Traditionally, if a homeowner wants to benefit from clean, affordable solar energy, they must choose and pay for a home solar panel system and have it fully installed on their property. Many Australians have opted to do this. In fact, 1 in 5 Australian households now have a rooftop solar system.
A home solar system is costly
Federal, state, and local governments have also implemented various incentives and rebates to encourage people to go down this route. Yet, even with these financial incentives, the reality is that the upfront costs involved in purchasing a solar system and having it installed on your roof can add up.
It’s a hefty amount that many Australians simply can’t afford; 30 per cent of Australians are unable to install solar on their homes. Of course, running your home on solar energy saves you a lot of money in electricity bills, but the initial out-of-pocket costs are not something everyone can afford.
The ownership model disadvantages Australians with unstable or low incomes. People such as single parents or pensioners, for example, often have trouble financing the cost of a home solar system. For many, it can be almost impossible to save the cash or have a loan approved. With the price of fossil-fuel based energy rising, people with residential solar are saving approximately $540 each year on their power bills. It’s precisely the people who can’t afford to invest in the first place who could most benefit from these potential savings.
To make things more tricky, there are other, often unexpected costs involved in buying and owning solar panels that may come as a surprise. Let’s take a look at all the less obvious costs that need to be considered.
Installation and labour costs
This is perhaps the most obvious cost to consider. When you buy a solar PV system, you don’t just pay for the panels and equipment. You pay for the manual labour that goes into the installation of the system, completed by certified, trained, and accredited experts. Different installation providers package their offers in various ways, but the price you pay will take into consideration the consultation and design process as well. The size and number of panels to be installed will also influence the amount of time an installation takes, further adding to the cost.
Roof upgrades and landscaping
There are often unforeseen costs like roof adjustments or upgrades that are necessary for safe and optimal installation of a solar PV system. Trees may need to be trimmed or even removed to reduce the amount of shade on the roof location. One way to reduce these costs can be to get a quote from an independent contractor and compare it to that provided by your installer.
Maintenance and repairs
As a homeowner, you’re obligated to maintain your premises and carry out any necessary work, or maintenance, to ensure your home is safe and habitable. This means you must ensure that any fixtures on your house are in good working order. Once installed, a solar panel system becomes part of the property, so it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the solar panel system. This includes any cleaning and repairs. Most installation providers will provide a warranty period that may help to cover electrical or physical issues with your system, but it’s still important to consider these potential costs throughout the lifecycle of the system.
Most home and contents insurance policies cover solar panels if they’re damaged by things covered in your policy, such as weather conditions. However, to extend your policy to cover your solar panel system, you need to increase the total sum that you’re insured for, which will cause an increase in your insurance payments accordingly. Check with your insurer to find out how home solar will affect your policy.
If you want to eliminate your energy bill and become totally independent you might consider investing in a battery. During the times when you’re using less energy than your system is producing, a battery can store the excess energy instead of feeding it back into the grid. This way, during the times when you need more electricity than your panels are producing, you can use the stored energy instead of purchasing from the grid. While they aren’t a necessary part of a solar panel system, a solar battery can set you back anywhere from $1,700 to over $10,000.
You can access solar power at no upfront cost
We believe it’s time to shake things up, move away from the ownership model of home solar and find a way for every Aussie home to have access to one of our greatest renewable resources. The Sola.io subscription-model allows you to have access to clean solar energy at the low rate of $0.13 per kWh.
With most electricity retailers charging somewhere between $0.25-$0.50 per kWh, this gives you the potential to save a significant amount on your electricity bill. On eligible homes, we’ll cover the cost of the system, the installation, and maintenance — eliminating those extra costs to a solar panel system you didn’t account for. Subscribe to our Solar Network to access the most affordable rate in Australia.