3kw solar PV systems: Pricing, output, returns

3kW solar PV systems: Pricing, output, and returns

by Solar Choice Staff on January 27, 2016

in 3kW,ACT,NSW,NT,QLD,SA,State Government solar feed-in tariffs,TAS,VIC,WA

How much does a 3kW solar system cost in Australia, and how much energy can you expect it to produce? This article takes a look a these questions, as well as returns and payback periods for 3kW solar systems.

(This article was originally published in 2012 – we’ve recently updated it to reflect how circumstances have changed!)

Price ranges for 3kW solar PV systems

Solar PV system prices in Australia have dropped significantly in recent years – from a national average of about $2.25 per watt (about $6,000 for a 3kW system) in 2012 to around $1.60/W (around $4,900) at the beginning of 2016 – a reduction of about 30%. Solar Choice knows this because we’ve been tracking PV system installation prices in Australia since August of 2012 in our monthly Solar PV Price Index articles.

The first chart below shows how average 3kW solar system installation prices have changed since then, while the other two tables offer a snapshot of solar PV system prices from January 2016.

3kW solar system prices Jan 20163kW solar PV system installation price trends from August 2012 to January 2016. (Data from the Solar Choice installer network.)
3kW solar system prices average Jan 2016Average solar PV installation prices as of January 2016 for select Australian capital cities.3kW solar system prices per watt Jan 2016Average, high and low 3kW solar PV system installation prices for select Australian capital cities. Prices are from January 2016 and are in dollar-per-watt ($/W) format.

Want to learn more about solar system pricing in your area?You can receive a free and instant comparison of solar system quotes for 3kW solar systems by filling out the form to the right of this page!

Power output for a typical 3kW solar system

How much solar energy will a 3kW solar system produce? That depends on a number of situational factors such as location, orientation & tilt of the panels, the presence or absence of shading and the overall efficiency of the components in the system are chief among them.

It’s convenient to summarise solar system output in a single figure – namely, kilowatt-hours per day (kWh/day). But the reality is that most locations receive more sunshine in the summer than in the winter; accordingly, PV system energy yields will usually be higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

The table below provides some rough figures on average daily outputs from 3kW solar systems in a handful of Australia’s capital cities, as well as the average outputs in summer and winter. All situations assume north-facing aspect, panels tilted at latitude and an overall system efficiency of 85%. (Data source: PVWatts.)

 Indicative 3kW solar system output for select Australian cities
 Sydney  Brisbane  Melbourne  Perth
 Average 11.6kWh  12.5kWh  11.4kWh  13.2kWh
 Summer (Dec) 13.3kWh  14.2kWh  13.3kWh  15.7kWh
 Winter (June)  9.2kWh  9.9kWh   7.7kWh  10kWh


Examples using Solar Choice’s solar power system ROI calculator

Using Solar Choice’s Solar PV System Return on Investment Calculator, we’ve calculated payback periods, annual internal rates of return (IRR) and annual savings (in year 1) using 3kW solar systems for common usage situations in some major cities. The examples are below – please keep in mind that the figures in the table are indicative only and will vary depending on system installation price and your individual circumstances.

Indicative returns for 3kW solar systems @ average prices

(Assuming 25kWh electricity consumption/day @ 25c/kWh)

Sydney Brisbane
$6,800 $6,540
@ 50% self-consumption @ 70% self-consumption @ 50% self-consumption @ 70% self-consumption
~7.1 year payback ~5.9 year payback ~6.2 year payback ~5.1 year payback
~13% IRR ~17% IRR ~15% IRR ~19% IRR
~$668 annual savings ~$820 annual savings ~$700 annual savings ~$860 annual savings
Melbourne Perth
$7,000 $5,750
@ 50% self-consumption @ 70% self-consumption @ 50% self-consumption 70% self-consumption
~7.4 year payback ~6.1 year payback ~4.8 year payback ~3.9 year payback
~12% IRR ~16% IRR ~21% IRR ~26% IRR
~$650 annual savings ~$790 annual savings ~$782 annual savings ~$950 annual savings


Want to learn more? Try plugging some figures into our solar system ROI calculator yourself! Self-consumption is just one of the variables that can be adjusted to determine your likely payback time and return on investment. (Calculator outputs are indicative only–please keep in mind that electricity rates and feed-in tariff rates may change over time.)

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Russell March 14, 2016 at 4:51 pm

I live alone in a 30sq house. I am currently doing fly in fly out work. Am away from home 28 days and then home for 7 days. Is it worth my while to go for solar panels. My average bill is currently around $230/$250 per quarter.


Solar Choice Staff March 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Hi Russell,

Unless you live in the top end of the Northern Territory, where the local utility still offers a generous feed-in tariff, it’s probably not worth your while. These days, solar is worth the most to people who can consume the energy while it is being generated (during daylight hours).


Grant February 1, 2016 at 7:03 pm

I have an energy management business in South Africa dealing in renewables. I am planning to immigrate to Australia in the next few months.

I notice your systems are extremely well priced with very attractive payback periods. That same system in South Africa would cost over 10000 AUD. Does the system have battery back up and is there surplus to push back into the grid?



Solar Choice Staff February 2, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Hi Grant,

Yes, Australia is home to some of the lowest solar PV system installation prices in the world – lucky given the turbulence surrounding government incentives for solar here.

The prices mentioned in the article do not include battery storage, which is not yet financially attractive here (although early adopters are already moving ahead with systems, and prices are coming down fast).


laurie August 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm

What is a 3kw system/Does 3kw the maximum power the system will e under generate /favourable conditions


Solar Choice Staff January 20, 2016 at 11:34 am

Hi Laurie,

Yes, 3kW is the maximum instantaneous (‘peak’) power output you can expect from a 3kW solar system. However, inherent system inefficiencies usually mean that the actuall max output of a 3kW system is something in the range of 2.55kW.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: