Getting the best solar panel package for your home doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you understand the basics of how solar panels work, what solar panels cost and how to find quality solar panels, it will be easy to choose a solar package that meets your needs.
Some people want to know all the background information before contacting us, others prefer to have a chat. We can help you navigate your options and find the right solar system for your needs.
Solar energy is light energy from the sun that has been captured and converted into electrical energy.
Nuclear fusion within the sun causes it to emit massive amounts of solar energy, which travels to earth in the form of sunlight. When sunlight hits solar panels, the panels absorb this light energy and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. The system’s inverter then converts the DC electricity into AC electricity that can be used around the house. You can learn more about this process in our How do solar panels work? section.
Solar panels (also called photovoltaic [PV] panels) are a collection of solar cells that are joined together and usually mounted to a property’s roof. What do solar panels do? They are designed to absorb energy from sunlight and transform it into electricity. Unlike some other forms of electricity generation, solar panels don’t produce harmful emissions or use non-renewable resources to create electricity day to day.
The three main types of solar panels used in Australian homes and businesses are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin film solar panels.
The cells in these solar panels are created by growing monocrystalline silicon into an ingot, which a silicon wafer is then cut from. These cells are the most energy efficient of all the cell types, however they come with curved corners, which means they take up more space when combined to form a solar panel. Monocrystalline solar panels have a uniform black look.
The cells in these solar panels are created by pouring silicon into moulds. This process ensures that the cells have perfectly square corners, making them more space efficient and cheaper to produce than monocrystalline cells. They do not, however, generate as much electricity as monocrystalline cells. Polycrystalline solar panels have a patchy, more blueish tone.
Unlike panels made from monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells, thin film solar panels are created by spraying silicon onto a large surface. These panels are the heaviest and least efficient of the different types of solar panels, but they are also often cheapest solar panels to produce. They are rarely used for home solar.
You don’t need an advanced degree in electrical engineering to understand how solar panels work, the process is simple:
Solar panels are a cleaner, greener alternative to many other forms of electricity generation. The main environmental benefits of solar panels are:
Many parts of solar panels can be recycled. Most of the silicon in solar cells can be recovered and reused. The glass, plastic and aluminium that solar cells are housed in can also be recycled. Stripping solar panels of these materials at the end of their lifespan can be time consuming. It is expected, however, that recycling solar panels will become more efficient as more systems age out of use.
While installing solar power requires an initial investment, there are many financial benefits of solar panel installation. These include:
Perhaps a better question is, ‘How much do solar panels reduce your electricity bills?’. Solar power installation can lower your electricity bills in two ways. First, solar panels reduce the amount of power you need to buy from your electricity retailer. How much you’ll save here depends on the price you pay for electricity, your average usage, and the type of solar power system you have. Second, if your solar panels produce excess energy that is fed back into the electricity grid, you might be credited with a solar feed-in tariff on your power bill.
To find out how much money solar panels can save your household, call 1300 592 492 to chat to one of our consultants or fill in our online solar enquiry form. We’ll help you work out how much you might be able to save before you make your purchase.
There are a lot of options to choose from in the solar panel market. Some of the top things to look out for when you compare solar packages are:
Most solar packages will include solar panels, an inverter and monitoring software. You may be able to add an optional solar battery as well.
There’s more than just hardware to consider when buying a solar package though. You’ll also want to make sure that any solar package quote you get includes the cost of installation and all the solar warranties you're eligible for.
If you’re having trouble deciding whether to get a solar battery package, or to just feed your extra electricity into the grid, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Whether you have solar panels installed
How much energy your solar
How much energy you consume
When you use energy
Energy feed-in tariffs
The storage capacity of your battery
How much your battery costs and
How long your battery is covered under its warranty.
It is also worth considering how the broader environment can impact changes in the energy sector and energy prices.
If you would like some advice on the value of adding a battery to your house, call 1300 592 492 to chat to one of our consultants or fill in our online solar enquiry form. We ll help you get an energy solution that’s tailored to your needs.
To most people, all solar panels look the same. But if you pay attention to detail, you can get a high-quality solar system that will meet your needs for decades to come.
Things to look out for when comparing solar panel quality include:
When people talk about solar panel efficiency, they are referring to how much of the sunlight that hits your solar panels is converted into electricity. Your solar panels’ efficiency will depend on:
As solar panels age, they degrade, which means you can expect lower solar panel efficiency over time. Older and lower quality solar panels produce less electricity than the more expensive, most efficient solar panels on the market, which can convert over 20% of the sunlight they receive into electricity.
