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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions



RESIDENTIAL MEMBERS - LANDED HOME

1.  How can I save on my energy bill in Singapore?

People around the world have been working from home ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Dec 19/Jan20. As a result, electricity consumption for most households have gone up.

In my case, it has gone up by more than 70%! It pains me when I see how much my energy consumption has increased in the past 4 months. In this article, allow us to address the age old question on how you save on your energy bills in Singapore!

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My energy consumption in the month of May ☹


2.  How can I save on my energy bill if I live in a landed house in Singapore?


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A SolarPVExchange client who had no qualms in going solar to power her house.

The bigger your household is, the more energy is consumed. It is almost a no brainer for you to consider installing a solar system for your house if you live in a landed house when 95% of households in Singapore cannot do so.

Here's how it can help you;

  • A solar system can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 50%, depending on your consumption pattern.
  • You hardly need to maintain it.
  • The solar panels can last for more than 25 years (although energy generation drops over time)
  • You have a secondary source of energy which is consumed on the fly.
  • Solar panels are much more economically viable now, compared with the past.
  • You can recoup the cost of a solar PV system in a relatively shorter amount of time.
  • There is no energy wastage. Any excess energy that is not consumed by your house, will be sold to the energy grid and you will get rebates for it.
  • You generate revenue from your solar system even when you are abroad visiting the Great Wall of China or skiing in the Swiss Aps (Ouh.. how we miss the days of travel)

So How do I go about installing a Solar System?

Start by looking for the roof plan of your house, electricity bill and send it over to us at enquiries@solarpvex.com and we will do the rest. If you do not have a roof plan, send us your postal code with your bill!


3.  I am already buying from an Energy Retailer. Why should I buy a solar system?


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By going solar, you are also playing an active role in fighting climate change which will affect our future generations.

Installing a solar system will help reduce your net energy bill, especially if you will consume most of the energy that is generated. In this scenario, installing a system is more beneficial as you hardly have any energy to be exported. (Export Rate is 5.44 cents cheaper than the consumption rate.) If you have very good rates for your electricity, it just means your opportunity costs is lower than those paying a higher rate and thus your projected returns of investment or breakeven point for the solar system is longer than those paying a higher rate.

However, with this solar PV system, you will be less susceptible to changes in the energy prices and hence it is like a form of hedging against energy inflation. Note this depends on how much the solar PV system can help subsidize your energy bill. By going solar, you are also pledging commitment to reduce your carbon footprint and help save the environment by going solar. Installing a solar PV system might even increase the value of your home!

If you are currently considering to get a solar system and also planning to sign up with an energy retailer, do contact us first so that we can advise you on this as most energy companies in Singapore do not allow solar installation requests.

"How much can I save by going solar? (Scenario based)"


4.  How can I save other than installing a solar system?


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Beautiful LED Downlights can lighten up the mood of your house.

Identify the highest energy consuming appliances in your household. The high energy consuming appliances are usually lights, refrigerators, air-conditioning and water heaters. We suggest to only replace fluorescent lights with LED lights only when they breakdown. Not all LED lights are built the same. Many LED light manufacturers have different LED product lines with varying lifespan (in hours lifetime) so try to get the ones which lasts longer even though it costs slightly more.

For air-conditioners, look beyond upfront costs and consider upgrading your air-con system to one with at least 4 ticks. A highly energy efficient air-con system will definitely help you to save more in the long run especially in a warm climate like Singapore where we all rely heavily on air conditioning. This applies to refrigerators as well.

Recall that back in the olden days, people got by without water heating. Furthermore, heating in such a warm climate like in Singapore is not as essential compared with countries that have cold climates like Russia. Try to get used to shower baths without using the water heater. At the same time, consider taking a shower standing in a big pail, to collect water and reuse them later. This can help to save on the cost of water as well, which all adds up!

The issue with many consumers is such that they are often myopic and only look at the upfront costs of things even though they can well afford to pay for products with higher energy efficiency! The next time you look at the rising figures on your energy bill, consider a solar system for your landed house and also our other tips. Use this as a guide and look beyond upfront costs!


5.  I heard that price of panels has dropped. Is it a good time to install a solar system now or when better technologies surface?

