Australia's Money Matchmaker®

Solar Panels Guide

Find out how much a solar system might cost you and what you could save.

  • 100% free
  • No obligation
  • Find your best deal
Australia's Money Matchmaker matching you with your best loans across multiple lenders
Money Matchmaker® will match you to a great Australian solar provider to get an estimate on a system that suits your needs

How it works

1
Money Matchmaker saves you time looking for your loan
Tell us about your home

Answer some questions about your home and what you're looking for in less than 60 seconds

2
Money Matchmaker is 100% free to use
Get a free quote

A solar expert will be in touch to give you an obligation free quote

3
Money Matchmaker stops you overpaying on your loans
Assess your options

Review and compare pricing and then choose the option that best suits you

Solar Panels Australia

Written by

Shaun McGowan

Solar panels, photovoltaic solar panels; solar PV panels - whatever you know them as, these brilliant pieces of technology are the key to generating energy in any solar energy system.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels are constructed using various semi-conductive metals and silicone. 

Solar panels absorb the sun’s energy and convert this energy into DC current. They then pass this through a solar inverter to create usable energy for the home. 

Since their invention, solar panels have been hindered by two primary issues:

  • The rarity of metals used in their construction and the subsequent cost of production
  • The efficiency of solar panel composition when converting sunlight to energy

Experts have been continually trying to make solar panels cheaper to manufacture and better at generating electricity. Due to this continued hard work, solar panels are now a viable option for wide-scale residential adoption.

Read our Residential Solar Starter Guide to learn more about solar electricity basics, or continue below to learn how to choose the right solar panels for your home.

Energy in Australia with Money Matchmaker

Compare Solar Panels – 7 Points To Consider

Solar panels are the most critical part of any solar power system installation, so you’ll want to take your time choosing the right panel brand and how you’d like to install them.

Just as crucial as choosing the right panel, you’ll want to spend time researching and finding a trusted, accredited solar installer to ensure the panels are fitted safely and in an optimal direction to match your needs for solar energy generation and use.

Below are 7 points to consider when comparing solar panels.

1. Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panel efficiency is the amount of energy that can be generated by the solar panel in relation to the surface area capturing the sun’s energy.

Panel efficiency is displayed as a percentage and, if you’re new to solar energy, learning about efficiency can be somewhat disheartening.

Solar energy panel capacity and efficiency, learn more with Money Matchmaker

Why? 

Well, let’s say your solar panel manages to convert half the light that hits it during the day. 

The panel efficiency would be 50%, and most of us would agree that’s…kind of okay? 

The truth about modern solar panels is that they only convert somewhere between 12 and 20 per cent of the sunlight they receive into usable energy, but this isn’t as bad as it sounds.

  • No solar panels are hitting 50, 60, 70% efficiency; they’re barely hitting 25%. 
  • Even at this level of efficiency, solar panels are still capable of producing impressive amounts of electricity, capable of reducing a household's reliance on the energy grid to zero. 
  • The difference in efficiency between the ultra-high performers and the mid-range models is minimal, but the cost is significant. This is the reason almost every household can now afford to install solar. 

The most important consideration is the available space for panels on your roof, and installing a solar system capable of meeting your energy requirements. Aim for around 15% efficiency and you’ll find plenty of options to choose from at a reasonable price. 

2. Solar Panel Cost

The quick and dirty napkin calculation would be to simply calculate the cost of each panel against the value of the energy produced in kWh.
However, the number of variables that go into the actual value of your panels require more consideration to determine an accurate cost, both upfront for installation, and in potential repairs or replacements down the line.

Understand solar systems with Money Matchmaker

What determines the difference in price between each individual brand and solar panel will include:

  • The quality of the engineering and construction
  • The materials used and their resulting efficiency
  • The supporting technology used to improve the panels 
  • The country of origin where the panel is manufactured

The materials used to construct solar panels are often rare or difficult to manufacture in large quantities. The most significantly affected is silicone, which is universally used in solar panel manufacturing and can lead to inflated prices should the cost of silicone rise in the future.

3. PV Module Quality And Warranty

When determining the overall quality of a solar panel, you can look at the product’s warranty statement to determine if it meets Australian Consumer Standards.

Understanding your solar energy system thanks to Money Matchmaker

What determines the difference in price between each individual brand and solar panel will include:

  • The quality of the engineering and construction
  • The materials used and their resulting efficiency
  • The supporting technology used to improve the panels 
  • The country of origin where the panel is manufactured

The materials used to construct solar panels are often rare or difficult to manufacture in large quantities. The most significantly affected is silicone, which is universally used in solar panel manufacturing and can lead to inflated prices should the cost of silicone rise in the future.

