Are residential solar systems suitable for every house? What should you know before getting started? A complete comprehensive guide into residential solar systems.


    Australia has the highest percentage of uptake of solar energy worldwide. With over 29% of homes choosing residential solar systems, around 2.77 million solar systems are in use all across Australia. Most residential solar systems are grid-connected with no battery. However, there are three ways you can get a solar system for your house.  Let’s dive into what kinds of systems are available, tips & hacks, and how to get started.

    Types of Residential Solar Systems

    1. Grid-connected system

    This allows you to keep your system connected to the grid to buy power when it’s too cloudy or even during the night. The inverter will work seamlessly with the grid to work solely on solar power first and draw from the grid only when it’s depleted. Grid-connected solar systems allow you to sell the energy back to the grid.

    1. Off-grid system:

    These are standalone sources of power that include batteries to keep the power 24*7. They don’t require any connection to the grid and are popular in rural areas. It’s a good option for areas where the cost of grid connection is too high. Some places are quoted at $50,000, hence a complete solar system would be a better option since other than the upfront payment, electricity will be free afterwards and through its lifetime.

    1. Hybrid solar system

    Hybrid systems are a mix of both the systems mentioned above. They are grid-connected and require an inverter and batteries. The batteries store the excess energy generated for the night. These are a little pricier than the others but are excellent backups and can be used in large households.

    Now that you know your options for residential solar packages, let’s go through why they would be a substantial investment and how you can get a return rate on them.

    • Reduction In Energy Consumption:

    Residential solar systems cut down not only the electricity bill but also reduce the amount of electricity you need to buy from the provider. Any grid-connected system will prioritize solar energy but automatically borrow from the grid when there’s no solar power available. The cost is generally between 15 to 40 cents per kWh, so you will see a reduction in the energy consumption and the bill. Using the right battery system would offset it by 30% at the very least.

    • Feed-in-Tariff Plans:

    The amount of energy the system generates completely in the sunlight. Hence, sometimes there might be an excess of energy, while on other days, especially during the winter, the amount would be a bare minimum. When there’s a surplus, you can sell that energy back to the main grid through a plan called “Feed-In-Tariff” or FIT. The rates will vary depending on location and which retailer you are working with. Once registered for the plan, you will get detailed data on the electricity bill on your energy consumption and the FIT rates you will get on them.

    To increase the Feed-In Tariff rates, you can put a timer on the appliances that consume the most energy in your household, such as

    • Washing machine
    • Dishwasher
    • Hot water systems
    • Underfloor heat system, if you have it
    • Fridge

    If you don’t have a timer on any of them, you can get one from any hardware store since they are cheap.

    Solar rebates in Australia

    The Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme AKA SRES was started back in 2011 to encourage the usage of renewable energy all over Australia. SRES issues Small-scale Technology Certificates, also known as STCs, to both businesses and houses that install solar systems under 100kW.

    STCs are made only after the Clean Energy Council accredited solar system installer commissions the system. The STC is based on how much energy your system will generate before the end of the year 2030. This means it’s calculated based on your location, how much energy your system can produce, and the time left until 2030. The rebate is roughly equal to 30-35% of the total cost of the system.

    These vary depending on where you live but are more or less the same. You can claim a rebate even if you had one in the past and are getting a new system. However, there are a few restrictions that you should know beforehand:-

    • The system should be less than 100kW. 100kW is huge, so residential solar packages should be good.
    • You have to get it from the installers and professionals who are Clean Energy Council accredited. Always ask for proof before you commit!
    • The panels, batteries, and inverters must be CEC (Clean Energy Council) accredited too. Which means buy brands CEC approves of.

    Components of a Solar Power System

    With the economical and financial advantages out of the way, let’s see what all features a good residential solar package will have-

    1. Monitor system
    2. Solar inverter
    3. A rack or a mount
    4. Solar panels

    Solar Panels

    Each individual solar panel usually has at least 60 or more cells. There are 4 different ways the cells can be arranged:- polycrystalline, which is the most common and traditional one, monocrystalline, half-cut layout, and shingled. All of them work the same, but if your place tends to get a lot of shade during the day then getting a half-cut or shingled would be better. The panels are available in two different sizes-

    • The residential size will have about 60 to 66 cells and are ideal for small residential buildings or if your rooftop doesn’t have much space.
    • Commercial size panels will have around 72 cells and are heavier than the residential ones.

    Despite their names, you can use either of them for residential solar systems depending on the space you have. The plus side with commercial panels is that they would generate slightly more energy, but the size also makes it harder to work with. Residential ones are lighter and easier to work with.

