Going Solar: A Guide to Residential Solar Power Systems

If you’re curious about bringing clean and sustainable energy to your home, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about residential solar power systems, from how they work and the different types available to the economic benefits and selecting the best equipment for your needs.

A residential solar system can help you dramatically reduce the running costs of your property. To find out how much money you can save with a residential solar power system, here are some factors that need to be considered:

So, How Does Residential Solar Work?

Solar power works by harnessing the energy from the sun and converting it into usable electricity. The process involves the following key components:

  1. Solar Panels: Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are made up of multiple solar cells. These cells are typically made of semiconductor materials, such as silicon, that can convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity.
  2. Photovoltaic Effect: When sunlight strikes the solar cells, it excites the electrons in the semiconductor material. This causes the electrons to move and creates an electric current.
  3. Inverter: The DC electricity generated by the solar panels is converted into alternating current (AC) electricity through an inverter. AC electricity is the standard form of electricity used in homes and buildings.
  4. Electrical Panel: The AC electricity produced by the inverter is sent to the electrical panel of the building, where it can be distributed to power various appliances and devices.
  5. Grid Connection (Optional): In grid-connected solar systems, excess electricity generated by the solar panels can be sent back to the power grid. This process is called net metering, and it allows homeowners to earn credits or receive payment for the surplus energy they contribute to the grid.
  6. Energy Consumption: The electricity produced by the solar panels is used to power the electrical loads in the building, such as lights, appliances, and electronics. By using solar energy, homeowners can reduce their reliance on electricity from the grid, thereby lowering their electricity bills and decreasing their carbon footprint.

What Are Grid-Connected Systems?
Grid-connected systems, also known as grid-tied systems, are a type of solar power setup that allows a property to be connected to both the local electricity grid and a solar power system. These systems are the most common and popular choice for residential and commercial solar installations.

What About Off-Grid Systems?
These standalone power sources incorporate solar panels and batteries, providing a 24-hour power solution without any grid connection. They are commonly used in new rural construction projects, where grid connection costs can be prohibitively high. Though the upfront cost of installing a solar and battery standalone power system can be significant, it offers free power for its entire lifetime.

Tell Me About Hybrid Solar Systems?
Hybrid solar systems represent a smart fusion of grid-connected systems and solar batteries, offering the best of both worlds. These systems store excess solar energy in batteries, making it available for use during periods without sunlight, such as at night or on cloudy days.

Hybrid solar systems represent a smart fusion of grid-connected systems and solar batteries, offering the best of both worlds. These systems store excess solar energy in batteries, making it available for use during periods without sunlight, such as at night or on cloudy days.

The key advantage of hybrid systems lies in their ability to provide excellent backup power. During power outages or when the grid is down, the stored energy in the batteries can be tapped to keep critical appliances running, ensuring an uninterrupted electricity supply.

Also, hybrid systems are designed to maximise the utilisation of solar energy. By storing surplus energy in batteries, homeowners can make the most of their solar panels, reducing reliance on the grid and potentially lowering electricity bills further.

However, it’s important to note that the current pricing of solar batteries may impact the return on investment for hybrid systems. The upfront cost of batteries can be significant, and it may take considerable time to recoup the initial investment through savings on electricity bills.

As a result, hybrid systems with battery storage are chosen by only a small fraction of households at present. However, as battery technology advances and becomes more cost-effective, the adoption of hybrid solar systems is expected to grow, allowing more homeowners to take advantage of their numerous benefits.

Increasing Self-Consumption
To maximise cost savings, increasing the self-consumption of solar energy is key. Simple steps like using timers on everyday household appliances such as electric hot water systems, washing machines, dishwashers, swimming pool pumps, and underfloor heating can enhance the return on investment. These programmable wall-socket timers are both affordable and readily accessible.

Determining System Size and Savings on your solar
To gauge your energy bill savings, it’s crucial to identify the appropriate system size for your requirements. By balancing the electricity purchased (self-consumed energy) with the excess electricity sold through a feed-in tariff, significant savings can be achieved. Understanding your self-consumption of solar energy is vital, given the varying rates for buying and selling energy, allowing you to estimate your potential savings accurately.

Residential Solar Costs
The cost of a solar system varies based on location, system type, product selection, and the solar company you choose. As part of our service, we collect and publish up-to-date pricing information from multiple solar installers around Australia.

