How Much Solar Power Do I Need?
My advice on solar power system sizing has changed over the years due to the cost of solar panels continuing to reduce over time.
This video explains the system size providing the best bang for buck for the typical Australian household:
Spoiler alert – if you don’t feel like watching, my advice on system sizing is: “if you have reasonable electricity consumption and a decent feed-in tariff, install as many solar panels as you can fit and afford.”
This article digs a bit deeper into why my advice is to ‘fill your roof’ rather than a specific size and shows how to use my nifty solar calculator to see what a solar system can do to your bills.
The size of a solar power system is described by total panel capacity, expressed in kiloWatts (kW).
A Watt is a basic measure of electrical power, and the kilo means there are 1000 of them. i.e. 1 kW = 1000 Watts
For example – a system made up of 16 x 415W solar panels = a 6.6 kW system.
When buying a solar power system, it’s common for installers to quote on ‘oversized’ systems.
The linked article goes into more detail, but in short – you get huge bang for buck by putting on 33% more panels than an inverter is rated for.
This is why 6.6kW solar systems, using 5 kW inverters, are still very popular in 2023 – they represent a sizing ‘sweet spot’ for what the typical home can fit on the roof. They’re also usually the maximum size a Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) will allow on a single-phase home (more on DNSPs below).
Note when you have an ‘oversized’ system, you will never produce more power than what the inverter is rated for. For example, a 6.6 kW solar system using a 5 kW inverter will never produce more than 5 kW at any given point in time.
People assume this would result in ‘lost’ energy generation due to ‘clipping’ of production at 5 kW, but averaged over a year you lose little – so don’t stress.
A word of caution: Be sure to understand what an installer is quoting you on. Make sure it is the solar PV peak Watts and NOT the inverter size they are quoting. In the past, I’ve seen advertising selling a “10 kW system” consisting of a 10 kW inverter with only 8 kW of solar panels!
To give you a feel for the amount of power a kiloWatt represents, the table below shows what you can run with 1 kW of power:
Wow, so could you power 60 globes with a 1 kW solar power system? Kind of.
A 1 kW solar panel system will only produce 1 kW of power for a few hours a day, and then only if it is a clear, sunny day. So your 60 globes will only be all on for a few hours a day.
The graph below shows what the electricity output of a 1 kW solar power system might look like over a summer’s day. You can see 1 kW is only generated at midday when the sun is at its strongest:
This is the reason most solar systems are connected to the mains electricity grid. The grid will absorb any electricity generated by the solar panels not used by your home. When you are using more electricity than can be produced by the sun (and at night, of course), the grid automatically tops up your electricity needs.
How many solar panels will you need to offset your electricity usage?
First – I want to address most people’s motivation for going solar: “I want to put on solar panels and get my electricity bill to zero!”
Getting a zero dollar bill isn’t as simple as installing enough solar panels to generate whatever your average daily usage is. As I explained previously, when you use electricity is almost as important as the amount of electricity you use. This is because a solar system only generates its maximum at midday on a ‘good’ day.
Solar power, regardless of system size, won’t do much to a massive electricity bill if it’s all caused by overnight air-conditioner usage!
Getting zero bills with only solar panels – and no battery storage – is possible. Until I added an electric car to my home, I regularly got credits on my electricity bills.
Yup – my retailer was paying me for the privilege of being connected to the electricity network!
But – for those of you with sky-high energy costs and not enough room for a huge solar power system, it’s important to FOCUS on the amount solar energy can reduce your bills by, not whether or not it can simply get your bills to 0.
Or, to put it another way – if solar power could take your 500 quarterly bill down to 50, would you be annoyed you didn’t get your fabled ‘0 bill’, or would you be jumping for joy your solar system saved you 450 in 3 months?
Now – let’s get into some hard numbers on system sizes with the help of my nifty solar calculator.
Example for a typical home in Sydney
Let’s take a home in Sydney with 500 quarterly electricity bills, paying 0.29 per kWh for grid electricity and gets paid a 0.12 per kWh feed-in tariff. They paid 5,500 for a north-facing 6.6 kW solar system and have 25% solar electricity self-consumption.
