The idea behind installing solar panels on your roof is great, who doesn’t love free energy? Unfortunately it isn’t completely free – first you have to install the things. But how much does that cost?
The cost of a solar panel system will depend on the size of the system, the type of system and the quality of the components. A standalone system with a battery bank will cost more than a mains-integrated system, and a larger system will cost more than a smaller one.
Most solar panel systems are between 2kW and 5kW in size, generally costing between $4,000 and $10,000. A CHOICE survey found that most solar systems cost around $8,800 to buy and install, once discounts and rebates were considered.
While expensive, you can offset the cost of your solar panel system with a few simple steps. Small-scale Technology Certificates or STC’s are awarded by the government for the renewable energy you produce. The number of STC’s you receive is based on the size of your system and your geographic location, with places that receive more sunlight generating more STC’s than those that receive less. The government allows you to sell up to 15 years worth of STC’s upfront upon installation of your system, helping to offset the cost. You have two options available to sell your STC’s, allow the installer to install them on your behalf, which is quick but nets less money, or sell them yourself, which requires filling in paperwork and application fees, but can make you more money. A 2kW system in Sydney, for example, will typically make you $1,230 in STC sales, with more being made the further North you are, and less the further South.
Another way to help offset the cost of a solar system is feed-in-tariffs, or FiT’s. Under this scheme, the excess energy your system produces is pumped back into the electricity grid, and your energy provider pays you. The amount you can be paid differs by provider, so it can pay off to shop around. While FiT’s aren’t paid in advance, you can start earning them as soon as your system is connected, helping to pay off the cost of installing the system in the first place.