The price of solar panels has indeed dropped, compared with prices from years ago. However, technology has also improved vastly concurrently. We take the example of an Apple iPhone. In 2010, what you would have paid for an iPhone 4, could get you the latest iPhone SE (2020) today for less!

It is similar with solar panels. The power output and efficiency of panels have improved with lowered prices, making them more affordable for the mass consumer market (Residentials). However, unlike phones, a solar system is often a one-time purchase meant to last for more than 20 years. The price of panels and its efficiency would always improve over time, but the investment should be looked upon as one for the long term.

Therefore, we advocate to always get the latest solar panels available in the market, by the top manufacturers in the industry. Top manufacturers such as Jinko, JA and LONGi Solar, spend millions on Research & Development (R&D) and can provide the latest panels at competitive prices due to economies of scale in production without compromising quality.

The best time to invest in solar is yesterday, because once you install solar, you start saving immediately. The longer you wait, the more you are paying to the grid, and not utilizing your roof to generate clean solar energy. Last but not least, by getting into the act earlier of going solar, you can also help fight climate change earlier too.



6.  How long can my solar system last?

Solar Panels can continue to work for many decades, given that they are not physically damaged by any other external factors. This is because solar panels are stationary, and they rarely break internally unless damaged by external forces like poor installation, rough mishandling, or extreme weather conditions.

It is widely known in the Solar industry that solar panels can last for around 25 to 30 years. Panels lose its efficiency throughout the years so there is lower energy output but it does not mean that they stop generating electricity after 30 years.

In 2003, a study published results of their analysis of warranty claims and reported that of more racking set-up or than 2 million modules in service over nearly 10 years, approximately one-tenth of 1% were reported faulty, nothing "this represents one module failure for every 4,200 module-years of operation."

To put this simply, if your system has 1 thousand modules, you might experience the failure of 10 modules in 40 years.

7.  How often should I maintain my system?

There is no hard and fast rule on how often you should maintain your solar system. Typically, a solar system that is installed properly should last as long as how they have been designed to last for.

Solar panels are tilted to a slight angle when they are installed, and rainwater usually washes away debris on the panels. It is recommended to clean them only when your energy production has been significantly affected.

Rather than sign up for maintenance packages that increase the cost of your system, we recommend for you to monitor your energy generation occasionally and take note of generation patterns. This can be observed from the Solar Generation Monitoring App that we would have created for you. If there is drastic drop in production not due to weather, it may be time for some troubleshooting. Contact us and we will assist you then.

Many solar installers come and go so it is therefore important to engage a reputable solar installer whom you can rely on, should the system experience issues.

To find out more about SolarPVExchange and how we can help you to go solar, save money and save the environment, contact us at enquiries@solarpvex.com today!

8.  How does a Solar System work in Singapore context with the grid?

Singapore is an ideal location for solar system deployment as a safe alternate source of energy compared to conventional power plants. In fact, from the generation perspective, solar energy does not have carbon emissions and hardly requires any maintenance.

99% of all residential solar systems (Landed Houses) are what we call a, "Grid-Tied Solar System."

There are several components that makes up a solar system, which comprises of mainly the solar panels and a solar inverter.

Solar Energy generated via the panels flows in one direction (Direct Current) to the solar inverter. The solar inverter is responsible for converting energy from DC to AC (Alternating Current) as AC can be easily shifted up for transmission and back down for distribution with the help of transformers along the grid transmission network.

Generated Solar energy is consumed directly by electrical appliances in the household in real time and energy is distributed via the Distribution Board (DB) in your house.

9.  Do I need to change anything when installing a Solar system in Singapore?

Once the project is finalized and signed off, SolarPVExchange process all applications for you, including liaison with Singapore Power. The process will be largely seamless for you.

If your energy retailer does not support your request of a solar installation, you might have to revert to SP for the application to go through or sign up with another retailer that supports solar. We will advise you on this during the initial phase before project sign-off.

Your electrical meter might need to be upgraded to a bi-directional meter that supports solar. We will help to schedule a convenient date and time for SP to come down and upgrade your electrical meter (Comes at zero cost) During the upgrade, your power supply will be turned off for around 30 minutes.