Putting these assumptions into my calculator yields the following result:
1,585 in electricity bill savings in the first year! Not too shabby.
Or, to look at it from the perspective of “What will my electricity bills be before/after solar?”:
A 9 spring electricity bill! Most homeowners would be thrilled.
So – a 6.6 kW system in Sydney, assuming 25% solar energy self-consumption, won’t quite get a 500 quarterly bill to 0 – but it gets close!
If this home could fit more than 6.6kW on their roof – closer to 10kW total – with the same consumption patterns they’d be in credit year-round.
What roadblocks are there to filling your roof with solar panels?
Besides the obvious (physical roof size/space and your budget), the other obstacle preventing you from maxing out your roof with panels are limitations set by your “Distributed Network Service Provider”, or DNSP.
But, to use an example, here in South Australia, SA Power Networks (SAPN) is our only DNSP.
They have set system size limits of:
- Single-phase homes: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.
- Three-phase homes: 30 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.
Meaning – if you have a single-phase home in SA, you could have up to 13.3 kW of solar panels on your roof with a 10 kW inverter. Remember – you can oversize an inverter by 33%. But – you’d be export limited to 5 kW
Export limitations mean your inverter will intelligently ramp down solar power production to ensure a maximum of 5 kW is sent to the grid at any one time.
Some homeowners ask me “If my energy needs are low-to-moderate, isn’t it pointless to install a large system if I’m export limited?”
The answer, surprisingly, is no. You lose less generation than you’d expect with export limitation due to a variety of factors.
Why bigger is better, even if you believe you won’t need a larger system
Even with feed-in tariffs dropping and export limitations for single phase homes in certain states, maxing out your roof with solar panels is a Smart move for two reasons:
- Winter and summer are typically the highest energy usage seasons for households. But in summer, solar power systems pump out a ton of energy, so they can help offset big electricity bills easily. In winter, your solar energy generation can be less than half of what it is in summer, so big winter bills are harder to offset unless you have a larger solar system (10 kW or more).
- Future-proofing. I believe by 2030 many homes will have battery storage and electric cars.
Batteries and electric cars need lots of solar generation to reliably charge, and then you need more solar electricity to offset the energy needs of the rest of your home.
I recently installed more solar panels on my south-facing roof (which some installers refuse to install on!) because my home now has two electric cars and a Tesla Powerwall battery. My previous 6kW system struggled to generate enough energy for them all.
I’ll finish by saying – while I regularly hear from homeowners who wish they put on more solar panels when they had the chance (because it’s expensive and a technical headache to add panels to an existing system), I have never heard anyone complain they’ve installed too much solar power.
kW Solar System UK: Price, How Much Does It Produce, How Big, and
An 16 kw solar system for the right home or business should save around £87300 over the course of its expected 25 year lifetime. That’s based on grid electric costing £0.34/ kWh (last updated October 2022). That’s roughly £3492 per year in savings, without taking into account inflation or rising electric (which both add to your savings if you invest in solar soon).
Rising Electric Costs
The cost of electricity in the UK has consistently ‘outperformed’ inflation. You can see the last few seasons of price rises in this chart of Ofgem’s price cap rises:
The amount that electricity costs continue to rise will have a large impact on whether you decide if solar is worth it for you in the UK.
Smart Export Guarantee
The Smart Export Guarantee replaces the older Feed in Tariff scheme. It allows you to get paid for excess energy that your 16 kw solar system produces but you don’t directly use yourself, for example if you’re out during the day when it’s sunny.
Currently you can expect to get up to 15p per kWh of electricity you ‘export’, so for a 16 Kw solar system, with typical usage patterns, you could expect to receive around £1223 per year in payments under this scheme. This rate is available at the time of writing from Octopus Energy.
