Solar Panel Installation

CONNECTING YOUR SOLAR PV SYSTEM TO THE GRID IS A TWO-STEP PROCESS THAT INVOLVES:

  1. making an application to connect your system prior to installation (where required), and
  2. meter change/reconfiguration and connection to the grid.

Your solar PV retailer will usually arrange connection of your solar system to the network on your behalf, including preparing and submitting all relevant documentation required from the electricity retailer and/or distributor for meter installation and connection to the network. It is important however to be aware of the process involved, who to contact to follow up on progress, and to ensure that all parties are acting in a timely manner. The grid connection process differs from state to state. Our grid connection guides provide a step-by-step process for your state and are available here: solaraccreditation.com.au/consumers/ small-scale-generation-connection.

METER CHANGE AND CONNECTING TO THE GRID

Your existing meter will either need to be reconfigured or replaced by a new import/ export meter before you can connect to the grid. This may need to occur before or after installation, depending on the requirements in your state. Your solar PV retailer will need to notify either your distributor or electricity retailer to organise a meter change/ reconfiguration. Meter change/ reconfiguration is then carried out by your distribution company. You will be charged by your distribution company for any costs associated with the meter change. This can be charged to you by your solar retailer or billed to you through your electricity retailer. Make sure you are aware of these costs and how they will be charged.

APPLICATION TO CONNECT

Most distribution companies require pre-approval to connect to their network. This should be done prior to sale and installation. Depending on the size of your system and the characteristics of the local grid you are connecting to, the technical requirements of your distributor may vary. Make sure your solar PV retailer or installer lodges this application early on in the process as the approval process can take up to eight weeks in some areas.

INSPECTIONS

Following the installation of your solar PV system, safety inspections may be carried out by the relevant electrical authority. Depending on which state you live in, these inspections may be mandatory or may occur on a random audit basis. In some states, your installer is responsible for organising the inspection of your system. The inspection may need to be carried out before the system can be connected to the grid.

UPGRADING YOUR SYSTEM

Your ability to upgrade your system in future may depend on receiving permission from your distributor, on suitable PV modules still being available, and on any upgrades meeting current Australian Standards. Upgrading your system may also result in losing your feed-in tariff. You will need to check with your electricity retailer and distributor to fi nd out what the requirements are for upgrading your system. The requirements may differ from state to state.

SAVINGS

There are numerous factors that affect your suitability for solar and the period it will take for your system to ‘pay for itself’. And as the cost of solar has fallen, so have government incentives. You should carefully consider whether solar power is going to be a worthwhile investment for you.

Most Australian electricity retailers offer feed-in tariffs, meaning that they pay you a small amount of money for any excess power you generate. However, the biggest financial benefit from installing solar power comes via ‘self-consumption’ – generating your own electricity instead of purchasing it from the grid at a higher rate. Accordingly, you should choose the size of your solar PV system based on the electricity consumption of your household or business.

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