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Sydney is a sunny city with plenty of solar potential, so solar panel installation might sound like a no-brainer. Below is everything you need to know before you get started with a solar panel installation in Sydney.
Solar panels might be a great idea in Sydney if your property fits the criteria and you are willing to make the investment.
Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world and has an average temperature of above 30 °C during the summer months. Sydney in particular has an average of 7.2 hours of sunshine per day and an annual temperature of 22.3 °C. About 107 days per year have clear skies.
Here's a comparison of sunny days in Australia's five largest cities, based on data from the Bureau of Meteorology. Sydney compares well to many other capital cities, having more sunny days than Adelaide and Melbourne.
|Partly Sunny Days
|Total Days with Sun
According to a 2019 Clean Energy Finance Corporation report, New South Wales has the highest rooftop solar power potential in Australia, thanks to the concentration of urban areas around Sydney. In particular, the western suburbs of Blacktown and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs, and the Northern Beaches LGA have the most rooftop solar potential.
A typical rooftop solar power system might be sized at 5 kilowatts (kW) or 10kW.
A 5kW system will include about 18 panels, and a 10kW system will likely include 30 to 40.
In Sydney, a 5kW system can generate approximately 20-kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per day or 7,300 kWh per year. A 10kW system can generate approximately 40 kWh per day or 14,600 kWh per year.
A typical Australian home uses around 19 kWh per day or 7,000 kWh per year.
So, if you choose either the 5KW or 10 KW, you could have more than sufficient energy to supply your home.
The savings you can earn from using solar energy will depend on several factors, such as the number and angle of your panels, and the price you pay for them.
For a Sydney household currently paying the NSW average electricity three-month price of $386, an eight-panel system could cover electricity needs at around $163 per month for 24 months. That's around $1,650 saved per year while paying off the system.
Remember that a variety of factors determine the return on a solar investment. The picture becomes clearer if you get a quote from a reputable supplier or installer.
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The planning process for a solar power system can take a few months. This involves determining the:
The actual installation is a much quicker process.
Your solar power installer will go through these steps:
Completing these steps only takes a few days for a typical residential rooftop system.
Your solar power purchase will include panels, an inverter, and installation.
The costs will vary depending on the size of the system, the type and brand of the hardware, and the rates charged by the installer.
Installers generally offer "premium" packages for a higher price. These include the highest quality products and stronger warranties.
The status of the Australian dollar can also influence your costs, as most system components come from overseas.
Finally, the strength of the rebates you receive will affect your price because rebates are being scaled back over time.
Solar systems can eventually save you money over time. It usually takes around four to seven years to hit the "solar payback time", when your savings exceed the price you paid.
According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources, the starting price for a typical small rooftop solar installation is around $3,500. Larger systems will cost up to around $8,000 and even beyond.
The amount of electricity a home requires depends on factors such as:
Heating and cooling typically demand the most electricity, followed by water heating, electronics and appliances, refrigeration, lighting, and cooking.
Before installation, you will need to review your electricity bills to see how many kWh you use throughout the year.
To compare your use with a typical household in your area, Energy Made Easy provides a calculator tool. For example, in South Sydney, a typical two-person home without a pool uses an estimated 14.8 kWh per day. A four-person home in Sydney without a pool uses 18.2 kWh.
For an average residential solar power system in NSW you generally won't need council approval to install and connect your solar panels. Although you should always check with your local council for your specific requirements, as you may need approval if your roof faces the street and your home is heritage listed.
Policy changes made in 2020 cut red tape on residential renewable energy. The new rules classify most systems as "exempt development."
Luckily, the guidelines for exemption aren't too strict. Your system just needs to meet some basic development standards. For example, a rooftop system can't protrude more than 0.5 meters from the roof. The standards are listed in full in part 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy.
You aren't limited to a certain number of panels, but the maximum system size you can connect to the grid is determined by your Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP).
DNSPs often apply a 5kW inverter size limit. However, the inverter limit is different from your overall system size. This gets a bit confusing, but your installer will help you to understand how big your system can be.
Your installer can also handle most of the paperwork to get your system connected to the electric network. Before the system is installed, the installer will submit a Connect to Network application with your DNSP. Make sure approval has been received before starting the installation.
After the installation, the installer will give you a Certificate of Compliance - Electrical Work (CCEW). The installer can then walk you through the process of getting a new meter installed.
At the beginning and end of the solar planning and installation process, check-in with your DNSP to make sure you're on track.
There are three DNSPs in NSW that might be serving you: Essential Energy, Ausgrid, and Endeavor Energy.
You'll need to compile some information to ensure you get an accurate quote. This includes:
Research the companies you're considering and read online customer reviews.
Finally, request an itemised quote to help you understand all the costs involved with the installation.
The type of quote they provide also shows their level of expertise. Is it detailed enough? Do they take a reasonable amount of time to respond? Is it tailored to your specific needs? All of these will help you settle on a final quote.
To help you further, read our full guide on obtaining solar quotes.
There are many solar panel installers around but as with all businesses, some will be better than others. Here's what you should look for when comparing options:
The first reason to install solar power is the reduction of your electricity bills, but you might also get some additional cash through rebates and incentives.
The Renewable Energy Target is a federal policy that aims to point Australia towards a major uptick in solar and other renewable energy sources.
The Renewable Energy Target includes a financial incentive for small-scale solar development. It works through small-scale technology certificates (STCs) as reimbursement for solar power system purchasers.
Homeowners and small business owners are eligible if they use systems that are under 100 kW in size, use approved panels, and are installed by approved professionals.
One STC is currently worth about $40. The number of STCs you earn depends on your system size. Our guide shows you how to save money with STCs.
At the local level, energy retailers pay feed-in tariffs to owners of solar systems. You earn these tariffs for the excess electricity that your system produces and this is fed back into the grid. The rate is per kWh and varies between retailers.
With the correct information, making the move to solar panels in Sydney could be a great benefit and might save you money over time.
While planning may take a few weeks or months, the installation process is usually quick, and it can all be done usually without council approval.
Remember to compare your options across many installers and only work with accredited installers.
Our energy guides can help you compare and understand what plan is best for you.
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Do I need to buy the solar panels myself?
You can discuss the selection of hardware with your solar retailer, but they will generally handle the purchasing of the panels and other hardware.
Can I install solar panels myself?
Australian law limits panel installation to accredited professionals. Installing your own solar panels can be dangerous and void your warranty.
Is it harder to sell a house with solar panels?
You'll find some different opinions on this, and every home sale is unique. But, generally speaking, solar panels are considered to be an enhancement and might even raise the value of your property.
How long do solar panels last in Australia?
Properly maintained panels could last for 25 years or more, although their efficiency decreases over time.
What angle and what direction should my solar panels be installed at?
Panels are most effective when pointed towards the sun, i.e. facing north. East/west is also suitable. The ideal tilt is the angle of your latitude, which is about 30 degrees in Sydney.
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