Solar systems

Why should I switch to solar power?

The cost of installing solar has been reducing over the past five years and will continue to become cheaper. However, the cost of waiting for further reductions is the increasingly expensive electricity bill that you pay your energy retailer. Right now you are effectively ‘renting’ your electricity and in five years you will have nothing to show for the thousands of dollars you have parted with. Should you then decide to purchase a solar system, the system price may be cheaper but when you add your aggregated energy bills you have paid to this price you find it very expensive indeed!

If you invest in solar now you become an energy ‘mortgagee’. You now own a big share of the electricity you consume and your savings start immediately to pay off your investment cost. In five years or so, your power savings have now paid off the cost of your investment. You now own your energy production outright and with a top tier solar system you will continue to make savings for a further 25 years at least.

Right now the power companies have secured the right to increase their rates by 25% annually over the next three years. Based on this rate your power bill is tipped to double! With the arrival of solar battery storage now is the time to start investing in solar and take control over your power bills.

Please also take note. There is still a solar government financial incentives available in all states and territories, and even though it is less than what used to be available in the past, on a 5 KW system for example you are likely to receive over $2,800-$2,900.

What are the factors to consider when buying solar panels?

There are a number of factors that you should consider when selecting a solar panel. They are:


Any solar panel company can make a promise about quality, materials, warranty and support but the key is selecting a product made by a company whose promises can be trusted and who will be around in the long term to support you. Trustworthiness is hard to quantify but is usually best described through experience, reputation, commitment, transparency, integrity and size.

The quality of solar panels available in the market varies greatly. The type of aluminium used for the solar panel frame, the thickness and quality of the solder, the efficiency and quality of the solar cell, the water seal over time, the way the cells are encapsulated, the protection against micro cracking, the UV resistance of the backing sheet, the quality of the cables and plugs, all these factors together determine the quality and longevity of the solar panel.

Trustworthiness also extends to your local supplier and installer of solar panels. Choosing a long established local company who has partnered with a diversified solar panel manufacturer is a great place to start.


Performance matters in two distinct ways.

Firstly, you need a solar panel that produces a good power level. Good power need not be the highest power (unless you have limited space), but certainly it should be towards the upper end of the typical power ratings available in the market, which steadily increase over time as efficiencies increase.

Secondly, the solid and ongoing panel performance of a solar panel should also be backed up by strong technical confidence which can be demonstrated through tight power tolerances, a low temperature co-efficient and a clear description of how the products are tested, affected and rated against Potential Induced Degradation (PID) and Light Induced Degradation (LID).

A supplier who makes quality solar panels typically offers a strong warranty that provides peace of mind about ongoing performance and has the dependability if something goes wrong.

I’m building or buying a new home, should I install a solar system?

When buying or building a home it is possibly the easiest time to afford solar electric systems. You could simply add the cost of the system to the construction/purchase costs and therefore pay it with your new mortgage.

There are not many items in your home that will pay for itself after a few years, before starting to make money for you year after year. And then, when you decide to sell your home, you will reap the added desirability and resale value that solar provides.

There are solar panels installed in Australia in the early 1990s which are still producing electricity today, so you can expect the benefits of a quality, Tier 1 solar system to be available for decades to come.

What are the key tips and questions I should ask before buying a solar system?

1. Is part of your roof east, north or west facing and free from shade between 8am and 5pm?

2. Is there enough room on this part of your roof for solar panels? Also consider future solar needs to supply extra for storage batteries to cover your nighttime power needs and also in the near future, to charge an up electric car or two overnight.

You need 5m2 – 6.5m2 of roof space for every 1.0 kW of solar system depending on how much power each panel can generate per hour.

3. Is your roof area peppered with chimneys and antennas which could pose overshadowing problems?

4. Is your roof strong enough to support the solar panels and racking? Most Australian roofs are of sufficient structure to support a solar panel system. Nevertheless have a site inspection and let the solar dealer check it out.

5. Have you set aside a budget to cover the costs of installing solar power for your home? A quality residential solar power system that will make a dent in your electricity bill starts around $5,000 and can go as high as $9,000/$8,500 for a 5kW system. As you want the system to supply you with reliable electricity for 25+ years, it’s important that you choose a high quality system with minimal degradation over time.

6. Have the installer explain how much electricity your system could generate each year and also how the installation position of you panels affects the time of the day that the electricity will be generated. Make sure the panel positions match your consumption pattern. For example Eastern direction panels will produce most electricity in the morning, Northern facing will give you the biggest output of electricity in the middle of the day and North West facing modules will provide most electricity in the mid to late afternoon.

