The most common form of solar installed in Australia is grid-connected solar
Solar systems are most effective when they are well positioned
(north-facing is optimal, but not essential) and exposed to
enough sunlight without obstruction by shade caused from trees,
power lines or other structures.
Depending on the amount of available sunlight, a gridconnected
solar system will operate in one of the following ways.
DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS, THE SOLAR
SYSTEM IS PRODUCING MORE ENERGY THAN
THE HOUSEHOLD IS CONSUMING/USING
In this scenario, household appliances will be powered by the
solar system. The excess solar generated by the system is fed
back (exported) into the electricity grid.
If you are feeding excess electricity generated by the solar
system back into the grid, your energy retailer may pay you
through a feed-in tariff (see page 5 for more information on
DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS, THE SOLAR
SYSTEM IS PRODUCING LESS ENERGY THAN
THE HOUSEHOLD IS CONSUMING/USING
In this scenario, the solar system will power household appliances
equal to the amount of power being generated. Additional power
required will be drawn directly from the electricity grid.
Solar generation, consumption and export is tracked and
recorded through a smart meter, providing the data for electricity
OTHER TYPES OF SOLAR SYSTEMS
TO DETERMINE IF AN INVESTMENT IN SOLAR
IS RIGHT FOR YOU, IT’S IMPORTANT TO
UNDERSTAND YOUR ENERGY USAGE. YOUR
ELECTRICITY RETAILER WILL BE ABLE TO
HELP YOU WITH THIS INFORMATION.
UNDERSTANDING HOW MUCH SOLAR POWER
YOU WILL BE ABLE TO USE THROUGHOUT
THE DAY WILL HELP YOU SELECT AN
APPROPRIATELY SIZED SYSTEM AND ENSURE
YOU ARE GETTING A RETURN ON YOUR
Your electricity retailer should outline your average daily usage
in kilowatt hours (kWh) on your electricity bill. It is important
to have this value and your electricity bill in front of you when
making first contact with a solar retailer so you can work together
to design a system that will ensure you maximise the benefits of
your new rooftop solar system
Keep in mind that your electricity usage will change between
seasons, so you may want to look at a bill from different times of
the year to compare.
The most benefit to be gained from solar is through “self
consumption” – that is, consuming the power your solar system
generates instead of drawing power from the grid.
If you (or your family) are not home during the day, you can
still make the most of your system by altering or tweaking the
way you consume energy or by running appliances during peak
Similarly, self-consumption is still viable in the morning and
afternoon where panels are installed east- or west-facing. These
systems will benefit from generation as the sun rises in the
morning and sets in the afternoon.
A BIT MORE ON FEED-IN TARIFFS
Any excess power you generate may be sent back to the grid, for which you may be paid a feed-in tariff by your electricity retailer.
Feed-in tariffs differ from state to state and from retailer to retailer. In some states, the government regulates a minimum rate, while in others it is up to you to negotiate a deal with your electricity retailer.
There may also be changes to your standard electricity rates or charges after the installation of a solar system.
Consider speaking with your electricity retailer to discuss any changes that may apply from installing solar. You may also want to shop around to find out which electricity retailers offer better rates and/or tariffs for solar customers.
Despite what some advertising may tell you, there is no “one size fits all” solution for solar. And the cheapest system is often not the best option. Every home is different, and the requirements can vary significantly depending on your circumstances.
The orientation (degree to north) of your roof, pitch (slope or angle), available space, amount of shade and even the type of roof (tile, tin, concrete etc.) will impact how you benefit from solar, or even if solar is an option for you.
For example, the available roof space on your property may only allow for a small system. This may impact the solar system’s ability to generate excess solar power. In this case, you will be more reliant on consuming the electricity you generate rather than exporting it to the grid. Speak with your solar retailer about designing a solar system for maximum self-consumption.
If the available roof space on your property allows for a larger solar system, you may generate excess solar power and benefit from a feed-in tariff.
