Solar power finder™: your guide to solar power

Generate your own electricity the sustainable and environmentally-friendly way with solar power.

In a country that gets as much sun as Australia, it's no wonder that household use of solar power is becoming increasingly popular. Though they were once seen as too expensive, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are now an affordable choice for Aussies who want to reduce their power bills and generate their own environmentally-friendly electricity.

There are many benefits to installing a solar power system in your home. Australia has the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent and solar power is a sustainable option that collects free energy from the sun and converts it into clean electricity. It's also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding more traditional forms of energy powered by fossil fuels.

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Rates last updated December 14th, 2017
Details Features
AGL
AGL
  • Pay on time discounts available
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Actew AGL
Actew AGL
  • Up to 22% off your energy plan
  • No exit fees when you add GreenPower
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Red Energy
Red Energy
  • Pay On Time discount off your entire energy bill
  • 100% Australian owned
  • No exit fees
  • Electricity and gas
  • No contract term for electricity and gas
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
More info
Powershop
Powershop
  • Choose from 4 power-packs
  • Download the mobile app to track your account
  • 100% offset of carbon emissions
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Mojo
Mojo
  • Use EnergyPass® to access Mojo’s wholesale energy rates
  • 10 Day cooling off period
  • Up to $55 per month for an EnergyPass
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Not available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Energy Locals
Energy Locals
  • 50% of profit goes to great Aussie causes
  • 12c Feed-in-Tariff
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Go to site More info
Power Direct
Power Direct
  • Discounts available for long term contracts
  • Pricing promise available
  • Variable / fixed available
  • Electricity only
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Click Energy
Click Energy
  • Discounts off usage and supply
  • $0 Exit fees
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Go to site More info
Dodo Power and Gas
Dodo Power and Gas
  • 30% off electricity and 20% off gas when you bundle (conditions apply)
  • Free electricity between 6-7am (conditions apply)
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Rates last updated December 14th, 2017
Details Features
Sumo Power
Sumo Power
  • 37% off when you pay on time
    (finder.com.au special deal)

  • "All you can eat" option for 12 months
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Not available
  • Solar: Not available
Enquire Now More info
AGL
AGL
  • Pay on time discounts available
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Red Energy
Red Energy
  • Pay On Time discount off your entire energy bill
  • 100% Australian owned
  • No exit fees
  • Electricity and gas
  • No contract term for electricity and gas
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
More info
Powershop
Powershop
  • Choose from 4 power-packs
  • Download the mobile app to track your account
  • 100% offset of carbon emissions
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Click Energy
Click Energy
  • Discounts off usage and supply
  • $0 Exit fees
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Go to site More info
Power Direct
Power Direct
  • Discounts available for long term contracts
  • Pricing promise available
  • Variable / fixed available
  • Electricity only
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Dodo Power and Gas
Dodo Power and Gas
  • 30% off electricity and 20% off gas when you bundle (conditions apply)
  • Free electricity between 6-7am (conditions apply)
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Online Power and Gas
Online Power and Gas
  • Up to 35% off your energy plan
  • Flexible payment options with direct debit
  • Exit fees may apply
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Rates last updated December 14th, 2017
Details Features
AGL
AGL
  • Pay on time discounts available
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Power Direct
Power Direct
  • Discounts available for long term contracts
  • Pricing promise available
  • Variable / fixed available
  • Electricity only
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Red Energy
Red Energy
  • Pay On Time discount off your entire electricity bill
  • 100% Australian owned
  • No exit fees
  • Electricity only
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
More info
Powershop
Powershop
  • Choose from 4 power-packs
  • Download the mobile app to track your account
  • 100% offset of carbon emissions
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Mojo
Mojo
  • Use EnergyPass® to access Mojo’s wholesale energy rates
  • 10 Day cooling off period
  • Up to $55 per month for an EnergyPass
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Not available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Energy Locals
Energy Locals
  • 50% of profit goes to great Aussie causes
  • 11c Feed-in-Tariff
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Dodo Power and Gas
Dodo Power and Gas
  • 30% off electricity and 20% off gas when you bundle (conditions apply)
  • Free electricity between 6-7am (conditions apply)
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Click Energy
Click Energy
  • Discounts off usage and supply
  • $0 Exit fees
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Go to site More info
Rates last updated December 14th, 2017
Details Features
AGL
AGL
  • Pay on time discounts available
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Dodo Power and Gas
Dodo Power and Gas
  • 30% off electricity and 20% off gas when you bundle (conditions apply)
  • Free electricity between 6-7am (conditions apply)
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Red Energy
Red Energy
  • Pay On Time discount off your entire electricity bill
  • 100% Australian owned
  • No exit fees
  • Electricity only
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
More info
Click Energy
Click Energy
  • Discounts off usage and supply
  • $0 Exit fees
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity only
  • No lock in contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Go to site More info
Power Direct
Power Direct
  • Discounts available for long term contracts
  • Pricing promise available
  • Variable / fixed available
  • Electricity only
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info
Rates last updated December 14th, 2017
Details Features
Actew AGL
Actew AGL
  • Up to 22% off your energy plan
  • No exit fees when you add GreenPower
  • Variable/fixed rate available
  • Electricity and gas
  • 12-24 month contracts
  • GreenPower: Available
  • Solar: Available
Enquire Now More info

energy-pic-under-500k

Once installed, solar systems can be expected to last for 20 years or more and they require little in terms of regular maintenance. Best of all, the electricity they generate is free, so those increasingly expensive power bills can be a thing of the past.

