Solar: Is it worth it? Need advice + feedback.

Okay, let me begin by saying that solar power salespeople (and companies) are some of the most unscrupulous operators going round…

Feel free to read my brief gripe below, but basically - keen to hear everyone's thoughts, experiences and feedback on solar power at home.

Is it worth 'investing' the money in solar for your home
What has it saved you on your regular electricity bill?
Does it add value to a house?
Have you had a good/bad/ugly experience with Solar?

Also, wondering if the populous can help us decide via the poll whether we should fork out the cash for a solar system.

My gripe

We've gotten several quotes for a 5kW hybrid (battery-ready) system in QLD and prices have ranged from $3k to $14k. Literally every salesperson believes that their product/s are superior and every quote that we've been delivered is accompanied by oodles of varying fine print. Obviously products, brands and service vary, but I would have thought that an industry which has been around for 10+ years now would be much more commoditised. Clearly, there are plenty of operators making good money off the back of the limited consumer understanding.

Most providers are unhappy to hear that you've been shopping around and pressure you into making a deal 'on-the-spot' on the grounds that their offer is "today only" (or similar). Some even refused to follow up with a professional written quote when I challenged them about how they were able to pay a $0.48/kWh feed-in tariff with their 'green energy partner', telling me that it was a special 'deal' they had negotiated based on the volume of systems they were installing. Knowing that the QLD average feed-in is closer to $0.08/kWh, I was able to eventually weasel them into a corner to indirectly admit that the increased buyback (feed-in) rate was built into the system price and, when the salesperson realised where things were going, she promptly departed unceremoniously.

I find it hard to believe that these companies can continue to exist, but there's obviously enough mis/un-informed people out there for these salespeople, full of bravado, self-assurance and conviction, to take advantage of.

Anyway, all that aside - I'm interested in everyone's thoughts, particularly those either shopping for solar or who already have a system themselves.

Should We Get Solar?

Guiding inputs for poll responses:

  • 2 person household, rarely anyone home
  • Soon to be a 3 person household, with new stay-at-home mum
  • Wanting to install A/C to overcome the QLD summer heat, especially in time for new bub
  • Pool pump which needs to run 4hrs+ per day (very low voltage though, already on off-peak tariff)
  • Current electricity bill is higher than what our electricity company expects for a 2 person household, likely because of our expensive downlights (no, they won't take energy-saving bulbs…), a large fridge + pool pump.
  • Based on our current usage, electricity prices and some rough calculations, if we spent $6k on a 5kW system, it would take 12+ years for us to recoup the cost via savings
  • Current mortgage rate is 4.00%pa with full offset facility

Poll Options

  • 22
    Yes, you should get solar.
  • 62
    No, better to park the cost of a system in your mortgage offset.

Comments

  • +10 votes

    In my view, the answer is 'not yet'. Battery technology will evolve in leaps and bounds in the next years. This will dramatically improve ROI and capture requirements.

    •  

      Thanks Dozingquinn, agree - tech will evolve in leaps and bounds over the next few years. What about prices though?

      Would you be prepared to gamble on the fact that government incentives will still be around?
      With the massive deficits our governments are running up, you'd say this would be an area where they could make key short-term savings. It's already been discussed in the past:
      http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/govern...

      As I understand it, in QLD - there are up to $4,000 of rebates available. In our case, this amounts to close to a 40% rebate.
      Unless prices come down by 40% "in the next years", then we will in fact be gambling on the willingness of govt to retain these incentives..

      •  

        Your link is talking about investments in solar technology - not solar installations.

        Other posters please correct me - my understanding is that the Government oversees the feed in tariff rate, but that the energy retailers ultimately have to pay for it (so they slug their customers). I don't believe the Government pays the feed in rate.

        • +2 votes

          The Government still pay the 44 cent/kWh FiT to those who were 'grandfathered in' to the original FiT but there hasn't been any FiT available to new installations for quite a while. The Government only 'oversees' the payment of those still getting the 44 cent FiT … and by 'oversee' I mean that they have the distributors charge all consumers distribution fees big enough to fund that FiT cost ..and this money is then paid to the retailers who in turn pay the consumer i.e. there is no such thing as a free lunch for the consumers as a whole.

          Given that government funded (i.e. electricity consumer funded) feed in tariffs are no longer available to new installs then any FiT offered these days is paid exclusively by the retailers. If the retailer is offering to pay you more for your 'fed in' solar power than what they could buy it from a generator then they're recouping that money from you somewhere else.

          That's FiT … I haven't stayed on top of installations subsidies (they used to be based on REC's 'renewable energy credits' but I can't recall how that all evolved).