You might also be considering a battery (now or in the future) so the excess solar generated can be stored for later use. For more information on battery installations, visit the Clean Energy Council website cleanenergycouncil.org.au/consumers
CHOOSING A SOLAR RETAILER
WHEN CHOOSING A SOLAR OR STORAGE RETAILER AND/OR INSTALLER, IT PAYS TO DO A LITTLE RESEARCH. THE CLEAN ENERGY COUNCIL RECOMMENDS CHOOSING AN APPROVED SOLAR RETAILER WHO HAS SIGNED ON TO THE SOLAR RETAILER CODE OF CONDUCT AND USES DESIGNERS AND INSTALLERS WHO ARE ACCREDITED BY THE CLEAN ENERGY COUNCIL.
We also recommend seeking multiple quotes for comparison and reading product reviews online before making your decision. The Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer program is a way for businesses that sell solar and storage to show their commitment to responsible sales and marketing activities and industry best practice. Authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the program aims to lift the bar higher than the minimum requirements set by government and regulations and bring about a better standard of service within the solar industry.The Clean Energy Council has developed an online tool to help you find an Approved Solar Retailer in your area. Please visit cleanenergycouncil.org.au/consumers/buying-solar/findan-approved-solar-retailer
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SOLAR RETAILER
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM AN APPROVED SOLAR RETAILER?
SOLAR RETAILER CODE OF CONDUCT
As signatories to the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct, consumers can be confident that their Approved Solar Retailer will conduct business in a professional and ethical manner.The terms of the code detail specific requirements which must be adhered to throughout the installation process. This includes a transparent sales process, a site-specific design and performance estimate, installation by a Clean Energy Council Accredited Installer and best practice warranty terms. If you choose an Approved Solar Retailer and something goes wrong or you experience any issues, the Clean Energy Council can support you. A copy of the code is available on the Clean Energy Council website. Please visit cleanenergycouncil.org.au/consumers/buying-solar/choosing-aretailer-or-installer
Approved Solar Retailers are required to only sell and install Clean Energy Council approved products.Through its Product Assurance program,the Clean Energy Council verifies and tests solar and storage products that are eligible to be installed in Australia, based on their compliance with Australian and international standards. The Clean Energy Council works in collaboration with government, electrical safety regulators, certifiers, network providers and product manufacturers to ensure that only approved products are installed in the Australian market. The Clean Energy Council maintains listings of products that are eligible to be installed, based on their compliance with Australian and international standards. Our approved product lists cover inverters,PV modules (solar panels) and batteries.To check whether a product is on the Clean Energy Council Approved Products list, please visit cleanenergycouncil.org.au/industry/products
In conjunction with the Approved Product lists, the Clean Energy Council also runs a testing and compliance program. This encompasses proactive internal audits of the database of approved products and their relevant certifications and targeted product testing.
A NOTE ON “TIER 1” PANELS
“Tier 1” is a term often used to promote solar panels; however, it does not reflect product quality or performance. The tier rankings are used by Bloomberg New Energy Finance Corporation to rank solar panel manufacturers in terms of their bankability or financial stability.
Accreditation with the Clean Energy
Council recognises individual electricians
who have undertaken the necessary
training to design and install solar,
batteries and other renewable energy
systems. Accredited Installers aim to
work to industry best practice standards,
producing systems that are safe, reliable
and meet customer expectations.
Clean Energy Council Accredited Installers
must adhere to the relevant Australian
standards when designing and installing
If you choose an Accredited Installer and
require assistance during any part of the
installation process, the Clean Energy
Council can support you.
We have developed an online tool to
help you find an Accredited Installer in
your area. You can also search by name,
making it easier to identify whether your
installer is accredited. Please visit
QUOTES AND CONTRACTS
THE CLEAN ENERGY COUNCIL ALWAYS ENCOURAGES YOU TO GET MULTIPLE QUOTES FROM DIFFERENT RETAILERS, SO YOU HAVE A GOOD BASIS FOR COMPARISON OF PRICE, SYSTEM SIZE AND PERFORMANCE AS WELL AS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.
The quote will often form the basis for your contract, so it is
important that it provides you with the information you need.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A QUOTE OR CONTRACT?
