Many Victorian property owners are considering solar panels, to generate clean power and help reduce energy bills.
To make the best choice, you need to understand what you are signing up to. Carefully research the products and suppliers before signing a contract.
Some systems can be expensive and any problems with installation or repairs can add significant extra cost.
Buying a solar energy system
Before you buy a solar energy system:
Do some reading
Get quotes from several Clean Energy Council-accredited installers. To check that an installer is accredited, visit the Find an installer page on the Clean Energy Council website.
- Talk to your energy retailer - particularly about the rates for electricity drawn from and fed back into the grid.
Before signing a contract
- Check the contract's terms and conditions are the same as any verbal assurances the salesperson gave you
- Check the contract specifies a delivery date and the supplier’s policy if the delivery date is not met
- Read and understand the warranty conditions
- Read and understand the supplier's policy on repairs
- Negotiate the amount required as a deposit (usually about 10 per cent).
Basics of solar panel systems
Solar panels, also called solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, use sunlight to generate electricity.
A typical 1.5kW (kilowatt) solar panel system installed in Melbourne will produce about a third of the average household’s daily energy consumption. This will reduce your electricity use but you will still need to draw the rest of your electricity from the state electricity grid.
However, at some times of the day, you may be producing more electricity than you’re using. For example, if it is a bright sunny day (so the system is generating electricity), but no one is at home (so energy consumption is low), your system might be producing excess electricity. You can gain financial returns for feeding the excess electricity back into the grid through feed-in tariffs.
The amount of electricity solar panels generate depends on several factors, including the climate, the angle and size of the panels, and whether they are installed on a north-facing roof. You should consider all of these factors when you weigh up the costs of a solar panel installation.
Where to go for help