The price of solar systems has dropped dramatically over the past few years, making it an increasingly attractive option for homes and businesses. The upfront cost of your solar PV system is affected by a number of different factors, including:
- government incentives and support schemes available
- contractor installation costs
- type and number of solar panels, which affect the output of your system in kilowatts (kW)
- type and size of inverter (the part of the system that converts the electrical output of your solar panels into AC electricity for use in your home or business)
- type of framing equipment and other system components
- height and accessibility of roof and whether it is tiled, metal or concrete
- any after-sales service agreements
For more on the costs involved in going solar, contact us for a free no obligation quote!
The size of your solar PV system will depend on:
- the physical unshaded area available for the installation of your panels
- how much you are prepared to spend
- what portion of your electrical consumption you wish to generate.
To work out what size solar PV system you require, you need to analyse your household’s daily electricity consumption. Your monthly or quarterly electricity bill measures your household’s electricity consumption in kilowatt hours. From this figure, you can calculate your average daily electricity consumption, and the average amount of electricity your solar PV system needs to produce to cover your electricity needs.
This process will be completed by our accredited designer during the design and specification stage, as part of their load analysis.
The amount of money your household will save on power bills by going solar is affected by a number of factors, including:
- Your energy consumption and the size of your solar power system – if you use more power than your system is capable of producing, your savings will be reduced. This can be avoided by choosing the right-sized system for your needs.
- Your feed-in tariff– this is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for any excess power your solar panels generate.
- Your usage patterns – solar panels can only generate electricity while the sun is shining. This means that households that use a lot of power during the day may attract greater savings than those that consume most of their power at night. However, you will still receive a feed-in tariff for any excess electricity you generate during the day.
- Where you live– some areas of Australia receive a lot more sunlight than others, so a solar PV system in Brisbane will usually generate more power than one in Hobart.
Businesses have a couple of other things to take into account, including the tax implications of any revenue received from feed-in tariffs.
When your solar PV system is installed you may need to have a new meter installed. If you have a traditional accumulation meter (with a spinning disk) this will need to be replaced with an interval meter or smart meter. This is because an accumulation meter does not record the energy you export to the grid or the electricity you import from the grid. An interval meter or a smart meter provide half hourly readings of the electricity you consume and the surplus electricity you generate.
The states and territories have committed to the progressive rollout of smart metering across Australia from 2007. While a smart meter is similar to an interval meter in that it records electricity usage in 30-minute intervals remotely to your electricity company, smart meters have a range of additional capabilities. So if your new meter is an interval meter, it will need to be replaced again with a smart meter when this rollout occurs.
Depending on where you live, your interval meter may be a gross meter or a net meter. If you are on a gross feed-in tariff scheme, your gross meter separately measures the total electricity consumed by your household and the total electricity generated by your solar PV system. Your electricity company reads the meter and determines the total amount of electricity generated by your solar panels, regardless of whether it goes into the grid or is used by your household.
If you are on a net feed-in tariff scheme, your net meter measures your household’s electricity and the electricity generated by your solar PV system together. Your electricity company reads the meter and calculates any surplus electricity fed back into the grid. Your new meter must be installed by a relevant qualified professional This may be organised by your accredited designer/installer; or your electricity retailer; or electricity distributor. Ask to find out who will organise this for you.
The installation of a new meter may affect your electricity billing rates:
- The new meters are provided by your electricity distributor. The cost of this is passed from the electricity distributor to your electricity retailer. Generally, this cost is recovered by your electricity retailer through increased network charges on your monthly electricity bill.
- You may move from an off-peak tariff to a time-of-use (TOU) tariff. A TOU tariff is a pricing structure that changes depending on the time of day you consume power. In peak demand periods (day), charges will be higher than consumption during lower demand periods (night). So while electricity is most expensive during the day, this will be offset by your solar PV system producing energy during this time also.
- If you move from an off-peak tariff to a time-of-use (TOU) tariff, this will particularly affect your dedicated off-peak loads, such as hot water, space heating and air-conditioning.
You should check with your electricity retailer about any tariff changes that will occur as a result of installing solar and carefully weigh up the advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. This should be considered before your install your solar PV panels.
A feed-in-tariff is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for any electricity your solar PV system generates that you don’t use, and is instead fed back into the grid.
STCs are government incentives that help reduce the upfront cost of installing your solar PV system. The value of STCs your system receives differs depending on its size and location.
To be eligible for STCs, your solar system must be installed by Clean Energy Council accredited installer.
The Clean Energy Council maintains a list of all solar modules and inverters that meet Australian Standards for use in the design and installation of solar PV systems. Only systems that use products from the approved lists are entitled to rebates in the form of small-scale technology certificates (STCs).
Please note that the Clean Energy Council does not certify modules and inverters directly. For a product to be included on our approved lists, the manufacturer must provide a certificate of compliance from a recognised certifying body.
The Australian solar industry is well regulated and safe. Solar panels and inverter’s sold with in Australia must comply with a range of standards that maximize safety and reliability. For this purpose, The Clean Energy Council maintains a list of currently approved solar panel modules and inverters.
The Clean Energy Council’s Solar Accreditation ensures that the people who design and install solar PV systems are across all the latest safety requirements. Accredited installers are qualified electricians who have undergone additional training and assessment in the installation of solar PV systems. Systems must be installed by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer to be eligible for small-scale technology certificates (STCs).
To keep your system running safely and effectively for many years, you will need to maintain it correctly.
Solar panels do not generate power at night. Once the sun goes down, your home or business will start to draw power from the main grid as usual. Solar panels still work on a cloudy day; however they will not generate as much electricity as when the weather is clear and sunny.
Solar modules have been tested in the field showing small reductions in power output after 20 years, mostly because the glass surface becomes a bit dull and reflects more light. All our solar panels carry an output warranty of 25 years. There are solar panels delivering power in Australia today that were installed more that 30 years ago. The electronic components such as inverter’s, being the most sensitive, will last 10 -15 years.
- Solar Panels: Standard is 10 year product warranty and 25 year performance guarantee
- Inverter: Standard is a 5 year warranty.
- Mounting System: 10-year product warranty (manufacturer)
- Workmanship: 5 year warranty on workmanship (installer)