10.  How does the generated solar energy help me reduce my energy bill?

The generated solar energy will help you save on 2 main fronts.

  • Savings from Consumption
    Your energy consumption from the grid would have dropped as your house has another source of energy which is your solar system.

  • Savings from Selling of Unconsumed (Excess) Energy
    Through SP Group, Energy Market Company (EMC) will pay you for your excess solar energy. This will be reflected in your SP bill in the form of credits which will offset your water, gas and waste charges.
Scenario 1 – 70% of Solar Energy is Consumed & 30% is Exported.
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We have dedicated an article about the savings you get from solar based on varying scenarios
www.solarpvexchange.com/SG/blog/2020/landed-residential-owners-how-much-one-can-save-by-going-solar-20200515.html

11.  Can I use the solar energy for my night-time usage?

Solar energy that is not consumed by your house is transmitted back to the grid and there is no energy storage. Therefore, you are unable to use the generated energy at night.

Unfortunately, energy storage systems (ESS) are still not economically viable yet for commercial systems, let alone residential systems. ESS Technology is still in the development phase and only time will tell once it achieves stability at competitive price points.

A Typical Solar Generation Curve
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A typical solar generation N curve, generation starts around 7PM and ends close to 7PM. It is recommended to adjust energy consumption habits according to the time.
Note: This graph is just for reference, based on a typical sunny day as output varies from region to region and on the cloud conditions on that day.

Realistically, a solar system will not be able to power your house 100% unless you have a solar system so huge and consumption so little that this can be achieved. Even so, this could only happen intermittently during the day when there is optimal generation. Therefore, a household will still require energy from the power grid and that is why in your bill, consumption of energy and export of energy are charged separately.

We hope this have helped you understand more about how a solar system works in Singapore. For queries, contact us at enquiries@solarpvex.com

12.  What is U-Solar?

U-Solar is a programme that provides a platform for you to view packages offered by UOB's solar partners to simplify your switch to solar power.

13.  What does U-Solar do for me?

U-Solar helps to reduce the upfront investment required with solar power through our interest-free payment plan of up to a maximum of 36 months. Subject to terms and conditions of UOB Credit Card used.

14.  What other costs are there with U-Solar?

By appointing SolarPVExchange and using a UOB Credit Card, there will be no additional fees or charges associated with U-Solar.

15.  Can U-Solar work with any UOB Credit Card?

Yes, you can use any UOB Credit Card to qualify for the 0% interest payment plan.

16.  I'm currently in the midst of renovating my house, will I need to have a solar PV system installed only at this time?

Solar PV systems can be installed at any time and is a fairly quick process depending on the structure of your house and access factors to where the solar PV panels will be installed. This typically takes 2-6 weeks for residential, pending on the complexity of the system.

Sometimes, it is even advisable to install the solar PV system during the building phase. This is to reduce invasive rennovation works such as running cables, during the installation phase.

17.  In the event that I'm able to install a solar PV system, will I be dependent on the power it generates exclusively?

Your solar PV system will supply your energy usage along with the power grid supply seamlessly. However, energy will still be drawn from the regular power grid when the solar PV system is insufficient to support your loads.

18.  Can the electrical energy be stored for usage if I happen not to use it or don't use that much on a particular day? Or will it be wasted? Will this affect the estimated savings?

Technically, yes, the electrical energy can be stored. However, at this point of time, it is commercially not feasible yet as the costs of purchasing and maintaining/replacing the batteries are a bit too high but we expect with advancement in technology, the price of batteries should come down, just like solar panels. Not to mention, batteries also take up space which might be a challenge for a smaller residential unit. Energy produced by the solar PV system that is not consumed will be fed into the main power grid. So you will get a discount on your next electricity bill by Singapore Power. The value you ‘sell back’ will offset your actual electricity bill.

Will there be any disruption as power cuts in/out of the solar PV system during the day?
No, there will be no interruption as the transition in use of energy source between the grid and the solar PV system is seamless.