One of the main reasons to consider getting an 16 kW solar system is to save money by directly using the electricity it produces during the day, instead of paying the utility company. The more of your own ‘self generated’ electricity you use instead of buying it or paying for petrol if you’re also buying an electric car, the higher your savings.
With a properly sized 16 kW solar system, you can expect to save around £2269 per year by using your own solar energy.
kW Solar Panel System Price
An 16 kW solar system (without a battery) typically costs around £20000 in the UK. That’s including installation and VAT.
You can get a free quote from Honest Quotes to get an exact price. They offer a Zero Upfront Cost option for those that qualify.
Get a quote for solar and or battery installation across the UK from our partners Honest Quotes.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost for a 1,500 Square Foot House?
Solar panels for a 1,500 square foot house cost about 18,500, with average ranging from 9,255 to 24,552 in the US for 2020.
According to Modernize, “Solar panel installation costs around 18,500 for a 6kW solar panel system for a 1,500 square ft. home and the price per watt for solar panels can range from 2.50 to 3.50. Residential solar panels are usually sized at 3kW to 8kW and can cost anywhere from 9,255 and 24,552 in total installation costs.”
Average Solar Panels Cost for a 1,500 Square Foot House
HomeGuide estimates that it will cost you about 8,032 with average ranging from 7,140 – 8,925 to install solar panels on a 1,500 sq ft house.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need for a 1,500 Square Foot Home?
You need about 16 solar panels to cover your electricity needs for a 1,500 sq ft home.
According to Networx, “the typical home is approximately 1,500 square feet, with electrical costs of about 100 per month. Such a house generally needs about 16 panels to completely cover electrical power needs.”
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost Per Square Foot?
Solar panels cost about 7 per square foot, with average ranging from 4 to 10 per square foot according to one source.
HomeGuide says, “The cost of solar panels to power your house are 4 to 10 per square foot.”
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
Reviewed by Joe Roberts remodeling expert. Written by Fixr.com.
How much do residential solar panels cost?
On average, U.S. homeowners pay about 20,000 to install residential solar energy systems.
Getting photovoltaic solar panels for your home is the best way to switch to clean, renewable energy. It can also save you a ton of money in the long run.
The total cost of solar panels can vary dramatically depending on factors like where you live and how many solar panels you need. On the high end, solar panel installation can cost over 40,000. On the low end, it only costs a few thousand. It all depends.
Additionally, none of these account for incentives like the federal investment tax credit (ITC), which can make your solar system up to 30% more affordable.
See how much solar installation costs in your area
Are solar panels worth the cost?
Solar is often worth its high price, but there’s a caveat: it takes years to see a return on a solar investment. Every solar system eventually pays for itself by bringing down the owner’s utility bills. The length of time between when you pay for your solar system and when it fully repays you for its costs is called the “payback period,” and it often lasts 9–12 years. After your panels pay themselves off, all the money they’ll save you is just gravy.
It’s also worth noting that solar panels don’t pay themselves off at equal speeds in all areas. If your state doesn’t offer net metering, you don’t get much sunlight where you live, or your area’s standard electricity rates are meager, your payback period will be much longer. In some states, payback periods can stretch over 16 years.
So, while your solar system should eventually pay for itself, it might take too long to be worth the price. To really determine if solar energy is a sound investment for your home, you need to find out exactly how much you’ll pay for your system and how much money it will save you during its lifespan. We’ll help you approximate all that, but there’s no substitute for actually getting an installation quote from a solar company.
Factors that can affect the price and value of your solar panels
Where you live will greatly impact the overall cost of your solar power system, and local market conditions are part of the reason. Depending on local policies, manufacturing rates, product popularity, and competition between providers, parts and labor costs vary.
Additionally, because of the shape of the earth and its angle relative to the sun, different states get different amounts of direct sunlight each day. If you live in a sunny state, each solar panel you install on your home will operate more efficiently and produce more electricity daily. If you live in a less sunny state, you’ll need more solar panels to produce the same amount of electricity, so your system will be more expensive.
