Solar panels Melbourne: Top 5 tips to get your wheels turning


Melbourne Solar Panels: 5 tips to start off

For many homeowners in Melbourne, solar panels have saved money on their power bill for few years now. If you are also enchanted by this idea of saving money, there are few basic facts you need to be aware of before buying any solar panels in Melbourne (or, elsewhere!).

The biggest challenge most homeowners face while starting out is their lack of knowledge on how everything works. The good news is: there are plenty of really good companies that specialize in residential solar panels in Melbourne. Furthermore, they have staffs ready to answer all your questions regarding solar.

But, solar doesn’t have to be complicated. I have complied a list of 4 things you should know, not because that’s all there is to learn, but because I believe this is a good starting point for beginners to get their wheels turning….

Ready? Let’s start….

1. Melbourne Solar Panels Rebate

Let me first say that in Melbourne, solar panel rebate is still active and still very generous. But it’s not just in Melbourne, the rebate is active all around the country. It is a scheme run by the Australian government and sponsored by the big power companies. The incentive helps reduce the upfront cost of rooftop systems.

Solar panel rebate for small systems is technically known as Small-scale Technology Certificate, or STC. All systems up to 100 kilowatts fall under STC. Average residential installation in Melbourne is 3-5 kilowatts.

The image below was taken from government’s site. It shows the two schemes that are currently available in renewable energy….


What are the eligibility criteria?

Anyone who buys the system will qualify for this incentive. Furthermore, installation has to be carried out by accredited installers and the equipments (panels/inverters) have to be in the list of pre-approved products.

How is the rebate calculated? 

This is a bit tricky, so pay close attention…

When you buy a system, there are two criteria that determines your rebate amount….

– the total amount of power the system is expected to generate in 15 years.

– and, the market condition the day you install solar panels.

For the first criteria, size of the system and solar zone (shown below) affect the total amount of power a system will produce. Bigger size and sunnier climate zone will give you higher rebate.

Melbourne is zone 4 due to relatively poor solar radiation.

zone-map-citynameFor that reason, a solar panel system in Melbourne will receive slightly less incentive compared to other locations that are more sunnier (except Hobart which is Zone 4 as well).

The second criteria is… the market condition.

Clean Energy Regulator’s website states…

“Certificates are traded and paid at a rate determined by supply and demand of the market.” – CER

When you purchase solar panels in Melbourne (or else where), you will be assigned certain number of certificates. That number is determined by the amount of power the system is expected to generate (first criteria). Those certificates are then sold in the market at a price dictated by the market for that day.

The price usually fluctuates between $35-$40; at $38 per certificate, a 5 kW solar array system in Melbourne would receive $3377, while the same system in sunny Perth would get $3938.

An approximate comparison of Melbourne solar rebates to other places is shown in the table below (calculated at $38 per certificate)..

City1 kW system1.5 kW system2.0 kW system3.0 kW system4.0 kW system5.0 kW system
Melbourne, Hobart (Zone 4)$675.45$1013.175$1350.9$2026.35$2701.8$3377.25
Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney (All Zone 3)$787.74$1181.61$1575.48$2363.22$3150.96$3938.7

How long will the solar power rebate last?

It will last until 2030…

However, starting 1st January 2017, the phase out is set to kick in. As a result, each year the rebate will reduce by 1/15th, or 6.6% until it drops to zero in 2031…Again, here is a table from CER’s website..



What all this means is: Across the country, including Melbourne, solar panels’ out of pocket cost will slightly increase in 2017. But it’s only by $225 in case of a 5kW system.

That’s all there is to the STC rebate program. If you still feel something is missing, click here to read in more detail

Second tip I am going to give you today is on the cost of solar panels in Melbourne.

2. Melbourne Solar Panels: How much does it Cost?

You wouldn’t be reading this if the prices of solar panels were still expensive like ten years ago. But they are not, and you know that as well. Over the last few years, they have fallen by quite a bit. Will it continue to fall? Very likely, but may be not at the same rate it has since 2008….

According to Solar Choice’s installers network database, the latest residential solar panels prices in Melbourne for September are as follows (the amount shown below is out of pocket cost, which means rebate is already applied)….

City 2-KWatts 4-KWatts 5-KWatts 10-KWatts
Melbourne $3,831 $5,542 $6,371 $13,198

And below is the comparison with other Australian cities…

SolarChoice - Solar panels price - September 2016

This data shows that, in Melbourne, solar panel systems cost close to other large markets such as Sydney and Brisbane. Perth has the cheapest price and Darwin is the most expensive.

For more information, read -> Are solar panel prices cost effective already?

3. Top solar power companies in Melbourne

Last time I counted, there were more than thirty businesses serving Melbourne area. Some of these are local companies, others are in multiple cities. So if you prefer working with local companies, there are options.

In the past, some retailers outsourced design and installation work to third parties, something you wanted to avoid. In contrast, today most solar retailers have in-house design and installation team, which is nice because everything is under one roof.

There is a thing called Clean Energy Council (CEC) approved retailers. CEC is the peak body for renewable energy in Australia, and this is what CEC website says about these retailers..

“These companies have demonstrated their commitment to industry best practice by signing the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct.” – Clean Energy Council

Although, signing CEC’s Code of Conduct is voluntary, CEC advises that you should ask whether the retailer is CEC approved. And, also check for this logo,…

clean-energy-council-approved-retailer           or,           Solar-panels-Melbourne-CEC-retailers

You can find CEC approved companies in Victoria by clicking on this link Approved Solar retailers


Read my 3 Ways to Find Melbourne Solar Companies in Good Health for more information on this..

4. How many solar panels do you need in Melbourne?

As we saw earlier during rebate discussion, in Melbourne, solar panels produce slightly less amount electricity than most of the country.


Here is a guideline, again by CEC, that tells us how much solar power is generated by different system sizes (1kW to 5kW)…

City 1 kW system 1.5 kW system 2.0 kW system 3.0 kW system 4.0 kW system 5.0 kW system
Melbourne 3.6 kWh 5.4 kWh 7.2 kWh 10.8 kWh 14.4 kWh 18.0 kWh

This is average daily production for the entire year. [Confused by kW and kWh, read this: kW vs. kWh]

Do you know how many kWh energy you consume everyday? If you don’t, check out your latest power bill and find out your daily average for the year. Then figure out how much of that daily total is actually between 9am-5pm. That’s the kWh you should match with the table above to get a rough idea on your size requirement.

1 kW system is about 4 panels today – (250 watts per panel).

A 5 kW system means 20 panels roughly.

If you want to read in greater detail on how to size a solar system for your need, check this out:

Calculating what size solar system do I need…. on my own

The last tip of the day is….

5. Melbourne solar panel Quotes

Finally, when you go out for shopping, you should get quotes from multiple solar retailers.

The challenge most homeowners face is definitely not the lack of choice in solar companies. There are plenty of those, as I mentioned earlier. The challenge is how do you pick them and how many quotes should you get?

The good news is this: you don’t have to worry about all this. And the reason is there are number of online solar panel quotation companies that put you in contact with three to five solar retailers. Usually, these retailers are pre-screened by the quotation companies based on feedbacks from homeowners who have installed systems from the retailers before.

I highly recommend using the free online quote service, mainly for three reasons….

  • It is quick; you only fill out one form (for the quotation company).
  • Knowing there is competition, solar companies can you a competitive price.
  • You get quotes only from pre-vetted companies; no risk of dodgy deals.


Wrapping up…

When it comes to hedging against rising electricity cost in Melbourne, solar panels can be a really good choice. With a little help from government subsidies, solar panels have become very affordable. And, with a bit of learning, you too can have a roof that generates solar electricity for your home, saves money on your power bill, and saves the planet as well.



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