Beware of Cheap Solar
While researching solar options, you may encounter seemingly incredible deals. Exercise caution with such companies, as extremely low prices could signal compromises in customer service, product quality, and installation procedures. Opting for a too-cheap solution may lead to higher long-term costs compared to a reasonably-priced system. Thoroughly research the solar installation company and the products they offer before making a decision.

Selecting Quality Solar Equipment
Selecting top-notch solar equipment demands thoughtful evaluation. Opt for renowned brands that undergo independent testing and demonstrate tier 1 financial stability. Additionally, ensure the manufacturer maintains a presence in Australia with a valid contact number, as this is essential for warranty claims.

Choosing a Reliable Solar Installer Near You

Selecting a reliable solar installer in Australia is a crucial step in ensuring a successful and efficient solar installation. Here are some essential factors to consider:

  1. Experience and Reputation: Look for solar installers with a proven track record and extensive experience in the industry. Research customer reviews, testimonials, and ratings to gauge their reputation and reliability.
  2. Accreditation and Certifications: Ensure that the solar installer is accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) and holds relevant certifications. CEC accreditation ensures that the installer follows industry best practices and adheres to safety standards.
  3. Quality Products: Check if the installer offers high-quality solar panels, inverters, and other components from reputable manufacturers. Choosing premium products ensures the longevity and performance of your solar system.
  4. Transparent Pricing: Seek quotes from multiple installers and compare their pricing and offerings. Avoid companies that pressure you into making quick decisions or offer deals that seem too good to be true.
  5. Warranty and After-Sales Support: Inquire about the warranties provided for the solar panels and other components. A reliable installer should offer comprehensive warranties and excellent after-sales support.
  6. Local Presence: Opt for installers with a physical presence in your local area. This ensures better accessibility for maintenance, support, and warranty claims.
  7. Referrals and Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have already installed solar systems. Personal referrals can provide valuable insights and help you find trustworthy installers.
  8. Site Visit and Assessment: A reliable solar installer should conduct a thorough site visit and energy assessment before providing a quote. They should take into account your energy consumption patterns and design a system tailored to your needs.
  9. Financing Options: Check if the installer offers flexible financing options or partnerships with reputable solar financing companies. This can make the upfront cost more manageable.
  10. Transparent Contracts: Review the contract carefully to ensure it includes all the agreed-upon terms, pricing, warranties, and timelines. Avoid signing contracts with hidden fees or ambiguous clauses.

By considering these tips and conducting thorough research, you can choose a reliable solar installer like Hardy Electrical & Solar, to ensure a smooth and successful transition to solar energy for your home.

Residential Solar Power FAQ’S

How Much Can You Save With Residential Solar?

System Size Power Produced Solar Used Daily Saving Yearly Saving
3kw 12.7kWh 7.0kWh $3.09 $1,129
4kw 16.9kWh 8.5kWh $4.05 $1,480
5kw 21.1kWh 9.6kWh $4.99 $1,822
6kw 25.3kWh 10.5kWh $5.90 $2,153

* Based on Solar Proof model using $0.28/kWh energy cost and $0.20 solar feed-in-tariff with standard residential energy profile average use of 25kWh/day and solar inverter limit of 5kW.

By efficiently using the electricity your residential solar system produces you can reduce the amount electricity your home exports to the electricity grid and deliver further savings.

For example, please refer to the table below, which shows the difference in savings when your home is exporting different of it’s solar-generated electricity back into the grid. All values are based on a 5kw solar system.

How Much Do Residential Solar Savings Change When Usage Patterns Change?

System Size Energy Produced kWh Energy Saving Daily % Fed into Grid kWh to Grid Solar Used kWh Total Daily Saving Total Yearly Saving
5kw 20 $7.00 10% 2 18 $6.46 $2,357.90
5kw 20 $7.00 20% 4 16 $5.92 $2,160.80
5kw 20 $7.00 30% 6 14 $5.38 $1,963.70
5kw 20 $7.00 40% 8 12 $4.84 $1,766.60
5kw 20 $7.00 50% 10 10 $4.30 $1,569.50
5kw 20 $7.00 60% 12 8 $3.76 $1,372.40
5kw 20 $7.00 70% 14 6 $3.22 $1,175.30

As you can see there is quite a difference in the potential savings when less of the electricity produced by your solar system is being fed back into the grid. When we install a residential solar system with any of our clients we discuss the best ways to optimise the use of the electricity generated by their new solar system so they are obtaining the full savings potential that a new solar system can bring.

It must be noted that these figures do not take into account the yearly rise in electricity costs. If these electricity price rises are factored into the savings calculation, your savings will be even larger (because you won’t be paying the higher prices to the electricity company).

