Lightning Solar & Electrical

How To Buy The Best Solar Panels For Your Home

Being the director of a solar company, I get asked this question almost every day.

Which solar panels are the best for my home?
How can I decide which solar panels are best for my home?
What are the things I need to consider when buying solar for my home?

Solar panels can be purchased and installed for a variety of different reasons. To work out what solar panels will be best for your home, you will need to understand a few things first.

We are going to run you through our exact consultation we go through with our customers to help them choose the best solar panels for their home. Here you will learn exactly which solar panels are worth it for YOU.

Is Your Home Solar Ready?

is your home ready for solar panels?

The first thing to really consider is if your home is ready for solar panels. There are many different things that may force you to buy different solar panels. You may be left with no choice or simply want to spend more for better returns.

Either way, here is what you will need to consider, why its important and how it may change your mind on what solar panels are best for your home. 

How big is your roof?

In order to buy the best solar panels for your home, you will need to work out how many solar panels you can fit on your roof.

The size of your roof is vital because it will ultimately decide on the size of your solar system. If you have a large roof, then you can aim to maximise on your space and get a large solar system.

However, if your roof is much smaller, you will need to look into a smaller size system. There are ways around this, with newer solar panels allowing for a more flexible design.

Homeowners can really utilise the space on a small roof to still get the size system you want.

What shape is your roof?

Which moves us nicely onto the next step homeowners will need to consider. The shape of your roof will also determine the size of your system.

Solar panels need to be installed on a spacious, flat area of the roof. Although your roof may be big, it may not have many flat areas where the solar panels can be installed.

Homeowners will need to measure their available free space. By doing a site design solar installers can see the best spaces available on your roof. The reasons why this is so important is because it may affect what solar panels you have to buy.

Having an unevenly shaped roof could mean you might have to invest in solar panels that allow for a flexible design.

On the other hand, if you have a roof with open flat spaces, you may be able to go for a general solar panel system.

What direction is your roof facing?

The direction of your roof is considered very important because it will be the same direction the solar panels will end up facing. Homeowners will need to consider different panels for different facing roofs.

Another factor to consider would be the time day that you use the most energy in your home.

It would make a lot of sense to face your solar panels towards the sun, during the times that you use the most power as this will optimise for the most savings from your solar panels.

Most homes use a majority of their power in the afternoon which means south-west or north-west direction would be the most efficient. 

For a lot of people, a north-facing roof is the best because it sees the most sun and helps during the winter months when the sun is lower.

How old is your roof?

The age of your roof is a big thing to consider when you are buying the best solar panels for your home.

It will help you decide on which solar panels you want to install because of their size and weight.

Having a flexible design will also come into play with this as well, for you may have a weakened old part of your roof that will need to be designed around.

Some string inverter systems could make this complicated but solar panels with micro inverters allow this to happen.

For those who have an old roof, it’s best to go for small and lightweight solar panels that can allow for a flexible design. 

Don't forget about the inverter position & cables...

Coming from an experienced solar installer. One of the most annoying issues we have to face is positioning the inverter close enough to your main switchboard and to your solar panels. 

This means we need to make sure all the cables can run from the inverters to your solar panels for PV systems. 

If you have a system with micro-inverters its still the same, we need to make sure that your system can be wired to your home to use the electricity. 

If your home has a unique shape then this is something you must consider. The same applies if your switchboard is hidden or not easily accessible. It’s something you will need to consider before buying solar panels. 

Don't Make This Mistake!!

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broken roof because solar panels were too heavy

Once you have a good understanding of whether or not your home is solar-ready, you can move to the next stages of buying the best solar panels for your home. These focus on your personal requirements for solar panels and how this will affect choosing the best ones for you.

Your energy bill is important because it will help you understand what size, and how efficient your system needs to be. 

Below you will learn how to consider your energy bill. It may mean that you are forced to spend more on efficient solar panels or you may need to spend less. Let’s find out!

Understanding Your Energy Bill

electricity bill for buying the best solar panels for your home

How much do you spend on your energy bill each month?

