Here at Ahlec, we’ve been in the solar and electrical business for more than 35 years and there’s not much we don’t know about it. We stay up to date with all the latest tech developments and partner with the best manufacturers and suppliers of equipment.

We’ve built up a reputation as one of the best solar installers in South East Queensland, covering as we do Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Gympie and the more regional areas. Our fully-qualified and CEC-accredited electricians will spend time with you to work out your needs in order to design – and then install – your ideal system.

We gather all the know-how so you don’t have to

The solar world can be a confusing one, especially if you’re new to it and so you’ll probably have lots of questions for us, both on the phone and in-person. 

While we all love to chat about kW hours and inverters, cleaning solar panels and what happens to them at night, if we did this all day, we’d have no time to do anything else. Instead, we’ve compiled this comprehensive (we think) list of FAQs.

Whatever your burning question about solar power and solar systems is, you’ll probably find the answer here, so have a quick run-through before calling us and setting us off!

Of course, if you don’t find your answer in our FAQs, then you might have a more unusual question, in which case do give us a call because we’ll really enjoy answering it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you install solar panels yourself?

Many people can and do install smaller solar set-ups themselves for their boats and caravans, but for a household or business system, you need an accredited electrician because you’ll be connecting to the grid.

How much does it cost to install solar panels?

The amount you spend will vary on the size of your system. A mid-range, mid-sized 5-kiloWatt system will cost from $4,250 to $5,000.

How many solar panels do you need to power a house?

This also depends on how much electricity your household uses. Most of our customers are happy with their 6-kiloWatt system, which is composed of 20 300-Watt panels.

How do you connect solar panels to your home?

One of our fully-trained electricians will make the connection at your switchboard.

Can you make your own solar panels?

In theory, yes. It would be a very time and labour-intensive process, though and your power generation would be unpredictable to say the least!

Who has the best solar panels?

Most of the tier 1 manufacturers make excellent panels. When it comes to warranties, Sunpower and LG are industry leaders.

Do I need a permit to install solar panels?

No; residential solar power systems only need approval from your electricity distributor.

How do I install my own solar panels?

We really don’t recommend that you install your own panels unless you have the right training and qualifications. There are some companies that make the mounting systems for panels, though.

What is the most efficient type of solar panel?

Monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline; they generate more output per square metre so you need less roof space to achieve your ideal output. If your system is more than 5-kiloWatt, however, then you can use either monocrystalline or polycrystalline as your annual output shouldn’t vary by more than 1% or so.

Do solar panels add value to a property?

As solar power systems aren’t as expensive to buy and install as they once were, it’s not so much the case that they add value to your home; it’s more a case of attracting buyers. If your house has panels and a similar one down the road doesn’t, you’re is more likely to sell first.

Do you really save money on your power bills with solar panels?

Absolutely! Of course, this varies with how much electricity you use, what you pay for your grid power and how much you generate. On average, however, a 5-kiloWatt system in south-east QLD will save the householder between $1,200 and $1,500 a year.

How much would panels for a 1,500-sqft house cost?

This all depends on what size of system you want and how much roof space you have that faces the optimum direction. For a 5-kiloWatt system you’ll pay between $4,250 and $5,000, but you need an assessment and quote to get an accurate figure.

What’s the most powerful solar panel?

Scientists recently developed a cell with a 44.5% efficiency, but most manufacturers sell panels with efficiencies of around 22%. The more efficient a cell is, the more expensive it is to make.

What are the three types of solar panels?

There’s monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Thin-film isn’t used much now as it’s not very efficient and needs more area to generate a decent amount of power.

Do solar panels wear out?

Solar panels do degrade slowly, yes. They’ll lose up to 2% of their capacity in the first year and then up to 0.5% each year thereafter. Manufacturers offer a 25-year performance warranty with a guaranteed 80% minimum output after 25 years.

Are the panels “finished” after 25 years?

No, but they will carry on degrading as the years pass so will slowly produce less and less power.

Do solar panels work at night?

Solar panels can’t work at night as they need photons from the sun to work. The moon reflects hardly any photons to earth, even when it’s full.

