Are you trying to figure out how much it’ll cost to put a medium-sized solar system on your Melbourne home or business? A system with a panel array from 5kW up to about 6.6kW is often a great-sized system for a typical family home that doesn’t use excessive amounts of electricity during the daytime.
Here’s a list of tips and insights to help you avoid the scams of ‘cheap solar’ to ensure you install a 5kW or 6.6kW solar system at the right price.
Tip #1: Don’t fall for ‘cheap solar panel deals’ in Melbourne
If you’ve been doing your research on solar, you’ve probably been getting some mixed messages from the internet about how much it’s going to cost you. Some deals advertised online are amazingly cheap to the point where you can almost install a system with no money down.
The two rebates plus an interest-free loan from Solar Victoria cover the cost of the system & the installation.
But it’s buyer beware. ‘Cheap solar’ is causing serious problems across Australia. In fact, data from the Clean Energy Council has revealed that in recent years 1 in 4 solar systems are failing inspections done by the Clean Energy Council.
Furthermore, it is estimated that about 1 in 3 solar system in Australia no longer have any warranty support because the installer or the manufacturer have gone under.
So, what’s the best way to make sure you don’t waste your time and money on a dodgy solar system?
Every day we hear people say, “yes, you have good reviews and your Smart Solar System sounds great… but I have a quote here for the same 5kW solar system that’s basically free…”
Only here’s the thing: it’s NOT the same system.
It’s kind of like saying a 60-inch, $10,000 television with all the bells and whistles is exactly the same thing as a 60-inch, $3,000 TV from a no-name brand, simply because they’re both the same size.
Q: So cheap solar systems aren’t the same as good quality systems. But isn’t it still fair to weigh up price and quality?
A: Of course. But keep in mind that a solar PV system has to be mounted on your roof, exposed to the Melbourne weather through rain, hail, burning Aussie sunshine and strong winds—all while performing perfectly for 100,000 hours over its 25-year lifespan to give you the best return on your investment.
If the system doesn’t last long enough, you aren’t going to get a good return on your money.
We regularly see cheap solar systems breaking after 5 or 6 years, sometimes even sooner. This is about when you start making your money back, and all of a sudden customers are forced to either spend thousands of dollars fixing the system or just ripping it off and starting again.
The other main problem with cheap solar deals in Melbourne is they often come with a cheap installation job. What you’re compromising on is not just the time of an installation team, it’s also the quality of the mounting kit, running high voltage cables safely, using good quality isolators (the main fire risk of solar as illustrated here), and providing support for you after the installation is done.
Solaray includes full post-sale support with all our systems, including technical support and we service full-replacement warranties. Plus we give you a direct phone line to our support team so you are never dealing with a call centre.
Q: If I went for a cheap solar system and it ends up being the 1 in 5 defected by the CEC, wouldn’t I just get it fixed under warranty?
A: You’d think so— but over the years we have seen a truly staggering number of companies disappear, throwing their customers under the bus in the process as they no longer have any warranty support.
In fact, ASIC has a list of over 650 solar companies that have closed, gone into liquidation/administration, or proposed de-registration in the years since 2011 alone. If you have a system installed by a company that is no longer around, it can often be more expensive to get the system fixed than it cost to install the system in the first place!
What on earth makes it so hard for companies to survive?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that most of these companies sold cheap equipment and then couldn’t (or wouldn’t) cover the cost of the hundreds or even thousands of warranty claims that their customers needed when things began to fail. As mentioned, it is estimated that every third solar system in Australia is unsupported by the company that installed it:
“The very high number of failed solar companies should ring alarm bells. Is it usual for a thriving industry to see such high numbers of insolvencies over a relatively short period? Anecdotal evidence suggests that a high % of solar companies go insolvent when they are faced with a myriad of consumer claims be it for isolators, inverters or panel warranties, and where the manufacturer does not honour these warranty claims, or where the installer was the importer themselves. Then the install company themselves, as per Australian Consumer Law carries the make good costs. When a cheaper built panel fails or an inverter stops, often it is not an isolated issue, but many of these models then fail in a relatively short period, so the installation company has 1000 panels or 500 inverters to fix in a relatively short period.
“So some operators might decide it is much cheaper to go bankrupt than replace 1000 failed solar panels or 500 failed inverters. These issues have also been faced by smaller distributors who sold product which failed after a relatively short period and some of these distributors and importers have now left the solar industry. Interestingly some of these solar companies and distributors then relist as a new entity after a few weeks, operating out of the same or nearby premises. In the meantime, the end customers face rejected warranty claims and additional out of pocket expenses. Therefore it pays to buy quality from solar companies who have been in operation for quite some time and who sell quality solar solutions.”
In a nutshell: when you’re buying something that should last you as long as 25 years, you bet on the company you think will still be around to provide support and honour their warranties.
Tip #2: Choosing good solar pays off
Good quality solar panels have dropped in price to the point that it no longer makes sense to consider the bottom end of the solar market when buying a 5kW or 6kW solar system. You can have the best solar panels from the world’s leading manufacturers, online monitoring, a professional installation, full technical support, and still get a return on your money in 3-5 years.
Good quality 5kW solar systems in Victoria start from around $5,500 fully installed, and up to $8,500 if you want the best of the best.
A good quality 6.6kW solar system in Melbourne starts at around $6,500 fully installed, and up to $10,000 for a top-of-the-range system.
In Melbourne, an unshaded 5kW solar system facing north should average around 18kWh a day, while a 6.6kW system should output up to around 24kWh a day.
In dollar terms, using 70% of that energy can reduce your quarterly power bill by around $430 or around $1,700 a year. That’s a potential ROI of only 5 years on a top-of-the-range system!
It’s important to note that this power is produced during daylight hours; you’ll save on whatever you can use during that time, and you’ll get more solar power on long summer days compared to winter.
If you install battery storage, it then becomes possible to save your excess daytime energy for use at night. With a good quality solar system combined with battery storage, it is now possible to run your household or business almost entirely on solar power 24 hours a day.
Tip #3: Finance your solar with a Green Loan
If you’re holding off on installing solar because you don’t have the money just yet, you can start enjoying the benefits of solar sooner with a Green Loan. Green Loans feature lower interest rates than some other options, and people often find that the savings to their power bill can completely offset their repayments, even with the interest. Paying off your 5kW or 6.6kW solar system could look something like this:
Depending on what system you go for, repayments on a good quality 5kW solar system start at around $115* a month.
Tip #4: It’s prime time for government rebates
The Victorian government’s Solar Homes rebate program is funded for its first phase, which started back in 2018. This scheme lets you claim up to $1400 back on your solar purchase, depending on your eligibility.
Just keep in mind – if you are planning to install battery storage it is better to go for the $3,500 Battery Storage Rebate instead, as you can only claim one or the other.
The federal government’s Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) is the Australia-wide power incentive that goes towards bringing down the prices of clean energy products like solar. The value of the STCs generated by your system is automatically applied to your system, so you just pay the remainder.
You can take advantage of both of these state and federal rebates at once, and by placing an order you lock in the value of your STCs. Please request a quote for more information and personalised pricing: