How much does solar cost?
If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to read the full article (don’t worry I won’t be offended) but do want to know the price of solar and how much you should be paying for a solar system, simply scroll down to the section titled ‘solar price guide’.
One of the most common issues we face when speaking to potential buyers is that they start their solar research by requesting a couple of quotes, with the fair assumption they will all be roughly the same price. I mean, why wouldn’t they?
They eagerly anticipate the first 3 quotes to come back, but the anticipation quickly turns to confusion and a lot of head scratching because all the prices are wildly different. This is despite, the systems on paper looking the same, the same number of panels being used and everyone they’ve spoken to ensuring them they are offering only the best.
This is also the point where reality kicks in and that buying a solar system may not be as straight forward as you first hoped.
So, to get a little clarity they request a few more quotes and then a few more and before they know it there’s a huge pile of quotes spread over the kitchen table and they are more confused than ever which way to go. The idea of solar then gets thrown out the window as it is far too confusing and only an electrical engineer will understand what’s what.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Well we at Adapt Energy appreciate not all our customers are solar experts, that’s our job, so we’ve created a straightforward honest guide that tells you how much to expect to pay for a good quality solar system.
Solar systems do vary in price from state to state but as we are based in Queensland (QLD) as are most of our existing customers the prices given in this guide are based off QLD prices and may not be accurate for other states. If you are reading this and are based in either NSW or SA, please feel free to get in touch and one of our consultants, who will be more than happy to advise you.
The prices given in this guide are accurate at the time of writing, 16th February 2020 but are subject to change over time.
Where to begin?
The first and most important thing to do when looking into solar for the first time, is to determine what is the right system size to meet your energy requirements. The size of the system is going to make a significant difference to the overall cost and if you would like to get a better understanding of how to correctly size a solar system, please click here to read an article we have written on the subject.
Secondly, it is good to have a rough idea of the quality of equipment you are looking for. It’s easy to think all solar panels and inverters are made the same (I used to think that myself) but the brand of you choose can make a real difference to how well the system will perform over time. The premium brands on the market like LG, Q.Cells and Fronius are going to be more expensive than the budget brands like Risen, Goodwe and Jinko but will give you extra security and greater long-term returns. Note: there are much cheaper brands than the 3 I have listed above but we would strongly recommend avoiding them, to save yourself the headache completing warranty claims.
You wouldn’t expect to buy a Mercedes for the price of a Kia and the exact same holds true for solar
The highs and the lows
To put myself in our customers shoes and to experience firsthand the difficultly they all face when looking for a solar supplier, I just did a quick internet search to see the advertised prices for a 6.6kW system in Brisbane. After only a few minutes I’ve found prices ranging from under $2500 to $10,000 and from experience know that some quotes come back as high as $13,000, which unless your Bill Gates is a pretty serious some of money.
So, how can there be a price difference of over $10,000?
Well, to put it simply. You can’t install a 6.6kW system for $2500 without something being compromised, be that the installation itself, the quality of the equipment or the customer service, something must give.
Now I am not saying that if you opt for a very cheap system you will definitely encounter problems, you may be lucky, you may even have a very valid reason for doing so and admittedly on paper, they do look tempting. However, any experienced solar professional will tell you the likelihood of having an issue is so much higher by going for the cheapest quote you can find. Plus, by now I’m sure you all know or have heard of someone having a terrible experience with solar and by choosing a very cheap system you could quite easily join the list of unsatisfied customers.
I’m not advocating that you must spend the Earth just be careful if you are considering going for a cheaper system.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are looking for high end equipment and the installation to be carried out by more experienced professionals, like with anything in life you can expect the price to be higher. If you do fall into this category but aren’t a solar expect and don’t want to spend hours reading through forums and researching what are the best panels, I would advise you to read this very informative article on SolarQuotes. Click here to view. This provides a concise overview on what are the best panel and inverter brands on the market, along with some other useful tips, so you can be certain you are getting what you asked for.
We have also created our own list of the reputable panel and inverter brands we recommend to our customers that in our experience are the most reliable and produce the greatest output.
Compare solar panel brands
Our favourite panels brands, based off their performance, reliability and presence in Australia
Compare solar inverter brands
Other reputable brands that we can supply
If you haven’t requested a premium or top of the range system but your quote has come back unexpectedly high you can use a very simple formula to determine if the quote is overpriced. This should help you to avoid any opportunist parting with your hard-earned cash. Generally, residential solar systems retail at approximately $1000 per kW after the STC rebate.