Since electricity rates from utility companies also vary by location, where you live can extend or shorten your payback period. In areas where the power company charges more for grid electricity, your solar panels will save you more money on your monthly electricity bills and pay themselves off quicker.
For example, solar system installation in Hawaii is more expensive than in many other states, but Hawaii’s electricity rates are the highest in the country. So, despite the state’s high costs for solar installation, you can save so much money by foregoing grid electricity in Hawaii that we’ve calculated that the state actually has the nation’s shortest solar payback period. That is, as long as your panels can completely offset your electric bill.
This table provides a quick overview of solar installation costs, electricity prices, and estimated payback periods in every state.
Solar panel installation costs, electricity rates, and payback periods by state
Average solar system costs
Average cost of electricity (cents/kilowatt hour)
Estimated annual electric costs
Data as of January 2023. Solar installation are calculated post-federal tax incentives. State-by-state electricity are sourced from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Annual electric costs are based on the US residential average electricity consumption of 10,632 kWh/year. Payback periods calculated assuming solar panels completely offset energy bills.
Keep in mind that every price in this table is a simple estimate that may not accurately account for the specifics of your situation. For example, it doesn’t account for any state incentives. Therefore, you could pay more or less than we’ve stated for your solar system.
Additionally, the payback periods we’ve estimated are based on the national average energy usage, and they’re only accurate in situations where the given customer’s system is able to completely offset their monthly power bill. Because of this, your actual payback period may differ from our estimates.
Solar system size
As we’ve alluded to, the more solar panels you get, the more your system will cost. The ideal size of your system will depend on two factors: your energy needs and how much sunlight your home gets.
Calculating your energy needs
To get a system that completely offsets your electricity bill, you must first calculate your electricity consumption. Review your monthly electric bills for an entire year and see how many kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity you used each of those months. Then, add the numbers together and divide them by 12 to find your average monthly consumption.
Let’s say your house used an average of 886 kWh every month. This means you’d need a system that can produce at least that much solar energy to offset your electric bills completely.
Accounting for peak sun hours
Now comes the tricky part. You must also determine how much direct sunlight your panels will get daily. The hours when the sun is shining directly at a solar panel are the only times when that panel will provide as much energy as it’s designed to. These hours are called “peak sun hours.”
To illustrate, a 6 kW system will produce 6 kWh of electricity during a peak sun hour, but it will produce less power at other times and no energy at night.
Use this resource to determine how many average peak sun hours your state gets.
Adding it all together
To determine how large your solar system must be, you need to take your monthly energy consumption of 886 kWh and divide that by 30 because there are approximately 30 days in a month. We’re left with roughly 29.5 kWh. This is how much electricity your system needs to generate every day to cover your energy needs.
Now, let’s say you live in New York, a state that gets about three peak sun hours every day. Divide 29.5 by 3. We’re left with 9.8, so you’d need a 10 kW system to provide all the electricity you need. California, on the other hand, gets five or more peak sun hours per day, so you’d instead divide 29.5 by 5 and be left with 5.9. This means you’d only need a 6 kW system in California to generate the same amount of energy as a 10 kW system in New York.
However, generating all the wattage you need daily doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating your electric bill. Solar panels don’t generate electricity at night, and you need less energy during peak sun hours when your panels are producing the most energy.
To solve this problem, you either need to take advantage of net metering (if you live in a state where it’s available) or install expensive solar battery storage with your system. Without one of these two solutions, it’s impossible to completely offset your monthly power bill, no matter how large your system is.
The importance of net metering
As previously mentioned, solar batteries are quite expensive (typically between 7,000 and 15,000 per battery), so the most budget-friendly way to completely offset your power bills with solar is to utilize local net metering policies. Without comprehensive net metering, solar isn’t a realistic option for average homeowners yet. The equipment is still too expensive, though have been dropping for years.
Here’s how full-retail net metering works. During peak sun hours, your solar panels produce more energy than your home needs. If your system is grid-tied (connected to the local power grid), this excess electricity gets sent to the grid, where it can light other homes and businesses.
