18 Reasons Australians Don’t Install Solar – And Why They Should

Solar power in Australia

Millions of homes across Australia have solar panels. But there are many millions more that don’t – and are still 100% reliant on expensive grid electricity.

Here are the common reasons we hear for putting off a solar installation – and why in many cases these reasons are needlessly stopping Australians from achieving tiny electricity bills.

Reason #1: I Don’t Have The Money

Even with the generous solar rebate available nationally, which is provided as an up-front discount, it can be challenging to find the cash you’ll need.

No deposit finance can be an option, and it can be the right option for cash-strapped homeowners – but it needs to be the right type. The good news is there are financing arrangements that could allow you to be cash-flow positive from the time the electrician switches on your solar power system.

Learn more about solar finance options.

Reason #2: It’s Just Too Much Hassle

Often things worth doing involve groundwork, but you should weigh your investment of time against the short-, medium- and long-term benefits. And the benefits of going solar are stellar in all three scenarios.

For example, installing a 6.6 kW solar system in Brisbane can provide a financial benefit of around $16,000 over 10 years. That’s excellent when you consider an outlay of about $6,000 for a good system.

You could wind up $10,000 ahead for the few hours you put into making it happen. Those are good wages in anyone’s books and represent one of the best – if not the best – low-risk investments around.

The other good news is if you choose the right installer, it should be a hassle-free experience – and SolarQuotes is here to help with that.

Reason #3: I Don’t Have Time To Pursue Solar

This is related to the “too much hassle” reason. But if you use SolarQuotes to get quotes, you’ll be able to save significant time as we do the crucial groundwork of choosing up to three thoroughly pre-vetted installers to compete for your project based on your requirements. We also point you to the information you need to know throughout the process, saving you valuable time in research, and we keep in touch to see if there’s any way we can help.

Reason #4: I’ll Do It Next Month/Year

I was going to write in-depth about this but decided to put it off until later. But seriously, procrastination is the ever-present enemy of positive change in our lives. And as life happens, sometimes tomorrow never comes.

Carpe diem (seize the day) – get started now!

Reason #5: I Don’t Understand Solar

Solar doesn’t need to be confusing, and you’re in the right place to ensure it isn’t.

We have detailed, plain-English guides for understanding solar, buying solar and what you need to know about owning a system. Even if you just read the buying guide, you’ll understand everything you need to know.

If you still have questions after having read the guides, the SolarQuotes team is here to answer them.

Reason #6: Solar Isn’t Worth It Any More

This stems from a common misunderstanding: confusing the feed-in tariff with the solar rebate.

A feed-in tariff is a payment you receive for surplus energy exported from your system to the grid.

The “rebate” is what you access to get the up-front discount when buying the system.

While feed-in tariffs aren’t as generous as they once were, systems are nowhere near as expensive. The cost of going solar has dropped by about 80% in the last decade. The high feed-in tariffs of the past helped pioneering solar owners get a reasonable payback on what were much more expensive systems back then.

These days, you don’t need a high feed-in tariff for rapid payback – you can still achieve simple payback in 3 – 4 years.

As for the solar rebate, it is still available and still very generous, knocking thousands off the up-front cost of a typical system; but it won’t be around forever and reduces each year.

Reason #7: I’m Waiting For Battery Costs To Drop

In the past, there have been very optimistic forecasts made about how low battery prices would be by now.

This has not eventuated – truly affordable good quality and reliable home batteries that will pay for themselves within their warranty period are likely still some way off unless you’re lucky enough to live where particularly generous subsidies are available.

FACT: All solar power systems are essentially “battery-ready”. So, you can install panels now and then retrofit a battery at a later date – and in the meantime be making savings helping to pay for that eventual battery purchase.

Reason #8: I’m Waiting For <Insert Next Big Thing>

Each day we read news of advancements in solar panel and inverter technology. It’s exciting stuff.

But there will always be a Next Big Thing, and it can take quite some time from announcements to when these “game-changer” products are available on the market – sometimes years. Those are years when you could have been saving money with already tried and tested solar technology.

Reason #9: Solar Panels Are Something Else I’ll Need To Maintain

A well-installed solar power system requires very little maintenance. A regular casual look from the ground, a quick inspection of the inverter or monitoring app now and then is generally all you’ll need to do.

If you spot a problem within the warranty period, then it’s up to your installer to do something about it.

The only other maintenance task you’ll need to do involves picking up the phone every 5 years to arrange to have a suitably qualified professional perform an inspection to ensure the system continues to be safe and is operating efficiently.

As for having to clean solar panels – assuming your roof is at a pitch of more than 10 degrees – and most Australian residential rooftops are – then rain should keep them clean for you.

Reason #10: I Don’t Have A North Facing Rooftop

Back in the days when solar panels were really expensive, it made sense to only install solar on a north-facing rooftop to maximise returns from feed-in tariffs, accelerating payback.

