Thanks to improvements in technology and manufacturing processes, more affordable solar systems become available every year. For most West Aussies the question now isn’t if but when they will install solar panels on their home. Those waiting may now be at a point of diminishing returns by holding out, however.
Installation costs for solar infrastructure have indeed fallen 70% since 2006. Should you wait another year to see them drop further? Well, remember that every day without a Koala on your roof is losing you money with a rising power bill. The systems and rebates available now have made solar more affordable than ever – but installation incentives won’t be around forever.
Installing in 2020, most homeowners can expect to recoup the investment on solar within around 2-4 years depending on the size of the system.
Yes, those solar panels can pay for themselves, provided you choose a quality system. Affordable solar options don’t need to be cheap and nasty. Not only are some ‘ultra-cheap’ systems a fire hazard, but you also have to think about what else you are saving with solar: the environment.
Low quality, cheap solar panel technology is actually one of the least environmentally friendly things to do. Broken panels end up in landfill before they can generate the energy to counteract the CO2 emissions of manufacturing. A 1KW system will prevent 77kg of coal being burned and 130kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere — unless you’re having to replace the cheap panels after a few years due to water/humidity damage.
What’s the cheapest solar system in Perth?
We’ve seen a few models of cheap solar systems enter the market recently that look attractive in the newspaper ad but are really nothing more than bait to get customers through the door. And like bait, it stinks once it’s in the sun.
“A cheap PV solar system is not the same as an affordable one.”
I’m reminded of a shopping mantra my nanna instilled in me: when you buy cheap, you buy twice. I reckon a good rule of thumb with any technology, is to go the model a step above your requirements. Think of a bottom-rung laptop. It looks like a score on the sales floor, but that system will chug frustratingly just 12 months from now.
So, before you get caught out by a cheap solar system that looks to good to be true, consider:
- Will it suit my needs in years to come, or is it expandable?
- Does ‘fully installed’ include connection to the grid, pre-inspection costs, or additional charges for ‘non-standard’ installations?
- What brand is on offer? Google it to get background on its reputation. If the installer won’t tell you the brand of panels or inverter, that’s alarm bells.
- Servicing clauses. Read the fine print, some installers will insist that servicing is required every two years, otherwise voiding the warranty.
- Is the company who’s advertising installing, or are they subcontracting? A subcontractor’s need to make up the margins could lead to them cutting corners with a cruddy install.
Quality, affordable solar systems are plentiful – you just need to choose wisely!
What are the most affordable solar panel options in Perth?
Not all panels are built equal. They look simple, but there’s a lot of complexity under the surface. A bit like Stu 😉
Solar panels are divided into two core technologies: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline is the highest efficiency at 15-22%, has a long lifespan (standard warranties are 25 years), and takes up the least amount of space on a roof. No surprise, they also have a higher upfront cost to install.
If you have more roof space, polycrystalline panels are slightly less efficient (13-17%) but are also simpler — and therefore cheaper — to manufacture. They also usually have a lifespan of about 25 years and may prove to be the most cost-effective in the long-run for larger roofs.
As for brands, we believe that does make a difference. Some panels in the Australian market have been tested and shown to produce up to 12% less electricity than advertised. In 2018 The Clean Energy Council struck 5,500 solar panel models and 88 models of solar inverter from its list of approved products.
What brands does Koala Solar recommend for affordable solar systems? They’re on our homepage!
The average cost of solar systems for 3kW, 5kW and 6.6kW systems
All solar system costs will vary depending on brands. Taking into account subsidies from STCs (also known as the solar rebate) a quality 3kw solar system starts from around $4,500-$5,500 fully installed. Expect to pay about $4,500 – $8,000 out of pocket costs for a good quality 5kW system. A 6kW system, which requires around 32 square metres of suitable rooftop space, will generally range between $5,000 and $9,000.
Cheap solar installation: you get what you pay for
Less than 2-percent of Australia’s 2.5 million homes with solar panels have been inspected by the Clean Energy Regulator. But those inspections found that about one in six solar installations was “substandard”, and about one in 30 was “unsafe”.
Poorly installed solar can cause house fires. So, yes, you can buy cheap but why install an inferior quality, and maybe unsafe, system on your family home? Your best bet is to choose a CEC-approved installer with outstanding ratings for installation. *cough* *cough* Koala Solar *cough*
Don’t get stung! What to look out for with cheap solar:
I think we’ve all experienced a pressure salesperson spruiking a LIMITED OFFER that must end TODAY! Let it go. A good deal will be one that you’ve adequately considered, with advice to suit your home and lifestyle.
Compare apples with apples. Some unethical sellers are, right now, trying to offload cheap solar panels and outdated control systems that can’t be upgraded, or aren’t compatible with monitoring systems or storage batteries.
Always ask the solar panel provider if they’re installing the gear, or if they subcontract. And if your installer won’t offer advice or a no-cost quote, go elsewhere.