Written by: Deric Ma – The Pro Forum Community of Practice
In recent years, the adoption of solar panels in Australia has seen a significant rise, driven by a growing awareness of renewable energy, environmental concerns, and the promise of reduced electricity bills. While solar panels undoubtedly offer numerous benefits, the decision to invest in them hinges on a crucial question: Are solar panels worth it in Australia, particularly when considering the cost and potential savings on your electricity bill? In this article we will be only talking about solar panels and not including solar batteries. I had my solar panels installed in February 2020 and have discovered a few interesting things while living with solar panels.
The Cost of Solar Panels
The cost of installing solar panels in Australia can vary depending on several factors, including the type of panels, installation and government incentives. On average, a residential solar panel system in Australia can cost between $3,000 to $10,000 plus depending on what type of system, inverter and panels. A typical household usually installs a 5kW system, which enough for the house alone, depending on your budget you can go larger.
Government incentives can significantly reduce the upfront cost. These incentives are designed to promote renewable energy adoption and help homeowners make the transition to solar power more affordable.
Savings on Electricity Bills
The savings on electricity bills from solar panels are one of the primary reasons for their popularity. The amount you can save depends on several factors:
- Solar Panel System Size: A larger solar panel system generates more electricity and can offset a larger portion of your electricity bill. There are some limiting factors such as the roof size and which way your house and roofs are facing. Just keep in mind that a good inverter will go a long way as that is converting the solar energy into usable energy.
- Electricity Usage: Depending on your plan, the time you use your electricity, the greater the potential savings. If you use most of your electricity during daylight hours when the sun is shining, you can maximise your savings as you will be using the energy directly from your solar panel system. This was helpful to me during 2020 when we were all working from home.
- Feed-in Tariffs: In Australia, excess electricity generated by your solar panels can be fed back into the grid. Most energy providers buy the excess electric you place back into the grid, this initially is used as credit to pay off your bill. However once your bill is $0, then your bill will be a positive amount and that amount can be transferred back into your banking account. A word of advice here is not to prioritise providers with a high feed in tariff. Usually they have a Kilowatt limit on how much they will pay with a high feed in tariff and will drop back down to a basic feed in tariff amount once that limit is reached. Depending on how much energy is generated it might be better to go with a feed in tariff with a fixed amount. Just note that you can control your electricity usage but you can’t predict the weather.
- Solar Panel Orientation and Location: Proper panel placement and orientation can optimise energy production. Surprisingly single story houses generally have a larger roof footprint and panels can be easily placed and arranged. In Australia is preferred that solar panels are place north-facing for maximum solar output, but there could be other factors that you will need to consider such as shade from trees.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Calculating the ROI of solar panels involves assessing the upfront cost, potential savings, and government incentives. In Australia, most homeowners can expect to recover their initial investment within 3 to 6 years. After the payback period, the savings on your electricity bills can be substantial. For myself I had my solar panel system installed on February 2020, just factoring in the cost of the system and not my electricity bills, I have paid off my solar panel system in June 2023 which is just over 3 years.
Additionally, solar panels can increase the resale value of your home, making them a valuable long-term investment.
Beyond financial considerations, solar panels also offer significant environmental benefits. By lowering your carbon footprint, you contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. This is particularly important in a country like Australia, which faces climate challenges such as bushfires and droughts.
So, are solar panels worth it in Australia? The answer depends on your individual circumstances, energy consumption, location, and budget. While the upfront cost can be significant, the long-term savings, environmental benefits, and government incentives make solar panels a wise investment for many homeowners.
Before making a decision, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough analysis, seek multiple quotes from reputable installers, and consider the various factors that impact your savings potential. Importantly shop around for a good energy provider plan as that can help shorten your payback period. Ultimately, solar panels not only reduce your electricity bills but also contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Australia and the planet as a whole.
Do you have solar panels? What has been your experience with them? Have solar panels decreased your electricity bill? We would like to hear from you.