But with the price of panels so cheap now and the days of high feed-in tariffs gone, filling your rooftop regardless of the orientation pays. In fact, facing solar panels on multiple orientations can help lift solar energy self-consumption – extracting the most value from your panels.

Learn more about panel direction (orientation).

Reason #11: I’ve Been Told I’ll Be Export Limited

In some areas, solar buyers discover they can only go ahead with an installation if the installer ‘export limits‘ their system – setting a limit on the amount of power the system can export to the grid at any given time.

It sounds pretty awful, but the impact is likely far less than you may think. Even in the comparatively rare cases of zero export limiting, solar can still be worth it.

Reason #12: I Try To Avoid Tradies

If you’ve had less-than-positive dealings with tradespeople in the past, you’re certainly not alone.

Sometimes there can be misunderstandings, or a tradie may just be having a bad day – it happens to the best of us.

But unfortunately, some tradies are just, well, assholes pretty much all the time.

We’re all only human, but the key to avoiding the latter type of tradesperson is using a service that carefully screens installers and to have someone in the background who has your back to help smooth out any misunderstandings.

We happen to know of one such service right here.

Reason #13: I Live In An Apartment

This is a tough one, and sometimes installing solar just isn’t doable for apartment dwellers -unless you have a rooftop to suit and a supportive building owner or body corporate.

In either case, it will likely need to be a significant collaborative effort with other apartment owners or tenants.

One other option is the “solar garden” or “community solar” concept where you buy shares in a solar farm that may be some distance away.

You purchase a share of the capacity in the solar farm, and that share of generation is credited to your electricity bill. This is called virtual net metering.

There are only a few of these schemes around now, but they will no doubt become more common in the future, given the high number of Australians currently locked out of accessing solar benefits.

Reason #14: I’m A Renter

Again, another tricky situation. As mentioned above, the solar garden/community solar concept is something to look for.

However, in some places, there is support to help encourage landlords to install solar systems to benefit – not just themselves – but also their tenants.

For example, Victoria’s Solar for Rentals program offers eligible landlords a rebate of up to $1,850 for installing solar panels. They can apply for an interest-free loan of up to $1,850 to further reduce the upfront cost of the solar panel system. For renters, they’ll see benefits in the form of reduced energy bills – that’s part of the deal.

Reason #15: Installing Solar Panels Kills Kittens

Quite a few myths and misinformation regarding solar power persist. For example, the energy payback myth that has previously been well and truly debunked – multiple times.

Scrutinise anything you’ve heard about solar power implying it’s a bad thing or ‘not worth it anymore’, as chances are it’s a misunderstanding or, at worst, utter BS. Even the good old ABC is not immune to running solar scare stories, I’m afraid to say.

Reason #16: They’ll Tax My Solar Exports

This borders on myth and misinformation. Changes need to be made to the grid to enable more solar power systems to be installed. One of these *proposed* changes is a small surcharge on *surplus* electricity exported to the mains grid – but *only* during periods when the grid is saturated with it in *some* postcodes.

System owners will still get a feed-in tariff. It just means the surcharge of a couple of cents will reduce it. And that’s only during periods of high congestion.

On the flip side, at times when the grid needs more solar energy exports, system owners will be paid *more*.

Modelling carried out by the Australian Energy Market Commission indicates that even in a worst-case scenario, the export charges on a big system will be less than $150 a year, but the benefit to the owner will be $1,458.

So, solar will remain an excellent investment even if the surcharge comes into play, and those who maximise their solar self-consumption could do even better.

Reason #17: I’m Waiting For The Rebate To Increase

The solar rebate is based on things called STCs that fluctuate in value. Right now, they are sitting reasonably close to their maximum value and holding off in the hope STCs hit their maximum will provide little financial benefit.

The risk is that STC values can also drop – leaving you worse off than if you had pulled the trigger on a purchase now.

What is certain is that if you wait too long, the rebate will decrease anyway – it drops at the start of each year and will be entirely phased out in 2031.

Reason #18: Electricity Prices Are Dropping

The wholesale price of electricity is indeed dropping – partly thanks to the uptake of rooftop solar. But wholesale prices are only around a third of your electricity bill.

It’s unlikely electricity costs will drop to the point investing in solar no longer makes financial sense.

So, why wait for the potential of a slightly lower mains electricity bill when you can have the certainty of a tiny or even zero-dollar power bill now?

The Bottom Line – Just Do It.

Most reasons Australians put off going solar really don’t stack up against the benefits of proceeding with an installation now.

The bottom line is the longer a rooftop is without solar panels, the longer the household is locking in electricity bills far higher than they need to be.

With that in mind, make a start on getting solar installed.