  • +2 votes

    Adding a Bub to your household and having a stay at home mum will change your power usage habits significantly. Currently without a battery system you need to be able to use all the power you generate, it's not worth selling it.

    We've not long ago had a 4kw system installed, it didn't really make financial sense initially, but if power prices are going up that may change. I've got a good roof space with no shading and the option to have the system split half on north roof and half on west. So far it has decreased our power bill, but I haven't really worked it out as we haven't had enough bills to compare yet. I have timed our pool to run in the mornings and the dishwasher and washing machine are also run while we are generating power. I have considered getting the system upgraded to feed excess power to the currently off peak hot water, but considering most of our hot water use is in the evenings it won't really create much benefit because there is little heating whioe the sun is up. I would like to install a battery system to better use our generated power, but they are still a bit pricey.

    I was guided by my brother into what size system to get without the marketing spin as he is in the business, but in the end couldn't supply me and I had to go elsewhere armed with his knowledge.

  •  

    I recall seeing something on tv about a year and a half ago, where a guy had a setup that created electricity off his Natural gas. Sorry long time ago so I don't remember any specifics, but may be another option to research.

    • +2 votes

      Sorry, but this sounds like pie in the sky for the average person

    • +2 votes

      That would have been a BlueGen unit from Ceramic Fuel Cells. Made hot water and electricity from natural gas. Great concept but I don't think they could ever get it to work reliably enough. They went bust in the end.

      •  

        I was an investor for a time (got out before they went bust).

        As far as I understood their reports the tech worked well enough and you've nailed the description but the cost vs benefits of installing the systems just didn't add up because the entry cost was so high ($20k at the end?).
        The old chicken and egg, they needed mass sales to reach a price point that would generate mass sales but could never get their despite cost reductions over the years.

        Was a particularly good product for colder regions where heating was relevant, much less well suited to most of Australia where solar products left it for dead.

    • +2 votes

      natural gas is something you can't easily create on your own property…electricity…pretty easy.

      •  

        Yeah I know nothing about this technology but when I drop it in conversation re solar everyone, and I mean everyone goes what? Thought it may help OP as an alternative to research and consider! Sorry if it is a dud technology!

  •  

    Yeah! We have heaps but you don't get much for feeding into the grid

  •  

    On a separate note,
    what is the advantage of dumping extra money into your mortgage offset account?
    From my understanding, it's better to take a mortgage out and put, say, $1 million of your own cash into the offset account than buying the house for $1 million outright.

    I've never taken out a mortgage or loan, so I got no clue.

    •  

      Flexibility, less hassle when you want to use that 1M later.

      •  

        Let's say you've paid $100,000 off that mortgage.

        What happens if you needed $900,000, because your father needs a kidney+heart+liver transplant?
        What happens to the mortgage if you have zero in your offset account and can't pay the monthly mortgage bill?

        Wouldn't taking out a mortgage mean that you will be paying the house price and interest on top of that?

        •  

          What happens if you needed $900,000, because your father needs a kidney+heart+liver transplant?

          Err, you get 800k from elsewhere?

          What happens to the mortgage if you have zero in your offset account and can't pay the monthly mortgage bill?

          You default? Am I missing something?

        • -1 vote

          Bank wouldn't lend you 1M in the first place if they weren't confident that you could pay it back.

          If indeed you find that you were placed in a position which required you to utilise everything in the offset account, you would simply go back to paying interest on the 1M that you had previously signed up for, which the bank had verified.

        • -1 vote

          @Jingza: they dont care if you can pay it back, they only care if you can afford interest

        •  

          What happens if you needed $900,000, because your father needs a kidney+heart+liver transplant?

          Bye Dad, you old bastard.

  • +1 vote

    There are some great threads on whirlpool. In particular i used the Perth installs thread, though that might not help as much when you are in qld. It helped me narrow down to panel/inverter brands that i wanted, and then to shop around for a price. A lot of people put up their quotes, which give you a good idea. Looking back you can see the install costs have been coming down.

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum/143

    I would avoid the battery for now. Briefly looking over the tesla powerwall specs, you see they have a limited number of usable 'cycles', which destroys their ROI when the battery isn't going to have a useful working life.

    If you weigh up the options of where you can park your $. You save 4% after tax in an offset account. You might do a little better investing in securities. I estimated an 8-10% after tax return with solar (which depends on a largely unkown useful lifespan).

    Solar seemed like the next best step on the ROI ladder, to invest my $.

  • +1 vote

    Is it worth 'investing' the money in solar for your home

    Yes, but it is a long term investment.

    What has it saved you on your regular electricity bill?

