Last weekend my wife and I were invited over to some friends house (our old next door neighbors) for breakfast to catch up. We were talking about a heap of different things, but when I asked if they were planning on sticking around in their current house for a while or if they wanted to move again it was a bit of a mixed bag. The wife in the relationship was interested in building again, whereas the husband wasn’t all that keen. One of the major reasons they both cited as not wanting to move just yet was that their solar panels has only generated enough savings to have paid themselves back by about 50% so far.
This got me thinking about the viability of installing solar panels to reduce your electricity bill and save power. There are obvious environmental benefits to migrating towards solar panels and not relying on things like coal for your electricity, however, it is one of those technologies that is quite expensive to install up front and it can take quite a few years before you are actually making money on your investment.
In Australia we are lucky in that most parts of the country experience a very high level of sunshine throughout most times of the year. So the economics of solar are going to be far more attractive than say the UK or Canada. I believe there was also a government grant to entice people to install solar panels on their roofs, but I am not sure if it is still available. Regardless, in Australia you have the option of passing excess solar power generation capacity back into the grid where it will earn you small, but consistent amounts of money each and every day. In our friends case, each month their bill was in credit, so they were essentially getting their electricity for free (minus the cost of the initial outlay for the solar system).
So when I got home I decided to have a look at a few websites that discuss this topic, and there really wasn’t all that much available in the way of the economics of installing a solar system. I guess this is because it really depends on where you live, the size of your system and what direction the panels are facing. I did however find the following resources that were of interest
At this point in time I don’t think I will be installing a solar system as I am not sure how much longer we plan on living in this house, but I suspect it would likely increase your property value if I was ever to sell.
I am curious though – Have you installed a solar system? Do you think it was worth it, or do the economics not stack up?