Man holding small solar panel.

Big power bills on the horizon: Is now the time to go solar?

Aussie households have again been burdened with predictions of staggering energy bill hikes, prompting many to question: is now the right time to go solar? 

Following last week’s stark warning of a 35 per cent electricity price rise in the next 12 months from Alinta Energy CEO, Jeff Dimery, it seems households are scrambling for solutions to avoid further turmoil from their electricity bills – the most popular being installing solar panels to decrease reliance on grid energy. 

An influx of enquiries for solar installations were recorded by solar website, SolarQuotes, off the bat of Dimery’s announcement last week, with founder Finn Peacock telling The Guardian traffic was “off the charts”

It’s the second time this year that an obvious attraction towards solar panel installations has been noted by the company, with the first occurring in June, following the announcement of significant default pricing increases for New South Wales, south-east Queensland and South Australia

But while interest appears to be growing for the self-generated and renewable energy alternative, households’ intent to purchase solar panels in the near future remains somewhat stagnant in comparison. 

According to Energy Consumers Australia’s recent behaviour survey, only five per cent of respondents said that they intended to buy solar panels in the next 12 months. A further 17 per cent said they were considering a solar panel purchase in future. 

The same survey also revealed that of those households who didn’t already have solar panels installed, only 26 per cent were considering purchasing them in the future. 

The biggest deterrent for these households were financial pressures, with three out of five households saying that they had difficulty managing their bills and struggled to pay for anything else. Another considerable barrier for households was only renting the property they live in (43%).

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Is now the time to install solar panels?

As electricity bills remain on a steady incline and the grid faces the potential for more unexpected outages as coal-fired generators depart, industry experts, such as Mick Fell, General Manager for Qcells’ Arcstream Virtual Power Plant (VPP) have said the sooner Aussies can make the switch to solar, the better.

“The energy crisis is resulting in bill shock for so many consumers and the global demand for solar means that the price of solar panel and battery systems are unlikely to fall,” he said. “With all of this in mind, the sooner that consumers are able to make the switch to solar with storage, the better – for their wallet and for the planet.”

Mr Fell’s comments come off the back of Qcells’ recent announcement of its financial partnership with fintech lender, Plenti, which will allow households to access more affordable solar energy solutions. 

The partnership gives customers a 10-year payment period on their Qcells home solar battery system (bundled with or without solar panels), through Plenti. Eligible households will also be able to join Qcells’ energy retail service Arcstream’s battery-focused power plan and Virtual Power Plant (VPP) network

Mr Fell said the new venture would allow homeowners to consolidate the cost of their solar battery and panel installation with their power bills, making it more easily accessible to the wider community. 

“This massive simplification of acquiring and managing renewable energy is key to enabling more Australians to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and insulate against a turbulent energy market,” he added.

Qcells and Plenti are not the first to offer this kind of financial solution for home solar energy installations, with Nectr and EnerygyAustralia also offering similar end-to-end solar solutions. 

Tara Donnelly, Canstar Blue’s Utilities Editor, said these kinds of Buy Now, Pay Later and financing packages are great to help home owners get their foot in the door with solar, so long as consumers remain vigilant.

“Financing and payments plans are a fantastic way to remove the hurdle of high upfront costs for solar installations – something which many Australian households struggle with – but they should be taken with a grain of salt,” she said. “Some of these flashy deals may be concealing high interest rates or a clause surrounding your payback period so it is important that you understand all the nitty gritty details first before signing an agreement.

“At the end of the day, whether you are paying for it now or later, you are still investing thousands of dollars towards an addition to your home. You’ll want to make sure then that it is a deal that’s best suited to you and your households’ energy usage.”

As for knowing when to install solar panels, Ms Donnelly said it’ll depend on the circumstances of the household. 

“While the energy crisis has certainly ignited a vested interest in solar installations for some households, it is important to remember that solar energy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution,” she added. “For those facing shockingly-high power bills, solar could be a way to help them become less reliant on expensive grid energy. But for others, it may not be as feasible to fork-out thousands and thousands of dollars on a solar installation.

“Talking to a solar installer is probably the easiest way to clarify whether now might be the right time for your household to look at solar energy, as they’ll be able to take into consideration the key factors of your power usage. But don’t panic if solar doesn’t end up being the right fit for you either – there are still plenty of other simple ways to try and lower your power bills.”

Solar Plans & Prices

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 to consider before installing solar panels

It’s no secret that installing solar panels is a significant financial investment, so knowing what you want, when you want it and why, is vital to ensure you get a decent return on your investment. Three main things you may want to consider before installing solar panels include: 

1. What do you want to use your solar energy for?

Are you simply hoping to shave a few bucks off your energy bill or are you looking to become less reliant on the grid to help the environment? Will you be wanting to install a solar battery too? And if not now, will you in future? Perhaps there is just one power-guzzling appliance that you’d like to get running on solar energy, such as a hot water system or pool pump.

Figuring how you intend to use your solar energy will help when it comes to choosing the best panel and inverter products to use. Be sure to discuss this with your desired installer too so they can recommend a solution that’ll best meet these goals. 

2. What is your budget and desired payback period?

As discussed, solar panels are a big investment so understanding what you can afford to put towards your installation will heavily dictate the products and solutions you can use. 

It is also important, however, to consider the payback period of your system – in other words, how long it will take before your solar panels stop costing you money and start making you some instead. On average, it takes about 10 to 15 years before households start seeing a return on their solar panel investments. This time though, may be shaved down through the use of government solar rebates or solar feed-in tariffs, so be sure to do your research on these areas too. 

3. Are you planning on staying at the property long enough to get value out of the solar panels?

If you are thinking of selling your property sometime in the near future then it might be worth hitting the pause button on installing solar panels. The last thing you’d want to do is fork out all that money on installation and then miss out on all the benefits because you’ve sold them with the house (typically these are not something that come with you when you move). 

That being said, having solar panels on your property during its listing may make it that little bit more attractive to buyers – it may even help to bump up the price. It is important to consider what will work best for you in this situation before installing solar because once you’re in, there is no going back.

If you’re ready to start looking at your options or are keen to get a few quotes for your property then check out our annual solar panel installer ratings below. Here you can compare a range of providers and see which ones Aussies rated best in the biz. 

Compare Solar Panel Installers

Image credits: Sara_K/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.

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