7. Do you know the process involved once you decide to go ahead with your purchase? Ask the solar system installer to outline all the various steps, including grid connection and any meter changes and precise warranty responsibilities preferably in writing.

Is it beneficial to invest in a solar power system?

The most considered benefit of installing a Solar Power System is financial. Once installed a solar system produces electricity from the sun free. A Kilowatt hour of electricity used from the Solar System is a kilowatt hour of electricity that does not need to be bought from the electricity retailer. The more electricity that can be used from the solar system and therefore not paid for from the grid, the more money will be saved. As electricity prices increase over time, the greater the financial benefit of having solar becomes.

Solar power is also a great way to bring clean energy to your home, and reduce your family’s carbon footprint. In today’s society we are often removed from the source of the electricity we use, and therefore unaware of just how much pollution we create.

You may also qualify for some financial incentives that can help with the initial cost of solar panel installation.

Can you suggest a checklist before I buy a solar power system?

1. You conduct your own research into the benefits of having a solar PV system installed. In particular, you should ensure that you understand what will happen to your meter, your electricity tariff and your electricity bill before you agree to have a PV system installed.

2. Contact quality solar installers to arrange for a quote. Please note that often you get what you pay for. With long warranties available for solar components, the warranties are only worth anything if the manufacturer and installation company will stand the test of time and will be there in a decade or so to back you up. Stay away from unknown brands, as the solar industry is undergoing massive restructuring and consolidation amongst less financially stable solar players.

3. Read parts of these FAQs and develop some key questions when you meet the solar installation company.

4. Ensure the solar company you consider uses CEC accredited installers to meet latest industry requirements. Ask for the installer’s name and accreditation/licence numbers.

5. Ask how the solar rebate will work for you and how it will be applied – eg as an upfront deduction from the price of the solar power system?

6. Ask who will complete the connection and approval process for your electricity retailer and electricity distributor. This process varies between states and territories. Ideally you want the solar installation company take care of this and have all associated meter connection fees included in your final price.

7. Get a clear date or at least a week nominated when the CEC accredited installer starts and completes the installation of your solar PV system.

8. Make sure the solar installation company contacts your electricity retailer or electricity distributor to arrange for your new meter to be installed.

9. Discuss solar system monitoring options.

10. Immediately after the meter installation your solar PV system is now ready to produce solar electricity for your premises.

11. Depending on which state you live in, your local electrical authority may conduct a safety inspection of your solar PV system soon after installation.

When should I NOT buy a solar system?

Most of homes or business premises in Australia can install a system but there are times when you should not buy a solar system. For example:

1. You have no roof space available which is facing North, North East, North West, West or East

2. There is strong shading of trees and building most of the day on your North, East or West facing roofs. Is there is al ittle shading for part of the day micro inverters or oprimisers can offer a solution.

3. You have an asbestos roof

4. When the system has to be installed at a distance from the home (like at farm sheds) and the additional cost of running the electricity wires and poles back to the meter far outweighs the return on investment

5. You are out of your house/premises most of the time, therefore you cannot use the solar power when it is generated. The unused solar power will be exported to the grid. On average your energy retailer will credit you 11c per kW, making the investment in solar financially less attractive. In this case solar would only be suitable if you also install a battery storage system.

Solar cost and benefits

What are the benefits of residential solar energy?

1. Reduce your electricity bills immediately

2. Receive Government sponsored financial incentive – right now! Support is on average equal to 25% of your system

3. The solar power that you generate and use is free (after the initial purchase of your system). Ten years from now…it’s still free. Meanwhile, price for fossil fuels and electricity rise higher and higher year after year. For the period 2017-2020 electricity rates are schedule to increase by 25% pa

4. Ensure that your lifestyle at home remains affordable

5. Enjoy a return on your investment

6. Increase the value of your home

7. Any form of renewable energy is good for our future. Help combat global warming by reducing green house gases*

8. No fuel, waste, or pollution is expelled in its usage

*Solar modules are emission free once manufactured.The energy used for manufacture and transport of LG panels is estimated to take approximately 18 month in Australia to offset the emission before the solar energy created becomes 100% emission free.

What should I check in a quote before I buy a solar power system?

Make sure the installer comes to your house and has a look, before you get the quote. Internet based solar companies quote you for a system over the phone can spell trouble for the install quality, as they cannot truly appreciate the individual set up of your house. Are the tiles brittle ? Where are any surrounding trees, which can cause overshadowing?What about antennas and chimney locations – which in the future through overshadowing can affect the system output significantly? How old is your switch board and does it need upgrading to handle solar? All these questions only become clear through a proper home inspection.