For every kWh your system sends to the grid, you get credited the market price for that kWh, so you can pull a kWh from the grid later free of charge. This allows you to get the full financial benefit of your solar system’s energy production without adding a costly battery.
Unfortunately, not all states have full-retail net metering, so you may not be able to make use of it. To learn if your state offers net metering, check out this resource. If your state doesn’t offer net metering and your primary motivator for switching to solar is to cut energy costs, then solar may not be the best choice for you until the tech becomes more affordable.
Different types of solar panels
There are three main types of solar panels, and each one has its unique strengths and weaknesses. Finding the best solar panels for your home means understanding these differences before you purchase anything.
Monocrystalline solar panels
Monocrystalline panels are the most efficient type of solar panel on the market. They’re also the most popular for residential systems since their efficiency allows you to get all the power you need from fewer total panels. Unfortunately, these panels are also the most expensive of the three types, but only by a little bit.
Popular monocrystalline panel manufacturers include Tesla, Qcells, and Sunpower.
Polycrystalline solar panels
Polycrystalline panels are a slightly more budget-friendly option than monocrystalline options, though they’re also less efficient. They typically have shorter lifespans than monocrystalline panels as well, so you get less bang for your buck with a polycrystalline panel. Still, if you’re trying to go solar on a budget, they might be a more realistic option price-wise, especially if you live in an especially sunny area.
Popular polycrystalline panel manufacturers include ZNSHINE and KF Solar.
It’s worth noting that as monocrystalline panels have become more affordable, polycrystalline panels have become rarer, so you may have difficulty finding a solar installer that carries them.
Thin film solar panels
Thin film solar panels are the least efficient, least durable, and least expensive panels on the market. However, because of their low efficiency, they aren’t actually a good option for most residential rooftop systems. The average roof doesn’t have the surface area to accommodate a thin film system large enough to generate all the electricity the home needs. As such, they’re only really used for industrial or corporate installations.
Solar installation pricing tiers
The budget option
If you want to go solar on a tight budget, then opt for a grid-tied solar system that uses polycrystalline solar panels. Polycrystalline panels offer the most wallet-friendly blend of efficiency and durability. However, even this low-cost system is only really affordable if your state offers comprehensive net metering and your home gets a lot of direct sunlight.
Without net metering in place, it could take well over a decade for even a relatively affordable system to pay itself off.
To save as much money as possible, don’t forget to apply for all the incentives you’re eligible for!
The mid-range option
If you’ve got room in your budget for a better solar system, we recommend getting a grid-tied system that uses monocrystalline panels. While this system will be a bit more expensive, it will more than make up for the extra costs with its great energy efficiency and lifespan.
That said, even if you’ve got a bit of money to put towards this type of system, it’s still only a wise investment if your state offers net metering. Otherwise, your solar system won’t net you any savings for a long time.
The high-end option
If money is no object and you just want to shrink your carbon footprint as much as possible, then take your home’s electrical system completely off the power grid with a lot of monocrystalline panels and a few solar batteries to rely on during dark times.
This type of system is far and away the most expensive, but it’s the best way to make your home completely self-reliant. It’s also the only realistic way to offset your power bill completely if your state doesn’t have net metering.
Take advantage of solar incentives
In an effort to combat climate change, the federal government, along with many state and city governments, offer incentives to encourage private citizens to go solar. Monopolizing on as many of these incentives as possible is a fantastic way to make your system more affordable.
The most significant of these incentives is the federal solar tax credit. From now until 2033, all new residential solar installations are eligible for a tax credit of 30% of the installation costs.
So, if your solar system costs 10,000, you’d be credited 3,000 on your federal taxes. If you ended up owing any money on your taxes the following year, 3,000 would be knocked off what you owed. If you owed less than 3,000, any remainder from your credit would be applied to the next year’s taxes. And so on for up to five years.
The tax credit is only this good until 2033, though. In 2033, it will drop from 30% to 26%. Then, in 2034, it will drop again to 22%. In 2035, it’s slated to go away completely.
