When the sun is shining, solar panels convert sunlight into DC (direct current) electricity. The solar inverter converts this electricity into AC (alternating current) power for use in your home. Your home appliances (fridge, dishwasher, pool pumps etc.) use this power instead of drawing power from the electricity grid.
Any excess electricity generated by solar panels but not used by appliances is sent back (exported) to the electricity grid or used to charge a solar battery. Electricity Retailers pay a feed-in tariff for any electricity sent back to the grid.
Solar generation, consumption and export is tracked and recorded through a smart meter, providing the data for electricity billing.
Solar systems are most effective when they are well positioned (north-facing is optimal, but not essential) and exposed to enough sunlight without obstruction by shade caused from trees, power lines or other structures.
If you are the homeowner.
Any purchase of solar panel system will qualify for the rebate so long as the solar modules and solar inverter approval by the Clean Energy Council and; a CEC accredited installer performs the installation.
A feed-in tariff is the rate you are paid for any electricity generated by your rooftop solar system that is fed back into the grid.
Feed-in tariffs are generally available for residential systems and do not necessarily extend to commercial customers. However, in most cases, commercial customers should be able to negotiate a rate with their electricity retailer.
Almost all feed-in tariffs offered now are ‘net’ feed-in tariffs. This means that the electricity produced by your solar panels will be used in your home first, and you will only be paid for excess electricity that is exported to the grid.
Feed-in tariffs differ from state to state and from retailer to retailer. In some states the government regulates a minimum rate, and in other states it is up to you to negotiate a deal with your electricity retailer.
There is no government-regulated minimum retailer payment in New South Wales or southeast Queensland. It is worth shopping around to find out which electricity retailers offer the best rates for solar customers.
If you have an issue with any solar product while it is under warranty, you should first contact your solar retailer to have the product replaced or repaired. If you are unable to contact your retailer, contact the manufacturer. Contact details should be provided on the warranty documentation.
If you are not happy with the response you receive from your solar retailer, you can lodge a complaint with the relevant Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs in your state or territory. They can negotiate on your behalf and arrange mediation where necessary.
If your solar retailer has become insolvent and you are unable to contact the manufacturer, you can lodge a complaint with the solar retailer’s administrators. You can send out if a company has become insolvent via the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website or by phoning 1300 300 630.
Your local Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs may also have information about the appointment of external administrators for insolvent companies. Likewise, if the manufacturer has
gone into administration, you can lodge a complaint with the company’s administrators. As a consumer, you may become an unsecured creditor. If the external administrator fails to deal with your queries or complaints, you can also lodge a complaint with ASIC on 1300 300 630.
The cost of installing a solar system can vary widely and is affected by a range of factors from where you live, the retailer or installer you choose, the warranties available, and the technology and size of your system.
The major factors which will affect the price of a solar system are:
1. Government rebates and incentives
2. Contractor installation costs
3. Type and number of panels
4. Type and size of inverter
5. Type of framing equipment and other system components
6. Height and accessibility of roof and whether it is tiled or metal or concrete
7. Any after sales service agreements
Keeping the above variables in mind, these tables provide an approximate guide on the price range for solar systems in Australia’s major capital cities. Government rebates are included in these figures. Please note that the market costs change quickly so these numbers are illustrative only.
Estimated prices for residential solar systems
ESTIMATED PRICE RANGE
$2,800 – $5,600
$2,900 – $6,950
$3,400 – $7,900
$3,500 – $9,500
$7,600 – $14,100
There are numerous factors that affect your suitability for solar and the period it will take for your system to pay for itself.
The amount of money your household will save on power bills by going solar is affected by several factors, including:
Your energy consumption and the size of your solar power system – if you use more power than your system can produce, your savings will be reduced. It’s important to choose the correct system for your needs.
Your feed-in tariff – this is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for any excess power your solar panels generate.
Your usage patterns – solar panels can only generate electricity while the sun is shining. This means that households that use a lot of power during the day may attract greater savings than those that consume most of their power at night. However, you will still receive a feed-in tariff for any excess electricity you generate during the day.
Where you live – some areas of Australia receive a lot more sunlight than others, so a solar system in Brisbane will usually generate more power than one in Hobart.
When choosing a solar or storage retailer and/or installer, it pays to do a little research. The Clean Energy Council recommends choosing an Approved Solar Retailer who has signed on to the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct and only uses designers and installers who are accredited by the Clean Energy Council.
The Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer program is a way for businesses that sell solar and storage to show their commitment to responsible sales and marketing activities and industry best practice.
Authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the program aims to lift the bar higher than the minimum requirements set by government and regulations, and bring about a better standard of service within the solar and storage industry.
Approved Solar Retailers have committed to complying with the program’s Code of Conduct. If an Approved Solar Retailer fails to comply with the requirements of the Code, the Clean Energy Council may take action against them.
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia.
We are a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation. We represent and work with Australia’s leading renewable energy and energy storage businesses, as well as rooftop solar installers, to further the development of clean energy in Australia.
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