Working out the cost of your monthly electricity bill is a good step towards buying the best solar panels for your home. When you understand how much you are spending, you can work out what size system you will need to give you beneficial savings.

If your electricity bill is really high, it will make sense to invest in a large, high-end solar panel system to pay for a large chunk of your monthly bill (or all of it).

However, if you have a reasonable electricity bill you may just want to go for a smaller solar panel system to help free up your costs and give you more monthly cash flow.

Household energy bills are what solar installers use and will help decide on the best and most efficient solar panels for your home, based on the homeowners’ individual needs. 

What time of day do you use the most energy?

This is sometimes overlooked or forgotten about by homeowners and installers when they are deciding on the best solar panels.

The energy that you consume at different times of the day could mean buying a completely different solar panel system.

If you use most of your energy in the morning or day time, it would make sense for you to look into a regular string PV inverter system or (if you have the budget) a high-end micro inverter system to compensate for the energy you are using and reduce your energy bill.

On the other hand, if you use most of your electricity at night then it would make more sense to look into an all-in-one solar panel and solar battery system such as Enphase. There wouldn’t be much point in getting solar panels without a battery if you use your energy at night because the power that gets produced during the day may just get sold back to the grid.

You will then get charged a high price to buy back that power when you use it later in the night.

Where do you use the most electricity in your home?

Homeowners should also look at where they use the majority of their electricity. This will give you a better understanding of what solar panels are best for your home.

Standard PV solar panels can power anything electrical in your home, from your TV, fridge even your gaming consoles. If this is where most of your electricity is being spent then you know a string inverter system is best for your home.

However, if you find that most of your electricity is being spent on your heating then you may need to start looking into thermal solar. It would be a waste of money if you installed solar but used all of your energy per month on heating.

Understanding your electricity bills is one of the most important steps in buying the best solar panels for your home.

using solar to power electrical appliances in your home

When you understand your energy usage then you can move onto the next step. This requires you to look towards your budget that you can afford for solar panels and how they will affect buying the best solar panels for your home.

It’s funny because not many people really consider anything else when they buy solar. They just want to focus more on the price of the solar panels, and forget ‘why’ they are actually buying them. 

Regardless, here is how to work out the best budget for your solar panels system. 

What size solar system do you need?

Typically, to work this out its a combination of both your energy bill, and the size of your roof. On average in Australia, a home will use around 20kWh. 

However you may find your home uses more. If so, then you will require a bigger system. As long as your roof will can fit these extra panels, then its best to go big. 

This table should help you work out what size solar system you will need to slash those horrible energy bills. 

CITY4k/w system5k/w system8k/w system
10k/w system
Melbourne14.4kWh18.5kWh29kWh36kWh
Brisbane16.8kWh21kWh37kWh42kWh
Adelaide16.8kWh21kWh37kWh42kWh
Perth17.6kWh22.4kWh37kWh44kWh
Sydney15.6kWh19.8kWh33kWh39kWh
Darwin17.6kWh22.7kWh37kWh44kWh

So, hopefully now you have a good idea of what size solar system you are going to need for your home. 

Next up is budget.

It’s funny because not many people really consider anything else when they buy solar. They just want to focus more on the price of the solar panels, and forget ‘why’ they are actually buying them. 

Regardless, here is how to work out the best budget for your solar panels system. 

What solar panels fit within your budget?

BIG BUDGET = HIGH END SYSTEMS

Larger budgets will allow you to go for a more expensive, larger and higher end system.

The benefits of having a high-end system would be its overall performance.

The solar panels will produce more energy on sunny days and even optimise the UV light on cloudy days so you can produce power when you didn’t expect to.

Additionally, high-end solar panel technology comes with things like solar panel independence through micro-inverters (meaning if one panel is shaded the rest will still perform at 100%).

Other features also include a flexible design structure, meaning panels can be placed in areas where a normal string inverter system wouldn’t work.

Mobile monitoring is a big thing with high end solar panels so homeowners can see how much they are producing and where it is going at the click of a finger.

Having a high-end system is more likely to completely reduce your energy bill and allow you to become energy independent, so if this is your goal then a high end system would be best for you.

