Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels are generally fitted on the roof in a northerly direction and at an angle to maximise the amount of sunlight that hits the panels.
Solar PV panels on the roofs of homes and businesses generate clean electricity by converting the energy in sunlight. This conversion takes place within modules of specially fabricated materials that make up the solar panels. It is a relatively simple process that requires no moving parts. In most cases solar panels are connected to the mains power supply through a device called an inverter.
Solar panels are different to solar hot water systems, which are also mounted on household roof-tops but use the heat from the sun to provide hot water for household uses.
The technology to convert sunlight into electricity was developed in the 19th century, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century that development accelerated behind the need to provide reliable supplies of electricity in remote locations – from satellites in space to outback Australia.
Solar panels have been installed on the rooftops of houses and other buildings in Australia since the 1970s. Currently there are more than 1,000,000 solar panel systems safely and reliably delivering clean electricity across Australia.
How much do solar panels cost?
The cost of solar panels has continued to change over the past decade behind different government incentive schemes and increased diversity in the panels, inverters and suppliers on the market.
Being an informed consumer is increasingly important. Similar to buying a car or a computer, you’ll want to be sure that your system is a sound investment that best meets your needs at a reasonable price. It is important to be clear on what you want from your solar PV system. Are you after a system that will partially offset your energy consumption for 5-10 years before requiring a system upgrade? Or do you want a system that will completely offset your household’s electricity use for the next 25 years? Like buying a second-hand car as opposed to a brand-new sports car, these two solar PV systems are both sound investments depending on your needs, but will vary significantly in price. The price of your solar PV system can also be affected by variables including:
• Government rebates and support schemes (these vary in each state)
• Number of panels
• Orientation of panels
• Type of panels
• Type of inverter
• System design and configuration
• Shipping costs for equipment and parts
• Contractor installation costs
• Removal of trees or other shading
• Type of roofing (for example, tiled or tin)
• Height of roof
• Site preparation needs (for example, condition of roof or ground)
Keeping in mind the variables mentioned above, the table below shows an approximate guide on price range for grid-connected solar PV systems in the major capital cities. Government rebates such as Renewable Energy Certificates, Solar Credits and Feed-in Tariffs can be deducted from these figures.