How much does solar cost?
This is a question we get asked every day. It’s a good question, but just as important a question to ask is: ‘how much power will my solar power system produce?’ Not just now or over the next year, but over the next 10, 15, 25 years. Solar is a long-term investment, so while the upfront cost is obviously important, it’s certainly not the only consideration.
The amount of power that a solar system produces directly relates to its cost. Installing entry-level (otherwise known as ‘cheap and crappy’) solar panels and inverter technology may mean you spend less and achieve a slightly quicker upfront return, but you won’t achieve the long-term gain that a premium product offers. This is because higher quality solar panels degrade much slower and produce significantly more power – not just on sunny days, but in all weather conditions. What’s more, problems like hot spots, microcracks, water ingress and PID (Potential Induced Degradation) are far less common when you use higher quality components.
Unfortunately, a lot of solar panels end up in landfill prematurely because people didn’t buy wisely. The ‘buy once, buy right’ approach is a much smarter way to go than buying cheap.
Clients sometimes say to me: ‘but the technology’s going to improve, so why spend more now?’. It’s true that panels will become more efficient over time, but all this means is that you’ll need less panels on your roof to achieve a given system size. So ten years from now, instead of needing 18 panels to make up a 6.6kW system, you’ll probably only need around 12 panels. And if you’ve bought wisely in the first place, you won’t need to replace your panels in ten years’ time. They’ll still be doing exactly what you want them to do.
Why pay more?
Our advice is always to go with the highest-quality components you can afford. This is because they last longer, have a longer warranty and are more efficient. This means they will produce more power and save you more money over the short, medium and long term.
You may have seen advertisements for 6.6kW systems for only $3000 or $4000. There’s a reason these systems are so cheap. Australia has some of the lowest ((what standards? Do they have a name?)) Standards in the world. As a country, we permit solar products to be installed on people’s roofs that other countries simply don’t. Sadly, Australia seems to be the dumping ground for ‘cheap and cheerful’ solar panel and inverter technology.
If you’d like to understand what a good quality system should cost once the solar rebate has been factored in, use this as your guide (as of August 2021):
Pricing is after STCs has been deducted. Additional charges may apply (double storey, tiled roof, split array, tilt frames, kliplok roof clamps, and battery storage). * Assumes you use 100% of your solar energy.
Gold String System: SunTech 370W panels; ABB (Fimer) inverter
Gold Optimised System: SunTech 370W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge solar-only inverter
Platinum system: LG NeON2 360W panels; SolarEdge DC Optimisers, SolarEdge hybrid (solar + battery) inverter
You Get What You Pay For
Like anything you buy, you get what you pay for. Solar is no different. Not all systems are created equal, so it makes sense to install high-performance equipment if you want to have the greatest impact on your bill. Interestingly, the difference in payback time between a lesser quality system and a high-performance system is typically less than 12 months.
If you want independent advice on the best solar technology available, check out this site. You’ll see that the brands we tend to preference (LG panels and SolarEdge optimised inverter technology) consistently rank right at the top.
The question to ask yourself
Ultimately, the question you need to ask yourself is: ‘do I want something that’s going to get me by for now, or do I want something that will set me up for the future?’
If it’s the latter, we’re here to help.