Solar for households

Why choose solar?

Solar enables you to cut the cost of your bills. By generating your own electricity, you’ll be purchasing less from your retailer – meaning money in your pocket rather than theirs! Installing solar will also increase the energy rating and value of your house and you can feel good knowing you’re making a positive difference for the planet. Going solar simply makes sense.

Remember that solar generates when the sun is shining and if you can use the power at that time then you get it straight from your roof – For free!

Most households can benefit from solar but if you have very low use then the economic case for solar might not be as compelling as for higher users and those who can use the power during the day. For many people it can be as simple as turning your washing machine or dishwasher on in the morning, rather than the evening to make sure that you are making the most of the power when it is free (when the sun is shining). If you don’t use the power then it is sent back to the grid (the poles and wires) and will be used by someone else. You will receive a credit for each kilowatt hour (kWh) that you send back to the grid. You will then need to buy power back from the grid later (which is usually around twice the amount you were paid).

Solar power is ideal for people who can use power during the day, because they can use it for free straight from the roof but even if you are exporting the majority of the power back to the grid you can still greatly reduce your power bill.

What size do I need?

Finding the system that best suits your needs will depend on:

  • How much electricity you use (daily usage)
  • Your roof size, its orientation and shade
  • How many people live in your home and when they are home
  • Your budget

How much will it cost?

Solar systems typically range in cost from $4,000 – $8,000, depending on the system size and quality. Going solar has never been cheaper, with system prices having falling dramatically in recent years.

For a system with battery storage included the price will typically go up by over $10,000 and the estimated payback period (the time it takes for the system to have paid for itself in savings) will be 12-14 years. The standard warranty is usually ten years. So the financially case for installing batteries doesn’t currently stack up. Read our battery related news articles here, here and here.

You can also get a quote from the carefully selected Positive Charge solar supplier, to access exclusive discounts on a good quality system with extended warranties. Our selected supplier can also give you a quote for systems that include batteries, so it will be good to talk to them.

To read about how ‘rebates’ work read this article in our news section.

What other costs may be incurred?

Older homes may require an upgrade of the electricity switchboard, which will cost around $800.

Prices can be higher for non-standard installations, such as:

  • Two-storey homes
  • Tiled roofs
  • Difficult to access places
  • Homes with long distances between where the panels will be placed and the electrical switchboard
  • Flat roofs or roofs with inappropriate pitch.

Your energy distributor will also charge you a fee to reconfigure your meter, which is typically under $100. Any charges related to the upgrade of switchboard, meter changeover or meter reprogramming are additional to the cost of the solar PV system. It is recommended that you get in touch with your distributor to determine what additional costs will apply. Some electricity retailers will change your tariff i.e. how much you pay for the electricity you buy from the grid, when you install solar. If this is the case you can switch retailer after your installation. To find the best deal visit the Victorian Energy Compare website here.

Getting the best value from your system

To maximise savings complement your solar with other energy saving strategies to further drive down the cost of your bills. Some simple actions that we recommend are replacing halogen downlights with LEDs, as well as draught proofing and insulating your home. The team at Positive Charge can advise you on the best ways to save and you can check out our energy saving tips here.

It is also worth considering replacing older gas appliances, such as hot water and heating, with efficient electric ones that can be set on timers to work during daylight hours. This will maximise the amount of solar power you can access. Read more here to learn more about making your home an all-electric one.

What if it’s a shared roof space?

There are examples of residents in body corporates who have been able to install PV on their shared roof. Typically it is an involved process that requires the approval of the owner’s corporation.

How long does it take to install?

After you confirm your quote the installation can usually be scheduled within 2-3 weeks. For most standard systems, the actual installation can be completed in a single day. For larger systems two days may be required.

Please note that once the system is installed you then have to wait for your electricity distributor to reconfigure your meter, which can take an additional 2-6 weeks. Unfortunately this is not something that Positive Charge or the solar supplier can do anything about but we are certainly advocating for a shorter time frame to be mandatory.

Will it require modifications to my home?

No. All the hardware required is installed with virtually no modification to your house. The framing kits are incorporated into your existing roof and the cables run inside the roof and walls where possible.

Will the system affect my existing roof?

The frames for the solar electricity panels are connected to your existing roof, so nothing will need to be altered.  For a tiled roof, some of the tiles are removed, brackets attached to the rafters in the roof, and then the tiles go back into place.  For a tin roof it is even easier because the frames are mounted directly to the roof.

How much roof area does it need?

For each 2kW system (approximately seven panels) you would need an area about 6.5m wide by 1.6m tall for a landscape layout, and 3.25m by 3.2m for a portrait layout.  You are not however restricted to just the portrait and landscape formats.  The layout of the panels can be configured in almost any way to meet your available roof area.  Please note this may incur additional costs.

Could the panels be damaged in a storm?

It is very unlikely that the weather can damage your panels. The panels are made with a low-iron tempered glass face and are specifically designed and certified to withstand large hailstones.  The aluminium frames are anodized for extra durability and long life.

All the panels used by our selected suppliers have been tested against Australian conditions.

Do I need to clean or maintain the panels?

Most people leave it to the rain to wash the panels but if there have been extended periods of dry weather it is worth considering giving the panels a clean. If there has been a dust storm or a particularly long dry summer then it is advisable to wash the solar panels down with warm water, to remove collections of dust, dirt and bird droppings. In small amounts these won’t have much effect on the output but over time a build up can reduce the effectiveness of the solar panel.

Can I mount the panels in any direction?

Facing due north is the ideal orientation, as it gets the majority of daytime sun throughout the year. However panels facing more east or west can still provide a high percentage of available power (perhaps 10–15% reduction).  East facing panels get morning sun and west facing panels get the afternoon sun (particularly in the seasons with longer days), so in some cases matching the position of the panels to generate when you are home means that an east/west orientation is more desirable.

The optimum tilt angle of the solar electricity panels is 20–25 degrees which makes standard roof pitches ideal, but if you have a low angle or flat roof, adjustable tilt frames can be used to bring the panels up to the ideal angle.

What happens in a power outage?

Your solar power system will instantly shut off if the grid fails. This is Australian law and is designed to protect electrical line workers.  When the grid power is shut off, the workers expect the lines to be dead so they can safely repair faults.  If your system keeps producing electricity, it can risk the lives of the line workers.  This also protects any electricians doing work within your home.

Some battery storage systems (currently three that are available in Australia) offer ‘islanding’, which enables owners to draw power from their battery and/or solar system when the grid goes down. If this is a priority for you then when you get a quote you can ask our supplier for information about your options.

Heritage overlays

You may need a planning permit if you live in a heritage overlay area, particularly if the solar panels are visible from the street.  Please contact the planning department at your local council for advice as soon as possible.

For a limited time the City of Port Phillip is waiving planning permit fees for solar applications.

Moreland residents who install through Positive Charge will also have their planning permit fees for solar applications refunded.

What next?

We’re on hand to answer your questions. Give us a call or an email.

Get a quote today! We have worked hard to select a supplier that offers quality systems as a good price. They even offer a Price Match if you get a quote from another supplier for an equally good system at a lower price.

Fore more about our procurement visit our supplier page here.