So while the solar tax credit doesn’t actually mean you get a written check refunding you 30% of your solar system’s installation costs, it can significantly lighten the financial burden by making your taxes far more favorable for a while.
In addition to the federal tax credit, you can also apply for local incentives to cheapen your solar installation. Be sure to utilize this list of solar incentives and rebates to help you pay for your panels.
Take out a solar loan
If you want to go solar, but can’t afford a system, worry not! There are many financing options and solar loans available. Many of these loans work similarly to standard home improvement loans, and you can use the money your panels save you from paying down your loan.
The best part is that you can still apply for the federal solar tax credit if you pay for your solar system with a loan. Read this resource from the Department of Energy to learn more about solar financing.
Enter a solar power purchase agreement
A solar power purchase agreement (also called an SPPA or PPA) is an agreement between a homeowner and a third-party—typically a solar installer or developer. In this type of agreement, the third party pays for and owns the solar panels on the homeowner’s roof, and the homeowner pays the third party for the power the panels generate.
Essentially, you buy solar energy instead of buying solar panels. Entering an SPPA can be a great way to quickly and affordably switch to clean energy and shrink your carbon footprint, especially if you aren’t eligible for a solar loan. However, it usually won’t save you as much money in the long run as simply buying your solar panels outright.
Also, opting for an SPPA means you can’t take advantage of the federal tax credit since you won’t own the solar panels on your roof.
Other factors to consider
Picking a trustworthy and accredited solar installer is essential to getting a reliable solar system worth the time and money you’ll invest in installing it. These issues aren’t common, but a few things can go wrong with solar installation. Panels can sometimes damage a roof during installation, and if they’re installed incorrectly, they can even void your roof’s warranty.
Additionally, there are various legal hoops to jump through when installing solar panels. You need to file a building permit before the project begins and ensure the panels follow all applicable building, fire, and electrical codes.
To solve all these problems before they become problems, make sure you work with a solar installer that’s been accredited by The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). This organization certifies that installers are trustworthy and competent, so checking for a NABCEP certification should be an important part of your research when hiring an installer.
Are solar panels right for your home?
Solar energy is one of the best tools in the fight against climate change, especially for homeowners. While the costs for residential solar installation are pretty high, they’re no longer much higher than other types of home improvement projects. With financing options and comprehensive incentives, switching to solar has never been more affordable.
The only caveat is that you probably won’t save much money for a long time if your state doesn’t have net metering, so check your state’s net metering rules before committing to solar panel installation.
How Much Does it Cost for Solar Panels and a Solar Battery?
A residential solar battery system can cost between 15,000. 30,000. How do you choose the size of your solar system, and how much will your system cost y ou?
The solar industry continues to grow yearly, with solar panels and batteries becoming common around Australia. In fact, one-third of Australians have solar – the highest rate in the world! With renewable energy being our clear avenue towards minimising the severest impacts of climate change, realistically, it’s in our collective best interest that as many Aussies install solar as possible.
A solar battery system allows a household to gain greater energy independence, free themselves from blackouts, and have the opportunity to save money on their electricity bills. For most people, a major impediment in the way of getting a solar battery system is the upfront cost. So, how much does it cost for solar panels and a solar battery?
Buying a solar battery system is a significant upfront cost, but what if it was different?
Solar battery systems range in price, but you can expect to pay between 15,000 – 30,000 for a residential system, inclusive of installation costs. Of course, there are small systems that fall just under this range and large ones that will go over it. Unfortunately, the cost of solar batteries has been driven up by increasing costs of necessary raw manufacturing materials.
That’s why Plico disrupted the solar industry with a new payment model. Members receive an industry-leading solar battery system for one low weekly fee and no big upfront costs. Plico specialists also provide support and maintenance for 10 years. As we’ll see below, solar is a renewable energy resource that can help everyone, while helping the planet! It shouldn’t be privileged to just those with the capital to purchase a system.
Why would you want to purchase solar panels and batteries?
