Catch Money Falling out of the Sky with Renewable Energy Solar Panels

Solar panels in recent years have become a trending means for saving money and adding value to your home. Using your wallet to guide which system will be required can help you save money every month and potentially eliminate your energy bill.


Of course there will be some financial outlay to get the system installed and prices will vary depending on which company you use. But, if you don’t plan on moving house anytime soon or would like to increase the value of your property without having to refurbish, solar panels are a very healthy investment to "catch money falling out of the sky".


Information and Pricing

Solar panel pricing can range greatly and is dependent on the type of system your household requires. Residential solar power systems start as small as 1.5kW and scale up to big commercial 50kW systems. A good starting point is always to consider how much roof space you actually have. Taking some averages across the industry, the general Australian household would need between a 3.0kW and a 5.0kW system. However, each solar panel company provides a consultant to analyse your consumption and saving goals to accurately recommend a suitably sized system.

The Australian government's small-scale renewable energy scheme (SREC) entitles eligible solar systems to small-scale technology certificates (STC’s). These certificates are based upon the expected output of the system over a 15-year period and one STC is equivalent to 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. Basically, STC’s are a renewable energy currency that can be bought, traded and sold. These STC’s provide an up-front discount when you install the system but it is the sole responsibility of the household to request one. So, if you are considering installing a system, make sure you apply for the government SREC discount.

The table below represents the value of the Australian Photovoltaic System (PV) zone map and the rebates which different sized systems will receive in those zones. All values are based on a STC value of $35 as of 10th December 2014.


Solar Panel System Size

Zone 1

Zone 2

Zone 3

Zone 4

1.5 kW





2.0 kW





2.5 kW





3.0 kW





4.0 kW





5.0 kW






Australia Photovoltaic System STC Zone Map

We now know some of the basic factors regarding a Solar Panel system and what happens once we’ve installed one, but how much do they actually cost to buy? Costs vary depending on the the company you choose, the number of panels, the size of the inverter, the number of stories on your home and your location. Whilst it is difficult to provide an accurate answer to how much your system will cost, below is a table giving a rough guide to how much rebate you can receive from the government when you do install your system.


1.5kW System 3.0kW SYSTEM 5.0kW System
Zone 1 36 STC $1,296 Zone 1 72 STC $2,592 Zone 1 118 STC $3,888
Zone 2 34 STC $1,224 Zone 2 68 STC $2,248 Zone 2 112 STC $3,672
Zone 3 31 STC $1,116 Zone 3 62 STC $2,232 Zone 3 103 STC $3,348
Zone 4 26 STC $936 Zone 4 52 STC $1,872 Zone 4 78 STC $2,808

Once your system is installed and operating, any un-used energy can be sold back to the grid, at a price agreed with your electricity provider. The tariffs vary depending on the retailer and also which state you live in. In most cases there will be times when your PV system is producing more power than your house is consuming, resulting in the surplus being sold back to the grid.

At these times (usually a sunny day) it’s a good saving tip to use your machines (washing machine dish washer etc.) to reduce your electricity bill by greater amounts, as opposed to operating them on a cloudy day.


The End Result

Act cautiously when companies say you will never pay a bill again or that they can eliminate your electricity bills altogether. The average customer installs a 1.5kW to 2.0kW system and these are unlikely to be large enough to accomplish those claims.

The Feed-in Rate is the sale price per kWh of excess electricity you produce and the minimum in 2014 was 8 cents per kWh.

A contract will be required to sell your excess electricity, however, buying electricity can sometimes stay under your original contract, otherwise there will be options to enter a new agreement with your solar panel retailer.

Solar Power Bill Saving


Overall, across the industry, most customers will see that solar power reduces their electricity bill once installed. Their final bill displays how much was bought from and sold to the grid and how much your panels produced, making it easy to monitor. But, electricity providers offering a flat rate may result in your solar solution increasing your monthly bill as you will not have the opportunity to utilise off and on peak rates. It’s always a good recommendation to compare at least three quotes before making your final decision and go through each one thoroughly to understand all their parameters.


TOPICS:   Home and Garden   Money


  • odysseus
    In your table of net costs, you for example say that the government rebate for a 1.5 kw system is $3000. However, the government rebates before that give a range of government rebates as $910 to $1260 for a 1.5kw system. Where does the extra $1740-$2090 rebate come from in that example?
  • FisherMan
    Hi odysseus, I initially searched the government website for a clear example about rebate amounts but could not find one. So my next stop was an 'Australian Solar Council' approved, industry information website which quoted the figures in the table you're referring to. Thank you for your comment, because within the same website they also quoted a table with figures similar to your examples, so I have since changed the table as I believe it to be more informative/accurate. Also before I go, Happy New Year odysseus! Here are the URL's I used, for your reference:
  • odysseus
    Thanks for that - Happy new year to you too :-)

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