energy-solar

What Should I Expect from My PV System?

Information verified correct on December 9th, 2016

Energy output, cost and consumption and what to expect from solar power.

Solar power has a number of benefits for society and for your bank account. If you’re thinking about solar power you may have questions about how much PV solar panels will cost you and how much power you can generate for your home. We discuss these questions to help you make a decision about installing solar power in your home or business.

How much electricity solar PV systems generate?

Laboratory tested PV panels gave these figures for the electricity output of PV solar arrays in Australian  cities. Darwin basks in the most daylight hours and has the highest average output for a solar year. The temperature plays a role too. Solar panels are less efficient as the temperature increases.

Average daily output (kWh) of solar PV systems in Australian cities

CitySydneyMelbournePerthAdelaideBrisbaneDarwin
1 kWp3.93.64.44.24.24.4
1.5 kWp5.95.46.66.36.36.6
3.0 kWp11.710.813.212.612.613.2
5.0 kWp19.518.022.021.021.022.0
10 kWp39.036.044.042.042.044.0

Source* Consumer guide to buying household solar panels. Clean Energy Council. 2011.

  • Controlled conditions. These figures are based on controlled testing conditions and calculated over a solar year. All of the cells are positioned in the optimum position to get the most from the sun. There is no shading, the panels face North and are tilted 20%.
  • More or less electricity. PV solar systems may produce more electricity if the panels are made using different types of silicone cells, which can increase the system’s efficiency, and may produce less electricity if part of the rooftop solar array is shaded by trees, for example.
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How much solar energy do I need to power my home?

The ABS documented average Australian household energy consumption in recent research. Australian homes use about 18 - 22 units of electricity a day. A unit of energy is called a kiloWatt hour (kWh). For example, 1 kWh can power a 100 watt lightbulb for 10 hours. This is how your electricity distributor measures your household energy consumption.

Have a look at your most recent power bill. It has information about your average daily energy usage for the past couple of months.

If a home uses 18kWh of energy a day, even a small size PV system can cut energy costs by a good amount. Your electricity bill can give you an idea of the size of the solar PV system you may need. Also think about how much of your solar energy you want to sell back to the grid.

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Make your home energy efficient

Before you install a PV solar array in your home, you should make your home more energy efficient. It’s more cost effective to save energy than it is to generate it and sell it. The government has useful information about how to make your home more energy efficient. You can start by using large appliances less and at night during off-peak tariff times.

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How much will a solar PV system cost me?

  • Payback time

The savings from PV solar power panels will exceed the cost of installation, it’s just a question of when. This is called solar payback time. There are a number of factors that determine the system’s payback time. The price of the system, installation costs and the feed-in tariff rate are out of pocket costs; the system power rating (kWp), energy output (kWh) and the amount of energy exported to the grid can also influence PV solar payback time.

  • Small-scale technology certificates.

You can earn small-scale technology certificates (STCs) from the government by installing PV solar panels for your home or business. STCs are a digital currency you can use to reduce the upfront solar installation costs. The government lets you claim up to 15 years of STCs in advance to give to a solar retailer or installer. You also have the option of keeping the STCs and selling them on the STC market at a time of your choosing.

STCs are an incentive to help meet the government’s renewable energy target, larger PV systems earn more STCs than smaller systems. You can find out how many STCs your PV solar system is eligible to earn by visiting the Clean Energy Regulator’s website.

Your solar retailer or installer can address any expectations you may have about PV solar that we have not addressed on this page.

Shirley Liu

Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She is currently studying a Masters in Commerce (Finance) and is the author of hundreds of articles. She is passionate about helping Aussies make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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