Household Solar FAQs

Will solar help me save money?

Most households can benefit from solar and can expect a payback period between 3-8 years. Depending on how much power you use during the day, you can easily save anywhere between $800-$2000 per year (based on a 5kW system). The more power you are able to use during the day, the more savings you will see. To understand how much you could potentially save, we suggest getting an obligation-free quote from one of our vetted suppliers. Click here to request a quote.

For many people it can be as simple as turning your washing machine or dishwasher on in the morning, rather than the evening, to make sure that you are making the most of the power when it is free (during daylight hours). If you don’t use the power then it is sent to the grid (via the poles and wires) and will be used by someone else. You will then receive a small credit for each kilowatt hour (kWh) that you send back to the grid. You then buy power back from the grid after dark. Therefore even though you get a bit of a credit on your bill, for the power you don’t use, which reduces your per unit cost, the savings are higher when you can use it straight from the roof for free.

What size do I need?

Finding the system that best suits your needs will depend on:

  • How much electricity you use (daily usage in kWh) and when you use it
  • Your roof size, its orientation and shade
  • How many people live in your home and when they are home
  • Your budget

The table below provides rough estimates to help you consider what size system will work for you.

Rough guide

System size Solar couple – 5kW Solar for 4 – 7kW Serious solar – 10kW
Recommended for Couples and retirees Average family with two kids Big family
Daily solar power producted 19.5kWh 27.3kWh 39kWh

* Average solar power generated each day, based on 3.9 solar hours.

You can compare this to your daily usage as a quick way of estimating how much of the electricity you use that could potentially be covered by solar power.

Due to the prices of solar power falling in recent years, households are increasingly installing larger systems for a number of reasons:

  • Payback periods of larger systems are often better than for smaller systems
  • If you are planning to install battery storage, get an electric car and charge it at home, and/or switch to an all-electric zero emissions home, in the future
  • The labour associated with installation makes up a large proportion of the total cost of systems, so it is more economical to install a large system than to expand your system in the future
  • You want to generate a significant amount of your electricity needs in winter, rather than only see a marked reduction in your electricity bill in the longer, sunnier seasons, when the days are longer and you will generate more power

However, please note depending on your location and the number of phases your property has, some distributors may impose limits on the size of your system. Check with the solar installer to see if this applies in your circumstance.

How much will it cost?

Generally, you can expect the price to fall within this range:

Solar power  system with a string inverter Solar power system with a panel-optimised inverter
5kW: $5500 – $8000 5kW: $7000 – $9500
10kW: $9000 – $15000 10kW: $12000 – $17000

However, prices can be higher for non-standard installations, such as:

  • Two-storey homes
  • Tiled roofs
  • Difficult to access places
  • Homes with long distances between where the panels will be placed and the electrical switchboard
  • Flat roofs or roofs with inappropriate pitch.

The best way to get a good understanding of how much a system will cost you is to get a quote. If the price is much higher, please ask the supplier to explain the additional costs.

Similarly, if the price is too low, this could mean that:

  • The company is operating at very tight margins and there is a risk that the company may go into liquidation
  • Poor quality panels and inverters are being installed which means that the system’s safety may be compromised or you may need to replace some components prematurely.
  • After-sales support will be minimal

Given solar power systems last for a long time, it is important to choose a company that will still be operating throughout the lifetime of your system!

What other costs may be incurred?

If you don’t already have a smart meter then you will need to get one installed, which typically costs between $350 and $450. Some electricity retailers are offering free smart meter upgrades as part of new retail contracts, so ask your retailer (who you pay your electricity bill to) if this is available.

Older homes may also require an upgrade of the electricity switchboard, which will cost at least $800.

If you already have a smart meter, your electricity retailer may also charge you a fee to reconfigure your meter, which is typically under $100.

Any charges related to the upgrade of switchboard; meter changeover or meter reprogramming are additional to the cost of the solar power system. It is recommended that you get in touch with your supplier to determine what additional costs will apply. Some electricity retailers will change your tariff (i.e. how much you pay for the electricity you buy from the grid) when you install solar. If this is the case you can switch retailer after your installation. To find the best deal visit the NSW Energy Made Easy website here.

Are there still rebates available?

There is currently a federal government scheme available, that is referred to as a rebate. It is actually called the small scale renewable energy scheme and is based on the generation and sale of Smallscale Technology Certificates (STCs).

Typically, quotes will state the total price (pre-rebate), the value of the  rebate and then provide you with a lower, final price (with the rebate deducted). The STC program is being phased out gradually until 2030. As such, the rebate is declining in value by 7% at start of each year (1st January).


Getting the best value from your system

To maximise savings the best thing to do is use your power when the sun is shining! Complementing this with other energy saving strategies will further drive down the cost of your bills. Some simple actions that we recommend are replacing halogen downlights with LEDs, as well as draught proofing and insulating your home.

How long does it take to install?