    $100 a qtr in summer.(just feed in)
    $50 a qtr in winter.(just feed in)

    Does it add value to a house?

    Yes imo

    Have you had a good/bad/ugly experience with Solar?

    Great experience, got in early (2010), zero maintenance, $350 initial outlay, 50ยข feed in till 2028.๐Ÿ˜€

    •  

      Thanks for the response, nocure - interesting insights indeed.

      I think if a 50c feed in were available to us, I'd jump straight away. What'd you pay for your system back in 2010 out of interest?

      •  

        $350 but Only 1kw

        •  

          Really, that was the total (outright) cost? Or were you on a payment plan of some kind?
          Assume you also got an inverter as well?

          So you're selling 200 KwH back to the grid from a 1kw system each quarter in summer? That's pretty decent!

        • +2 votes

          @Catchy:

          $350 total, Government rebate was $8000

          Edit: company was eco-kinetics

        •  

          @Catchy: feeding in 200kWh over 90 days on a 1KW system is exceptionally good, not so much because it's unreasonably high generation (particularly during summer) but it means that very little of the generated power is being used by the household during the day….given that you're not going to receive a FiT this is exactly the scenario you'll want to avoid

    •  

      You do have maintenance technically.

      Do you clean them? Also scratches and marks can impact performance.

      • +8 votes

        Meh, rain cleans them.

        • +1 vote

          paying someone to clean them isn't worth it. You won't get the money back in extra power you pay out for having them cleaned.

          I'd only clean if I lived in a really dusty environment, like next to a new subdivision under construction or in a desert.

        •  

          @Euphemistic: dust makes very little difference…fruit bat droppings on the other hand can really screw things up …you get a really significant drop in output if even a relatively small section of the panel is completely obscured… if for example 5% of the panel is obscured the drop in output is far greater than 5% (I can't recall the specifics but it's surprisingly significant)

  •  

    it would take 12+ years for us to recoup the cost via savings

    12 years is a long time to live in an old house.

    •  

      Our thoughts exactly.
      If it adds to the resale value of the house though, then it might be worth getting it.

      Honestly though, if I were faced with a situation where I was considering 2 comparable houses in a similar area with the only practical difference being solar, I very much doubt I could justify a price difference based on solar alone…

      •  

        12 years if the government does not force owner to recycle the toxic panels

        but in general a system without battery, the sale person would market it as a return of 3 to 5 years, not 12 years. (my experience, the way they market it)

        • +1 vote

          We've got 3kW, paid something like $5k, receive the 44c FiT and I roughly calculated the payback period to be about 6 years …we are pretty energy hungry so we don't take as much advantage of the FiT as many would. I'd suggest that an average sized system adds very little resale value to a house…it might be different if it was 12kW but that'd be very rare.

      • +1 vote

        but in selling it may make it more desirable and easier to sell - maybe not more money but a quicker sell.

  • +6 votes

    I have to say, I got into solar relatively late at a relatively high cost and low feed in tariff - however I view it more as energy that I could use for free, eg. whereas before I would be reluctant to use dryers, aircon, etc, I can now use them for essentially no cost on a sunny day - if I price that as the cost that I would have spend on electricity, payback decreases to ~3-4 years, which is something I can live with. With a battery it would be even better.

    •  

      Great input, cheers Jingza - hadn't considered that.
      Yeah, I can definitely see us running the AC semi-permanently during the day if we too class it as 'no-cost' electricity.

      • +1 vote

        Cheers, esp with a bub on the way and stay at home mum, you'll likely use alot more electricity during the day. And I would assume being in qld would make it an even better payback than what I'm getting in melbourne (winters pretty crummy in terms of sunlight).

        Just to add on , I paid 3.3k for a 3kw system, you should get a much better deal as solar keeps getting cheaper and cheaper

  •  

    Hey mate i set up my own system for my shed with a battery and all. Its more of a prepping thing in case we ever lose the grid. plus i needed lights and tools in the shed easier then getting mains installed.

    Now with some one being home all day you will save a bit of money in the long run.

    •  

      I'm interested in doing this for my shed.

      Any tips? A good website with info to get started?

      So far it seems I'd want a 12V system including solar panel(s), cables, a deep-cycle 12v battery, 12V LED lights, and an inverter if I want power points, I guess…?

      (Googling just gave me people trying to sell stuff, but I need more basic info about what's possible).

      • +1 vote

        I did this a few months back. Tried to use as much recycled / second hand / discarded stuff as possible to put it together as the price quickly ramps up if you're buying new and/or from Australian businesses.

