Are solar panels worth the investment?

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Collaborative Post

I remember back in December 2011, I opened up our electricity bill and nearly died in shock at the amount. I knew it was going to be a big bill after having the air conditioning on throughout the start of summer, but I didn’t expect to nearly fork out $1000 when the previous year we were only been charged $700.

It was that shock that got me motivated to research solar panels and it gave me a headache.

I had solar panel reps come out to give me quotes and design plans on where the solar panels would be installed on our roof.

None of the reps quoted on the same solar panels or inverters and I was frustrated at the difference in price and the diverse information I was getting from one company to the other. I couldn’t compare apples with apples and I had to do a lot of research online to find out whether the panels I was being quoted on were actually good panels to install. I also got online quotes from various different companies that offered quotes online once I knew what size system I was looking for. I would have halved my research time if I had used Australian Solar Quotes. They have an online calculator (click here) to assist with working out the best prices for the system you are after.

In the end I made a decision to go with a middle of the range, chinese manufactured panel with the best inverter. I also had word of mouth knowledge from a friend that they were a good company.

At the time, I knew the government was looking to take away the solar rebates. Without warning the State government pulled the pin on Solar Hot water rebates which left a lot of hot water companies and plumbers out of pocket with unwanted solar hot water units.

We got our solar panels installed in April 2012 before the government took away the rebates in June 2012. Jacob and I decided to install a 5 kilowatt system because we wanted to try and eliminate our electricity bill. We were told that a 5KW system would do this.

Our roof with solar panels installed
Our roof with solar panels installed

Once the decision was made and the panels were installed on our roof, I sighed with relief. We were lucky enough to get paid the highest rate for the electricity we generated back to the grid.

One question that is commonly asked is are solar panels worth the investment now that the rebates have been taken away? It’s a hard question to answer because it depends on your electricity usage and what you want to achieve with your solar system in place. It may take you many many years to get your full investment back. It also depends on what feed-in tariff rate you negotiate with your electricity provider.

Our decision to install panels was to save money on electricity bills while my income was a bit all over the place after starting a family. Thankfully we had enough money in savings to pay the panels off outright but it will take another couple of years before we break even from our investment.

We are also doing our bit to offset our high energy use during summer. Some households make the decision to go solar to make their home more environmentally friendly, not to save money.

Do you have solar panels installed on your home? Have you found it to be a good investment?

This is post has been written in accordance to my disclosure policy.