13kW solar systems are a great system size for homes with high levels of energy consumption or businesses with small to middling energy needs – provided that they have sufficient roof space to install one. This article takes you through (almost) everything you might want to know about 13kW solar systems, including how much space they take up, how much they cost, and how much energy you can expect them to produce. It also touches on whether a 13kW system is a good investment for your home or business.
How many panels & how much roof space for a 13kW solar system?
The below table gives you an indication of the roof space required to accommodate a 13.3kW system.
This figure will vary depending on the size and efficiency of the solar panel and any shading or obstructions on the roof that need to be designed around.
An allowance has been made below to allow for additional space around the edge of the roof and to maintain the solar panels.
|13kW Solar Panel Systems – roof space and number of Panels|
|Solar panel watt rating||420W|
|Approximate number of panels||32|
|The solar panel watt rating||81m2|
Please note that each roof needs to be analysed by a Clean Energy Council accredited designer to ensure your system can be safely accessed and maintained. The above table serves as a guide only.
How much does a 13kW solar system cost?
Australia is home to some of the lowest solar installation prices in the world, and 13kW solar systems – because of their size – frequently offer some of the best value of any solar PV system size. You can view current indicative solar system prices on the Solar Choice Price Index (although 13kW is not yet a regular feature in our monthly Solar PV Price Index, 10kW has been included for a number of years now.)
As of October 2023 the average cost of a fully installed 13kW solar panel system in Australia is around $13,566 or $1.02 per watt after deducting the STC rebate and including GST.
Average 13kW solar system costs based on Solar Choice Price Index
|City||Out of pocket cost (incl GST and incentives)||Cost per watt installed|
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How much energy does a 13kW solar system produce?
Depending on a number of factors, the actual power output of a 13kW solar panel system will vary. These variables include:
- Location & climate
- Orientation and tilt angle of the solar panel array
- Whether there is any shade cast on the panels
- The operating temperature of the panels
- The performance of the individual components – i.e. the panels and the inverter
The table below gives indicative figures for how many kilowatt-hours of energy a north-facing 13kW solar system will generate per day (on average throughout the year) in Australia’s capital cities.
Indicative daily 13kW solar panel output by capital city
|City||Average Daily Production||Estimated Annual Production|
|Adelaide||51 kWh per day||18771 kWh|
|Brisbane||53 kWh per day||19418 kWh|
|Canberra||51 kWh per day||18771 kWh|
|Darwin||59 kWh per day||21360 kWh|
|Hobart||42 kWh per day||15211 kWh|
|Melbourne||44 kWh per day||16182 kWh|
|Perth||56 kWh per day||20389 kWh|
|Sydney||48 kWh per day||17476 kWh|
- Calculations completed via PVWatts using sunlight data from the Bureau of Meteorology
- Conservatively assumes that the systems efficiency is 75%
- Assumes the solar panels a mounted at a 30-degree angle to the north
Is a 13kW solar system right for your home or business?
As you can guess by the amount of roof space required, 13kW is a serious amount of solar for the ordinary home – and in many cases, it will be too much. In most cases, it will only be appropriate if you’re using over 50kWh of energy on average per day – a number much more likely to apply to a business than a home. It may also be a good size choice for homes that have low electricity consumption and want to go off-grid (see: “Can I go off-grid with a 10kW solar system?“)
Because of the complexity involved (not to mention the cost), we recommend that you have the numbers crunched in detail before deciding to go ahead with a 13kW solar system. You can experiment with the numbers yourself with our Simple Solar System Sizing Estimator, check out our Solar Payback & ROI Estimator Tool or request a free, customised business case analysis from our engineering team based on your electricity bills.
Also, keep in mind that the Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) who is the company that owns the poles and wires in your area may have particular rules on what can be connected and what systems are permitted to export power. Often for single-phase connections the limit is a 5kVA inverter which can accommodate 6.6kW of solar panels.
An additional consideration is that many of the electricity retailer’s feed-in tariff plans are capped at systems with a 10kW inverter. See a summary of the latest plans on this feed in tariff page.
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Is a 13kW solar system worth it?
These days solar feed-in tariff credits are a secondary benefit of having a solar system installed. Instead, you’ll derive the most value out of your self-generated solar energy by ‘self-consuming‘ it – using as much energy as possible directly. Because solar feed-in tariff rates are generally lower than what you’ll pay for energy from the grid, the more solar energy you use yourself, the more you’ll save; meanwhile, the excess solar will flow into the grid and earn you credits which help to reduce your overall bill.
Payback Period & IRR for 13kW solar systems
The table below takes a look at payback times and internal rate of return (IRR) for those who install a 13kW solar system in select cities at two rates of self-consumption – 40% and 70%. Although these rates are high for most ordinary households with solar (typically more like 20-40%), we assume that anyone who goes ahead with a system in the 13kW range has done their research and ensured that a higher degree of their solar energy will go directly to their local energy demand (as opposed to into the grid). If you manage to achieve even higher self-consumption rates, the returns will look even more favourable.
Please note that we’ve assumed that the system is eligible for a solar feed-in tariff – which depends on the electricity retailer and the network rules.
|Indicative payback periods for 13.3kW solar panel systems|
|13.3kW System Cost||Electricity Price||Feed in Rate||Self Consumption Rate||IRR||Annual Savings||Payback Period (Years)|
- Assumes the average daily energy usage is 50 kWh per day (very high for residential use)
- The prices are based on the latest Solar Choice Price Index
- Self-consumption rates of 30% (low) and 60% (very high) have been selected as examples only and as you can see are very important to the financial outcome
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