Western Sydney solar power: Why get a system?

Sydney is home to some of the lowest solar power system prices in all of Australia. This article takes a look at why solar power is a good investment for households and businesses in Western Sydney, including Parramatta, Bankstown, Liverpool, Auburn and Penrith, NSW.

Solar panel prices in Sydney’s western suburbs have fallen

But electricity prices are still high

Due to a number of domestic and international factors, solar power system prices have fallen dramatically across Australia and the globe in the past few years. A huge number of homes and businesses across the country have opted to have a solar system installed on their roof in order to save money on their power bills. A generous subsidy is still in place for those who choose to purchase a system. This de-facto ‘discount’ is available through the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) (although it’s not clear for how much longer). The RET remains the most important in keeping solar system prices down. In Sydney, the RET’s contribution to a system’s cost typically works out to be about $0.70 per watt (W) (depending on the market rate for the certificates that constitute the subsidy). For a 5 kilowatt (kW) system, this works out to be around $3,500 off the up-front cost of having a system installed.  A recent snapshot of solar system prices from Sydney–including the western suburbs–is included below. The data is from Solar Choice’s installer database, which includes pricing details from a number of solar installers who operate in the area. The table shows average, high & low prices for systems sized 1.5kW-10kW. These prices are updated monthly–the most recent Solar PV Price Index article can be found here.

Sydney Solar System Prices Averages March 2014 Sydney Solar system prices per Watt March 2014

Installing a solar system in Sydney west can save you money on your power bills

Everyone in Australia has felt the sting of rising electricity prices, and solar panels have proven to be one of the most popular ways for homes and businesses to insulate themselves against them. These days, having a solar system in Sydney can save you money by allowing you to avoid purchasing expensive electricity from the grid–and instead generating it yourself.  For a typical 3-person home in Sydney’s western suburbs that uses 20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day and pays around ¢25 per kWh, installing a 3kW system could save them over $1000/year (assuming that the system is north-facing and that the household manages to use all of the power that the system produces). Such a system would pay for itself in less than 6 years and have an return on investment of almost 20%.

What size system is best for a western Sydney home or business?

The above prices in the table above will mean more if you understand which size of system you might be in the market for. The best first step in determining the right system size is to look at a recent power bill. Your bill will show your monthly usage (in kilowatt-hours, kWh) and average daily usage, but the thing it will not tell you is how you use that electricity throughout the day, so you’ll need to make some informed estimates. Typical solar system sizes for a home are 1.5kW, 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 5kW and sometimes as large as 10kW. Anything larger than this is usually for a business.

As a rule of thumb, 1kW of installed solar capacity will generate about 3.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh, the same unit you’ll see on your power bill) on average throughout the year–so more in the summertime and less in the winter. A 2kW system would therefore produce about 7kWh of power a day on average, while a 10kW solar system would produce about 35kWh of power per day. Here’s an example to give you an idea of how to do the calculations: If your power bill says you used around 20kWh per day during the last billing period, and you think you use about 40% of your power at when the sun is down, you can assume that you use around (20kWh x .4 =) 8kWh per day. A properly-installed, tilted & orientated 2kW solar system would produce just about this much power and could be a good choice.

Of course, this will all change once energy storage systems become more affordable and allow homes to become more independent form the electricity grid. This sort of solution is not quite economically viable for most ordinary homes, but keep an eye out because prices are dropping fast.

Ready to start looking? Compare solar installers in Sydney West

Find out what sort of solar installation prices are available from installers who operate in western Sydney by filling your details into the Solar Quote Comparison chart to the right of this page.

Top image via Google Maps

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd