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Solar panels in Canberra?

By interestedme - 17 March 2011 20

I have been noticing the Solar Free ads re getting 1.5kWh 7 panels for around $3k. 

They say you get around $1000 per year back through the rebates – so it would pay for itself in three years. 

Are there any catches?  I looked at our last quarter bill and we used around 1,300kWh so based on an average daily production of 6.45kWh this would make about half our usage. 

Can we still feed into the grid and get the tariffs or does it not matter how much you use to how much you are better off economically? 

I know there is debate about how environmentally beneficial the solar panel scheme is but at this stage I am just trying to work out from an economic pov if we are silly not to do it??? 

Also, any good or bad experiences with Solar Free, ACTEW or other providers in Canberra? 

And what is the date we need to do something before the rebates change? 

As you can tell, this is all new to me so any basic info would be helpful.  Thanks.

What’s Your opinion?


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20 Responses to
Solar panels in Canberra?
carriew 7:39 pm 21 Mar 11

I have just gotten a quote from Solar Free, has anyone used this company?

GottaLoveCanberra 7:48 pm 17 Mar 11

aidan said :

There are additional charges for tiled roofs, flat roofs, electricity meter installation (need a special meter — about $180) and inspection charges ($130?).

ActewAGL: $168.00
ACTPLA (last I heard): $186.00

Mental Health Worker 7:13 pm 17 Mar 11

“A “great service” supplied by auditors who follow a cookie-cutter proceedure, give the most basic common-sense suggestions and miss crucial advice. “Install solar hot water and upgrade my appliances? I never would have though of that!” Top it off with a 12 month wait for the report on your property which deems you inelegible for the Government loan scheme. Fail.

I think you are confusing it with the now-defunct Commonwealth Government scheme.

MHW

gp 5:52 pm 17 Mar 11

We went with SunSavers for ours with mixed results. The company is way too snowed under to give great service, but when the installers did show up unannounced after 6 months, I have nothing for praise for the poor sods who labored for three days straight is 30+ temps with barely a break. Extremely professional and hard working. ACTEW is the biggest hold up in getting ours up and running. A month and waiting for them to check it off.

A 3.0 kw system for our family of 4 might mean we generate more than we use. $7000 all up, but we are still hoping for a 3-4 year breakeven.

just_jess 4:55 pm 17 Mar 11

Keijidosha said :

just_jess said :

HEAT is funded by the ACT Government and also provides $30 (sometimes waived) Energy Audits and $500 rebates to Canberra residences for energy improvements as identified through their Energy Audit.

Give them a go – it’s a great service.

A “great service” supplied by auditors who follow a cookie-cutter proceedure, give the most basic common-sense suggestions and miss crucial advice. “Install solar hot water and upgrade my appliances? I never would have though of that!” Top it off with a 12 month wait for the report on your property which deems you inelegible for the Government loan scheme. Fail.

Your description sounds very much like the Federal Government Green Loans Program NOT the ACT Government Home Energy Advice Team Energy Audit Program.

The HEAT audit makes you eligible for a rebate, not a loan. The turn around time for reports is two weeks and each report is tailored to the individual residence – not a computer generated output.

The two programs are not connected in any way.

There is a lot of misunderstanding in the community about the difference between the audit programs and your comments have highlighted this.

Keijidosha 3:45 pm 17 Mar 11

just_jess said :

HEAT is funded by the ACT Government and also provides $30 (sometimes waived) Energy Audits and $500 rebates to Canberra residences for energy improvements as identified through their Energy Audit.

Give them a go – it’s a great service.

A “great service” supplied by auditors who follow a cookie-cutter proceedure, give the most basic common-sense suggestions and miss crucial advice. “Install solar hot water and upgrade my appliances? I never would have though of that!” Top it off with a 12 month wait for the report on your property which deems you inelegible for the Government loan scheme. Fail.

aidan 3:05 pm 17 Mar 11

There is an excellent site that will calculate the output of your panels for you.

You can also look a the outputs that people have submitted to pvoutput.org.