4. Manufacturing

The majority of the world’s solar panels are manufactured in China, at around 70% production, followed by South Korea, Malaysia, and the U.S.A.

Where your solar panels are manufactured is a minimal consideration compared to the reputation of the brand, the customer reviews, and whether you can access an Australian-based support team and customer care service for replacements or issues.

Solar panels are all about renewable energy

5. Solar Panel Specs

Solar panel specifications are about 10% beginner and 90% expert level in their relevancy, so here are the three most important things you need to know when comparing products:

Find out who to get to install your solar panels with Money Matchmaker
  • Power Tolerance - how much your panel generates either side of its rated capacity.  Lower tolerance means less variance in the amount of energy your solar panels can produce based on their manufacturing rating.  e.g. a 300 kW with -10%/+10% Power Tolerance may operate between 270 kW and 330 kW.* 
  • Voltage rating - Panels should be rated to a minimum of 100V DC for safety. This will also help comply with regulations to access rebates in your state.
  • Coefficient temperature rating - Coefficient temperature ratings indicate the performance quality of a solar panel in more extreme climates and temperatures. 

In Australia, this can be a crucial consideration due to our often-harsh climate.

Lastly, if you’re not buying a trusted, reputable brand, make sure you look for the original manufacturer - it’s not unheard of for companies to purchase competitor products and rebrand them for profit.

6. Panel Aesthetics

Solar panels have come a long way since they first appeared on the roofs of our homes, and increased public adoption of the technology has furthered development in other areas, such as aesthetics.

How your solar panels look may not be as important as other aspects, but most of us would agree that the more subtle they are, the better.

While there are panels that can be integrated directly into your roof or through solar tiling, your stock-standard solar panel will look perfectly fine on any home provided it’s installed and fitted correctly.

Find out the benefits of solar panels for your home with Money Matchmaker

7. Solar Panel Placement

Deciding how to place your solar panels during installation can maximise two aspects of solar generation:

  • The directional placement of the panels will determine how much power is generated at various times of the day.
  • The orientation of the panels will determine the total number of panels you can fit on your home and the total amount of energy you can generate.
Solar panel mounting is what connects your panels to your roof and ensures your installation stands the test of time.

Directional Placement

  • East-facing panels will generate more power in the morning.
  • West-facing panels will generate more in the late afternoon.
  • North-facing solar panels will generate the most energy overall, but less in the morning and late afternoon compared to east and west-facing panels respectively.
  • East and west-facing panels will produce about 15% less energy per year compared to north facing.

Panel Orientation

Most rooftop solar panels installed in Australia are mounted in portrait (vertical) because it’s cheaper and easier - they require fewer supports and a less complex installation foundation.

Quicker and cheaper doesn’t always mean better, and that can apply here. 

Depending on your rooftop, it may be possible to install more capacity if the panels are installed landscape - this isn’t a standard installation approach and may require an installer with experience in complex solar installations. 

Completely new to solar energy? Read our Residential Solar Starter Guide.

Residential Solar Starter Guide

Learn More about Solar Energy in Australia

You can learn more about each of the components of a complete residential solar energy system in the guides below.

Before you go ahead with installing solar to reduce your energy bills, it’s worth taking a look at the available solar rebates in your state.

Australian Solar Rebates (state-by-state latest)

About Money.com.au

Money.com.au want to make managing money easy and fun! By giving Australians simple tools so they can make the best decisions they can about their money.

We understand that the world of finance is complex, and offer free, extensive guides on Personal Loans, Car Loans and Business Loans, along with tools like our Budget Planning Spreadsheet to help you better manage and understand personal finance.

About the Author

Shaun McGowan from money.com.au

Shaun

McGowan

Shaun McGowan

Shaun is the founder of Money.com.au and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

Address

Money Pty Ltd,
Suite 3, Level 2,
1 Taylor Street,
Moorabbin, VIC, 3189 Australia

Company

Money Pty Ltd trading as Money
ABN: 42 626 094 773
ACL: 528698
AFCA: 83955

© Copyright 2021 Money Ltd.



Disclaimer

Money Pty Ltd (trading as Money.com.au) provides information about credit products and is authorised to do so as the holder of Australian Credit Licence 528698. Money.com.au does not compare every Lender in Australia. We are not a broker or credit provider and when we provide information via this website, we are not providing you with a recommendation or suggestion about a particular credit product. When you apply for a credit product via the Money.com.au website, you are not applying with us, you are applying directly with a Lender Partner. Before entering into any credit product from one of our Lender Partners, you should confirm the rates and product information with the Lender. All information on this website is general advice only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether this advice is right for you and we encourage you to seek independent financial advice.