        My setup:

        2x 80W panels from Gumtree: $100
        2x standard 4WD batteries that were sitting in my brother in law's shed, connected in parallel: $0
        20A regulator from eBay: $35
        10x 10W (they're more like 6W but do the job just fine) 12V LED floodlights from eBay: $50
        15A rated copper wire and cable ties I had lying around
        300W Giandel pure sine wave inverter from eBay: $70

        Regulator has a 5V USB slot on it so that I can charge phones and other devices directly.

        I run a 12V air compressor directly off the batteries for pumping up tyres and also have a 9L air tank which I can fill up if I need portable air or to air dust something.

        The pure sine wave inverter connects directly to the batteries if I need to charge tool batteries etc. I bought the smallest inverter available as I don't have any AC appliances that really suck juice but could easily upgrade if necessary.

        I've left a few plug connector points hanging off in various places in case I need to tap into any 12V power at other points in the shed (for example, I have another LED floodlight that I installed an on/off switch into and put a plug connector on so that I can have more concentrated light when I'm doing detailed work or work in dark places like a car engine bay).

        •  

          Thanks! This sounds like exactly what I want. How did you research it - was there a particular website?

        • +1 vote

          I basically did it from my own knowledge, mainly gained from high school physics lessons!

          As everyone's needs are different, there aren't really guides which cater for all circumstances. I found one on Instructables which is decent, but from what you've said in previous posts you seem to have a general idea of the basic components you need to set up.

          My general suggestion would be to estimate what your power use is going to be and work backwards from there. There are calculators like this one that can help you estimate your needs and suggest inverter / regulator sizes and the number and power of your panels. My system is overkill for my needs, however I just used what was lying around and available second hand.

          It's always good to have some breathing space in case you decide to expand your system or run things that you hadn't initially thought of. My lights only draw about 5A when they're all on so I could have gotten away with a much smaller battery bank. However, the little 12V air compressor I bought later sucks about 23A for a few minutes while it's charging my portable air cylinder which would definitely tax a smaller battery and not leave much in reserve if I used it while there wasn't much sun.

        •  

          @Nomadesque:

          Thank you so much! That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for!

          I'm excited to give this a shot…

  • +1 vote

    I bought the house in August last year. There was already 4kw solar system installed in the house.
    It has been more than a year and i have not paid a cent for electricity. I am in Victoria.

    •  

      that must be on the good feed in tariff is it? Our old house had a 60c feed in tariff and it paid back the install cost very quickly. We ended up with $120 credit when we moved out.

      Currently our 4kw system only saves around $100-$200 per quarter on the lame 6c feed in because most of our saving is by using the 'free' power

    •  

      Damn. No electricity bills would be a saving of over 2 grand a year for us. Maybe it really would be profitable for my house…

  •  

    It is a very long term investment with huge output but I believe it's worth it.

    I started this back in 2013 or 2014, which is probably too late but I managed to get a 25c feed in tariff for almost a year before they closed it. During that times, I didn't pay for electricity.

    For me it is worth it since I have aircons which I used during summer and winter so reduced the gas bill quite a bit. In addition, I have an electric vehicle (PHEV) which saves me petrol. This is in addition to the flexibility of using the power during the day (eg: washers,etc) and by using timer, everything is sweet.

    With the advent of battery, my peak tariff in my calculation, could be 100% eliminated with about 25-30% of off peak tariff reduction. That will save $$$ even more

    But once again, the start up costs are high. What I can tell you, the PHEV fuel saving will pay the car itself in 7 years. The battery (which I haven't got) + solar, will pay itself in more than 10 years. So you are not doing this for 100% economical reason because it wouldn't make sense.

    So while I agree money better off in offset, but spent on solar, you'll be amazed with the technology especially when Model 3 Tesla's coming out later on. :-)

  •  

    How did you calculate 12 years? It's probably better to wait and see what a stay at home parent with air conditioning can do to your power bill. Ours was around $600 to $800 about 4 to 5 years ago. Haven't had a bill over $200 since getting solar and we are just getting the 10c fit from the retailer. The biggest savings come from using power while it's being generated.

    We spent $5,500 for a 6kw system (6kw panels and 5kw inverter). We used the difference between our typical (old) bill and what we ended up paying after getting it installed and had the system paid off in under 4 years. So we've definitely saved a lot, as over those 4 years price of electricity has gone up and our bills have only changed by a few dollars over that time period. I'd recommend it if you are about to have kids with a stay at home parent.

    I wouldn't go battery yet, and don't worry about trying to find a system that will be battery ready. All systems are, just need to swap out the inverter which you'd likely need to do with the likes of a Tesla anyway.

