How to install solar panels

With rooftop solar surging in popularity in recent years, there’s little debate over the benefits of harnessing the sun’s rays to help power your home and save on those dreaded energy bills. In saying that, there are so many factors to think about before installing solar at your property. In this guide, we’ll not only show you the best way to install solar panels, but also give you some helpful tips on what to consider before investing in such an expensive energy storage system.

Before we dive in, let’s cover the basics of solar panels. There are three main types of solar panels in Australia – monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film – all of which vary in durability, price, performance and warranty. So unfortunately, it’s not a case of ‘one panel fits all’ when it comes to installing solar, which is why you need to know what brand and type of panel you’re looking for.

How to install solar panels in Australia

Unless you’re an accredited and licenced solar installer, it’s not as simple as picking up a ladder and jumping on your roof to install some photovoltaic (PV) panels. In Australia, there are a number of government and industry standards in place as well as legislation that requires solar installers to be accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

It’s worth noting that CEC accreditation is given to individual solar panel and storage installers, not companies. This accreditation should also be accompanied by an electrical licence, which is why it’s so important to do your research before signing on the dotted line.

To take the hassle out of finding the best solar installation companies nationwide, we survey hundreds of Aussies to find out which brand is rated best in our annual review. Each company is rated on factors like customer service and advice provided, performance of solar system, installation process, durability and more. To compare solar panel installers, visit our page here.

How to find a solar panel installer near you

While there are some familiar names in the solar installation market, there are thousands of installers across Australia, most of which operate out of the capital cities. To find a list of accredited solar installers near you, visit the Clean Energy Council website and type in your location. Remember to ring around and ask for a few quotes first, this way you can compare companies on price and customer service.

How much does solar installation cost?

Solar Savings with cash on panels

The cost of installing solar panels at your property will vary based on a number of circumstances, like the size of your system, where it’s positioned on your roof, the brand and type of panels, along with the company’s installation prices. For a ballpark figure, expect to pay between $2,500 and $12,000 for a solar system size of 1.5 kilowatt (kW) to 10kW.

According to SolarQuotes, the typical cost of a 6.6kW solar system installed in Australia is around $9,500, excluding any government rebates that may available in your state. As you can see by the hefty upfront price, installing solar panels will usually require a team of professionals to do the job. Plus, there’s normally the added comfort of an installer’s warranty, which generally covers the workmanship of installation for five to 10 years, although this timeframe may differ between certain companies.

What should I ask before installing solar panels?

Firstly, it’s a good idea to understand your household energy consumption needs and whether or not you’ll be living at the property over a long term. These starting points will help you identify how much you are willing to spend and if the buyback period suits your lifestyle. However, there are still a range of questions to ask your solar installer before jumping straight in.

Some questions to ask include:

  • Is the positioning of my roof suitable for solar panels?
  • What’s the best size and type of solar system for my house and energy needs?
  • How long on average will it take to see a return on my investment?
  • Are there any interest-free finance options or green loans available?
  • How long am I covered under a warranty for both solar panels and installation?
  • Are there concessions or rebates I am entitled to in my state?

In our latest survey, we found that 76 per cent of Aussies who recently bought a solar system compared quotes from several different installers, with 84 per cent stating they’d recommend their installer to a friend. It just goes to show how valuable researching solar installer companies is.

Is there anything to be aware of with solar panels?

Solar panels on roof

Choosing to go solar can be one of the best financial decisions you’ll ever make as a homeowner, but it’s not something you should rush into. In fact, a staggering 89 per cent of our survey respondents said solar was a good financial decision, while 82 per cent revealed that they went with the solar equipment recommended by their installer.

The main areas to be mindful of with solar is that like anything, solar panels will gradually degrade over time, meaning these systems may require maintenance throughout their lifespan. Again, it’s worth knowing what’s covered under the warranty. According to SolarQuotes, solar panel performance warranties generally allow two to three per cent degradation over the first year, 0.7 per cent each year thereafter.

How to get the most out of your solar panels

Aside from the technology itself, you’ll need to think about which energy providers in your area offer the best solar deals with attractive feed-in tariffs. This way you’ll get financial credits on your power bills for any excess electricity you export. Just be mindful that a higher solar feed-in tariff doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper electricity prices, as it could be concealing higher base rates. Check out some of the best-rated solar energy providers by clicking on the button below.

Compare Solar Providers

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FAQs about installing solar panels

In Australia, you will need a licenced and Clean Energy Council accredited technician to install solar panels at your home. Solar panel installation requires high voltage wiring so an experienced electrician is needed to carry out the work. There are also safety regulations, industry standards and legislation in place to ensure solar panels are installed properly.

Generally, installing solar panels is a fairly straightforward undertaking for installation companies. Given solar is their bread and butter, most installers will know how to best approach your property and needs.

Here are some well-known solar installation companies in Australia. Keep in mind there may be more solar installers operating in your area.

  • Solargain
  • Solahart
  • Infinite Energy
  • Origin Energy
  • Autonomous Energy
  • Arise Solar
  • Bradford Solar

Yes, solar panels are exposed to the elements on your roof and will require maintenance over time. Degradation is normal with solar panels; however, this occurs gradually over the lifespan of each system. Always check your solar performance warranty to know what is and isn’t covered.

The number of solar panels your property needs will depend on a range of factors, such as:

  • Number of kilowatts of electricity your household consumes
  • Positioning and size of your roof as well as the direction it’s facing
  • Output capacity of the panel type
  • Your geographical location (i.e. is your home exposed to sunlight)

It’s worth noting your solar PV system’s output isn’t measured by how many panels you have, but rather the overall capacity of the entire system. A typical home in Australia uses a 5kW solar system, which consists of 20 to 25 panels.

While it’s not guaranteed your energy bills will go down once you install solar panels, it is generally part of the reason why so many Aussies invest in solar. Make sure you compare energy providers and always ask if you’re on the most appropriate deal according to your circumstances.

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