Let’s start with the most topical reason: everyday life is getting increasingly expensive. The war in Ukraine has contributed to high fuel, gas and electricity costs; food and interest rates have also seen a spike and could continue to rise. than ever, Australians are feeling the financial pinch of running a household and having to reassess how they live. That’s why more people are turning to solar. The future of the Australian household is energy autonomy, made possible by clean renewable energy. A solar battery system that generates and stores solar energy, which can charge an electric car (and save households a whole heap of money in the process).
The integral ingredient in this prophetic vision is a solar battery. Having the right-sized battery allows you to continue to power your home with affordable and clean energy through the evenings and on cloudy days. It also frees you from blackouts – you’ll still have usable power while homes using grid energy will be in the dark. Solar systems without a battery create solar energy when the sun’s out but force households to pull from the grid when there isn’t enough generated energy.
Are solar batteries worth it in 2022?
Solar batteries have never been more worth it! With feed-in tariffs now just 2.5 cents between 9 pm and 3 pm, it doesn’t make sense to get solar without a battery. The feed-in tariff is the few cents a homeowner receives for each kWh they push to the electrical grid. In the early days of solar, owners received more significant financial rewards for exporting energy to the grid. This money could be used to repurchase energy from the grid when it was evening or overcast, and the solar panels weren’t generating energy (yes, it does seem counterintuitive…). Now that the feed-in tariff is so low, it would mean that homeowners pay the upfront cost of solar and then still pay for a portion of their energy from the grid. A significant amount, mind you, as evenings are a peak power consumption time.
Batteries completely change the narrative. A solar battery lets you control where your energy comes from and how you use it. In sunny Australia, it’s not hard to see how many Aussies have saved big on their electricity bills by switching to a solar battery system.
How much are solar batteries?
There’s a decent scale when it comes to the cost of solar batteries, with the initial expense ranging from 4500 to 18,000 (and beyond). There’s also the cost of an inverter (although some solar batteries come with an in-built inverter) and installation on top of this figure. The price of solar batteries tends to rise with their kWh capacity. You need to get the right-sized battery to get the most out of your solar battery system.
If you get an undersized battery – one that is too small for the amount of electricity you use – you’ll still be paying for a large portion of your power from the grid. On the other hand, if you get an oversized battery, you’ll have spent more than was necessary and won’t be filling the battery’s capacity.
Read our article What Size Solar Battery Do I Need? for help calculating the suitable battery capacity for your needs. This will be a major factor in how much it will cost for solar panels and batteries in your home.
What type of solar battery should I choose?
Lithium-ion batteries have come to dominate the solar battery market, but there are other types of batteries that you can use to store solar energy. Lead-acid batteries are the longest-standing rechargeable batteries; until recently, they were the only choice when storing solar energy. However, as technology has improved, they’ve become somewhat obsolete due to their lower lifespan and longer charging times (among plenty of other reasons). This being said, you’ll still see them regularly utilised in off-grid solar setups. Flow batteries and hydrogen fuel cells have also taken up a small percentage of the market.
Read our blog What Are the Different Types of Solar Batteries? to delve deeper into the pros and cons of a selection of battery types.
Residential solar battery set-up of three Pylontech US3000 batteries stored in Redback inverter housing.
How do solar batteries work?
Solar batteries play an integral part in the interconnected process of a solar battery system. This is the typical process of a solar battery system:
- Your solar panels absorb the sunlight and create direct current (DC) energy.
- This energy is sent to the inverter, which converts the DC energy into alternating current (AC) energy. This is because household appliances run on AC.
- Your switchboard directs the power where it’s needed.
- If you’re generating more power than you’re using, the excess will be sent to your solar battery. Because it’s sent directly, it stays as DC power.
- Your battery stores the electricity.
- When needed, the battery will push the stored power to the inverter, which will convert it to AC for household use.
- Your switchboard will distribute the electricity.
- When your battery is full, and you’re producing more energy than your household needs, the excess will be exported to the grid. (For which you’ll receive the feed-in tariff.)