After you confirm your quote the installation can usually be scheduled within 4-6 weeks. For most standard systems, the actual installation can be completed in a single day. For larger systems two days may be required.

Please note that once the system is installed you then have to wait for your electricity retailer to reconfigure your meter, which can take an additional 2-6 weeks. Unfortunately this is not something that Positive Charge or the solar supplier can do anything about but we are certainly advocating for a shorter time frame to be mandatory.

Will it require modifications to my home?

No. All the hardware required is installed with virtually no modification to your house. The framing kits are incorporated into your existing roof and the cables run inside the roof and walls where possible.

Will the system affect my existing roof?

The frames for the solar electricity panels are connected to your existing roof, so nothing will need to be altered.  For a tiled roof, some of the tiles are removed, brackets are attached to the rafters in the roof, and then the tiles go back into place.  For a tin roof it is even easier because the frames are mounted directly to the roof. If your roof is in need of repair we recommend having this done ahead of installing solar.

How much roof area does it need?

For each 2kW system (approximately eight panels) you would need an area about 6.5m wide by 1.6m tall for a landscape layout, and 3.25m by 3.2m for a portrait layout.  However, you are not restricted to portrait or landscape formats.  The layout of the panels can be configured in almost any way to meet your available roof area.  Please note this may incur additional costs.

Could the panels be damaged in a storm?

Although it is very unlikely that the weather can damage your panels we do recommend adding your solar power system to your home and contents insurance. The panels are made with a low-iron tempered glass face and are specifically designed and certified to withstand weather, including large hailstones, although  – just like a car windscreen – sometimes in extreme weather they can be damaged.  The aluminium frames are anodized for extra durability and long life.

All the panels used by our selected suppliers have been tested against Australian conditions.

Do I need to clean or maintain the panels?

Most people leave it to the rain to wash the panels but if there has been a dust storm or a particularly long period of dry weather, then it is advisable to wash the solar panels down with water, to remove collections of dust, dirt and bird droppings. In small amounts these won’t have much effect on the output but over time a build up can reduce the effectiveness of the solar panel.

Can I mount the panels in any direction?

Facing due north is the ideal orientation, as it gets the majority of daytime sun throughout the year. However panels facing more east or west can still provide a high percentage of available power (perhaps 10–15% reduction).  East facing panels get morning sun and west facing panels get the afternoon sun (particularly in the seasons with longer days), so in some cases matching the position of the panels to generate when you are home means that an East/West orientation is more desirable.

The optimum tilt angle of the solar electricity panels in Sydney is 33.9 degrees. But most roof pitches are 20-25 degrees and the additional cost of installing a higher tilt framing is not justified compared to just adding an extra panel if you want to improve the annual generation from the lower pitch.

What happens in a power outage?

Your solar power system will instantly shut off if the grid fails. This is Australian law and is designed to protect electrical line workers.  When the grid power is shut off, the workers expect the lines to be dead so they can safely repair faults.

It is possible to get solar power systems that continue to generate independently of the grid (they include an isolation switch). However these are not standard, so will cost more and need to be specifically asked for from the installer.

Heritage overlays

You may need a planning permit if you live in a heritage overlay area, particularly if the solar panels are visible from the street.  Please contact the planning department at your local council for advice.

How do I ensure I buy a battery-ready system?

You can connect a battery later to any type of solar power system sold in the market today. However, depending on the type of inverter you choose in your solar system, the way the battery is connected will differ. If you are planning on installing a battery in the future, contact the supplier to ask for clarification as to how the battery will be connected. For more information on battery storage, please visit our battery page.

Which supplier should I choose?

When it comes to choosing a solar system, one of the most important decisions to make is choosing the correct supplier.

Here is our list of things to look out for:

  • Longevity: There have been over 500 solar companies that have gone into liquidation in Australia since 2011. As such, it is very important to choose a supplier that is likely to be around for the long haul to be able to provide you with after sales support such as claiming warranties. Look for companies that have been already around for several years.
  • Online reviews: Have a look at online reviews to learn about other customers experiences.
  • Clean Energy Council Accreditation: Make the sure the suppliers are Clean Energy Council accredited. In order to claim the federal rebate, the supplier must be CEC accredited.
  • Make sure the quote is professional: Ensure you receive a formal, professional quote.

Positive Charge understands that it can be very difficult knowing how to choose the right supplier. To help make the process easier, we have conducted a rigorous, open to tender, procurement process to provide suppliers that you can use should you wish.

The suppliers are chosen based on:

  • Quality of product
  • Length of warranties
  • Price
  • Installation quality
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Shared company values

In addition, the solar system components are independently assessed by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) to ensure they meet high standards.

What next?

If you’d like an obligation-free from our carefully selected supplier, complete this form here or give us a call on 1300 339 915.

If you have any other questions about solar power and would like to see if solar is right for you, give us a call on 1300 339 915  or send us an email.