Is it worth getting solar panels for your home?
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For home owners across Australia, there are a few topics that inevitably come up at BBQs and dinner parties. One of which is commonly “is it worth getting solar panels for your home?”

With the price of household solar dropping by about 55% in the past eight years and two million Australian homes – that’s one in five – now having some form of rooftop solar, harnessing the power of the sun is well and truly mainstream. But is it worth it? The simple answer is yes.

Are solar panels worth it in Australia? How much can you save?

While some people still question if investing in a residential solar set-up is worth it, experts in the field say it’s “absolutely” worth getting solar panels for your home. The numbers don’t lie.

Solar panels

Could solar panels be something to consider for your home? Picture: Sophie Townsend

According to Solar Choice, a website which compares different solar deals, the average-sized system being installed across Australia – a 6.6kW set-up, costing somewhere between $5000 and $6000 – can save a typical household $1400 to $1800 each year.

A smaller, 3kW system can save the average home between $800 and $1200 per year.

For a property paying $500 per quarter for power, a 6kW-10kW system would be needed to totally offset day time costs.

The payback for most solar systems is between just three and seven years, but it all depends on available sunlight, the position of panels, electricity prices, the cost of the system and the amount of self-consumption. Saving between 30% and 60% off power bills is pretty standard.

And that’s before considering more sophisticated and expensive options, like batteries to store “self-generated” power, which can see households become almost self-sufficient. Without storage, all homes with solar still need to be connected to the grid for night-time power.

Why is solar so popular?

Jeff Sykes, the chief strategist at Solar Choice, says the rapidly growing solar market is driven by the drop in the cost of residential solar technology over the past decade and skyrocketing electricity prices.

“Increasingly, environmental concerns and a goal of reducing carbon emissions are becoming primary decision-making factors for home owners too,” Sykes says.

Brad Stinson, from Stinson Air & Solar in Perth, says with all other considerations aside, solar represents a smart investment decision.

How much do you pay for your solar power?

Sykes says householders considering solar first need to understand how much power they’re currently using and how much they’re paying for it. That means taking a look at a recent bill.

Householders are charged a daily supply charge and a rate per unit of energy used (kWh). In some cases, households are charged a different rate depending on when it’s used, such as day or night.

For example, a customer might be charged 26.62c per kWh for energy used during peak periods and 17.138c per kWh for energy used at night.

“Each retailer has different definitions for their times of use, so it’s best to confirm in your initial supply agreement or via the retailer website to confirm what hours of the day those periods cover,” Sykes says.

Here, the householder is being charged a daily rate of 124.003c plus 2.992c, regardless of energy used. This customer also has a 21% discount. Retailers often offer “pay-on-time” discounts or other point-of-sale discounts through energy brokers and comparison sites.

How can I save money by installing solar?

The Australian Energy Foundation, which aims to “accelerate the energy transition by empowering communities to take action” has a simple explanation of how solar can save householders money.

“By using your own electricity generated for free from the sun, you will need to buy less electricity from your power company – and self-consumed solar energy is about two to three times more valuable than exported solar.”

With solar, the householder also gets paid for the electricity – called a feed-in tariff – that is sent “out” to the power grid.

How much do solar panels cost?

Solar Choice tracks the total retail price of various sized systems across Australia, including an up-front incentive currently available for small-scale systems through the Renewable Energy Target and GST. 

                                      1.5kW   3kW   4kW     5kW     6kW      7kW    10kW

Adelaide, SA                $3,140  $4,040  $4,330  $4,900  $5,430  $6,570  $9,900

Brisbane, QLD            $3,110  $3,780  $4,450  $5,000  $5,450  $6,780  $9,780

Canberra, ACT            $2,990  $3,950  $4,800  $4,620  $5,010  $6,440  $8,800

Darwin, NT                  $5,890  $7,360  $8,140  $9,610  $9,990  $11,240 $12,050

Hobart, TAS                $3,240  $4,150  $5,090  $6,100  $7,080  $8,060  $10,820

Melbourne, VIC          $3,160  $3,830  $4,420  $5,120  $5,490  $7,800  $10,850

Sydney, NSW              $3,110  $3,530  $4,070  $4,460  $4,960  $6,570  $8,670

Perth, WA                    $2,420  $2,610  $3,210  $3,320  $3,770  $5,420  $9,100

Source: January 2020, Solar Choice

What about battery storage?

Installing a battery for storage means households can offset almost their entire bill – because just like any other kind of battery, it “holds” what is generated, so it can be used when needed, like at night.

Sykes says with an appropriately-sized solar battery, households can save close to 100% of the usage charges on the bill, but would still have a bill for the daily supply charges.

Battery storage costs between $1000 to $2000 per kW of space. For example, a 1.2kW battery from Enphase is $2000 or a 13.5kW from Tesla retails for $12,350.


The off-grid battery components of a solar-powered home is an important consideration. Picture: Erinna Giblin

So, is it worth getting solar panels for your home?

Sykes is unequivocal, saying it’s “absolutely” worth investing in solar.

He says it’s one of the best options for households to decrease their costs, whilst simultaneously decreasing their carbon footprint.




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