Solar power technology is far from a modern development, with efforts to harness the sun's energy recorded as far back as the 7th century BCE. Then in 1839, French scientist Alexandre-Edmund Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic which explains how sunlight can be used to generate electricity.

Further discoveries and inventions followed, but it wasn't until 1954 when three scientists from Bell Labs in the United States developed the silicon photovoltaic cell that significant progress was made. This was the first solar cell capable of providing efficient power with real-world applications.

As technology advanced, solar power gradually became a viable option for generating electricity. Today, more than one million Australian households have solar panels installed and that number will continue to grow as prices come down. The Federal Government's Energy White Paper released in November 2012 projects that by 2035 solar PV systems will provide 17 per cent of Australia's energy and 29 per cent by 2050.

How do solar panels work?

Solar PV panels are usually fitted on the roof facing in a northerly direction and at a certain angle to maximise their exposure to the sun. The panels contain PV cells, also known as solar cells, which convert the sun's energy into direct current (DC) power. There are no moving parts involved and the solar panels are usually connected to the main power supply through an inverter so the DC electricity can be transformed into alternating current (AC) electricity suitable for everyday household needs.

How does solar work?

image courtesy of vpe-solar.com

How much can I save with my own solar power system?

According to the Clean Energy Council, the cost of solar panels has been falling by about 45 per cent per year. However, installing a solar PV system is still a significant investment, which is why there is government assistance available to help cover the cost (read available assistance section below for more information).

Since solar systems let you generate your own electricity, over time the money you save on power bills will help you pay for your initial investment - this is known as "payback". Payback times are influenced by a number of factors, including the size of your system, your energy consumption patterns, your eligibility for government assistance and even the weather.

According to Living Greener, the average Australian house consumes around 18 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day, meaning a 1-2kW solar system displaces an average of 25-40 per cent of your average electricity bill and could translate to a significant saving. To get a more accurate savings estimate, use your electricity bills to add up your annual consumption or find out how much energy your household consumes each year.

Type of system and supplier

According to the Clean Energy Council, before choosing the right system for your situation, you need to ask yourself why you're installing solar power in your home.

Before you start

  • Do you want a system that will partially offset your energy consumption for 5-10 years before requiring a system upgrade?
  • Or do you want a system that will completely offset your household's electricity use for the next 25 years?

To work out what size system you require, study your electricity bills. From these you can calculate your average daily electricity consumption and the average amount of electricity your solar PV system needs to produce to meet your needs. The unshaded area available for the panels installation along with how much you are prepared to spend will also need to be taken into consideration.

Getting quotes from several accredited installers will give you the chance to compare costs and discuss any questions you may have. Another important decision to make is whether you'll need a grid-connected system, which interacts with the main power grid, or a stand-alone system that has its own electricity storage. If you live in an area where connecting to the main electricity grid is not possible, or where connection costs are expensive, stand-alone systems are a viable option.

However, these systems are more complicated and expensive. They involve more components and require more maintenance and you'll also need a battery bank installed in accordance with Australian Standards to store electricity.

If you want a grid-connected system, it's up to your electricity supplier to agree to connect you. Some companies let you feed the excess electricity your system generates into the electricity grid and then take the payment for selling your electricity off your power bill.

Grid-connected systems also require an inverter to convert the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into AC electricity for everyday household use. The Clean Energy Council has a list of all grid-connect inverters that meet Australian standards. Check with your installer to ensure you're getting the right inverter for your needs.

Be aware there may be additional costs involved, including a new fuse box or a grid-interactive electricity meter. Also, check that your installer/designer is on the Clean Energy Council's list of accredited installers as this could affect your eligibility for financial assistance, rebates or insurance.

Tips for installing a solar system

Make sure your panels meet Australian standards. The Clean Energy Council has an up-to-date list of all solar panel and inverter models that meet Australian standards.

Decide on a budget and location to install the panels. Solar PV panels come in different wattages and the main factors to consider when buying are how much you want to spend and whether the panels will fit in the space available. Each solar panel is approximately 1.6 metres long and 0.8 metres wide. A 1.5kW solar panel system requires around 12m² of roof space, though this will vary depending on the type of panel you use.

Think about the panel placement. Your installer will also take into account the best position and mounting options for your panels so they get the largest amount of direct sun. Fixed panels should face north for maximum efficiency and, if on a grid-connected system, the inverter needs to be located as close as possible to the panels to minimise power loss in the cables that connect them.