19.  Can I sell excess power back to Singapore Power?

Yes, you can but this depends on your system size. Note: Export credit scenario can only apply to owners with a solar PV system smaller than 1 MW or owners with a wholesaler license (which allows them to trade energy in the wholesale electricity market). For more information on this, please refer to the energy market authorities website: www.ema.gov.sg/Licensees_Electricity_Licences.aspx

20.  What is the general lifespan of the solar panels?

It is widely known in the Solar industry that solar panels last for around 25 to 30 years. However, this does not mean that they stop generating electricity after 25 years – it just means that energy production would have declined by what manufacturers consider to be a significant amount.

Solar Panels can continue to work for many decades, given that they are not physically damaged by any other external factors. This is because solar panels do not have any moving parts and they rarely break from within. Panels are usually only damaged by external forces like a poor installation or extreme weather conditions.

In 2003, a study published results of their analysis of warranty claims and reported that of more racking set-up or than 2 million modules in service over nearly 10 years, approximately one-tenth of 1% were reported faulty, nothing "this represents one module failure for every 4,200 module-years of operation."

To put this simply, if your system has 1 thousand modules, you might experience the failure of 10 modules in 40 years.

21.  Are solar panels the most expensive component of the system?

Solar panels usually represent the biggest portion of the system costs, which is about 30-40% of the total system cost, but this can differ from country to country, pending on the other components, like manpower costs (to design, build and test).

22.  What is the risk of having the most expensive component of the system breakdown before the estimated ROI period?

If you purchase a solar PV system, it is recommended to ensure that you have the necessary warranties for the parts such as the solar panels and inverters. Since good credible solar panels (should) carry a 20-25 years warranty (but we highly recommend that clients to check with the installer before purchasing as SolarPVExchange is not responsible for any of the installations done), therefore if you have the warranty for the solar panels for 20-25 years, you will be assured by the installer/manufacturer that should the panels breakdown before the ROI period, you will covered by the warranty.

23.  What is the general warranty period for such system?

Good credible solar panels should come with a warranty of 20-25 years. For the other parts like inverters, you might want to consider purchasing an extended warranty for extra coverage (Contact us for more information). Also, it would be advisable for the owner to purchase insurance for the solar PV system as well.

24.  Can cloudy days affect power generation?

Yes, clouds can diffuse/block sunlight, which in turn restricts the amount of sunlight absorbed by the solar PV system. There will still be electricity generated but at a reduced output.

25.  Can I install solar PV panels myself?

It is highly recommended for you to engage the services of a professional solar PV installer for PV installations as such installations need to comply with strict local building and electrical rules and regulations. You also need it to be commissioned so that your solar PV system can run seamlessly with the grid. The professional solar PV installer can help you do all this while you enjoy energy savings.

26.  Can I install solar PV panels on a flat roof?

Yes, but the installer will usually mount the solar panels on frames/mountings which are tilted at an angle (so that rain water can flow and not be trapped on the panels thus preventing algae from growing and reducing the efficiency of solar panels) to face the right direction.

27.  Will the weight of the solar PV system be too much for my roof?

Before any installation, the installer will have to check your roof loading and ensure that the installation does not cause any waterproofing issues. Also, the installers will need to ascertain that your roof does not have any existing problems prior to the installation, else repairs must be done first and all these works must comply with the local building authorities and electrical rules and regulations.

28.  Do I need to clean my PV panels periodically?

As solar panels are tilted to a slight angle when they are installed, rainwater usually washes away debris on the panels. It is recommended to clean them especially when your energy production has been significantly affected. This can be observed from the Solar Generation Monitoring App that we would have created for you. If there is drastic drop in production not due to weather, it may be time for some troubleshooting. Contact us and we will assist you then :)

29.  If I have rented out my house, will this still benefit me?

This depends on who pays the energy bill, the person who pays the bill benefits from it.

30.  Is such an installation even possible in the first place since the condo is already built?

Yes, the solar PV system can be installed on your roof but you will need to get official clearance from your Condo management.

31.  Will it cause any electricity supply disruption to neighbours during installation/breakdown/maintenance?

There should not be any disruption to your neighbours' electricity supply as the solar PV system should be built to work seamlessly with the main grid. So make sure you get a credible professional installer for your solar PV system.

32.  Will the solar equipment be visible in the vicinity of my surroundings?

Whether the solar PV panels are visible depends on the configuration of the roof. If you are 4 storey condo with a sloping roof, then people staying on a higher level or passing by might be able to see the solar PV system.

