SolarQuotes Vodcast Episode 19 – It’s Payback Time

Finn and Ronald discuss simple payback times for solar power in Australia in 2019, the latest goss on Tesla Solar Roof, Canadian Solar’s warranty boost and more.

0:45 – Ronald explains why 6.6kW of solar panels is an important figure and how many solar panels you’ll need to get as close to the magic number as possible.

While some installers recommend smaller systems for households that don’t use a lot of electricity, Ronald says not only will a bigger system bring greater self-consumption benefits, there’s also the cash from feed in tariffs to consider. Finn points out the last 3 kilowatts of a 6.6kW solar system are a fraction of the cost of the first 3.


4:26 – Finn and Ronald discuss SA Power Networks now limiting three-phase exports to 15kW. Ronald says this won’t affect most people and Finn predicts this change won’t be confined to South Australia.

“Pretty much the whole country will be 5kW exports per phase soon,” he says.

While you can have a larger capacity inverter, it will need to be export-limited where such a limitation applies. The pair also comment on the state of Australia’s grid and how that impacts decisions such as that made by SA Power Networks.


8:12 – Props to LG Chem Australia for partnering with a local battery recycler, Envirostream.


10:17 – Glen Morris, owner of Solarquip, is one of Australia’s leading off grid solar experts. He recently chatted with Finn about how he is taking a factory off-grid. A grid connection will still be maintained as backup through the use of a rectifier, which also avoids the need for seeking Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) permission to connect the system to the grid – as the grid sees the rectifier only as a load.

Home solar owners could do the same thing in circumstances where a DNSP won’t allow the installation of any more solar panels.

“You could decide to take part of your house off the grid, but without a diesel generator,” says Finn. “You could connect to the grid via the rectifier and just top up the batteries when you needed to from the grid.”


12:05 – How much rooftop solar capacity can be installed in Australia? A new report puts the figure at 179GW (with caveats and assumptions) . .. then things went a little off script (not that there really is one) and somehow the topic turned to electric vehicles.


14:00 – Best and worst reviews of the week as chosen by SolarQuotes team member Ned.

Worst review – A Victorian company gets a serve from customer who said the firm was expensive, provided little documentation, lacked customer/after-sales service, demonstrated little transparency and had a dodgy approach to warranty.

Best review – Perth Solar Warehouse received a glowing review from a very happy customer who said the company performed an awesome installation and the system’s performance has been beyond his expectations.

Using the new SolarQuotes installer reviews AusRanking feature, Finn points out Perth Solar Warehouse is among the top 1% of installers listed on the SolarQuotes website.

Finn also recounts a recent incident relating to reviews that shows running a reviews site isn’t without its ongoing challenges.


20:58 – A follow-up to a similar article last year, Ronald has published simple payback times for a 6.5kW solar power system in each of Australia’s capital cities.

To sum it up, the good news:

“The simple payback time in every capital in Australia will be under 6 years,” says Ronald. “There’s not many investments that are better than that.”

The simple payback times range from 2.6 years in Darwin to 5.6 years in Perth.


25:34 – Canadian Solar has boosted its solar panel product warranty from 10 years to 12 years. Ronald also discovered the company will only be selling half-cut or shingle solar cell panels in Australia going forward.


28:08 – Finn and Ronald discuss the latest news on Tesla’s Solar Roof product. Word on the street has it that the Tesla Solar Roof won’t be available in Australia for another couple of years.

“They are going to be enormously expensive compared to Australian solar,” says Finn. “They cost a fortune. You’ve got to be really, really angry about the aesthetics of solar panels to pay the extra.”

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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.


  1. What happens if you wish to exceed 6.66kw (on a residential property)? Can your DNS approve this? Are there any catches?

    (And does the ‘get a 5kw inverter with 6.6kw of panels’ principle make any difference if you’re using Enphase micro inverters?)

    Many thanks ­čÖé

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Tash

      If you have 3 phase power you can usually install as much solar as will fit on your roof — unless you live in a huge mansion. If you have single phase power, as most homes do, then you can be limited to a 5 kilowatt inverter with up to 6.66 kilowatts of panels. In some locations single phase homes can install more than this or you may be able to get special permission to do so. It is often possible to get around the limit by installing a larger inverter and export limiting it so it won’t send more than 5 kilowatts into the grid.

      The same rules apply to microinverters. If you have 5 kilowatts of microinverter capacity in total you can only have a maximum of 6.66 kilowatts of solar panels.

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