    I wouldn't pay over $5k for a 5kw set up. Should also check out your local paper or Gumtree. There are a lot of installers out there who'll install better quality gear for cheaper than the bigger "sales" companies that have a tendency to charge a premium for junk equipment.

    As the poster over said, you should check out whirlpool green forum. Plenty of discussion on there.

  • +4 votes

    I have had 10kW of solar for 5 years now with a payback of $42,000 to date (just covering costs), however what made sense back then does not any more due to the premium FIT in the "good old days". This is my system http://www.pvoutput.org/aggregate.jsp?id=224&sid=1381&t=m

    Today, you should size your initial PV system to offset your average daytime usage, that way you are "saving" having to pay say 25c/kWh for grid power, rather than only getting 6c/kWh for excess you put into the grid if you had a large PV system.
    So unless you are at home during the day, this would mean a small say 2-3kW system to run your fridge etc, remembering that a 2kW system will only deliver something like 1.5kW on an "average" day (ie use 75% of "rated" capacity). Such a PV system targeting just your daytime use should have a payback of less than 5 years.

    Batteries are not yet cost-effective, however they will be in a 2-5 years so being able to expand your system to 5kW would help make it future-proof, although this is likely to add to the initial price. Its also too early to predict which brands and models of inverters will be winners in the PV+battery future.
    Also consider how long you will stay at your current house and what might cause you to move early as not everyone appreciates "ugly" panels on the roof or "dangerous" batteries in the garage, lol.

    •  

      Although I agree with most of what you said, we've been hearing that better batteries are just around the corner for years.

      Not just for solar, but for batteries in general.

      When you actually look at it, batteries haven't improved all that much, and certainly not at the pace that technology has.

      •  

        We actually don't NEED batteries to be any better. Especially for stationary installs like homes where weight & volume are not so important, although Tesla have shown current batteries are fine for EV also.
        Current battery technology is just like PV was in the early days - awesome but too expensive. It is the cost of the existing household battery technologies (eg Powerwall, Zcell) that needs to come down. Existing batteries only need to halve in price and it will be cheaper to put in batteries than to do nothing, so the power distributors themselves will start installing (and infact already have in some situations where the economics already stack up).
        If we get significantly better battery tech in the future (more recharges before failure http://www.evpositive.com/battery-history.html, faster recharges, higher energy density) and ideas like http://www.tanktwo.com take off, then that's just icing on the cake.

  • +4 votes

    We got 2kw about 5 years ago, then added another 3kw a little after that, just before they cut off the 50c feed in rates.
    Something a lot of people don't seem to realise is that if you have a good feed in tariff like 50c (or anything over your purchase price of electricity), you are best to use as little as possible during the day, so you can sell back as much as possible. So your washing machine, dishwasher etc, put off until late afternoon/evening or early morning - whenever you aren't generating power.
    But if you are on the low feed in tariff, like 8c, then you are best to run those appliances during the day instead, and avoid ever selling excess power. Of course selling excess power is still good, but not if you can use it yourself for something you would only be buying back at another time at 28c k/w (or whatever your rate is)

    • +1 vote

      This is true. We got a 3kw system a few years ago after the generous feed-ins were removed. Our current feed-in is 6.2c per kw. The most useful thing we also bought at the time was a Wattson energy monitor that shows us exactly how much power we are using in real time.
      Unfortunately the company who makes these has closed down, and there does not seem to be anything exactly like the Wattson around now, but it has helped us change our usage habits enormously. During the day, Wattson will light up green when we are exporting to the grid, so as our feed-in is so piddly, we can start to turn things on straight away. If we start using too much, Wattson glows red and we can start turning things off.
      Fortunately someone is home most of the day everyday, so we can use our system as best as possible doing this, and it has cut down our bills quite a bit. We generally get a very small amount of feed-in back each quarter, but it is so low it makes no difference. The real difference we have found is using the generated power at the time, and not let it go back to the grid.
      Night time is a different story, but we try to pump the heaters or the air-con throughout the day when the sun is out, and leave most stuff off at night.

      •  

        There are heaps of energy consumption monitors around. Just Googly it.

  •  

    An interesting space for sure.
    As other's have mentioned, it's probably worth waiting till the battery tech matures and prices come down.

  • +1 vote

    My system cost $4000 to install, (Qld 2014) and we save about $300 per month on bills.
    We also use the air-con much more during the summer, as we work from home.
    We have altered when we do things; no washing machine/dishwasher/pool pump running unless the sun is up.
    I have software on the computer that shows how much is being produced at any time during the day, so you soon learn how to 'balance the books'.
    Payback is minimal, but that wasn't the motivation; reducing high bills was.