Here is a list of some high-end solar panels

high end solar panels are the best solar panels for your home

SMALLER BUDGET = MID-RANGE/GOOD BUDGET PANELS

Smaller budgets would be a great start for a string inverter system. These systems are great and are the most common systems in Australia.

They will help slash your energy bills and if your system is big enough, potentially reduce it altogether.

Smaller systems are lightweight and can be installed into tighter roof spaces, making the site design easier and faster.

Good budget systems have a range of different benefits as well.  They are more affordable, last a long time and don’t require much maintenance at all.

String inverter systems are the perfect starter system for those who want to move towards a greener, cheaper future.

Here is a list of some good-budget solar panels

Are you looking for a solar battery system as well?

If you are looking for a solar battery then you should also consider this in your budget as well.

Solar batteries do have an expensive upfront cost, and homeowners need to decide whether or not they are worth it.

Installing a solar battery to your system will make a lot of sense to most homeowners, because it gives them the option to store the power their panels generate. It also allows people to become completely independent from the grid, and still have power during blackouts.

Some of the popular solar batteries in Australia are Tesla’s Powerwall, Hive Solar batteries and LG Chem.

If you are wanting to include a solar battery to your system then you will need a bigger budget, and the right solar panels to maximise on the performance of the system.

Enphase provides a really good all-in-one solar panel and battery system for those people who have a medium to high-end budget. 

your budget will help decide which solar panels are best for your home

Your budget will definitely help you understand what solar panels will be best for your home. 

But, we really wanted to walk you through what we find is most important…

The reasons why you are installing solar panels. This will honestly be the biggest factor in buying the best solar panels for your home.

Here you will need to look into the reasons why you want to install solar for yourself. With that said, lets get straight to it.  

Why are you installing solar panels?

what are the reasons you are installing solar panels?

Are you installing solar to slash your energy bills?

If you are looking to reduce the cost of your power bill each month then it would be sensible to look into a low cost, good budget system. There wouldn’t be much point in you investing in a solar battery and high-end system if you are just looking for a monthly saving. 

Wanting to sell energy back to the grid?

For those people who have the goal of being able to sell the power you produce back to the grid, you will need a much more efficient system to maximise on profits.

You will need to be looking at high-end systems (like we mentioned above) to produce the most power from the solar panels during the day and sell that power during peak times.

Looking to becoming energy independent?

Becoming independent from the grid will be a big reason why people install solar. If this is you, then an all-in-one system would be the right fit for you.

Additionally, you could look into some good budget solar panels and install a solar battery as well. 

Focused on doing it for environmental reasons?

You may be installing solar to fight back against the climate crisis and help by becoming environmentally friendly.

Any solar panel system will help the environment and allow you to become eco-friendly. We suggest looking to your budget to see what you can afford. 

environmental reasons to buy solar panels

Easy enough? Your goals and needs are important so don’t neglect them over price. You may end up regretting going for that cheap system when it doesn’t give you what you wanted later down the line. 

Moving onto the next step, finding out if there are any solar rebates or incentives you may claim when you buy solar panels for your home.

Are there any solar rebates you can claim?

get solar rebates from the government help pay for solar panels brisbane

Solar Rebates Provided By The Government

In Australia the government has a program which helps homeowners with the upfront costs. There are many different incentives or programs across each state but they all help reduce the costs of solar panels.

In Victoria there is the Solar Homes Program which provides homeowners with a massive $1850 off the initial cost of solar panels & installation. 

Whereas in Queensland, the government will give homeowners STC’s (Small Scale Technology Certificates) which they can later sell for a large sum of cash.

Interest-Free Loans For Solar

In both Queensland and Victoria the government is also offering a no interest loan scheme.

This means the government will help you pay the upfront costs of solar given that you pay the money back over a period of time.

In Queensland you can claim up to $4500 as a loan and that is expected to be paid over a 7 year period.

However in Victoria the loan is $1888 and is required to be paid over a 4 year period.

Solar Battery Rebates

There are also rebates available for solar batteries. However these are quite hard to match the eligibility.