When internet or call centre based solar companies sell you a system they use the one size fits all approach and give you a standard price. They then negotiate with a sub-contract installer to install your system for an agreed price. So the sub-contracted installer holds all the risk should your system requires extra cabling or is a particular labor intensive installation. It is more likely in this situation for the installer to find the quickest way, not necessarily the best way to install the system. Being a sub-contractor to the company that sold you the system, the installer’s relationship with your system is one of “get in and get out as quick as possible”.

Should you, in years to come require support for your solar system, the internet based solar company might not be around anymore, or should they still exist are very likely to send a new sub-contractor to check out the issue. It is better, like with your car, to have the same reliable mechanic undertake the ongoing work. Someone who is familiar with your particular circumstances/system.

In general the quotation should provide solar system specifications like quantity of panels, brand and model of panels, system size and likely output per annum in kW/h, capacity and output of the inverter or if micro inverters are to be used the brand and warranty conditions.

A proper, considered quote should include also datasheets of the supplied products. In general make sure your quote includes:

1. Solar PV modules – brand, model and manufacturer’s warranties;
2. Mounting frames – brand, warranties and which part of the roof to be installed;
3. Inverter – brand, capacity and manufacturer’s warranty;
4. Any additional metering cost – if not included in the price, make sure this aspect is clearly outlined in the quote;
5. Travel and transport requirements if not included;
6. Any trench digging if solar to be installed on outbuildings e.g. farms.

At hand over, make sure the installer gives you a system user manual.

The quotation should also specify a total price, together with proposed start and completion dates. The quotation should form a basis for your contract with the designer/installer. Deposit requirements for the system by law should not be more than 10 per cent. Usually the majority of the solar system needs to be paid for on the day of installation.

Is solar energy more expensive than conventional energy?

In many countries, solar systems produce electricity at or close to the cost of electricity from other conventional sources, which continue to rise. When the cost of solar electricity matches the cost of conventional energy, we refer to this as “grid parity”. In Australia “grid parity” is now close in many areas or has already arrived in areas with high electricity costs.

The more recent increases in electricity bills and the parallel reduction in the cost of solar power systems means that most home solar power systems are paid off in 5 to 7 years. A high quality solar panel can generate power for more than 25 years (Please consider that panels can last that long, but inverters are likely to require replacement over such a long time frame).

In the past, governments around the world have provided financial support for solar energy in many countries in recognition of its important role in avoiding reliance on fossil fuels.

Solar energy production costs have been reducing due to improvements in technology and economies of scale.

The solar industry now operates in Australia with relative small government rebate incentives. The industry is now past the establishment phase and moves to be a more steady and balanced industry, avoiding the solar rebate fueled boom and bust cycles.

Why should I buy from Soltek Solar?

Soltek Energy offers competitive pricing and provides a focus on quality and customer satisfaction. We are regularly updated on the changing government rules and regulations.

We at Soltek Energy are knowledgeable about all technical aspects and industry standards applicable in the solar industry. When you buy a solar system fromus, you are assured that we will provide the highest standard of quality and customer service when it comes to installation of your home solar panels.

What are the ongoing costs of running a solar power system?

It is advisable to organise some maintenance inspections every few years to make sure that all parts of your solar electric power system are operating correctly. With a tilt angle of 10 degrees or greater solar panels are self cleaning. If you install panels onto a flat roof without panel tilts you will need to hose down your panels every couple of months.

Make sure that when you purchase your solar system, your dealer includes a solar monitoring system to cross check your actual output against warrantied performance rates. Good monitors will input daily weather data for an accurate daily analysis. They could also enable you to monitor your daily consumption of power so you can compare solar power capacity against usage to maximise your solar power usage and minimise unused solar power going back to the grid. If there is any drop in performance organise an inspection by your solar installer.

A good quality solar system will offer resistance to panel corrosion from rainwater, salt mist, ammonia, air pollution, strong wind, hail. Make sure that your installer uses galvanised screws, stainless steel t-bolts, thick, high quality wiring and circuit breakers, panel mounting frames to ensure safe and reliable energy for many years to come.

Does a solar system add value to my house?

Installing a solar power system is a capital investment similar to installing a pool, spa, modern kitchen or bathroom. It will add desirabilty and additional value to your property.

Home buyers today are increasingly looking for homes that are energy efficient. A Real Estate Institute of Australia survey found that over 85% of respondents rated a solar system (without battery storage) would add value to a house. To 78% of those surveyed solar would add $10,000+ to the value of a property.

