FAQ

Need help understanding renewable energy and solar power? Not sure how to go about ordering the correct size motor? At Max Fox Electrical, we can assist you with all of this and more. Use our helpful frequently asked questions for more information, or contact us with your specific questions.

Our friendly staff are more than happy to help with your pool pump, electrical and solar power enquiries.

Highly Skilled To Complete Your Tamworth Electrical & Solar Power Projects

What does Efficiency 2 mean for motors?

The Federal Government has determined that electric motors, along with a wide range of other appliances and equipment, must meet certain efficiency standards. This is in an effort on the Federal Government's part to meet internationally agreed standards of efficiency (but not within the Kyoto Protocol framework).

What information is needed when ordering a motor?

When ordering a motor there are a number of basics we need to know:

  • Size - this can be in either horsepower (hp) or kilowatts (kW).
  • Speed in rpms or poles - the number of rpms a motor does will tell us how many poles it is, and vice versa.
  • How it is to be mounted - Most motors are either 'foot mount' or 'flange mount.' Other types of mount that can be referred to are cradle mount, pedestal mount or foot and flange mount.
  • Power supply - Is it to be normal domestic 240 volt single phase or is it three phase?
  • Frame size - most motor sizes have a standard frame size, however if you require something out of the ordinary then we need to know that.
  • Application - If you require the motor for a special application and a standard motor will not do, we need to know. Examples would be if you need a flameproof, mining spec, wash- proof or stainless steel motor. These are not motors that we would have on hand and would need to order in.

Can I run my whole house using renewable energy?

Yes, but running high power appliances such as electric stoves, electric hot water systems and air conditioners etc. are really not economically viable. Energy efficient cooking appliances, solar hot water and strategically placed window openings with overhead fans should be considered. Your daily energy usage will determine the size of your solar system.

How can I find out how much power an appliance uses?

In Australia all appliances should have the wattage or watts marked somewhere on the machine itself. This stamp or sticker is usually found on the name plate either on the side or back of the machine. If this cannot be found please contact us with a brand and model.

How does the sun's solar energy compare with Earth's consumption?

Very well! The sun has the ability to power us for many, many years to come. Just a tiny fraction of the sun's energy that hits the Earth (around a hundredth of a millionth of a percent) is enough to meet all our power needs many times over.

How long will my system last?

In-field tests have shown that most systems are still working as efficiently as the first day they were installed more than 20 years' later. All BP Solar panels come with a 25 year guarantee, so you can install and forget about them for years to come.

What happens if my power demand increases?

If you upgrade to larger appliances and find your energy usage has increased, more panels can be added to your solar power system to meet this demand. No matter how big you go we can continue to add panels, either on your roof or freestanding, to keep up with demand.

What happens on cloudy days?

Stand-alone systems are installed with a battery back-up giving you about 3 days no-sun running time on minimum appliance usage. With a few cloudy days the system won't be generating as much power but you still should have plenty in back up to use. Stand-alone Power systems are also installed with a generator for back-up if the demand becomes too high or efficiency too low.

What are the advantages of renewable energy?

Renewable energy sources are a never ending source of power production. Unlike fossil fuels, which will eventually run out, renewable energy has shown it has been round for many millions of years and will be for many years to come. Whether it's the sun, wind or water these three elements will be with us forever. Also, unlike fossil fuels which generate tonnes and tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, these systems generate basically nothing at all.

What maintenance is involved?

In stand-alone systems the battery maintenance is of most importance. Keeping the batteries electrolytic level topped up with fluid is essential for long battery life, other then that give the panels a clean on a regular basis to remove dust build-up and you should have a problem free system.

Who designs & installs the systems?

We do, we can design a system to suit your needs then install it to your site. We have gained accreditation from the BCSE (Business Council of Sustainable Energy), which is needed to design and install these systems so the customer is able to gain all rebates possible.

Solar Hot Water Questions

Can I buy a tank now and panels later?

