Household Solar FAQs

Will solar help me save money?

Most households can benefit from solar and can expect a payback period between 3-8 years. Depending on how much power you use during the day, you can easily save anywhere between $800-$2000 per year (based on a 5kW system). The more power you are able to use during the day, the more savings you will see. To understand how much you could potentially save, we suggest getting an obligation-free quote from one of our vetted suppliers. Request an obligation free quote.

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 (during daylight hours). If you don’t use the power then it is sent to the grid (via the poles and wires) and will be used by someone else. You will then receive a small credit for each kilowatt hour (kWh) that you send back to the grid. You then buy power back from the grid after dark. Therefore even though you get a bit of a credit on your bill, for the power you don’t use, which reduces your per unit cost, the savings are higher when you can use it straight from the roof for free.

What size do I need?

Find the system that best suits your needs. Check out our buyers’ guide.

How much will it cost?

Generally, you can expect the price to fall within this around $5,000 to $8,200 for a 5kW system, depending on your circumstances.

However, 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.

The best way to get a good understanding of how much a system will cost you is to get a quote.

Check out our buyers’ guide for more information on how prices can vary.

What other costs may be incurred?

Your energy distributor will charge you a fee to reconfigure your meter, which is typically under $100. Older homes may also require an upgrade of the electricity switchboard, which will cost at least $800.

It is recommended that you get in touch with your supplier 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.

Are there still rebates available?

There is currently a federal government scheme available that is referred to as a rebate. It is actually called the small scale renewable energy scheme and is based on the generation and sale of Smallscale Technology Certificates (STCs).

Typically, quotes will state the total price (pre-rebate), the value of the rebate and then provide you with a lower, final price (with the rebate deducted). The STC program is being phased out gradually until 2030. As such, the rebate is declining in value by 7% at start of each year (1st January).

In August 2018, an additional solar rebate by the Victorian government was announced. For solar installations that were completed on or after Sunday 19th August 2018, eligible Victorians will be able to receive a 50 per cent rebate on the cost of a solar power system, up to a maximum rebate of $2,225. This is available for the first 24,000 eligible households. Read more at Solar Vic.

If you are already in the quoting process with a supplier you can still apply for the rebate. If you have been considering solar and are now interested, sign up to get a quote from one of our carefully selected suppliers, that are CEC accredited, a core criteria that the Government has put in place to be eligible for the rebate.

For more information on this state rebate, please see our article or visit the Solar Victoria website.

How do I get the best value from my system?

To maximise savings the best thing to do is use your power when the sun is shining! Complementing this with other energy saving strategies will 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.

How long does it take to install?

After you confirm your quote the installation can usually be scheduled within 4-6 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 retailer 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 are 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. If your roof is in need of repair we recommend having this done ahead of installing solar.

How much roof area does it need?

For each 2kW system (approximately eight 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.  However, you are not restricted to portrait or 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.

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 owners corporation.

Could the panels be damaged in a storm?

Although it is very unlikely that the weather can damage your panels we do recommend adding your solar power system to your home and contents insurance. The panels are made with a low-iron tempered glass face and are specifically designed and certified to withstand weather, including large hailstones, although  – just like a car windscreen – sometimes in extreme weather they can be damaged.  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 has been a dust storm or a particularly long period of dry weather, then it is advisable to wash the solar panels down with 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 33.9 degrees. But most roof pitches are 20-25 degrees and the additional cost of installing a higher tilt framing is not justified compared to just adding an extra panel if you want to improve the annual generation from the lower pitch.

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.

It is possible to get solar power systems that continue to generate independently of the grid (they include an isolation switch). However these are not standard, so will cost more and need to be specifically asked for from the installer.

I live in a heritage overlay, do I need any extra approvals?

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.

What next?

Sign up for an obligation-free quote from the two carefully selected suppliers, or give us a call on 1300 23 68 55

If you have any other questions about solar power and would like to see if solar is right for you, give us a call on 1300 23 68 55 or send us an email.

Check out our buyers guide for further information on what to look for when obtaining quotes.