Your quote should be detailed, professional and include:
• a site-specific system design
• a performance estimate
• an itemised list of components/products
• a clear breakdown of costs, including the total value of
any discounts or rebates
• full terms and conditions of sale.
Remember that once you have received the quote, you are under no obligation to go ahead with an installation.
You should never feel pressured into a purchase. The choice to
proceed with a purchase is yours and yours alone, so making sure
you are comfortable with the information you have been provided
with is essential. Have all your questions been answered? Do you
understand the installation, grid connection and metering process?
Have you been informed of any after-sale support available to you?
Contracts generated from unsolicited sales (e.g. doorknocking or
telemarketing) must include a cooling-off period. A cooling-off
period is a safeguard that allows you to change your mind and
cancel the contract within a specified period.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has
resources for consumers wanting to learn more about the
Australian Consumer Law and unsolicited sales. For more
information, visit accc.gov.au/consumers/sales-delivery/
SITE INSPECTIONS AND HOME ASSESSMENTS
A site inspection or home assessment is a great way for
your solar retailer or installer to clearly determine the unique
requirements for your solar system.
Every home is different, so a pre-installation inspection is the
best way to accurately identify the optimal location for panels on
your roof, the ideal location for the inverter and any additional
requirements and associated costs for installation.
A site inspection or home assessment is not essential, and many
retailers will design a system for you using satellite imagery and
technology. While this way of quoting or selling is very common
and can work well in many cases, it may increase the chances of
unforeseen issues or additional requirements and costs.
Any variations to the original system design and cost should be
accepted by you prior to installation. If you do not consent to any
variations and you are dealing with an Approved Solar Retailer, you
are entitled to a full refund as outlined in the Code of Conduct.
Before entering any agreement, it is essential to review all
aspects of your contract and terms and conditions of sale.
The contract should be clear, legible and use plain language.
STCS AND OTHER REBATES
Small-scale Technology Certificates
Federal Government incentives in the form of Small-scale
Technology Certificates (STCs) help reduce the upfront cost of
installing your solar system. STCs should be clearly itemised
within your quote to highlight the discount applied.
It is common practice to assign the rights to STCs to your
Approved Solar Retailer or Accredited Installer to reduce the
upfront costs of a solar system through a point of sale discount.
STCs are calculated by the following factors:
• type of renewable energy installed (solar, wind or hydro)
• date of installation
• rated power output (in kW) of your system
• postcode (location).
To assign the rights to STCs, your retailer or installer will ask
you to sign a hard copy or digital assignment form. Before
signing the form, you should ensure it lists the products installed
and the name of the CEC Accredited Installer who physically
attended your home to install your system. You can verify this
by asking to see the installer’s digital accreditation ID card at
the commencement of the installation. The STC form should
only be signed once the system has been fully installed and
For more information on STCs or to use an online STC calculator,
visit or contact the Clean Energy Regulator cleanenergyregulator.
Some states and territories in Australia offer additional incentives
or rebates. Ask your Approved Solar Retailer whether you are
eligible for further incentives or seek further information from
your state or local government.
THE INSTALLATION PROCESS
GRID CONNECTION APPLICATION
What is a grid-connection application?
As part of the connection process, your electricity distributor will check if
the local electricity network can support your new solar system.
Depending on the size of your system and the characteristics of the local
grid you are connecting to, the technical requirements of your distributor
Who are electricity distributors?
Electricity distributors own and manage the infrastructure, power poles
and wires that deliver power to homes and businesses. You cannot
choose your distribution company.
There are many distribution companies across Australia. To make it
easier, we have sorted each electricity distributor by state:
Do I need a grid-connection approval prior to installation?
Yes. Your electricity distributor can reject a grid connection application if
the proposed system does not suit the requirements of their network. In
this case, they will provide recommendations on what needs to change
and advise you and your solar retailer of the options available.
How long does it take to receive connection approval?
Timelines can vary significantly between distributors. Depending on the
distributor, it can take up to 30 business days. You can also contact your
distributor directly to find out how long it typically takes to receive an
In some circumstances, a more detailed grid-connection application is
required. Due to the additional time needed to check network conditions,
it may take longer to receive an outcome.