  • +3 votes

    Getting directly to the matter of whether it is worth going to Solar Power. The answer is yes. There are some conditions to be mentioned. The biggest one is needing to make some changes to the household routines, such as when the dishwasher, clothes washer, hot water system (if electric) etc are used. These need to be used when the sun is shining. I live in Townsville and have a 5kw Solar System which cost $12,000 to install. I have also kept meticulous daily records for a whole year, tracking usage and savings. The end result is that I achieved a return of 10.95% for 2015 and still on track to do much the same in 2016.
    If you can get that return on investment (ROI) safer elsewhere then let me know.
    Nowdays the inverter you should buy is a "battery ready" inverter, so that when the battery prices lower, you are ready for the for the next step, snipping the Grid Cable.
    I would like you to consider buying 6kw worth of panels together with the maximum 5kw inverter, as this makes up for some of the system losses inherrent with Solar.

  •  

    I got a PV setup through my provider. Its a 2.5kw system for a two person house hold.
    5 year no interest repayments.

    Or electricity bills were always below expected average and are now even lower.

    The major downsides to PV are:

    Batteries suck (we don't have batt system, just feed in)

    Feed in tariff is a rort.

    Supply price for a PV enabled household is generally higher.

    Even if you don't use much electricity, you still get slogged for being connected to the grid.

    Without a battery system we are a lot smarter with our consumption. The dishwasher only goes on in the day, etc etc.

    Once we move or lighting to led, our bills should drop even more, by a significant amount.

    I like the premise of renewable energy. I enjoy using the sun's power where available. Its not just about cost saving.

    If I were you, I would be spending a couple grand on proper led down lights.

    I plan on upgrading my PV system for a battery based unit in the future, I just don't think batteries are at a level that is viable.

  •  

    Can't say about QLD now, but my mum had solar installed on her house around 10 years ago (2kw I think). This was at the time when the WA government was paying hand over fist for both rebates and feed in tariffs, with her power bills regularly being credits from the power company, after using more power than was generated. She also had solar hot water installed, which didn't have the same credits.

    However, her solar hot water system carked it because it wasn't installed properly, and the company that had installed it (with a 10 year guarantee) had conveniently gone bankrupt, leaving my mum with a dud system. Now she has gas hot water.

    So I'd say do your research on the companies themselves, as they might be fly by night operators (although it sounds like you're already suspicious of the companies as it is).

    Can't remember how her main panels are going. I think it was a similar situation with the company, but I think the panels are still working.

  •  

    For me it came down to the slashing of the feed-in rates from ~32c to 8c so I didn't go ahead with solar a couple of years ago. Takes far too long for a decent return on the investment.

    Basically the only reason these days to get solar at such low feed-in rates is if you believe it helps the environment (which I don't) and/or makes you feel good about yourself…. so I haven't bothered.

    •  

      My friend is a renewable energy engineer.

      he said install it for the $$ benefit, environmental benefit ? still up for a good debate .
      the life cycle cost including recycle the toxic panel and inverter not being considered

      • -1 vote

        I think the $$ benefit is debatable as well. If you go a cheap system and it fails quickly out of warranty - more money to keep it going. if you go an expensive reliable system, it takes much longer to pay off and earn a profit from the low feed-in rates back to the grid. So I didn't take the risk and enjoy my power from cheap coal :)

  • +1 vote

    Definitely would be a better decision to upgrade your lighting to energy saving LED's before going to solar. A much smaller outlay for an 80% energy saving. If you change the lights that are on for a few hours a day first, you will get your ROI within 12 months.

    Full energy audit of your house before going to solar, I found that my microwave uses 60 watts just sitting there with the clock on!!!

    •  

      I second this as slight change in usage habits may lead to lot of savings , i recently learned to turn off not in use applicances switches and i can see my average daily usage gone down around 5-10%.

    •  

      Stupid question…how do you do an energy audit?

      • +1 vote

        you can get it done professional(Google it for the one's in your area and some states have rebates for it) or cheaper way is to buy power consumption monitor off online or from electric store(bought mine from Jay car around 20$) and do it yourself which requires a bit of effort

