you are paying from your retailer and what prices they are paying you for your power. An eg , if you have 3Kilowatt system  on present prices it’ll take 4 to 5 years to pay for your system if you live for example in Nelson or Otago areas ( consistent sunny areas NZ )  

Is there any subsidy offered from the Govt?
At this stage, the only subsidy is for Solar Hot Water.  It will be a few years before Solar Power Electricity is covered.   Once the system is in place, will this supply the house with power and hot water? Hot water and Electricity require separate systems.   

Once installed, is there any maintenance?
The only maintenance required is to  keep panels clear from dust dirt or shade from growing trees.

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