Installing solar - Four (+1) steps to get started

Edit: New readers to the topic can scroll through the 4 old posts to the 5th of June 2022, but all have some relevance.

We show you how to get started with solar, including answer the following common questions:

  • How much does solar cost?
  • Will solar work for me?
  • What equipment do I need?
  • How can I find a good solar installer?

Further to my previous post regarding the Qld Government Solar Loans Scheme on 18.11.2018, I called the department last Friday to inquire if there were any add-on battery packages left and I was told that all 3 offers were still available as another 1,000 packages had been added.

However, I was also told that it was expected that they would all be gone within a month, so if you are interested, time is of the essence.


Great tip, thanks @Fred123 :wink:


The best solar calculator I have seen and used is the “Full Version of the Solar & Storage Tool” on the Solar Choice website.

I also recently read a statement that solar panel prices have reduced by around 95% over the past decade.

However, when we first started using solar panels to power remote VHF & UHF 2-way radio repeaters some 40 years ago, the Australian made Solarex 22 watt, 12 volt panels cost over $400 dollars each or around $20 per watt.

Allowing for inflation using the RBA Inflation Calculator, that is around $2,400 per panel or $110 per watt.

Today, a 300 watt panel costs around $300 or around $1 per watt. Watt, oops, what a difference.


3 years later - step 5 if your house is heritage listed. Check with your council and possibly be prepared to fight them.


What next?

Will the council ban cars, dig up the road/kerb and return it to gravel, ban all but the push mower, although those with larger blocks might be able to use a horse drawn version?

Oh, and might they remove the running water and sewage system to leave one with the tin can or earth closet solution, electric lighting and model T-Ford or perhaps an ‘A’ optional for the well off. At least there will be no TV or internet or mobile phone services to interrupt the serenity. Only the rattle and clip clop from the milkman’s horse and cart, the barking of his dog, and the occasional dribble of cold water from the ice slowly melting in the ice chest. Mental note to self not to miss the iceman for another block later today.

The only thing that might change the council thinking - should they return to the pay and conditions councillors enjoyed 100 years prior? It seems a reasonable proposition in keeping with their heritage thinking. :wink:

Note how that small sedan in the street is more prominent than the PV panels, and a less than subtle clue to date the photo. Perhaps an early Opel, or Rolls might also suit given the rather splendid collection of large Federation style homes also found in the area?


You don’t need to fight them, just find out whether there is an approval required and what is required to again such an approval.

The house in the news article is within a known heritage precinct and as a result, the house itself is heritage listed. Heritage precincts/listing have special requirements to protect the heritage values of the area. If one owns a home with heritage listing, they should be aware that any modifications to such a house requires consultation or approval with the listing authority. This can be as simple as paint colour - colours are often required to be sympathetic with the heritage character of the building…

Many local government have approval requirements for PV systems - it shouldn’t be assumed that it isn’t the case. This typically applies to those in special areas (such as heritage precincts), on special buildings (such as heritage listed buildings) and for large sized systems (our own council requires approval for large systems which are 22+ panels).

Planning requirements are subject to extensive community consultation through the planning scheme and the community has input into this process and the outcomes specified in the schemes. It is the responsibility of home owners to ensure any works on a house complies with the planning schemes (and state government requirements which is often the case for heritage listed buildings). Where works are those which can be seen from the street or significant in nature, it is even more important that Council is consulted before works are committed to.

Most local governments have town planners which can be called to ask if there is any special requirements…whether it is a new fence, retaining wall, shed, carport or PV system. A simple phone call may save unexpected grief later on.


Our home is in a heritage conservation area. Our request to install additional solar panels ( which would be visible from the street ) was knocked back.

There are many other heriatge houses in the HCA with recently installed panels clearly visible from the street. There have been no removals to date.

Yes, we could try to fight with the council, but ours is the product of one of the forced-amalgamations of the Berejiklian era. I would rather stick my head in a boiling chip vat.


There’s always the option per my prior post to start a local movement to return the local streets to their true heritage form. Horses, carts, shanks phoney and the well used single sprocket pushie. Daily mail delivery assured, telegram for urgent needs, and only the well off with a phone line to the young lady in the exchange. Should we also ask for 6pm closing at the local? :joy:

The true heritage look might come with power poles down one side of the street and a mass of telephone wires along the other.


Some councils in the US banned solar panels years ago to protect the aesthetics of the upscale neighbourhoods. The solution was obvious, available for a price, and comes in various tile matching styles. I haven’t seen then advertised locally, and from US sources it is reported they are not as efficient as regular panels as well as being much more expensive.


I am not sure if they come in colours to satisfy heritage requirements. A potential solution, councils and pocketbooks willing?


Hi, I was hoping to hear some pearls of wisdom from the brains trust before embarking on my solar journey. I have a small suburban home in the Illawarra. Pro’s and con’s in layman’s terms?

@ToBeFair, I moved your query into this existing topic, one of many relevant to getting one started. I encourage you to use the Community search on ‘solar’ to find many bits of advice.

Perhaps the gold standard to begin investigation and education from an unbiased source about products and installers is (oft used as a consultant by Choice). They should not be confused with the myriad ‘we will sell you something’ sites. I got my quotes through them after much frustration going direct to locals and signed on with one of their top reviewed bidders who engaged - who BTW had a sales engineer not just a salesman, and obviously knew his business inside and out.


As @PhilT has suggested there is a very comprehensive resource at the SolarQuotes web site.

SolarQuotes has a full time team of professionals who are focussed solely on the industry. I referred to them for our first install. We have two. A smaller 3kW and a 5kW system at different locations. Those who post more often on the community re solar are limited by personal experience of one, perhaps two installs. At best a passing or ongoing part time interest.

SolarQuotes have some great tools that provide estimates specific to different areas, as well as assistance in selecting reliable CEC accredited supplier installers for each area. Looking to our now nearly 4 years of experience SolarQuotes covers all the important bases.

Our one major learning in that time.
For sites constrained to smaller systems assessing and minimising any shading losses will be important. Trees grow, a single toilet vent pipe can shutdown a whole string, or a neighbour can add a pergola that sits just along the line of the afternoon winter sun. Worth some careful consideration, from memories of having once lived below the Illawarra escarpment.


Hi PhilT & mark-m,
I went to the SolarQuotes website. What a gold mine! Thank you so much for the heads up. I watched all the videos, and it really gave me some confident when it came time to talk to my electricity provider and the solar sales people. They also gave me three local solar companies names that they recommended, and were quite transparent that they receive a referral fee.
The companies quoting all seemed professional and were on a par cost wise. I ended up going with a company that had been in the area for decades, and their sales person was an engineer that had come out of retirement to work part time with them because of his passion for green energy. He spent so long with me, it wasn’t just about the sale, and how much money I could save. It was about future proofing and environmental factors.
I am very happy with my decision and look forward to getting my solar installed. Bit of a wait, but that does not surprise me.
Thanks again, and I too strongly recommend people look at Fynn Peacock’s website ‘‘SolarQuotes’’ before starting the process. Cheers, Jo.