Get started with solar
There's a lot to consider when installing solar power in your home for the first time:
- learn how solar power works
- choose the best solar power system for your needs
- decide how to pay for it
- find an accredited solar power installer
- connect to the electricity grid
- access a feed-in tariff for any excess electricity you export to the grid.
‘Solar energy is energy created by the heat and light of the sun. Solar power is produced when this energy is converted into electricity or used to heat air, water, or other substances.’
The technology that converts sunlight into electricity is called photovoltaic (PV) cells, commonly known as solar power systems or solar panels.
Source: Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Solar energy.
This checklist steps you through the process of purchasing and installing solar power systems.
Step 1: Do your research
- Read the Guide to installing solar PV for households from the Clean Energy Council. This sets out different types of solar power systems, estimated costs, installation process, the subsidies available and what to look for when planning your system.
Step 2: Contact your electricity retailer
- You can purchase solar power from various sources (e.g. your electricity retailer or solar companies).
- Find out how solar will affect your current electricity tariff (electricity you buy from the grid) and what feed-in tariff you'll receive (for excess electricity exported back to the grid).
- For questions to ask your electricity retailer, see page 9 of the Guide to installing solar PV for households.
Step 3: Find a solar installer and plan your system
- To help you find suitable solar installers, consider the information on pages 11 and 12 of the Guide to installing solar PV for households.
- Before choosing a system, talk to different solar retailers. You should discuss options, warranties and repair process, and get several quotes.
- Be aware that if your retailer subcontracts the design or installation of the system to another business, the contractor must have the appropriate electrical licence.
- Be aware that extra expenses can include a new electricity meter, cabling, roof repairs, or indirect costs.
- You may find the Clean Energy Council’s approved solar retailer tool helpful.
Step 4: Final checks (before buying or installing solar power)
- Check whether you or your solar power installer will be completing a network connection application to connect your system to the electricity grid. This application must be lodged with, and approved by, your electricity distributor before installation. Read Small-scale grid connection process for Queensland for further information.
If you live:
- Seek approval from your landlord, park manager or body corporate to install a system (if applicable).
- Check with your local council before buying a large system (more than 5kW) to ensure you're complying with their requirements.
- Contact your home and contents insurance provider to make sure you have adequate coverage for a solar power system.
Step 5: Sign the contract
- Consider the guidance on page 15 of the Guide to installing solar PV for households.
Step 6: Installation of your system and connection to the grid
- Check the licence of any electrical contractor involved in the installation of your system. Work must be conducted by a licensed electrical contractor.
- Make sure you have received all solar documentation (from the solar power installer) at the time of installation.
- Make sure your solar power installer has lodged appropriate paperwork with your electricity distributor to organise grid connection.
Step 7: Use and maintain your solar power system
- Consider the advice on page 21 of the Guide to installing solar PV for households.
If something goes wrong
Find out your rights and who to call for help if something goes wrong with your solar power.