    Solar Inverter

    Solar inverters are available in three different types:

    1. String Inverter: These are roughly the size of a briefcase or small suitcase.
    2. Microinverters: These are around the same size as a paperback book.
    3. Optimizers: The optimizers are a combination of both the string and the micro-inverter. The string inverter is slightly cheaper than a micro-inverter and they are mounted on the wall. Micro-inverters are placed either underneath or on the back of each panel individually.

    Furthermore, it should be noted that you should never mount the string inverters where they receive the full glare of the sun. Australia’s sun is harsh and it pretty much kills the inverters, hence either mount them where they will get a shade or build a shade over the place you mount them. The inverters are always hard at work in a residential solar system and hence are likely to need a replacement in 15 to 20 years.

    A Rack or a Mount?

    Next in the residential solar package is the rack or mount. These are made of aluminium and there are a lot of brands available for this. The flexibility might vary depending on the brand, but they are more or less the same with similar lifespans.

    Monitor system

    These are small devices that are fitted in your switchboards and their sole work is to keep track of how much energy is getting generated and consumed per day. You can go ahead without a monitor, but then you won’t be able to see how much energy you are consuming. Hence, by getting a monitor, you could track and manage your usage.

    General roof direction or plans for maximum energy

    The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. We all know this, but this plays a big role in residential solar systems. Here’s what that means for the panels-

    • The panels that face East will generate more energy in the morning.
    • Panels facing West will generate more energy during the afternoon.
    • Panels facing North will generate more energy overall but less during the morning & noon.

    How many solar panels will you need?

    The answer depends on various things such as how many your roof can fit, your budget, and the amount the local electricity retailer allows. The minimum you should get is 6.6kW panels, which would approximately be 18 panels, with a 5kW solar inverter. It’s difficult and expensive to add more panels to an existing solar system, which is why you should get the correct numbers in the first go. Even if you install a few extra panels, you won’t regret it since they are getting cheaper each year whereas electricity is getting more expensive.

    Price ranges you can expect with Residential Solar Packages

    Here’s in the general range you can expect for each system, including the rebate discounts-

    • 10 kW– $(8,000-12,000)
    • 6.6 kW– $(5,000-9,000)
    • 5 kW- $(4,500- 8,000)
    • 3 kW– $(3,500-5,000)

    For the people in Victoria, the prices won’t be the same since the Victorian government has a state-level rebate that offers an additional rebate of up to $1,400.

    The range can and will increase if your household needs more switchboards or if there are any additional requirements for electrical work to make your house suitable for the system. If you get a hybrid or off-grid solar system, then the cost will increase depending on the battery storage capacity.

    Do I need batteries?

    Solar batteries provide you with security and peace of mind. They are great if you live in an area with frequent storms, blackouts, and power cuts. They store enough energy that your household will go on with no hitch if there’s a blackout. But are they completely necessary for residential solar systems? The answer is trickier than just a yes or no.

    Electricity rates are ever-changing. The Feed-In Tariffs & rebates have a chance of decreasing over the years. Batteries are a great backup for both the possibilities and can reduce your grid usage by 90%! No one knows how the electricity rates and Feed-In Tariff rates will change, but if you have a battery system, you won’t have to worry about either. Another thing to be noted is that not all batteries will provide backup automatically when the grid shuts off. If you want this, you must tell the installers upfront so they can wire the system and switchboards accordingly.

    Now some places have a few offers for the addition of battery systems in your residential solar systems:

    1. In South Australia, some postal codes in ACT and Victoria offer solar battery subsidies that would halve the entire installation cost while potentially giving you a 10-year payback.
    2. VPP or Virtual Power Plants are fairly recent developments and people are wary of this for good reasons. In short, you will get cheaper batteries if you let the electricity retailer have full control over them. What this means is that they can charge and discharge your batteries as they wish and you won’t have much control over the entire system.

    With this, we hope you can now understand all that comes with a residential solar system. As with any other product or service, there are various CEC accredited installers out there, all promising pretty much the same. GoRunSolar has more than just promises under its belt for you.

    What is GoRunSolar?GoRunSolar is an award-winning solar installation company with the fastest-growing clean & renewable energy solutions. All our professionals and equipment are CEC accredited with in-depth knowledge of the utility and designs. We provide 25 years of warranty on solar panels for both residential solar systems and commercial solar systems. Our team makes efforts to understand your requirements, budget, and area layout before they make any suggestions. With a one-stop station that provides batteries, inverters, mounts, and panels; we serve you with integrity both before and post-installation. If you would like to get a free on-site visit and to know more, please <INSERTCTA>.