Thinking about solar for your home? Five common questions answered

Posted on 17 February 2019

Did you know, Australia has more solar-powered homes per capita than any other country in the world? Five thousand of those are in the Eastern Suburbs. Winning!

Interest in solar is not surprising given technology prices are the lowest we’ve seen, our community’s increasing appetite to take climate action, and who doesn’t love lower energy bills?!

Even with all these benefits, going solar can still be a tricky purchasing decision.  Let’s tackle five common curly questions.

1. How much will it cost?

On average, households install a 4-5kW solar system, costing roughly $4-8k. Cost depends on size, type of roof, number of storeys, system components and other factors. Generally, it will pay for itself in 3-5 years, after which you’ll enjoy much smaller bills. Mark Jarvis, of Kingsford, noticed savings of $100-300 on his quarterly energy bills since installing solar.

2. Should I wait for batteries to fall in price before I go solar?

With all the media hype, it’s easy to think it may be better to wait for cheaper batteries. However, they are a good few years away from being economical and stalling the solar decision may mean losing out on 3-4 years of bill savings. You will also risk receiving a smaller Federal government rebate as it decreases every year. A cheaper battery can be retrofitted down the track. Just make sure to request a battery-ready system.

3. I think my roof is too shady and faces the wrong direction to go solar?

North-facing roofs have been touted as optimal for solar panels but thanks to recent technology advances, systems that don’t face north only see a marginal loss (10-15%) in solar production.

East-facing panels may be better if you are a big morning-time electricity user. Similarly, west-facing ones work well for afternoon use (think aircon for hot afternoons). Where shade is a factor, there are now systems that ensure optimal efficiency of panels on a partly shaded roof.

4. Do I need Council approval?

In most cases, you won’t need planning approval to install solar at home unless you live in a heritage area (particularly if the solar panels are visible from the street). Contact Council to check: Waverley Council Duty Planner on 9083 8484; Randwick Council on 1300 722 542.

5. How do I find a trusted solar supplier?

Firstly, make sure the supplier is an accredited installer with the Clean Energy Council. Then, it never hurts to get recommendations from friends who’ve installed a solar power system or via online forums.

To make this even easier, Council has partnered with Positive Charge to do the hard work for you with the Our Energy Future program. They have vetted local suppliers and will provide you with an obligation-free quote through their website www.ourenergyfuture.org.au or on the phone 1300 339 915.

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