Aerial views of your rooftop

PV installation at ZillmereThe above photo is taken from Nearmap (an online photo map site) – it’s a massive PV installation I saw from the train on the north side of Brisbane a few weeks ago. When I got home I checked on Nearmap what it looked like from the air – quite impressive. There’s panels on all the car-park roofs as well as the main buildings (seems to be some sort of Qld. government facility).

Anyway, as most PV system owners are aware of, there are a couple of online resources you can use to see what your roof looks like and even measuring tools to get an idea of how many panels you could get up there. more…

Solar consumer guides

Solar Electricity GuideFinding impartial information about installing solar PV can be a bit difficult, especially info applicable to Australian conditions. Nevertheless, there are a couple of consumer guides available that even owners of systems already installed would find useful.

The first is a new publication written by Trevor Berrill and published by Which Energy. Trevor has many years experience involved in solar and taught at Tafes here in Queensland as well as being involved in public education and policy. This is the most comprehensive guide I’ve seen and is well worth reading by system designers as well as current system owners and those thinking of installing solar. It’s available for the low price of $10 at most newsagents (no, I’m not on commission). There’s a sample of the guide available here with a list of subjects covered.  more…

Power & energy

lightningA pet peeve of mine is the number of people in the solar industry who don’t know the difference between these two (even some PV accredited designer/installers). It’s not that difficult and it makes you look a bit silly (or unprofessional) if you get it wrong in front of somebody who knows.

Power is measured in watts (W) and is instantaneous i.e. for a typical PV system it’s constantly changing. It will start at zero in the morning before the inverter switches on, then on a clear day it will approximately follow a curve which peaks around midday and starts to tail off into the late afternoon. more…

Panel orientation & pitch

tilted panelsPV panels (in the southern hemisphere) should generally face as north as possible. Usually the roof orientation is the limiting factor as well as shade from vegetation or structures that you don’t have any control over but in general anywhere between NE & NW is optimal.

The pitch of the panel is also usually determined by the roof pitch. Brackets that tilt the panels up or skew the panels around to a different orientation generally look kind of ugly and introduce wind loading issues. You’ll pay extra for them too. more…


…to a few thoughts, mainly on solar power in Australia.

I’ve been working for a grid-connect solar power company here on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) for the last few years and learnt a thing or two along the way.

Now that I’ve been retrenched (a victim of the gummint I tells ya :), I have a bit of time to share some of this information with anybody who may be interested.