- If you run out of stored power, you’ll pull your electricity from the grid.
Want to learn more? Read our article How Do Solar Batteries Work? for more information.
How much are solar panels?
The cost of solar panels varies greatly, based upon how many panels you need and how great the power output you’ll need to power your home. Higher quality panels will also cost more but will provide greater efficiency and solar energy generation. However, a ballpark figure would be around 900 – 1200 per kilowatt (kW) size. Typically, you’ll see the cost of solar batteries conveyed in kWh, but solar panel per kW or W.
How many solar panels will I need to power my home?
If you’re looking at investing in a solar battery system, there are a few different factors to bear in mind when calculating what size system you’ll need.
Understanding kilowatt (kW) and kilowatt-hour (kWh) ratings.
Within the metrics of your solar battery system, units will be described in two measurements: kilowatts (kW) and kilowatt-hour (kWh). Kilowatts are a thousand watts, and kilowatt-hours are the total kilowatts consumed over an hour. So if your television is rated at 1.25 kW of power consumption, and you’re in the mood for two hours of Stranger Things. a basic calculation would look something like this:
You should be able to find your appliance’s energy rating, conveyed in kWh, on an Energy Rating sticker or in the instruction manual.
How much electricity do you consume?
Knowing how much power you consume gives you an idea of how big of a solar battery system you’ll need if you’re to meaningfully reduce your electricity bills. Fortunately, this isn’t too arduous – your electricity bill will display an ‘average daily use’ in kWh.
If your household’s daily electricity use is 16 kWh, and four of your solar panels produce 4 kWh of useable power, you’ll need 16 panels to power your home. It’s pertinent to bear in mind that electricity is lost in the transfer of energy on the journey between your panels to the inverter to appliances to the battery and back to the appliances. Your inverter is also limited in how much energy it can deliver to your home at any one time.
For more information on running appliances with solar power, read this blog.
How much roof space do you have?
The size of your roof may restrict the number of panels you can have, so bear it in mind when working out how many solar panels you’ll need on your home. Panels vary in size, but the industry standard size is around 1.7 m x 1 m. Different panels will have different efficiencies and outputs.
The quality of your solar panels impacts your energy output.
Quality matters when it comes to solar panels. The higher the quality, the greater the efficiency in converting sunlight into power. A solar battery system is an investment, and you don’t want to cut corners – a reputable provider and installer are essential to getting the most out of a solar battery system. Read our article on how to choose the best solar provider.
Roof positioning plays a part in how much power your solar panels generate and is a key reason why a Plico specialist will perform an obligation-free site visit – assessing what direction and angle are optimal. For example, in the southern hemisphere, we get our maximum amount of sunlight from the north, so solar panels are positioned accordingly.
How long do solar panels last?
In Australia, solar panels have a lifespan of between 20 to 30 years; however, multiple factors contribute to how long they last.
The biggest of these is the quality of your panels. The overwhelming consensus in the solar industry is that you get what you pay for. High-quality panels with an inclusive warranty will save you more in the long run than their cheaper counterparts.
Becoming a Plico member makes solar battery affordable.
Renewable energy is imperative for a better future for everyone. By switching to solar now, you’ll be ahead of the pack. We’re going to see massive overhauls in national infrastructure (which has the potential to drive up energy costs further). By investing in a solar battery system, you can become more self-reliant and be responsible for providing for your own energy needs. But what happens if you don’t have the money for the hefty upfront price tag of a solar battery system?
Plico believes that renewable energy should be attainable for everyone. That’s why we’ve disrupted the industry with no big upfront costs, one low weekly fee from just 33.90 per week and 10 years of maintenance and support. You can look at some of the Plico products here.
We’ve helped countless members reduce their electricity bills and gain greater energy independence. You can use our Solar Savings Calculator to estimate how much you could save or have a chat with one of the switched-on Plico team members on 1300 175 426.
Curiosity piqued, and want to learn more? Read our blog on how solar works in winter.