  • +3 votes

    I used to work as Solar sales rep 3year ago when the Feed-in rate was around ~50cents and rebates were almost 50% of the unit cost , i used to sell almost 6 to 8 units a week but after an year things have changed feed-in rates were down to near 0 cents and no rebate on installation cost which even in my mind not a worth investment( the reason i quit that job) . From my experience its a Yes or no decision . Solar power output depends on facing of your house(north is best) and quality of panels. General thumb of the rule - you get what you paid for typically applies here too. 3k system might give same output for short term but will drop in couple of year . Good quality panels and inverter will help energy output long term. My company used to install panels depending on the cost we quoted the customers, we used to price beat most of the quotes solely on the reason they have almost 5 types of panels so depending on price, even though inverter is of the same brand(which most of customer see and care about) . So my point is do your research on panels as well. My personal recommendation(based on your household description) would be better of going for solar water heating system than solar electric system . I currently have a solar water system which feed hot water into electric hearter, i rarely turn electric hearter on. If you are willing to go for Solar system consider below things

    *check you daily average usage and compare your savings
    *check whether you can reschedule high energy consumption tasks such as laundry dishwashing to Daytime
    *check your Heater and aircon habits , if you much of a day time aircon user you can give it a shot

  •  

    Hmmm, I dont know the ins and outs of it all but I do have solar.
    Got an email from AGL telling me the Govt tariff is ending and Im going from 16c to 8c.
    Have had solar for a few years now and reckon I havnt got my money back yet and now the return will be so slow that possibly I will end up with repairs before I get a positive return on my investment.

    To me it was a Govt scam to create work and help with the election

    • +1 vote

      "I don't know the ins and outs… I reckon I havnt got my money back… possibly I will end up…"

      All that you seem to be certain of is that it was a scam.

  •  

    we have just installed solar panels and our electricity rate is changed from peak only to time of use (TOU) and according to Origin it is requirement by Distributor. Is that true? TOU rate is so much higher and expensive from peak only. We decided to go ahead with solar only after taking into account the peak only rate and with ROI in 6 years' time. Now that our meter is configured to TOU our ROI will be more than 6 years. What a rip off!!!!

    •  

      Interesting…. Can I ask what state you're in?
      Sounds like a win for the electricity company - they'll still make a comparable amount from you AND (presumably) have access to your excess electricity at a low FiT to resell their other customers.

      Will make sure I ask the question in our situation too.

      Thanks for the input!

    • +1 vote

      The power companies wan you to think peak electricity is too expensive, so you use less. It costs them heaps to manage the changes in demand in usage. The more they can get you to use off peak is a double win for them. The don't need to cater for as much peak load, and they down need to turn all the power stations down as much during off peak, then back up again for the peak.

      I agree it is a bit of a rip off, but the more you can work with the system the better off you are. Our solar panels are arranged with half on the west facing roof because they will generate more power in the afternoon when the tariff is higher (48c/kwh), saving us more money - but that is not as efficient as panels facing north. When facing north they will make more power per day but we wouldn't be able to use it and end up selling it for 6c/kWh.

      •  

        That's another really good point.
        Maybe we should put 70% on our NE facing roof and the other 30% of panels on the NW facing side…

  •  

    Wondering is there a plan where the electricity you feed to the grid in a day is taken from your consumption for that day. I read it somewhere, but don't remember where or it needs to be in batteries sitting in your house which you use in the evening.

  • +1 vote

    Looked at solar and didn't like the ROI and the pushy sales people. I felt like I was about to get ripped off.

    My power bills seems to be ok for a 3 person house. Average around $250 to $ 330 depending if I launch the heater or not. In summer pretty lucky that the house has high ceilings and great insulation that the air con is really only needed during the afternoon and evenings.

  • +2 votes

    I got a 5kW system 2 years ago for around $6000, The first quarter we didn't save much because we didn't change our usage patterns. Once we realised that the benefit only came from using our own power, we now save about $100/month from our previous bills. The savings alone make it worth it as the exported power doesn't even cover the daily connection charge.

  • +1 vote

    With soon to stay at home mum it is worth it if you run anything you can at daytime. Washing, ironing, dishwasher, pool etc. If you have an electric hot water system make sure to install a timer too.

    You shouldn't be paying more than 5k for a German inverter fully installed 5kw system. Go Chinese and should be around 4k. You can recover that in less than 3 years if you use your power correctly.

    It does not add value to the house but maybe some appeal (if you have 2 identical houses to choose from to buy, you would pick the one with solar and Crimsafe).

    Shop around and try to price beat. Despite their bad reviews we decided to go with EuroSolar 2 years ago and no regret. Just make sure the system is hybrid ready for the future.

  •  

    I've got a 5.5kw system, unless your at home during the day or a large portion of the day it's not worth it.

    Being in qld, you also loose 10% due to power correction as well.

    SMA/Fronius are the inverter brands to look for

    Canadian solar/LG/Trinia are the panel brands to look for.

    www.solarweb.com/Account/GuestLogOn?pvSystemId=cbd2068d-eee7...