33.  Can I install a solar PV system if I live in an HDB flat?

HDB currently tenders out solar pv projects for their roofs so that it can help supply electricity for usage in common areas, such as lifts, water pumps and common area lightings. Residents living in HDB flats might not be allowed to install solar PV system, however, you may wish to approach your town council to check on compliance regulations.



COMMERCIAL OWNERS – OFFICE/COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS

1.  What do I need to take note of if I want to own a solar PV system?

First of all, check your lease term/duration of possession of site. It should preferably be at least of a considerable lease term, say 20yrs or more so that you have ample time to recover the costs of investment and also enjoy the savings after the solar PV system costs is being paid off by the savings. Also, if you decide to install a solar PV system, do prepare the following documents such as your roof plan, your most recent 3 months energy bills and your land lease agreement, so that a proper solar PV analysis can be done.

2.  I already am in contract with an energy retailer, offering very good rates for my electricity, why should I go solar?

By going solar, you will always save money as the solar PV system can help reduce your energy bill. If you have very good rates for your electricity, it just means your opportunity costs is lower than those paying a higher rate and thus your projected returns of investment or breakeven point for the solar system is longer than those paying a higher rate. However, with this solar PV system, you will be less susceptible to changes in the energy prices and hence it is like a form of hedging against energy inflation. Note this depends on how much the solar PV system can help subsidize your energy bill. Last but not least, by going solar, your company can also help reduce its carbon footprint and help save the environment by going green. And by installing a solar PV system, this will also send a positive message to the public as your company is part of the green movement to reduce carbon and pollution.

3.  If I have rented out the space of my building, would this still benefit me?

This depends on who pays the energy bill, because it is the one who pays the bill that will enjoy the saving. Of course, if you are the master tenant, you can also dictate (based on a discounted tariff) how much you want to charge your tenants based on the energy produced by the solar PV system.

4.  What incentives are there for me to purchase the system?

There are various options from BCA, EMA and other governmental bodies. One of them would be Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF). Do check online which of them will be suitable for the nature of your building and business.

5.  Which are the assumptions taken for the estimated savings?

Assumptions are*:
1. 3.5 average sunhours per day
2. 2.5% electricity tariff inflation/year
3. 1% system degradation/year
4. 1% inflation/year
*Only for Singapore

6.  What if the place is vacant for a while and no energy is consumed?

Energy is still generated by the solar PV system during the day but will be exported out to the grid. This will be reflected as credits in the following month's energy bill.

7.  The energy tariffs now are so low, the savings on going solar is too low to be attractive for me.

Yes, the savings are related to the energy tariffs. However, because you are enjoying savings without paying for the upfront costs of the system, you are still better off with some savings rather than zero savings.

8.  How are my savings calculated?

Your savings are calculated based on 2 factors mainly:
1. Your energy output from your solar PV system
2. Your (agreed discounted) tariff rate.
The formula is very simple: Actual Energy output X (Discounted) Tariff Rate

9.  I do not use a lot of energy in the day, can I sell/export it back to the energy retailer?

The excess energy that is not utilized will then be exported to the grid, which is monitored by your energy retailer and will be reflected as a credit to your following month's energy bill. Note: This export credit scenario can only apply to owners with a solar PV system smaller than 1MW or owners with a wholesaler license (which allows them to trade energy in the wholesale electricity market). For more information on this, please refer to the energy market authorities website: www.ema.gov.sg/Licensees_Electricity_Licences.aspx

10.  Who should I contact for any requests?

Please kindly contact us by e-mail at enquiries@solarpvex.com

INSTALLERS FAQS

1.  How do I become an approved Installer on SolarPVExchange?

You simply need to be a registered business with the relevant licenses and permits to install solar PV systems in Singapore. You may then proceed to register as an installer on our website. Also prepare some project references and your company's Acra Bizfile.

2.  Will you accept other forms of solar PV systems such as window units or facade solar PV panels for bidding on SolarPV Exchange?

We seek to be on the cutting edge of all things solar PV and welcome the addition of other new emerging complementary solar PV related systems to enable installers to appreciate a range of options they can have at their disposal before making a purchasing decision.