How Much Solar Power Do I Need For My House?

The biggest factors to consider when working out how many solar panels you need are:

  1. The amount of roof space you have to fit solar panels on
  2. Appliances you run / how much energy you use each day
  3. How much money you can get as a Feed-in-tariff
  4. Whether you might get a solar power battery system later

How much roof space do you need for a solar power system?

Modern solar panels (written in 2019) are usually 2m x 1m and produce approximately 300W each.

So if your roof is 15m x 5m on the North face, you could fit at least 2 rows of 13 panels. This would be 26 solar panels and if they are each 300W it would be 7.8kW!

This is usually more than enough solar power for your home.

What if my roof is shaded?

Shading from trees and other obstacles can reduce your solar power system output! This will affect your solar savings potential. It is always best to avoid shade wherever possible, but if you can’t avoid it then you need to manage it.

Some shade management strategies for home solar power systems:

  • Trim back any trees which are shading the best roof areas for solar panels
  • Relocate any antennae or other roof obstacles where possible
  • Cut down stink pipes if possible
  • Install solar panel optimisers or micro-inverters – although this increases the cost of your solar power system, it will ensure optimal performance where shading is inevitable.

What if my roof doesn’t face North?

Solar panels produce more energy the more sunlight they get. But it’s very common to have solar panels facing East and West. This reduces the average output by around 10% – 15%. South-facing panels will also produce energy, although usually 15% – 25% less than optimal North facing solar panel systems.

Is it still worth it if I have a small roof?

If you can only fit a small solar power system on your roof, it’s still worth getting solar panels. Although you won’t save as much money as you would with a larger system, you should still be able to see a 3 – 4 year Return On Investment. Which means you’ll still make a good amount of savings for the outlay.

Some of our Residential Solar Partners

affordable solar panel company High quality solar panel brand Risen Energy Premium solar panel manufacturer top tier 1 solar panel company one of the most efficient solar panel brands

Solar Power System Prices

The first thing you need to know about solar power system prices is that buying a cheap solar system is not always your best option! In fact many customers have found out the hard way that a cheap solar panel system can mean lower savings than expected, failing components and other problems.

Solar Power System Average Price Ranges

As you may be aware, solar system prices vary… A lot!

So when we talk about average solar system prices, there are many factors to consider. In general, however, the average solar power system price is in the range of $0.60 / $0.8 per watt of solar energy.

So for a 6.6kW solar power system, the average price range would be $3,960 – $5,280*

The price range here refers to the cost of the residential solar system to the customer (after discounts and rebates).

* This price range does not constitute a quote. It is an indication only of the “ballpark” price range you could expect to pay for your solar power system. Please contact us to get a solid price and secure any potential offers/discounts which may be available to you.

Solar System Price Recommendations

When you consider prices for solar systems there are 3 big recommendations:

  1. Stay away from the lowest price you find — There is a reason it’s the lowest price. If you see a solar system advertised on Facebook or on TV for a price that seems too good to be true… It’s because it is. No doubt you might get a system installed but because of the technical nature of solar power systems, you might get well and truly more than you bargained for!
  2. Don’t go for the premium price, consider reasonable costs for premium products — Some companies will try to flog standard products at premium prices – or worse! Beware of predatory door-knocking sales teams who try to charge you much more than market prices for their systems – taking advantage of homeowners’ lack of information.
  3. Go with an experienced solar company with a real office and real customers who vouch for them.

Normal Low-Price Solar Systems

Lower-priced, budget solar panel system prices would include brands like:

  • Jinko Solar Panels
  • Risen Solar Panels
  • Seraphim Solar Panels
  • Trina Solar Panels
  • Suntech Solar Panels
  • Sungrow Inverters

These systems would be in the lower price range mentioned above. Likely for a 6.6kW system you might pay $3,800 – $4,200+

Normal Premium Solar Power System Prices

Premium solar products include:

  • SUNPOWER Solar Panels
  • WINAICO Solar Panels
  • LG Solar Panels
  • Fronius Inverters
  • SMA Inverters
  • Other inverter technologies such as micro-inverters or optimisers

These systems would often be around $1,200 more than a lower-priced solar system (6.6kW). Expect to pay in the range of $5,400 – $6,000+

Residential Solar System Finance Options

Hardy Solar offer finance options for your solar panel system investment. We can normally offer an option that is cash-flow positive AND $0 deposit – meaning you don’t have ANY additional costs to own a brand new solar power system.