6.6kW x $1000 = $6600
10kW x $1000 = $10,000
Now this is perhaps a little overly simplified and won’t be accurate for every household but does provide a relatively accurate guideline you can use. If you do receive a quote that is significantly higher than this marker, my advice would be to seek an explanation from your supplier. There could be a very simple reason behind the high price, with the two most common legitimate reasons being:
- They have mistakenly quoted you premium equipment
- There is a characteristic of your property that has increased the price.
Nevertheless, it’s always best to get a reason why and if they can’t provide any explanation or quickly drop the price, beware!!
What could lead to your solar system costing more?
In solar heaven everyone lives in a single storey home with a large north facing tin roof and has a brand-new meter box, however we know this is the just the dream of us involved in the solar industry and the reality is very different. If your property has any of the following features, you can expect to pay a little more for your system due to the extra time and difficulty involved in the installation.
- Terracotta and decramastic tiles – Terracotta tiles and decramastic are notoriously fragile and do require extra care and time from a skilled installer to leave them undamaged.
- Non-compliant meter box – If you have an old meter box that does not comply with the current regulations it is our obligation when installing the system to bring it up to standard. You will want to make sure this is checked during the quoting process and disclosed prior to install, to avoid any unexpected hidden fees.
- Living in a very remote area/on an island – We have excellent long-term working relationships with many CEC accredited installers across Queensland. They can serve most areas without issue, however properties that are very remote or located on an island will pay a premium due to the time involved travelling to and from the site.
- Multi Storey – There is only a minor fee for two storey properties compared to a single storey but once a property exceeds 3 storeys you can expect to pay a little more due to the requirement of scissor lifts and extra time required to install the system.
- Three phase – Having three phase power is a massive advantage for solar, although if you do not have the roof space to take full advantage, then three phase equipment is more expensive than the single-phase equivalent
- Shading/requirement for microinverters or optimisers – If you are looking towards microinverters or optimisers, these will increase the cost of the system compared to a string inverter.
- Very steep roof – If your roof pitch is more than 30 degrees we may need to have edge protection installed for safety reasons. This is a safety barrier to prevent one of our skilled workers slipping off your roof!
Solar price guide
Well now that I’ve covered some of the background information, I will finally answer the all-important question of ‘how much should you spend on your solar system?’
Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all answer the price you should expect to pay depends on several factors, including:
- The size of the system
- The equipment quality
- Property location (solar in regional areas is typically more expensive)
- Property characteristics
Nonetheless, there is still a guideline price range I would advise trying to stick to that will give the best balance between quality and affordability. To demonstrate this, I have created several graphics on the expected price range of 3 – 15 kW systems that you can see below.
If you are looking for a residential system greater than 15kW, it becomes a little trickier to give a guideline price and so I would advise you to seek the advice from a couple of solar companies so they can help you to achieve your solar goals.
- There will be a compromise on system quality that will significantly increase likelihood of encountering issues.
- Likely to be using budget equipment and the chance of having problems is increased
- Ideal price range we would recommend for most customers to ensure you are getting quality equipment and the installation is carried out to a high standard
- For complex installs or if premium equipment is being used, this price range can be typical. If neither apply you may be getting over charged
- Unless the absolute best of the best equipment is being used or there are complications to your install, this system is overpriced
A few years ago, a higher percentage of customers would have been looking to buy systems in sections 1 and 2, when the industry was driven primarily by price. We have seen a shift away from this, as now more and more people are investing time to thoroughly research products and companies before committing and signing on the dotted line.
At Adapt Energy, we welcome this change as it is leading to a higher proportion of satisfied customers and a reduction in those having a poor solar experience, which ultimately is the best scenario for everyone.
As they say ‘if you buy cheap you buy twice’ which certainly applies for the solar industry.
This shift is part of the reason behind why we want to produce informative content like this article to help everyone make the right direction because if done correctly solar is one of the best investments you can possibly make.
Looking into solar for the first time can be quite daunting and a minefield with so much conflicting information out there. One of the most common issues our customers face is the highly variable prices of the quotes they receive and there is also a misunderstanding of why one system may cost more than another. The large variability in price can be caused by:
- System size
- Product quality
- Installation standards
- Company reputation and aftercare support
- Property location
- Property characteristics
However, be mindful of quotes that look too good to be true (they probably are) and also the quotes the sit in categories 4 and 5 of our charts because there maybe someone trying to make a quick buck.
With this added knowledge I hope that you manage to find the right system for the right price.
MSc Energy and the Environment
BSc Environmental Science