Which is best – polycrystalline or monocrystalline?

Polycrystalline panels are cheaper to make, but they’re also less efficient. With smaller systems you’ll need more polycrystalline panels to reach your ideal output, but once you’re over 5 kiloWatts, you shouldn’t see much difference between poly and mono.

What are the main disadvantages to solar energy?

There are no serious disadvantages to solar energy. It’s good for the planet and saves you at least a grand a year when it comes to your electricity bills. Sometimes the aesthetics aren’t great, but it certainly looks better than a big power bill.

Can solar panels work when it’s cloudy?

Yes, solar panels can still work when there’s cloud cover, but as clouds can cut out up to 90% of the sunlight, you can expect your output to fall by a similar proportion.

How do solar panels work when there’s no sun?

If there’s no sunlight at all – as in, it’s dark – then your panels simply won’t be operating. They’ll work on cloudy days, but your output will be a fraction of what it could be on a sunny day.

Do solar water heaters work at night?

No, as solar water heaters need sunlight to operate. Most solar water heaters are connected to the grid, however, so you’ll still have hot water even on cloudy days and after dark. You’ll be drawing power from the grid, though.

Do solar panels need direct sunlight to work?

No, solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work, but they’ll definitely have a better output in direct sunlight than they do with diffused or indirect sunlight.

Do solar panels work on rainy days?

Solar panels will work on rainy days, but as rainy days also involve cloud, the output will be reduced. Rain can help to wash off dust, though, so it’s not all bad.

Do solar panels work in moonlight?

Solar panels can’t use moonlight as there’s nowhere near enough photons hitting the earth to make any meaningful impact. Moonlight is sunlight reflecting off the moon so it’s much weaker and more diffuse.

Do solar panels work in shade?

If a panel is partially shaded then it’ll still work, but its output will be reduced. Many panels have bypass diodes so the current generated in brighter areas of the panel is diverted away from the darker areas and therefore retained. In total shade, however, the panels won’t work as they won’t get enough light.

Do solar panels need heat or light to work?

Panels need light, not heat, in order to work. Solar panels are tested at a standard temperature of 25C to assess their efficiency and capacity. Once they’re over 25C, the cells start to lose efficiency at a rate of around 4% for each 10C above 25C.

Do solar water heaters work on cloudy days?

Yes, they will still work, but as with electricity panels, their output will be hugely reduced. After a few cloudy days, you’ll probably have to use some grid power to heat up your water.

Can solar panels ever get too hot?

It’s possible, but it’s very unlikely. Most solar cells have an upper operating temperature of 85C or thereabouts.

Do solar panels make houses hotter?

No. An array of panels will actually have the opposite effect because they prevent the sun’s rays from hitting the roof. Ideally the panels should be installed at least 100mm above the surface of the roof to allow cooling airflow.

Can solar panels work in indirect sunlight?

They can, but they do their best work in direct sunlight as the maximum number of photons will hit them.

Do solar panels get hot to the touch?

Yes, which is why it’s best to do any work on them in the early morning or in the evening. The panels’ framework is made from anodised aluminium which can become very hot indeed.

What should I clean solar panels with?

Solar panels have a layer of glass over their cells, so you can use anything that you’d normally use to clean glass. However, you should avoid abrasives so prevent any dulling of the surfaces. A soft cloth or sponge and soapy water will do just fine.

Can solar panels damage your roof?

Not at all. It’s possible for the installation to cause damage, though, which is why you should only ever use an accredited and experienced installation team.

Can you use pressure washers on your solar panels?

You can use a gentle pressure washer (if you have such a thing!) but you shouldn’t blast them with anything high-pressure. Your panels can withstand hard rain, so don’t use anything harder with more force than that. Ideally, you should just use a garden hose.

Do solar panels actually need cleaning?

In the main, yes. The frequency and depth of cleaning will be determined by where you live and what’s around you. Ifyour panels get dusty but you get a good few bouts of rain, then an annual clean will do. If you have a lot of birds and bats near you, then you may need a quarterly wash and brush-up.

Call 1800 66 08 74 to arrange a free home visit and no obligation quote