If a record breaking 2020 for solar panel installations is anything to go by, Australians are sick of skyrocketing electricity prices and are turning to the sun for their power.
Electricity prices are set to rise across the majority of NSW and ACT Networks with the Australian Energy Regulator approving 2021-2022 network tariffs for NSW electricity customers. The ICRC (Independent competition and regulatory commission) annual update of the regulated electricity prices, indicates Canberra electricity prices to increase by a maximum of 11.95%.
Australian electricity prices are currently one of the highest in the world. With the Australian head of global renewable firm SunEnergy1 saying they’re worse than some third world countries!
With no relief in sight you’re not alone in looking for a better way to save on your power bills and thinking about solar panels as an alternative. With so many options on the market, choosing the right solar panels for your house can be daunting so we’ve broken it down into eight easy steps for you.
How to get solar panels
Step 1: Do your research
Before buying a solar PV setup, it’s important to make sure the investment will be worth your while. That means finding the best type and size for your home, as well as looking into the government incentives available in your area.
Step 2: Contact your electricity company
Not all electricity companies offer solar-friendly policies. You’ll want to contact your electricity retailer to find out:
- How solar will affect your current rates
- What sort of feed-in tariffs they offer. A feed-in tariff is the amount an electricity retailer pays you for excess power generated by your solar panels.
Step 3: Find a solar PV installer and plan your system
It’s important to shop around when buying solar. Talk to different solar PV retailers about your options and obtain several quotes before you choose your solar setup.
You also want to make sure that the company you buy from is ethical, reliable and will be there if something goes wrong. The best way to do this is by choosing a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer. Approved Solar Retailers follow industry best practice, use fully accredited installers and offer a minimum five-year guarantee on the entire system.
Step 4: Sign a contract
Once you've chosen your setup and accepted a quote, your solar PV retailer, installer or designer will provide you with a contract.
Before signing make sure you’ve read all the fine print and you’re happy with the contract, particularly who you'll need to call if something goes wrong with the proposed system.
Step 5: Install your solar PV system
Your solar PV company or installer will install your system and provide you with all the necessary documentation.
To be eligible for government rebates, your system must be installed by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer.
An Approved Solar Retailer will always use accredited installers. If you’re not buying from an approved retailer, ask to see your installer’s accreditation card.
Step 6: Connect your solar PV setup to the grid
Your solar PV retailer will usually arrange for your solar setup to be connected to the electricity network on your behalf.
Once the connection approval has been confirmed, you may also require an upgrade to your electricity meter, which is sometimes organised by your installer. Some solar retailers will require you to organise the meter upgrade with your electricity retailer.
Grid connection processes will differ from state to state.
Step 7: Install solar monitoring
The more energy you use from your panels, the more money you’ll save on your electricity bill. Most solar inverters will have some kind of monitoring system, you can then monitor how much energy your panels are producing each day, and make sure to turn on your appliances as much as possible during the day. With monitoring you will see where your power is coming from - your panels or the grid and how much you’re paying daily for your electricity.
Keep track of how much your electricity consumption is costing you and tweak how you use your appliances to get the best value from them by monitoring your electricity consumption.
The biggest financial benefit from installing solar panels comes via self-consumption – generating your own electricity and using - instead of purchasing it from the grid at a higher rate.
Accordingly, you should choose the size of your solar PV system based on the electricity consumption of your household.
Step 8: Use and maintain your solar PV system
Congratulations! Your solar PV system is installed, and it’s time to start saving money on your power bills.
To keep your system working efficiently and safely, you’ll need to make sure it is properly maintained and working as expected every day.
By installing a solar PV system, you need to look after it and learn the basic safe operation and proper maintenance of your system. Ask your installer for a maintenance schedule.
Take note of the schedule and undertake regular maintenance of your solar PV setup. This is necessary to ensure that:
- It's working properly
- The system performance is maintained
Checking your monitoring system regularly will ensure that if anything goes wrong with the system, you can catch it early, and get it fixed with help from your solar installer.
Enjoy Energy from the Sun - Forever
Congratulations! If you've made it this far, you've now got yourself a system that will be generating your power from the sun for upwards of 20+ years. It is important to be informed and make the right choices through this journey, as it is a long term commitment. Now that you know about the important steps, things to look out for and how to look after your system, you can take the leap into the world of solar with confidence.