If you’re a solar owner who knows people who could benefit from installing solar but who have been putting it off or decided against it; perhaps point them to this page for a bit of motivation – it’s likely their reason is covered above.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. A few more things people may have on their minds:
    – Expect to be moving house within the next few years and will never see a return as a result
    – Need to renovate their roof first which is a very costly job, made worse if solar went up first
    – They are ugly and do not suit the aesthetics of many home designs
    – The need to take down large trees which is a cost/logistics/bureaucratic nightmare, and often not permitted
    – Roof is shaded most of the time and there’s nothing which can be done about it
    – Electricity costs are already very low
    – Planning a home renovation
    – Local heritage laws prevent it
    – Live in a difficult/insecure/threatening/temporary home environment
    – Insecure employment / ability to pay or take on debt
    – Irrational fear/concern about . Just because a fear/concern isn’t rational doesn’t mean the fear/concern felt isn’t real, nor does rational argument resolve it.

  2. fed up with feed in says

    With hind sight, I would not personally invest in solar.
    The main reasons are:
    Ever since we installed, crooked generators and suppliers have been fiddling with the feed in tariffs.
    The mental stress and wasted time in dealing with the likes of simply energy are simply not worth it.
    The energy regulator is as crooked as the suppliers.
    New “creative ideas” to claw back any advantages in having panels are for ever being invented and no one is prepared or strong enough to fight them.
    Comparing energy deals is made impossible by suppliers who fiddle their bill presentations to bring so many facts to the foreground that they quite intentionally drive the whole point underground.
    I hate a locked in system where we have to sell at “wholesale” prices (read lousy prices) and buy at full tote odds.
    I will be absolutely staggered if I get my costs back before the system fails.
    The worry of the system suppliers with a business plan of going broke before warranty is due, is too great. Ours disappeared years ago. God knows what I will do when I need their help.

  3. When I was younger Electricity and gas suppliers in SA were state owned. The assets were owned by the community and operated to minimise costs to the owners. Short sighted politicians driven by greed and under the spell of private consultants decided to privatise these operations. I was part of one of those privatisations and the first thing that I noticed were the new CEOs and senior managers getting obscene salary packages and at the same time embarking on massive cost cutting programs. The mission statements changed effectively from customer benefit to profit maximisation and its no surprise that costs to consumers rose and service provision suffered.Now that the market has changed and so many consumers are generating their own electricity the often overseas owners or operators of our energy companies are seeing a future with lower revenue and profit for them and it’s no surprise that they are pressurizing politicians and other authorities to install or approve schemes that will limit or offset these revenue reductions. If the energy assets and operation were still under community control, coping with the changes would not only be easier but there could should be an all out unconstrained effort to maximise the opportunities offered by “free” energy from the sun.

    • So how do we get the Genie back in the bottle? I agree 100%. These CEO pay deals wil eventually kill the golden goose. I think we are the geese.)

  4. Great article Michael. I really want solar, but I’m holding off because of reason #8 (Waiting for Enphase iQ8) and kinda reason #10 (heavily multi segmented roof means install will be almost 2x the normal cost and require panels facing in three different directions, hence the reason for microinverters for optimal efficiency)

    The additional reason for delay is waiting for PHEV or fully electric cars to get better / more affordable due to subsidies / tax breaks…

    ;P

  5. Brendan Ryan says

    Brendan here from victoria. I tried getting solar from i thought were local, but were based in melbourne. I couldnt make sense of the whole deal, everything was done over the phone, no one came to look, all photos done on internet, so they had photos of my roof and house surrounded by trees. I said i didnt want solar panels on roof of house cos they make houses look ugly especially as this house has a high pitched roof. So they sent a photo with solar panels placed on shed and carport alongside. But then the problem was where the metre box is, theres no room to put inverter. Then to add to that the inverter needs to be in the shed for close connection to solar and also needs to have a power board there, well i have no power board in either and then its too far from meter box. On top of all that im told my electricity supplier that i cant connect to grid. This company said i need to put on 6.6kw system. Fair enough i thought. Another solar lot said id need ten kw. As id only been in this house 7 months, originally it had a pool, but i since filled it in. Was silly to have a pool surrounded by messy trees. So one or two persons living in a 4 bedroom house, i decided against solar. All too hard.
    Trying to do all this on a tablet i couldnt figure it out, so in the end I said its not happening. The cost to put powerboard in garage or shed would cost heaps it wouldnt be worthwhile doing, not in my book anyway

  6. So very true.
    It is the GREEDY politicians who make decisions that suit them and they don’t want the hassle of maintaining the assets.
    We invest in to solar energy and the suppliers grab it at a rock bottom price.
    Instead of building new power stations we must encourage more renewables? may be I am not so inelegant like greedy politicians??
    Politicians don’t care as we pay their bills.

  7. The solar panels may be reliable but the installation of ac isolation switches on a dc system that will fail as soon as the installation
    Warranty ends and under rated plastic fused panel junctions located under the solar panels that melted when stressed by heat,caused by
    a bit of resistance,causing a runaway build up of more heat. Too bad if you are not able to fix it yourself.

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