Solar Choice Price Index – November 2012

Using data from Solar Choice’s Australia wide network of installers, the Solar Choice Price Index provides a monthly up-date on the price of solar across the country and including variations in the price of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). The information is based on data from installers operating in and around Australia’s capital cities (excluding Darwin), the good news this month for residential and commercial customers is that solar PV system costs have reached an all time low.

Cost of installed solar PV systems by city and system size

The beginning of November saw a noticeable reduction in the price of Premium solar PV systems compared to the previous month, with the average price for all system sizes decreasing by around $200. Melbourne and Brisbane remain the most expensive cities to install solar PV but these too have seen a reduction in system prices. Melbourne figures are affected by additional costs associated with installations in Tasmania (Hobart is listed separately but is still partially serviced by Victoria based installers affecting the price for this state), however, the average price for Melbourne is down by approximately $500 for all system sizes bringing it in line with Brisbane. The cities with the lowest priced systems continue to be Sydney and Perth. The cost of STCs have been included in the below tables.

Solar Choice: Average Solar PV System Prices – November 2012
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $3,327.11 $4,415.34 $6,060.11 $8,443.13 $9,925.71
Brisbane, QLD $3,767.92 $4,879.21 $6,778.05 $7,316.17 $10,972.23
Canberra, ACT $3,441.29 $4,552.96 $6,249.09 $8,585.34 $10,166.20
Hobart, TAZ $3,606.00 $4,714.67 $6,411.67 $8,757.00 $10,545.33
Melbourne, VIC $3,743.89 $4,886.67 $6,793.33 $9,441.22 $11,063.00
Sydney, NSW $2,961.67 $4,138.33 $5,622.67 $7,316.17 $9,243.83
Perth, WA $2,879.00 $4,148.51 $5,586.83 $7,959.47 $9,399.14
ALL $3,389.55 $4,533.67 $6,214.54 $8,417.05 $10,187.92

Solar PV System prices by city and system size

The decrease in the installed solar PV system prices is also reflected in the cost per watt. Compared to October 2012 the cost per watt in now approximately 9¢ cheaper across the board, Melbourne has seen the biggest decrease in cost at around 20¢ per watt. At the beginning of October the average cost per watt for a 1.5kW system was $2.82 compared to $2.50 per watt at the beginning of November, the average cost of a 5kW solar PV system in Melbourne has dropped by 34¢ per watt.

Solar Choice: Solar PV System price per Watt – November 2012 
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $2.22 $2.21 $2.02 $2.11 $1.99
Brisbane, QLD $2.51 $2.44 $2.26 $2.34 $2.19
Canberra, ACT $2.29 $2.28 $2.08 $2.15 $2.03
Hobert, TAZ $2.40 $2.36 $2.14 $2.19 $2.11
Melbourne, VIC $2.50 $2.44 $2.26 $2.36 $2.21
Sydney, NSW $1.97 $2.07 $1.87 $1.83 $1.85
Perth, WA $1.92 $2.07 $1.86 $1.99 $1.88
ALL $2.26 $2.27 $2.07 $2.14 $2.04

System price highs and lows

The minimum system price remains about the same, with the minimum 5kW system price increasing by around $350. The good news for consumers is that the maximum system price, for all system sizes, has dropped dramatically meaning residential customers can now purchase a premium system for significantly less than 30 days ago. Compared to the beginning of October a premium 1.5kW system can be almost $1,000 cheaper, 2kW or 3kW premium systems may be $3,000 less expensive, a maximum cost for a premium 4kW system nearly £6,000 less expensive and the top price for a 5kW system has reduced by over $6,000.