    My system which you can view on live time. Power production/consumption and average savings. I'm on a 7.2c FIT

    https://www.keen2bgreen.com.au/

    Very reputable mob in qld, gets good reviews on whirlpool etc, they typically do a 5kw LG/Fronius system for 8k installed

  •  

    I paid $4k for a 3kw system 2 years ago. I save a decent chunk on power bills and for a house with 5 people living in it, my agl bill quotes I use around the same amount of power as a typical house with 1-1.5 occupants, which is pretty cool.

    This thread seems to be 100% ROI but I also feel good about the environmental aspect of it. Some people will argue against this point, but whatever, I'm still one less guy sucking down from the grid during multiple hours of the day via energy I get from the sky.

    • +3 votes

      shameless daylight savings plug: if we had DST you'd be able to better take advantage of the increased power produced later in the day (as opposed to earlier in the day when not everyone is home) …this is 'greener' and reduces the peak load on the system meaning that less investment is required in building a bigger grid

      •  

        Interesting thought. Have heard all kinds of supporting arguments for DST, but never this one!

    • +2 votes

      this is ozbargain not environmentbargain

  •  

    I'm looking at solar in qld too. I found we are using an old ergon meter so our quarterly maintenance charge is about 10bucks. The rep said ergon will require a new meter ergon up the charges to just under 120 bucks a quarter. So you need to factor that additional expense if you're on an old meter.

    Cheap 5kw system fully installed 6k. High quality 5kw system, add an extra 4k. This is what I'm getting in regards to quotes.

    Oh, one rep said ergon would reject us feeding into the grid as there are to many solar house feeds in our area, not that its much money at 8c per kw but worth checking prior to install.

    Lastly the recs?! Can be sold again after the 10year mark, probably for not much but still… This is ozbargain!

    •  

      "Cheap" should be cheaper than 4k, keep shoping around. We had our "cheap" 6kw system done 2 years ago for $4,200 in QLD (Eurosolar). Im sure you can beat that by now.

  • +1 vote

    If you do decide to go with solar then make sure you don't factor the pool pump usage into the equation…or any other off peak usage for that matter. Off peak (most likely tariff 33 in this case) is metered separately to 'general light & power' and solar i.e. solar power generated will offset any general consumption (non off peak) but your off peak usage is effectively quarantined from the impact of the solar generation.

    Oh yeah …forget batteries…they're just not 'there' yet…I'm so sick of all the Tesla hype.

  • +1 vote

    Hi Catchy,

    I reckon it comes down to how much solar electricity you will actually consume, and therefore not consume from the electricity companies.
    Therefore you probably have to be using quite a bit of electricity during the day to make a solar system worthwhile.
    Yes there are battery systems coming onto the market but they are quite expensive and therefore I don't think they will be economical for a long time yet given their expected life.

    So I would work out your expected electricity use during the day (this can be measured)… then work out how long it would take to make your solar investment back in electricity savings. If you can't pay it off during the warranty period forget it, and if it's even close… forget it!

    Otherwise go for it… but don't get cheap chinese solar inverters (cheap for retailer not cheap for you).
    Go with ABB or one of those big electrical transmission brands.

  •  

    have you considered replacing your downlights with low consumption LED ones? you can get good quality LED downlights for about $15 each and chances are probably install them yourself if the surface GPO is already in the roofspace

    •  

      Cheaper option is to buy a couple of headlamp torches and use your stash of eneloops that have been recharged at work.

  •  

    You need to live in your house for between 12 and 15 years to break even on the costs involved

    Will the panels and electronics survive in the hot Australian climate as it is a fairly new industry

    It is good for the environment though (So they say)

  • +1 vote

    Personally, am waiting for battery prices to fall. Lithium prices globally have come down over the last few months however has stagnated a bit. Mass market of electric cars are expected to reduce prices even further.

    I'd say definitely go ahead and install a 5kW system. FYI panels are basically free (as they are covered under Govt rebates - called STC's). You effectively would pay for installation, inverters and balance of system.

    Go for a hybrid inverter, assess your usage and install batteries once prices go under $400 per kWhr (usable). I say usable because a 10kWhr Lead acid battery bank may only allow you to use 5kWhr whereas a 10kWhr lithium battery will allow you to use up to 8kWhr. Depends on manufacturer specification but yes, around that mark.

    Hope it helps.

    TLDR: Buy hybrid inverter, install 5kW PV, install batteries once prices drop

    Couple of hybrid inverters on the market from Redback, Fronious, SolarX etc

  • +1 vote

    From a property valuation perspective, depending on the size of the setup, it is something that will be included in your home valuation. (unlike your cool new chandelier, or garden bed)

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