The leader (“A little bit of sunshine”) is a canberra fella with a 30kW install. There is a column for Efficiency. Which is kWh/kW, i.e. multiply the size of your system by that number to see what you would have generated.

You can click on the name of the generator to get daily breakdowns. This can be useful, as you can see how much of the power is generated in different parts of the day. If you have afternoon shading for example, you can get an idea of how much it will affect your system.

My investigations tend to suggest that, for 1.5kW system, if you pay much less than $3k you are getting lesser quality components. Less than $2k there is likely to be a large gap between ordering and installation. More than $4k and you’re getting ripped.

There are additional charges for tiled roofs, flat roofs, electricity meter installation (need a special meter — about $180) and inspection charges ($130?).

There is a good forum over at whirlpool and even a thread for solar installs in the ACT.

Holden Caulfield 1:43 pm 17 Mar 11

just_jess said :

JohnK said :

The output shortfall would have to be attributed to the rainy days, right – not the panels themselves?

Not quite. Solar Panel companies quote the maximum hourly output of a system (in your case – 1.8kW). This is calculated using standard test conditions (irradiance of 1000W/m2, solar specrum of AM 1.5 and module temparature of 25degrees). It’s not really about the rain, it’s about the temperature of the panels and the intensity of the sun.

It’s still interesting to hear 54-11’s feedback, though, because in our dealings with Solar Shop they have been quite open about the fact that the maximum output quoted by panel manufacturers is almost impossible to achieve due a range of factors, many of which you have mentioned. The point being the numbers they gave us are claimed to have been prepared taking into account angle of installation, local climate variances and other factors that affect panel performance.

just_jess 1:20 pm 17 Mar 11

JohnK said :

The output shortfall would have to be attributed to the rainy days, right – not the panels themselves?

Not quite. Solar Panel companies quote the maximum hourly output of a system (in your case – 1.8kW). This is calculated using standard test conditions (irradiance of 1000W/m2, solar specrum of AM 1.5 and module temparature of 25degrees). It’s not really about the rain, it’s about the temperature of the panels and the intensity of the sun.

In Canberra you are more likely to get an output of around 1.4kW out a system of this size.

54-11 12:59 pm 17 Mar 11

John, certainly some of it, but not all. I’ve analysed the daily generation rates a bit and there is still a shortfall.

JohnK 12:37 pm 17 Mar 11

The output shortfall would have to be attributed to the rainy days, right – not the panels themselves?

54-11 11:33 am 17 Mar 11

Correct, HC. I was very impressed with the way their process worked – no problems at all. It was just the output of the panels that was a bit disappointing.

Holden Caulfield 11:29 am 17 Mar 11

@54-11 Sounds like you have a Solar Shop system; thanks for the feedback. We were hoping to have one installed a while back, but delays to our renos have put things back just a bit. Budget allowing, we’re still keen and are going in with eyes wide open.

just_jess 11:24 am 17 Mar 11

The Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT) has a free technical consultation service available to answer questions exactly like this. You can either have a phone or in-office consultation with a technical advisor or you can even post your questions online and they will email you back with answers.

HEAT are also unbiased (they are not affiliated with any other company and don’t try and sell you any products) so you’re not just talking to a salesperson.

HEAT is funded by the ACT Government and also provides $30 (sometimes waived) Energy Audits and $500 rebates to Canberra residences for energy improvements as identified through their Energy Audit.

Give them a go – it’s a great service.

Phone: 02 6260 6165
Web: http://www.heat.net.au

54-11 11:17 am 17 Mar 11

We have just completed 12 months with a 1.8kw system, so now have some proven data. First of all, do not accept how much the retailers will tell you your system will generate. I was somewhat disappointed that the expected generation was less than they had led us to believe.

But given that, we generated 2050kw/h in 12 months, which was admittedly a wetter, cloudier year than usual. Discount that a bit for a 1.5 system rather than our 1.8, and multiply by whatever the gross feed-in tariff rate will apply, and you’ll get a bit of a feel as to how it will work for you.

Our net power bills for 12 months after feed-in and other discounts was about $150. I’m using more expensive Kaneka panels, so installed cost was more than you have been quoted. I’m expecting a payback period of about 4 years.

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