Solar panels on roof

Solar Electricity Plans: Which should I choose?

Fact Checked Fact Checked

In this Canstar Blue guide, we take a closer look at solar electricity plans to help you decide which may be best for your situation.

Thousands of Australian households are switching to solar every year. Since solar panels aren’t exactly cheap, it’s important that you’re maximising the return on your investment with a solar energy plan suited for your needs.

For some, especially first-time solar installers, navigating the world of feed-in tariffs (FiTs) and tracking exports can be tricky, especially without a reference point of what’s considered a ‘good deal’. We’re here to iron out the basics and leave you with a few options for competitively priced energy plans with solar.

Advertisement

What are the types of solar electricity plans?

When it comes to electricity plans with solar, households typically have the choice from one of two options – a standard electricity plan with a feed-in tariff (FiT) or a marketed, solar-specific electricity plan.

A standard electricity plan with a FiT focuses more on the usage and supply rates offered to customers, with the FiT included only for the benefit of customers with solar plans. These plans are available to all customers in the market and generally offer cheaper electricity rates with a lower FiT, typically between three cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) and 8c/kWh.

A solar-specific electricity plan however, is an energy retailer’s dedicated plan or offer, designed for solar customers only. These plans come with a significantly higher FiT than a retailer’s standard electricity plan, typically upwards of 10c/kWh. Most solar-specific plans are offered to customers who meet a certain type of criteria, such as installing their solar system through a retailer’s preferred installer or having a system that doesn’t export over a certain limit. While solar electricity plans such as these often seem a no-brainer for solar owners, it is important to note that these offers may recuperate the costs of such a high FiT through higher usage and supply charges or set benefit periods. As such, you should understand the needs of your system first, before making a purchase decision.

To provide an example, we’ve listed some of the cheapest solar-specific electricity plans available on our database below.

Solar-specific electricity plans in Australia

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

What should I look for in a solar energy plan?

Solar panel question mark

Solar energy plans don’t come in one-size-fits-all. You’re best off choosing a solar electricity plan that complements your system and usage requirements. Here are some general recommendations for what sort of energy deal may suit your system and household needs depending on how much juice you get out of your solar panels and how you use energy during the day.

  • If your solar panels help with only some of your daytime power usage: You’ll may want a solar energy plan with low electricity usage rates. This is because you’ll still be heavily relaying on the grid to meet your energy usage requirements. In this case, a good feed-in tariff would be redundant, as you aren’t exporting much leftover solar to the grid, if at all.
  • If you can rely on your solar panels for the whole day: You want a solar energy plan with a good electricity usage and supply rate. This is because you’ll still be relying on the grid for electricity in the evenings when your solar panels are inactive. A high FiT plan in this case may cause more pain than its worth, as you’re likely not exporting enough for a decent return. Plus, it could be concealing higher usage and supply rates.
  • If your solar panels generate more than the energy you use in a day: You’ll probably want a solar energy plan with a higher FiT. This is because your system will start exporting the unused solar energy back into the grid. Of course, this is also where a solar battery could come in handy to store the excess solar for your own use later on. If you do choose a higher FiT plan though, just ensure the rates are still somewhat competitive, for those times that you need to rely on grid electricity.
  • If you have solar panels with battery storage: You’ll probably want a solar energy plan with a reasonable FiT and competitive energy rates. In this instance, your energy plan should be price-effective for when your storage system runs dry, or runs in excess of what it can handle. Self-sustaining energy households who rarely use grid energy may also consider seeking a plan with lower supply charges, in an effort to reduce your daily costs for still being connected to the grid.

Got a solar battery? You might also be interested in joining a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to earn further savings off your solar.


Energy plans with high solar feed-in tariffs

To give you an idea of your options, we’ve listed some of the highest feed-in tariffs available to households on a single rate tariff across New South Wales, Victoria, south-east Queensland, and South Australia, according to our database in November 2023.

Highest feed-in tariff plans NSW (Ausgrid)

  1. 15c/kWh (AGL, Solar Savers) reverts to 7c/kWh after 10kWh/day.
  2. 12c/kWh (Origin Energy, Solar Boost) reverts to 7c/kWh after 14kWh/day.
  3. 12c/kWh (GloBird Energy, Solar Plus) reverts to 5c/kWh after 8kWh/day.

Highest feed-in tariff plans Vic (Citipower)

  1. 15c/kWh (AGL, Solar Savers) reverts to 4.9c/kWh after 10kWh/day.
  2. 14c/kWh (OVO Energy, The Basic Solar Plan) reverts to 7c/kWh after 10.96kWh/day.
  3. 12c/kWh (Origin Energy, Solar Boost) reverts to 4.9c/kWh after 14kWh/day.

Highest feed-in tariff plans SEQ (Energex)

  1. 16c/kWh (Red Energy, Red Solar Saver) reverts to 8c/kWh after 5kWh/day.
  2. 15c/kWh (AGL, Solar Savers) reverts to 5c/kWh after 10kWh/day.
  3. 12c/kWh (EnergyAustralia, Solar Max) reverts to 6.6c/kWh after 15kWh/day.

Highest feed-in tariff plans SA (SA Power Networks)

  1. 15c/kWh (AGL, Solar Savers) reverts to 6c/kWh after 10kWh/day.
  2. 12c/kWh (EnergyAustralia, Solar Max) reverts to 8.5c/kWh after 15kWh/day.
  3. 12c/kWh (Origin, Solar Boost) reverts to 6c/kWh after 14kWh/day.

For a more comprehensive, up-to-date list, visit our state-based solar feed-in tariff information pages below:

Are solar-specific energy plans worth it?

A solar-specific electricity plan could certainly be a good option for households searching for a deal with a higher feed-in tariff than normal electricity plans. However, with so much of energy retail coming down to marketing, don’t be fooled into thinking that all of these solar-specific deals come with a generous export rate. Where a solar feed-in tariff does seem high, it’s also important to check that the plan’s base rates aren’t higher than market competitive or standard, as your usage at night time will still make up a good portion of your bill.

To give due merit, it’s essential to remember that especially for households with smaller sized solar systems, a plan with low usage and supply rates could be a better fit than one with simply a high feed-in tariff. If you’re new to the solar power game, it won’t be long before you see how much your solar panels are earning you for exporting power, and how much power your household still needs from the grid.

If you’re finding that your usage far outweighs your exports, it might be a good idea to choose a competitive plan, granted that retailer accepts solar customers. You can start your comparison journey by clicking the link below.

Image credits: Adam Calaitzis/shutterstock.com, alexmillos/shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

Share this article