Solar system quotes: 5 things you need to consider

Solar panels on rooftop

Installing a rooftop solar system is a big first step into bringing renewable energy into your home and cutting down on household power costs. While the upfront costs can be confronting to some, there are a number of schemes and subsidies that exist to make taking the leap to rooftop solar easier. 

In order to get the best deal, it's important to shop around to find the right installer for your rooftop solar panels. We’ve collected some tips from Oseh Mathias, who works with Pylon Solar Design Software, to help customers get the most out of their solar quotes.

Oseh says customers comparing solar quotes need to consider a few things, including:

  • Small-scale technology certificates (STCs) and rebates
  • Solar shading
  • Financial outcomes
  • Batteries and self-consumption
  • Finding the right solar company for your installation.

STCs and government rebates

STCs were set up by the Federal government to create an up-front discount on solar systems. This has decreased the price of installing solar by about 30%.

Looking for STC credits on solar quotes means you’re getting a more expensive system at a discount, so it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.

In some states and territories, such as Victoria, there are government rebates in place to provide incentives to households that install rooftop solar. In order to qualify for these rebates, you’ll need to meet the criteria of the program and have your panels designed and installed by an approved solar retailer. 

Keeping an eye out for the Clean Energy Council name and logo on your quotes will give you a good idea of what retailers are approved. 

3D Solar Shading Analysis

3D Shading Analysis is when Designers use a high-resolution aerial image of your house to calculate what nearby objects like trees or buildings will cast shade on your roof throughout the day. With shading analysis, solar consultants can optimise your solar system for maximum output.

Solar installers who are CEC Approved Solar Retailers are also required to include Shading Analysis and potential losses in the proposals they send you, and thus you are more likely to find a system that provides the best output for your home.

Financial outcomes

Oseh says that a good solar proposal will show you:

  • The total cost of your system
  • How much you can save on your power bills by switching to solar
  • How much you can earn by exporting your generated solar power to the grid
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Discounted payback (how long it will take you to pay off the system)
  • Financing options

By comparing the ROI and discounted payback figures, you will best be able to assess the value of solar systems across various quotes. According to Oseh, a ROI of 500% or more is not uncommon.

If you need financing your solar company should also be able to tell you of any relevant initiatives or subsidies you can apply for, and most will also offer financing through third-party providers. 

Batteries and self-consumption

Self-consumption helps you to balance the size of your solar system against the needs of your home. The recommended self-consumption rate for residences is 40%, which can be increased to 60% for residences with heavier energy needs during the day, and around 80% for commercial installations. 

Most energy is produced during the middle of the day when there is lower consumption, so adding a battery is a smart idea to capture and store more of your solar energy for usage later in the day. You can often reduce your power bills to $0 and potentially even earn revenue from exporting power to the grid when you have a battery.

Adding a battery will increase your self-consumption so if you would like a battery, you should increase the size of your solar system.

Finding the right solar company

After you’ve found a quote you’re happy with, it’s worth taking a look into the company you’re dealing with before agreeing to do business with them.

In Australia, many companies will sub-contract the installation process, which can leave you in the dark about just who will be fitting your panels until they show up at your door to begin work. It’s worth checking with your company who will be fitting your panels, and ensuring they have a decent reputation as an eligible installer. 

Most CEC-accredited installers adhere to very high quality standards and will leave you delighted with your new solar system, but Oseh insists it never hurts to check. You can find a list of CEC-accredited installers over on the CEC website. 

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