Solar Panels – Part 2

What About Larger Solar Systems?

If you’re thinking of buying a larger system (ie. over 1.5 kW) – excellent!  It will save you more money in the long run and you’ll be doing more for the environment. The catch is the larger systems cost more initially and because the prices jump quite a bit, the payback periods are longer. Let’s compare …

Assuming: New WA scheme. Generated power 50/50 (export and consume). Moderate electricity price increases (9.3% pa).

Or …

So, the larger systems make sense as long as you’re looking at it as a long term investment (at least 6 years), and/or your main motivation is the environmental benefits.

Wouldn’t I be better off doing something else with my money?

Solar systems are pretty much a zero risk investment, so let’s compare it to another (practically) zero risk option – putting the cash into a bank account. The highest interest rate you will get from a bank is about 6% pa. at the moment.

For the 1.5 kW system …

Or for the large (5 kW) system …

So, solar panels make sense as an investment option but they take time to justify themselves (about 5 to 9 years). Again, it’s all about the long term.

But How much electricity will I save?

Of course, for many people, the money savings aren’t the main factor in deciding to get solar panels. It’s also about doing your bit for the environment. But how much do these systems cut your electricity consumption by?

Well, the average Australian household uses somewhere around 18 units of electricity per day, so the answer looks something like this …

So, a 1.5 kW system will offset around 36% of your household electricity use. If you buy a 5 kW system you’re basically running your whole house on solar power plus a little extra.

Is now a good time to buy?


Mid this year the initial price of solar systems will increase because part of the government rebate/discount will be taken away (as has always been the plan). After that, prices are likely to drop again quite quickly, but we don’t know just how quick. In other words, the current prices could be the best deals we’ll see in quite some time.

As far as the “money for exporting power to the grid” schemes are concerned, my understanding is this:

  • If you buy your system now but down the track people are offered more money per unit, you will be able to sign up for the new scheme and reap the benefits,
  • If things get worse (less cash per unit exported) it will not effect you, as you’ll be locked in to the current scheme.


In my eyes, solar panels are a good idea – from an investment standpoint and hippy/greenie standpoint. However, the key is having the cash for the initial cost and understanding they’re a long term investment rather than a quick money maker.

Hopefully I’ve outlined enough of the facts with enough accuracy that you can make up your own mind.

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3 Responses to Solar Panels – Part 2

  1. KimG says:

    In-text referencing & a list of references at the end would improve this blog entry.

  2. Thanks Kim. I chose to do in text links (the bold blue underlined words) instead of references because I thought it would serve the same purpose while allowing the write up to have a casual feel to it. But perhaps you’re right – with a subject like this, proper references may have been a better idea. If you want to know where I got any particular bit of info from, just let me know and I’ll respond.

  3. Pingback: Solar Panels – Part 1 | A Hole in the Head

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