Also, you will need to decide whether you would like the solar panel rebate or the solar battery rebate as you will not be able to have both.

STC's (Small-Scale Technology Certificates)

Small-Scale Technology Certificates are also provided by the government for homeowners who have installed solar panels.

STCs are essentially a credit for the system you have installed which you can later sell for a large sum of cash. It’s easy to look at STCs like they are ‘shares’ that you hold and can sell.

They will range in value dependent on the size of your system, how much energy it produces and what type of system it is e.g. thermal solar, solar PV.

small scale technology certificate for solar rebates brisbane

Well, who would have thought it? You can get paid for installing solar. 

This might make you rethink about what system you wan’t. Why not, if you’re getting paid to get a bigger and more efficient system! 

This next factor is a nice surprise as well… sell your excess solar energy. 

Solar Feed-In Tariffs

solar feed in tariffs rates

What are they?

Solar feed-in tariffs are the rates that you get when you sell your solar back to the grid. 

Why are they important?

Any excess power that is produced by your solar panels can be sold back to the grid for extra money.

Feed-in tariffs will allow homeowners to pay their solar panels off much quicker if they are getting extra money from the energy they produce. Rates will differ state to state but will still generate you money. There are a few different types of Feed-in tariffs, which are:

Time Varying FIT
Flat Rate FIT


As you can probably tell by the name one is a flat money rate which won’t change, the other will fluctuate depending on the time of day. During peak hours you can sell your energy for more and off peak hours will be less. 

Why should you consider them when buying solar panels?

Feed-in Tariffs can quite literally make you easy money. The more excess power you have to sell then the more money you will make.

If you are going for a cheaper, smaller system then you won’t be able to take advantage of FITs and the rates.

However, big high-end systems will produce a lot of power and can make a lot of money as well. If you have the budget you should go for a high-end system and sell your power to the grid.

It will help you pay off your system quicker and give you a much larger return on investment. 

sell any excess commercial solar energy for money
commercial solar will give you extra cash flow to reinvest

There you have it. The exact blueprint we go through with our customers to help you choose the best solar panels for your home.

You can now shop in confidence for the ‘perfect’ solar panels to meet your home and your personal requirements.  

Everyone Is Different, So What Solar Panels Are Right For You?

Here are 4 examples of different people who require different solar panels, do you fit in any of these?

(Please note these are not real life examples!)

Larry

Larry lives at his home with his wife and 2 kids. He has a budget of $5000 and is looking to install solar to help reduce his power bills. Larry is sick and tired of rising electricity costs and wants to free up his cash so he can spend it on his wife and kids.

With his budget Larry is able to get a 6.6KW Jinko Cheetah Solar panel system. Before solar Larry and his family were paying $900 per year on their power bills. They are now paying $154 per year producing around 20K/w of power per day.

Amy

Amy lives at home with her husband and 3 children. She has a big budget of $20,000 to spend on a solar panel system. She is looking to sell her power back to the grid, whilst eliminating her power costs.

Amy found her perfect 10KW SolarEdge system and with its flexible design she utilised the space on her roof.  Amy was able to remove her entire power bill! She is now selling her energy back to the grid and has more free cash to spend on her family.

Henry

Henry lives in a rural home with his wife. He has a budget of $14,000 that he is prepared to invest into solar. Henry is frustrated because he frequently experiences power cuts because of his rural location.

He invested his money into an Enphase 8.88KW system with the battery included, meaning no more power outs because he has his own power. Before solar Henry was spending around $1800 on his power bill. Now he has become independent he pays $131 per year on his energy bill. 

Sarah

Sarah lives at home with her mum and has a budget of $2500 to invest into solar panels. She wants to take a stance against global warming and wants to become eco-friendly.

Sarah was able to get a 6.6KW Trina solar panel system, with the solar rebate and the no interest loan. Full of happiness Sarah was able to save on her solar bills whilst taking a fight against the climate crisis.

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Written By:

Luke Cove
Managing Director
Lightning Solar & Eletrical
local brisbane cec installer

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