When you compare solar panel efficiency, make sure you look at the manufacturer’s performance warranty, as you want a system that will convert the maximum amount of electricity for as long as possible.
Things to look for when considering your solar panel installer options include:
Companies selling solar panels are legally required to provide you with warranty documents written in plain English.
When you're looking for the best solar panel warranties, it is important to know there are several types of warranties that may be applied to your system, including:
Solar power is a significant investment, so it pays to make sure you’re covered by robust solar warranties to ensure you get the most out of your system. If you’re purchasing your solar system from a reputable solar company, they will likely be recommending products from a reputable manufacturer. There’s no point getting the best solar warranty if the provider won’t be around long enough to honour their promise. For more information on how to find a reputable provider, head to How to compare solar companies.
There are many things to consider when searching for the best solar panels for your needs, including:
Australia does not have a solar manufacturing industry. Even companies that say their panels are ‘Australian made’ import the components, then assemble them in Australia.
The cost of producing solar panels is much cheaper in China, and as a result many of our leading solar experts now work for Chinese solar companies. These two factors are why most solar panels on the Australian market are made in China, even though Australia has one of the highest solar panel uptakes in the world.
In Australia, there are industry, government and jointly owned bodies whose roles and responsibilities have an effect on the solar panel industry and its consumers. These include:
The Clean Energy Council is the peak industry body for clean energy in Australia. This not-for-profit, member-based organisation represents and works with renewable energy businesses, including solar companies. Its roles include advocating for the industry, improving industry standards, and working with the government to promote clean energy. The CEC sets standards for solar panel quality and installation.
The Australian Energy Market Operator is the organisation responsible for managing electricity and gas systems, and markets across Australia. It is jointly owned by the government (60%) and energy industry representatives (40%). AEMO is member owned, and its members include representatives from federal and state governments, and from businesses that generate, produce, distribute and sell electricity and gas in Australia.
The Australian Energy Regulator is the government body responsible for representing energy consumer’s interests. The AER focuses on ensuring Australians have access to secure, reliable and affordable energy. It regulates electricity networks and covered gas pipelines, setting the amount of revenue businesses can recover from customers in all areas of Australia except Western Australia.
The Clean Energy Regulator is the federal government’s economic regulator, responsible for administering schemes that have been developed in line with Australian climate change laws to measure, manage, reduce or offset carbon emissions. The CER has also conducted a review of the Australian rooftop solar sector, which introduced thirteen recommendations to increase the sector’s integrity and accountability.
Asking ‘how much do solar panels cost’ is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is – there are many factors affecting solar panel price. On average, you can expect to pay $800 to $1200 per kW, which on a 6.6kW system (average size) would equate to $5,2807,920. These figures are estimates only. The price of installing solar panels at your home will be affected by:
To find out how much your solar system will cost, it’s best to get a quote tailored to your household’s needs.
While there are many online solar quote calculators, the best way to calculate the cost of solar panels is to chat with a solar provider. They’ll take the time to review your current usage, work out how much energy you want to produce, and assess your home to determine the most optimum system for your circumstances.
The best way to get an accurate quote for your solar panel system is to book an in-person assessment. A reputable solar provider will book a time to visit your property and assess:
If you’re unable to do an in-person solar quote, you can also meet with your solar provider via a Zoom meeting or phone call. To get an accurate quote, it helps to have your address and latest power bill handy, as well as a photo of your meter box. If you’re ready to calculate the cost of solar panels for your home, call 1300 592 492 to chat to one of our consultants or fill in our online solar enquiry form.
Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), the Australian Government offers solar incentives to homes and small businesses that install eligible small-scale solar panel systems. The incentive is in the form of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which you can sell or assign to others. Usually, homeowners who install eligible systems will assign their STCs to the installer in exchange for a discount on the system. The more electricity your system produces or replaces, the more STCs you’ll be able to get, which is great news for people who live in sunny Queensland.
There are, however, a few criteria you must meet to be eligible to receive STCs, including installing approved solar panels and inverters that meet Australian standards, and having an accredited solar installer do the job.
At the time of writing, the Queensland Government does not offer a solar panel rebate. Your energy retailer may pay you a feed-in tariff for the energy your system puts back into the grid, which is paid in cents/kWh.