Correctly marketed, a solar system can add even more value. If you can use solar power to secure just a $250 saving to your quarterly electricity bill, this saving equates to being able to borrow an additional $16,500 (at 4.5%pa over 30 years). This gives you extra fire power with which to bid for a solar powered house compared to other houses of similar size in the same area without solar. The proviso is that your solar system is well branded with bonafide transferable warranty.

This savings value will change depending on the size of solar system installed and the amount of solar power used to offset your power bill.

By installing a solar power system, you can increase the efficiency and appeal of your home, and you will also deliver a degree of certainty to yourself and any future owner in terms of energy costs.

Any other expenses I have to keep in mind, when installing solar?

Broadly there are three major costs to consider when you install a system.

1. System cost including panels, inverters and accessories such as cables, switches and mounting frames

2. Installation cost which varies on the type of roof, height of roof, travel to location etc.

3. The meter connection cost.

Many of the installation companies will give you a system installed cost excluding the cost of the meter which has to be installed by a Level 2 energy company certified electrician. The cost of the meter install can vary depending on the meter board requirements.

This way you know the cost for the complete system. Also make sure you check if there are any future service visits included and how long the workmanship warranty will be. Workmanship warranty is the warranty for the work the installer has performed. It is usually given by the installation company itself and minimum terms are set by State/Territory regulations.

Solar Installation

How do I get a solar system installed?

Call Soltek Energy today to get advice or arrange a site inspection.

We will give you a quick, free assessment and no-obligation quote. We will book your installation, complete the required paperwork for government financial incentive and connections and assist you with organizing installation of your bi-directional digital meter. This is all part of the service.

My roof is old. Can it handle going solar?

The range of panels we use fit with many type of roof tiles.

The easiest roof to install solar on are metal roofs, either conventional up to 25 degree or flat. Tiled roofs are ok as well as long as the tiles are not too old and fragile. Slate roofs can have solar – but are more difficult and usually cost a bit more. Asbestos roof installations are not recommended and it would be strongly advisable to change the asbestos tiles or sheets first, before installing the solar system.

Naturally single storey homes are easier to access than double storey roofs but installers can install systems at most heights.

Also trees close to the roof can cause issues with overshadowing, and with leaves and branches covering the panels and reducing output. Micro inverters nowadays can offer an advantage in overshadow situation as they regulate the output of each panel individually. So if you have a strong possibility of overshadowing during the year micro inverters and or a solar edge set up can be more advantageous than the conventional solar power string inverter.

Can a solar system be installed on a slate or asbestos roof?

A solar system can be installed on a slate roof, though most of the installers will shy away from tackling a slate roof as it is often brittle and standing on old slate tiles for a period can crack the tiles.Usually solar system installers will charge quite a bit more installation fees for a slate roof as it takes longer – as more care has to be taken.

If you have an asbestos roof, either tiles or sheeting your installer has the right to refuse the installation, if he/she feels the job involves disturbing the existing roof structure. There are a number of different type of asbestos roof. Pretty much all of them have the potential to pose a health hazard if disturbed, drilled into or becoming cracked. We recommend you contact your nearest solar dealer for a free appraisal and roof check. In general there are now increased moves and activities by Governments to see remaining asbestos products removed safely from buildings. You might want to consider replacing your asbestos roof with a new safer one, prior to installing a solar system.

What solar power system will suit my circumstances?

The average consumption in today’s family households consumes between 20 and 30 KW/h of electricity per day. Single person households can consume less than 10Kw/h per day. Please check the rear of your electricity bill as in many cases it will show average daily consumption.

A 2 to 3 kilowatt system in many areas of Australia can provide about a third to half the electricity needs for a family of four. Our solar calculators on this site lets you work out the best scenario for you in regards to solar system size.

Please keep in mind that when you for example consume 5000 kW/hrs at electricity a year and you choose a system that generates 5000kW/Hrs per year – you will not be bill free. The reason is that you will still pay for the electricity you use at night and during rainy days. The extra electricity your system generates during the day, given the lower feed in tariff nowadays, will not completely cover the cost of the electricity at night.

The arrival of solar storage batteries will now change this paradigm – at least when it comes to offsetting night-time energy use. Your capacity to store power in a battery is at the moment capped at sub 13kW (nett 11kW of storage). At current cost of power, ROIs are 12-15 years – about the life of high quality batteries. Prices however are dropping rapidly and storage capacity is increasing. By the end of 2016 expect a 25% drop in cost per kW of storage plus a doubling of storage capacity compared to the the year’s start.