What happens once I receive grid-connection approval?
You are ready to proceed with the installation of your rooftop solar system.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SOLAR RETAILER
It is important that you are home for the installation
of your system so you can meet your Accredited
Installer, make sure you are present to sign-off on
unforeseen changes required and learn how to
operate and monitor your new solar system.
Your installer’s accreditation
Once your installer arrives at your property, ask to
check their digital accreditation ID card prior to
Accreditation with the Clean Energy Council
recognises electricians who have undertaken the
necessary training to design and install solar,
batteries and other renewable energy systems.
The ID card is digital and should be shown to you
on a phone or tablet. It will display the following
• a photo of the installer
• accreditation number
• expiry date
• types of accreditation held
The “last opened” date
should show the current day
or the previous 24 hours.
At least one installer
present on the property
should be a Clean Energy
Installer and will be able
to show you their ID
card. If your installer
is unable to provide
ID, contact your solar
retailer about your
Learning how to monitor your solar system
Most systems will have monitoring functionality
available, which is a great way to understand how your
system is performing over time.
Upon installation, your Accredited Installer should
provide you with a short demonstration on how to
use and monitor your solar system. That way, if you
have any questions about the operation of the system,
they can be answered before the installer leaves your
Appropriate documentation will be essential if you
need to make warranty or insurance claims. A user
manual should be provided by the installer on the day
It is the responsibility of your solar retailer to ensure
that you have been provided with appropriate
You should receive:
CONFIGURING YOUR METER FOR SOLAR
Your electricity meter will either need to be replaced or reconfigured for solar import/export.
Your solar retailer may offer to submit a request to your electricity retailer to configure your
electricity meter on your behalf.
We recommend speaking with your solar retailer to discuss how the request will be submitted and
who is responsible.
How do I submit a request to have my electricity meter configured for solar?
To get the ball rolling, you will need to contact your electricity retailer (the company who bills you
for your electricity). Some electricity retailers allow you to submit your request via their website.
Others may simply ask you to send them an email.
Are there any documents that I need to submit with my request?
Most electricity retailers will ask you to include a number documents with your request. Contact
your solar retailer to obtain a copy of these documents:
All states: Confirmation of grid-connection approval
All states: Electrical Work Request or equivalent document for your state or territory
ACT: Certificate of Electrical Safety
NSW: Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work
NT: Certificate of Compliance
QLD: Certificate of Testing and Safety, Certificate of Testing and Compliance
SA: Certificate of Compliance
TAS: Certificate of Electrical Compliance
VIC: Certificate of Electrical Safety
WA: Electrical Safety Certificate
How long will it take to have my electricity meter configured for solar?
On 1 February 2019, the Australian Energy Market Commission introduced new rules requiring
electricity retailers to fulfil meter installation/configuration requests within certain timeframes.
Presently, electricity retailers and consumers must come to a mutual agreement to determine
an adequate timeframe for meter installation. Contact your electricity retailer to discuss meter
configuration and timeframes for completion.
If your solar retailer submitted your metering request for you, contact them for an update. It is likely
that your solar retailer was given a reference number when the request was submitted.
You are encouraged to check your first electricity bill after your solar system has been installed.
If you do not see a meter fee or reference to a solar feed-in tariff, contact your electricity retailer.
MAINTENANCE AND SERVICING
LIKE ALL ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT, MAINTENANCE OF YOUR SOLAR SYSTEM IS ENCOURAGED, AND YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE PROVIDED BY YOUR SOLAR RETAILER OR INSTALLER.
Just like running a car, servicing is the best way to ensure your solar system keeps operating safely, correctly and efficiently into the future.
Maintenance or servicing of solar systems is offered by many Accredited Installers and solar retailers and can include:
• panel cleaning and removal of debris
• system inspection and testing
• electrical checks to ensure all components are operating as intended
• reviewing the inverter display panel for recorded faults
• checking that access to the isolator switches has not been impeded
• making sure the emergency procedures for shutdown and isolation are clearly displayed.