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How to buy the best solar panels for your home

solar infograph

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.

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