There are long term storage units in development that can store up to 1000kW. They will enable you to store extra solar generated in summer to use in winter and on rainy days. However, they are currently cost prohibitive and large in size and so will remain so for the next 3-5 years at least.

What size of solar panels should I buy?

There are various sizes of solar power panels available. The higher the output, the higher will be the efficiency of the solar panel (as long as the size of the solar panel is the same – of course). A number of years back the 170W to 190W solar power panels were considered a high wattage panel.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the efficiency, the higher the cost of the panel. Nevertheless some higher efficiency panels can offer a shorter return on investment period.

Please discuss the Return on Investment period with us – contact us today.

What are the advantages of using a local solar install company over an internet based, call centre focused company?

It is recommended to use a local solar power company which checks out your specific installation situation. Please see the points below regarding the advantages of a local installer over an internet based solar company.

1. The local installer is more likely to fully evaluate your install situation fully. Do you need a meter board upgrade? What safety gear is required as part of the install? At two storey homes – how do we install the scaffolding etc.

2. A local diversified company in the future will more likely be around to service any warranty issues or system upgrades. With some call focused solar companies longevity of the company can be an issue. In Australia in 2012 and 2013 for example over 150 solar companies went bankrupt.

3. It is recommended to buy brand solar panels from diversified manufacturers like REC, Jinko or Winaico. That way the 10 and 25 year warranties actually have a meaning. If you choose an exotic brand, then maybe the manufacturer has gone out of business or the importer has stopped bringing these panels into Australia.

4. Local solar companies will be most familiar with local electricity supply rules as well as knowing which local electricity retailer paying the highest feed-in tariff. Therefore the local solar installer will be able to give you the most up-to date advice. Australia wide solar call centers usually are not too familiar with the detailed local rules, which vary across Australia.

Maintenance and Repairs

What maintenance is required for a solar system?

Solar power systems are generally maintenance free. As a general rule, solar power modules installed at greater than 10 degrees angle will tend to self-clean with average rainfall in Australia, so little maintenance is required. For optimum performance we do recommended to keep you panels clean and therefore negotiate with your installer a regular inspection and cleaning regime – say every 12, 18 or 24 months.

How do I clean my solar panels?

Clean panels mean that your solar power system will perform at the optimum capacity. A dirty or leaf covered panel will drop the efficiency and generating power of the solar power system.

It is estimated that a dirty panel looses around 5% efficiency compared with a clean solar panel. So if you are in a very dusty or high traffic location do consider to have your panels cleaned every few years. On the other hand if your area receives regular flushing rain, then extra cleaning might not be required.

We never recommends for end customers to climb on the roof to clean their solar panels. Get a qualified tradesman to do it for you.

How does dirt, twigs and leaves affect the efficiency of my system?

Much like shading from other obstructions, anything, including dirt, bird droppings or leaves will reduce your output as it is not letting the sunshine through to the panel in that spot and will affect the efficiency of your solar power system.

The difference in clean and dusty/dirty panels in output electricity generation can be about 5%. Heavy rain can clean panels regularly cleaning will assist in maximising the solar output.

What happens to my solar systems if we have a blackout?

In a blackout the grid connected solar power system will automatically shut down and will cease generating solar power. This is required by law as the lines men working on the grid could be seriously injured if the solar power system would still produce 230V AC.

The solar power system will automatically reboot when it senses the grid connection is back. In a battery backed solar power system, the batteries will power your home till the grid connect comes back or the batteries run out of power.

What if there is a problem with the solar power system?

Like any product or a system, the solar system can develop a defect. The defect can come in the inverter, panel or the electrical installation. Traditionally nearly 80% of system failures or automatic shut downs are related to inverter issues. That’s why we recommend to pair our quality panels with a high quality, top of the range inverters.

There are safeguards built into the inverters and electrical systems. If you feel that the system is not performing well or has stopped working, you should get in touch with your original installer or call a certified solar tradesman to inspect the system. Do not attempt to fix the system yourself by turning switches and buttons on and off. If the solar power system has shut down a serious defect could have occurred. You are dealing with high voltage electricity, a field safely left to the experts. Contact us today.

Does my home insurance cover any damage to my system?

Most of the insurance companies cover the solar power system installed on the roof of the insured home. The solar electric system is considered to be part of your building.However, please note different insurance companies have different rules. We suggest you call your home and content insurance either before or after you installed the solar power system and inform them that you now have a solar power system. In many cases premiums do not change or change only very slightly. Please call your insurance to confirm your particular circumstances.