Solar power systems

You have many options available to you when it comes to investing in solar power for your household. You can choose between four different system types:

  • Solar panels
  • Panel and battery system
  • Off-grid solar system
  • Battery ready system

Costs and payback periods vary considerably depending on which you select, so we recommend using our solar power calculator to evaluate different options before committing to buy.

solar power system

Solar panel system

A grid-connect solar panel system is the most common unit installed in Australia. The system includes solar panels and an inverter. A 5kW solar system costs between $5,500 – $8,000 and is typically enough to power the average Australian household. Any excess energy is exported back to the grid where you will receive a feed-in tariff credit. With the lower cost of solar panels and higher feed-in tariffs, grid-connect systems can pay back within five years. If you buy good solar panels, they will last 25 years.

technical drawing showing all components and cabling of a solar panel system

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Panel and battery system

Hybrid systems, also called, panel and battery systems, are grid-connect units that include solar panels, an inverter and a battery. Excess energy charges the battery so that it can supply electricity to your property when the sun is not shining.

Hybrid systems are far more expensive

Hybrid systems are far more expensive due to the high cost of solar battery storage in comparison to solar panels. As a guide, a 6.6kW solar system with a 10kWh battery may cost between $15,000 – $20,000. Payback on panel and battery systems is often around the 10-year mark; longer than for solar panels and payback time varies significantly depending on how much electricity you consume when you use it. Bear in mind, the battery storage component of the system will likely only last ten years.

Back up power

Hybrid systems can provide back-up power in the event of a blackout. Back-up capability typically adds to the cost of a panel and battery system.

Adding a battery

If you already own solar panels, you can convert your system to become a hybrid system by simply adding a storage solution to it. We have developed a  tool to calculate the energy and financial effectiveness of adding a solar battery to your existing system.

Battery ready system

If you like the idea of battery storage but want to wait for prices to come down, you can purchase a battery ready solar power system. Also connected to the grid, a battery ready system includes solar panels and a hybrid inverter. The hybrid inverter will add to the cost of the system, but it means a battery can easily be fitted to the system in the future. If you do not plan to add a battery to your system within three years, you are probably worth going for a solar panel system instead.

Off-grid solar system

An off-grid system is a stand-alone unit that does not have a connection to the electricity grid. Typically, off-grid systems involve solar panels and a large amount of battery storage, as they need to power your entire home in even during winter seasons. Off-grid systems are significantly more expensive, and we only recommend you go off-the-grid if you the cost of connecting your property to the grid is prohibitive. As a guide, for it may cost anywhere between $30 – $50,000 for an off-grid system to power the average household.

detailed drawing showing all components and flow of an off-grid solar system

The best solar power system for you

In the current climate of reasonable feed-in tariffs, we recommend buying a solar panel system. We list when you should consider buying each of the different system types:

  • Solar panels: recommended, good savings and fast payback
  • Panel and battery system: high energy user with budget in excess of $15,000
  • Off-grid solar system: only if you have no other option
  • Battery ready system: If you plan to add a battery within 3 years

If you want to add battery storage, you can do so at any point in the future when prices are more competitive. If you are a high-power user that consumes most of your electricity at night and, you have a budget in excess of $15,000, a hybrid system may be economical. As for going off-the-grid, only do this if you have to. You may think they are more environmentally friendly, but a lot of energy goes to waste that could be used by someone.

Rebates for solar power systems

One of the reasons why we recommend solar panel systems over any other is because of the government rebates available that reduce the upfront cost. The rebate does not increase if you purchase a hybrid system.

State government rebates

The situation is different in a state like South Australia, where the government provides a battery storage rebate. The SA Home Battery Scheme makes panel and battery systems more affordable and reduces the payback time significantly.

While in Victoria, the Solar Victoria rebate applies to panels, though they also offer an incentive that reduces the cost of adding a battery to a solar power system.

Selecting the right system size

Once you have selected the type of solar power system you want, you need to figure out what size system you need. We have a calculator that can tell you the right system size for your property. If your daily electricity use averages out between 12 – 25kWh, we recommend opting for either a 5kW system or a 6.6kW solar power system. If you don’t have the budget or roof space, then a calculation of your daylight electricity use is the best way to work out the best system size.

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