If you’re looking at your roof wondering, ‘What sized solar system do I need?’, the answer will depend on the size, layout, and orientation of your home, the amount of energy you use and your budget.
A 6.6kW solar system (16-18 panels with current panel technology) is often considered a good entry point. Broadly speaking (and depending the size of the household), this sized system can often produce enough energy to support the household during the day and feed excess energy back into the grid, making a significant reduction in energy bills.
How much electricity your panels will generate depends on many factors, including:
The best way to figure out what size solar system your household needs is to get a personalised quote.
In early 2022, RACQ became the majority shareholder in the highly awarded GEM Energy Australia. Since 2013, GEM Energy has combined the latest technologies and exceptional service to provide safe and reliable solar, inverter and battery systems Australia-wide. Along with delivering outstanding residential solar panel and battery systems, GEM Energy has been trusted to install commercial systems for some of Queensland's most well-known organisations, including Australia Zoo, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and the RNA Showgrounds.
No. Anyone living within an area that we service can buy RACQ Solar.
Our partners at GEM Energy currently service the following areas:
If you own the building your business operates from, it would be worth investigating whether installing solar panels will reduce your business’ electricity costs. If you lease your business’ premises, chat to the owner or body corporate about whether you can install solar or they're interested in installing solar themselves. You’ll need their approval before you can make any alterations to the building.
There are no special solar rebates for businesses. The good news is that most small to medium businesses can still take advantage of the Australian Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. You can read more about this scheme in the What solar rebates are there? section.
In much the same way you regularly service your car, it’s a good idea to service your solar panel system – especially because they save you money! Solar panel maintenance will ensure your system is clean, defect-free, is less likely to deteriorate or corrode, and that all parts are securely attached. Your solar panel technician will also review your system for any recorded faults that have been logged.
The Clean Energy Regulator recommends getting a licenced electrician or a Clean Energy Council-accredited solar panel system installer to perform solar panel maintenance as often as your system’s manufacturer suggests. A good place to start is asking your solar installer if they offer aftercare services like a solar health check.
Well-maintained solar panels will give you optimal energy output for the first 20–30 years after they’re installed. After this time, you will likely notice a decrease in their energy output. If you’re wondering when to replace your solar panels, there’s a simple rule of thumb – replace them when you aren’t getting enough electricity to meet your needs. And, before you pay for new panels, make sure you get a solar health check to ensure the problem is due to your panels reaching end-of-life and not another external factor that’s limiting their energy production.
If you’re searching ‘how to clean solar panels’, the good news is, many solar panel systems don’t need cleaning. As long as panels are installed at a 10-degree pitch minimum, the Clean Energy Council says they areself-cleaning , and rain should do most of the work. If your panels are installed flat on your roof or are located near trees or construction sites, they may need cleaning. Don t clean the panels yourself. Using a mop, broom, cloth or incorrect cleaning chemicals on solar panels can damage the surface, reduce efficiency and even void your warranty. Plus, cleaning anything on your roof is inherently dangerous. The best thing to do is to book solar panel cleaning by a professional. Check with your solar installer to see if they can recommend a reputable cleaner.
It’s important not to touch broken solar panels, inverters, or storage batteries, as they can present serious shock, fire and cut hazards. If you suspect your solar panels are damaged, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to safely shut your system down. If your solar system is covered by your home and contents insurance, get in touch with the insurer to arrange repair. If you don't have solar insurance, contact a certified solar repair technician to fix your system. Damaged cells often cannot be repaired, so you will likely need a solar repair technician to safely remove and replace them.
Yes. You can switch energy retailers whether or not you have solar panels installed on your house. A few things to consider when you’re making the switch are:
If you’ve already begun to install solar panels, make sure the installation is complete before you make the switch, to avoid any confusion.
Feed-in tariff: A feed-in-tariff is the amount your electricity retailer may pay you for any electricity produced by your solar system that you supply into the grid, rather than using yourself. You can access feed-in tariffs once you’ve installed a solar power system with the appropriate metering system.
Inverter: A solar inverter converts the direct current (DC) that your solar panels produce to alternating current (AC), which can be used by your home or fed back into the power grid.
Solar health check: A detailed inspection of your solar system and report on whether your system is safe and well-functioning. The report includes notice of components that need repairs or replacement. If major faults are found, you may ask your selected retailer to provide a quote for a new solar energy system.
This guide is current as of the time of writing, 14 September 2022.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.