Think about the future. Shade is the enemy of solar systems, so make sure there are no trees or buildings likely to block the sunlight that gets to your system in years ahead. You might want to ask your installer to ensure bypass diodes are incorporated in the system. These allow some electricity flow around the panel if it becomes shaded or damaged.

Finally, get a system design and specification from your installer and make sure you also ask about the period covered by any warranty. The Clean Energy Council's Consumer Guide to Solar PV features a wealth of information to help ensure your solar installation goes smoothly.

Available assistance

Financial assistance is available to take some of the sting out of the cost of going solar. Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) offered as an incentive to install renewable power can save you thousands on the cost of a new system.

Additionally, find out whether an electricity feed-in-tariff is available where you live. If it is, find out the amount you will receive for any electricity you generate and feed back into the grid and whether you will be offered a gross or net feed-in tariff.

Under a net feed-in tariff, you receive a premium for any solar energy you generate that goes back into the grid. Under a gross feed-in tariff, you are paid for every unit of electricity your system generates, regardless of whether your use it or it is fed back into the grid. Apply to your electricity retailer to receive a feed-in tariff.

How to maintain your system

Once installed, solar PV systems require relatively little maintenance. Your installer will outline any safety procedures and show you how to monitor the system.

The panels will require occasional cleaning in order to maintain efficiency and if you're doing any gardening, don't plant any tall trees which may grow and shade your panels in the future.

Your inverter should have a data display so you can monitor how much energy your system is generating. If you'd like more detail on how your system is performing, there are monitoring systems available that let you keep a close watch on power generation and act immediately if it stops working. Remember if anything goes wrong with your system, contact your installer rather than interfering with the system yourself.

Once your solar PV system is in place, you can rest safe in the knowledge that you'll be powering your home in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner. And best of all, you'll be saving money along the way.

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16 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BelindaJuly 11, 2017

    I am getting cold calls from companies wanting to instal solar panels on my leased business property, on a “rent to own” basis, with the overall costs purportedly slightly lower than my current energy bills. Generally overseas call centres. How do I find reputable local suppliers to quote?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJuly 13, 2017

      Hello Belinda!

      Thanks for your inquiry. :)

      On this page, left part you’d see the list of providers we have per state under “Can I switch?”.
      We recommend that you click which applies on your location. Afterwards, it will direct you to the page where we have listed the distributors on that state. You can click “Enquire Now” green button of your chosen provider.

      Alternatively, you can also send an inquiry to an energy broker.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    LuisJune 28, 2017

    How do I compare my existing provider to a potential provider?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 28, 2017

      Hi Luis!

      You may go to this page and click “Need assistance? Request a callback from an energy broker and compare plans” green button.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    GailJune 27, 2017

    How as a renter can they access solar power?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 28, 2017

      Hi Gail!

      You can check our full-guide for renters on this page and how they can access energy deals.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

      H

  4. Default Gravatar
    MalMay 26, 2017

    Can you supply a solar application form for Victoria?

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 26, 2017Staff

      Hi Mal,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      To check the available energy options in Victoria you may need to visit this page for the list of providers.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  5. Default Gravatar
    DIANAJanuary 11, 2017

    hi i am looking for an electricity provider who has a great solar rebate scheme and cheaper prices than what i am paying at lumo cheers

  6. Default Gravatar
    BruceDecember 27, 2016

    In 2012 I installed a small 1.5 kilowatt system for a two storey townhouse. I have been receiving a 68 cent rebate for FIT. I am now being told by my supplier that I should only be receiving 10 cents FIT. Where can I find out if this is correct. Also, if I install a new larger system, what would the current Rebate for feed in be? Thanks for your time.

    • Staff
      MayDecember 27, 2016Staff

      Hi Bruce,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Solar rebates tend to change more frequently and the amount will vary according to your energy provider and your state location. I suggest that you contact your local government for the current rate of the rebates in your state. Furthermore, if you will change to a larger energy system, there will be a difference in the rebate you will receive. Whichever program permit you get, you will receive a credit through gross or net metering.

      Gross metering – all of the solar electricity a home’s system generates is sent into the grid. You receive reimbursement based on every kWh of solar electricity your system produces.

      Net metering – you receive funds according to the difference between the home’s usage and the solar electricity produced.

      Cheers,
      May

  7. Default Gravatar
    freshNovember 1, 2016

    Hi

    With the solar rebate ending are you doing a group deal with those coming off the rebate?

    • Staff
      HaroldNovember 2, 2016Staff

      Hello Fresh,

      Thanks for your question.

      The rebates that may be available to you depending on your state and solar setup. Solar rebates are a tricky thing, and they tend to change quite frequently, so we’ve devoted an entire article to help you understand and get the most out of them.

      I hope that helps.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  8. Default Gravatar
    johnJune 23, 2016

    I would like a quote to install Tesla solar power to my home

    • Staff
      ShirleyJune 28, 2016Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately this is beyond the scope of our advice. I’ve emailed you some links to find a quote for installing a Tesla Powerwall.

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