Solar Choice: Solar System Prices Max and Min – November 2012
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Min $1,999.00 $3,095.00 $4,799.00 $6,199.00 $8,190.00
Max $5,145.00 $6,146.00 $9,133.00 $11,768.00 $14,694.00

The reason for this dramatic change at the top end of the price scale may be a reaction from quality solar panel manufacturers to the influx of low cost, extremely low quality panels flooding the market. One Premium panel manufacturer has expressed genuine concern that the number of consumers purchasing systems using old technology or from tier 3 manufactures will eventually lead to a backlash against solar as these system start to fail and the companies who produced the panels have gone under leaving many without warranties.

Chinese solar panels make up the low-to-medium priced systems almost exclusively while European (mostly German) and Australian are the more expensive option. Perhaps due to the importance of having a good quality inverter there is a good spread of of European models across all price brackets, although there are Chinese inverters available these are mostly available with the lower cost systems. At the present time there are no Australian panels or inverters listed but this should change with the recent opening of the Tindo Solar factory.

Average STC discount

The minimum STC price offered by installers across the country at the beginning of this month dropped to $21, the maximum was around $31 with one instance of $43 per STC. The average for all system sizes was around the $26 mark with residents in Perth and Sydney getting the highest average figure of $27.20 and $27.60 respectively. Not all installers quoted a specific figure as many include the STCs as part of a package or provide ‘market value’ at the time the installation contract is signed.

Solar Choice: Average STC discount – November
1.5kW 2kW 3kW 4kW 5kW
Adelaide, SA $26.43 $26.43 $26.29 $26.43 $28.43
Brisbane, QLD $26.17 $26.29 $26.29 $26.29 $26.29
Canberra, ACT $26.80 $26.80 $26.80 $26.80 $26.80
Hobart, TAZ $26.67 $26.67 $26.67 $26.67 $26.67
Melbourne, VIC $25.50 $25.50 $25.50 $25.50 $25.50
Sydney, NSW $26.40 $26.40 $26.40 $27.60 $27.60
Perth, WA $27.20 $27.20 $27.20 $27.20 $27.20
ALL $26.45 $26.47 $26.45 $26.64 $26.93

Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) are part of the Federal Governments Renewable Energy Target (RET), they provide a means for providing up-front discount based of the likely output of a solar PV system over a 5, 10 or 15 year period. Australia is divided into a number of RET Zones, regions that receive a great number of sunshine hours (such as Far North Queensland) are allocated a greater number of STCs, whilst those in less sun-blessed areas (such as Victoria and Tasmania) receive fewer.

The STC value varies according to supply and demand. In most cases, installers themselves assume the liability these price fluctuations and pass the value on to customers in the form of a discount off the up-front cost of a system. Depending on how much of the liability they are prepared to take on (as well as on other aspects of their pricing structure), different installers routinely offer differing nominal amounts per STC.

About Solar Choice

Solar Choice works with over 100 solar PV installers in providing free and impartial Solar Quote Comparisons for customers throughout Australia. Solar Choice Commercial manages tenders for a wide range of commercial-scale solar PV projects throughout Australia, including solar farms and utility-scale solar PV plants.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle

Rebecca is a sustainable development and marketing graduate, with a background in community engagement and research. She has a particular interest in sustainable resource use.
Rebecca Boyle


  1. What % will a solar panal of 1.5kw cut from my bill I live in Qld, I don’t need precise detales just an average per household.

    1. Hi Rod.

      The answer depends on how much you use. A typical 1.5kW system in southern Queensland will produce about 5.25kWh of energy per day (averaged throughout the year–more in summer, less in winter). A typical 3-person household will use about 20kWh of power a day, so you’re looking at a savings of up to 25% assuming you use all of that power yourself and you have no access to a feed-in tariff. The actual savings are likely to be slightly lower than this, however, as a typical household will not consume 100% of the power the system produced–a more likely figure is about 50-70% of this, meaning a total savings of 10-15%.

      If you do have access to a feed-in tariff (and a generous one), that savings will rise to be closer to the 25% figure because a feed-in tariff generally guarantees that you are paid an above-market rate for each unit of power that you export to the grid.

      Hope this is helpful!

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