So you’re thinking of going solar, harnessing the power of the sun, helping the environment and ultimately saving yourself some money on those pesky electricity bills in the long term.
Installing solar panels is definitely the way to go, but before you jump on the phone and immediately book in for an installation, there are some key things to consider first.
In this guide on solar panels we’ll run you through what to think about and what to look for before making your final decision.
What’s Involved In a Solar System?
No, not the solar system Earth orbits around in, but the one that will be powering up your home when you have it installed.
Essentially there are 4 main components:
- The solar panels
- The inverter
- Roof mounts
- The batteries
All work cohesively together to bring you power from the sun.
Obviously it’s the panels that first harvest the sun’s rays, and those panels are attached to your roof by the secure mounts.
The inverter converts the DC power into an AC current so you can use the electricity (stored in the batteries) to power up the lights and appliances in your home. You really want to go for an inverter that’s super efficient, as less power is wasted in the conversion from DC to AC.
The mounting is also important. For example, in Queensland the mounts should be strong enough to withstand cyclonic wind conditions.
The panels should also be positioned where they receive the most sunlight each day. Panels in the shade won’t do much.
Work Out Your Budget
Whether you plan to finance the installation of solar power, or even hope to snare a government rebate, you’ll still need to have a fair idea of how much you can afford to spend on your solar panels.
Once you’ve worked that out, then you can more confidently go in search of a deal that fits within your budget and see which company can do the job for the right price.
How Much Electricity Do You Currently Use On Average?
Determining how much electricity you use on average per month or quarter will help you to figure out how many solar panels you might need to fulfil your electricity requirements.
While you can actually earn yourself a small amount of money by sending any excess electricity your solar system creates into the grid, it’s nowhere near as cost effective as using the solar power yourself.
As a simple example, if you use a lot of electricity at home, then your solar power system will likely pay for itself in a very short time. However, if you don’t consume much electricity and much of what your panels create goes into the grid, it’ll take a lot longer to see a decent ROI.
If you want solar, but don’t use loads of power, maybe go for a few less solar panels, lower the initial purchase and installation price, and basically consume most of the electricity your panels produce yourself.
Also, if you don’t have a lot of space on your roof, but require the panels you can install to produce a certain amount of power, you might need to spend a bit more on highly efficient mono-crystalline solar panels.
How Many Panels Should You Have Installed?
This depends on a few factors. Firstly, how many do you think you will need to fulfil your energy needs? The second point to consider is your budget. Thirdly, how big is your roof? How many panels can it fit?
You may also find that your Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) may impose a limit on how many can be installed in one home.
As an idea, the average Australian home will have around 20-24 solar panels installed.
This is really something you’ll need to sit down and discuss with the company you propose to have install your solar power.
Check If There Is Currently a Government Rebate On Solar
Usually there is, but not always. Sometimes the rebate will be a national initiative, while often it’s a state government subsidy.
If there is currently a rebate, great, but also take note of what’s required to take advantage of that rebate.
For instance, many government rebates insist on certain solar panel certifications, and if you install panels that don’t meet these requirements, you won’t be eligible for the rebate.
Panel certification is based on the testing that’s been done on the solar panels to ensure their quality, effectiveness and longevity.
How Much Will Solar Panels/Electricity Cost To Purchase and Install?
This is going to vary from company to company, and will also depend on whether you’re eligible for a government rebate. Obviously it’ll also depend on how many panels you buy, their quality, the quality of the inverter and so it goes on.
All things being equal, one company may charge more to install the system than another company. But then again, the more expensive company might be more trusted and come highly recommended.
The good news is that the price of solar electricity has dropped significantly in recent years, so it’s becoming more cost effective all the time.
Let’s look at some rough estimates, but nothing is confirmed until you get an actual quote from someone. And you should seek a few quotes from different companies.
The actual panels to complete a good 5kW system cost on average around $2500, but the panels only make up a portion of the overall figure.
As a rough guide, to install a highly efficient 3kW system in a typical Australian home would set you back anywhere between $5000 to $8000.
A 10kW system could cost as much as $15,000 all told.
You have to keep in mind that the final price depends on:
- Cost of installation
- The number of panels
- Mounting brackets
- Set up
- Overall quality
- And more…
And whether you can get a government rebate.
If you can do it, solar power is definitely worth serious consideration. Just do your research first before booking anything in.