Choosing quality solar panels
Solar panels are increasingly being installed by homeowners who are worried by rising electricity costs
, and who want a system that both cuts their bills and produces greener energy. We explain what you need to know before installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on your roof.
What size solar panel system do I need?
To size your solar panel system you need to work out how much electricity you use and when you use it.
As a guide, a typical home uses 20kWh of energy a day, which equates to a 5kW system.
See our separate guide to sizing a solar PV system to figure out your home’s electricity use.
How many solar panels do I need?
- The power output of your whole solar system matters more than the size or number of panels.
- The higher each panel’s nominal power rating (and actual power output), the fewer panels you’ll need (or the more power you’ll generate).
- If you have plenty of roof space, you might find it more economical to buy cheaper panels with lower efficiency and just use more of them.
- The panels in our solar panel reviews are each about 1.6 square metres in area, but they vary in length, width and power output.
- CHOICE Tip: Fewer panels can mean a quicker installation.
An example: You could use four 250W Jinko panels, taking up 6.5m2 of roof space, to make a 1000W array. But four 327W Sunpower panels would take up the same overall area and form a more powerful 1308W array (although the Sunpower panels would cost you more).
How much do solar panels cost?
The average price across Australian capital cities for a 5kW system is $5100, and solar technology is only getting cheaper.
- CHOICE Tip: Compare prices for whole systems, not just individual panels.
Read more about the cost of solar systems in our article Solar payback times.
How much money will I save using solar power?
It takes anywhere from two to seven years for a solar system to pay for itself – after that is when you can start counting the savings.
Payback times vary depending on where you live in Australia. The infographic below shows averages for capital cities.