Yes, you can purchase a solar compatible system now and have it installed with only a back- up in operation only (eg. Have only an electric element or gas instantaneous connected), and then at a later stage when funding becomes available add panels to this. This way can end up beingmore costly as it wouldn't be applicable to all rebates, as one criteria for the system is that it has to be installed completely in order to be eligible for rebates.

Can I put panels on an existing system?

This can be done in some cases, but it is an expensive process and there is no guarantee that the system will work as efficiently as a designated SHWS. Creating a SHWS this way also is ineligible for rebates.

Does SHWS work in cooler climates?

Is it a good investment?

Yes, there is a few ways at looking at it. With the rebates available at the moment, a system is only fractionally dearer in cost then a standard unit, but in looking at long-term solutions, once the initial set up cost is out of the way the system is saving you money. With the rebates that are available it looks like you will make the cost of a system back in 4-5 years - then it's free hot water from then. In an environmental aspect a family of 4 will save an average of 3-4 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. That is the same as removing one small car from existence! A SHWS will also last longer then a standard electric or gas unit, Standard-5-10 years, but with SHWS- 15-20 years, we have also seen units still operating after 30+ years.

Will I get power and hot water from this system?

No, solar hot water panels are copper coated collectors & only heat the water in the panels causing the hot water to rise to the top, and the cold to be heated as it moves into the panels. Solar Power system collectors are made of silicon and convert sunlight directly to power.

Will I run out of hot water?

No, if your system has been correctly sized you should have no problem. If there is little gain for your area over a basis of a day or two, the systems are designed with an electric element or a gas backup unit, which will bring the water to temperature for you to use.

Solar Pumps Questions

How does the sun power a pump?

The photovoltaic effect produces a flow of electrons. Electrons are excited by particles of light and find the attached electrical circuit the easiest path to travel from one side of the solar cell to the other. Envision a piece of metal such as the side panel of a car. As it sits in the sun, the metal warms. This warming is caused by the excitation of electrons, bouncing back and forth, creating friction, and therefore, heat. The solar cell merely takes a percentage of these electrons and directs them to flow in a path. This flow of electrons is, by definition, electricity. Photovoltaics or solar electric cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. This electricity is collected by the wiring in the module, then supplied to the DC pump controller and motor, which, in turn, pumps water when-ever the sun shines.

Solar pumps vs. Windmills

Windmills, though potentially long-lasting, need dedicated maintenance. The downhole leathers require inspection and high winds can cause mechanical damage to the blades. Parts for these mills are expensive and sometimes hard to find. Solar water pumping systems have many advantages over windmill water pumps. Though the initial cost of solar powered systems can be similar to that of windmills (however, in many cases far less!), the lifetime costs are much lower. Windmills must be used where there is a steady, constant wind for maximum results, while solar powered pumps operate anywhere the sun shines. Solar pumping systems can be installed in less than a day by an individual or small crew and can be portable, while windmills (because of the need to erect a tower) can take a larger crew a much longer time to install. Windmills are secured to the ground and are stationary. Solar powered water pumping systems are the modern day, upgraded version of the windmill - using natural resources to deliver water in off grid locations.

Where do solar pumping systems work?

Solar pumping systems work anywhere the sun shines. The intensity of light varies greatly throughout the day. Morning and afternoon sunlight is less intense because it is entering the earth's atmosphere at a high angle and passing through a greater cross section of atmosphere, which reflects and absorbs a portion of the light. We measure sun intensity in equivalent full sun hours. One hour of full sun is roughly equivalent to the sunlight on a clear summer day at noon. These light or insulation levels also vary seasonally. Fortunately, most needs for water correspond with the sunniest seasons of the year - spring, summer and fall. One of the advantages of providing additional sources of water for livestock use is increased forage utilization. On large tracts some areas are not fully utilized because they are too far from water. As you know, livestock will only travel so far between feed and water. Small to medium solar electric pumping systems are easily portable. By mounting the solar system on an axle or trailer, a system can be moved from well to well. This increases the economic return of a system by increasing the seasons of use. It may also correspond with the rotation of grazing areas.