So what are the benefits of using solar power and just how can you get started? This short article will help you with these questions. You can also check out Yarra Energy Foundation’s great summary page on solar here,

Interested in a clear summary? Watch Peter Mercouriou from the MCPH Solar’s presentation at our Nov 3 solar information night here, and download his slide set here.

Advantages of solar

Firstly on the benefits of making your own energy. 

Solar will reduce your environmental impact

While solar systems still have an environmental impact through resources consumed in their manufacture and delivery,  and at the end of their  lifecycle, they create far far less of an environmental impact than energy generated by fossil fuels. Solar and battery systems help your household reduce its climate impact. New research, profiled in Carbon Brief, finds that, even accounting from manufacturing and other emissions from the whole lifecycle, solar has an amazingly low carbon footprint.

“The study finds that electricity from fossil fuels, hydro and bioenergy has “significantly higher” embodied energy, compared to solar power (and wind and nuclear) “.

Lynn Frankes has put on solar to become part of the solution

Lynn Frankes has put on solar to become “part of the solution”

Check out this article from Zen Energy on solar advantages. Solar reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. Solar panels don’t create any greenhouse gases when generating or storing electricity, helping your household reduce its impact on climate change. Plus, any solar generation your household doesn’t use is sent back to the electricity grid and is used by other households, reducing their environmental impact.


Solar will lower your power bill

By generating and using your own electricity the amount of power you purchase will reduce along with your bill.

”While we can’t say exactly how much you’ll save with rooftop solar, we can tell you that 56% of respondents to our 2016 Solar Census survey are cutting their bills by more than half!” Check out the clear summaries in Solar Citizens guide, Thinking of Going Solar, including points like:

  • Orientation – east and west are still good, generating only 15% less than north facing – a mix may be optimal
  • Panel type – consider using cheaper, less efficient polycrystalline panels if you have a lot of roof space, but if you have roof constraints then you may well opt for more efficient by more expensive monocrystalline panels.

By using electricity  from 10am to 4pm, in the middle of the day, you can make better use of the solar energy you generate on your rooftop. For example, a hot water heat pump can run in the middle of the day, or a pool filter, or dishwasher. You may be able to generate enough power to run an electric car as well! For more detailed information, look through Australian Energy Foundation’s comprehensive set of solar pages.


Solar panels are a great investment

Solar Quotes average Australian payback for 5kW

The payback time will vary from household to household but panels will typically pay back in 3-6 years. Almost one in four households in Australia have already installed solar. Chances are someone in your street already has solar on their roof. If we looked at a popular installation size of 5kW, then payback in Victoria is likely to be just over 5 years given slightly higher installation costs. However most people will qualify from Victoria’s solar home program, offering rebates of $1400 to households with combined incomes of under $180,000 a year, which will improve economic returns.

Solar Quotes recommend using the accessible LG savings and payback calculator for a more individual estimate or try Renew’s wonderful Sunulator tool.


Installation of a solar system will increase the value of your home

Most warranties of new solar panels will be issued by the manufacturer, not the installer. A good benchmark is a 25-year solar panel performance warranty and a 5-10 year factory defect warranty. The inverter will last more than 10 years on average, especially if it is installed away from full direct sunlight.

So given the low-maintenance of a solar system, no moving parts and research that shows 56% of respondents cut their bill in half, this makes rooftop solar valuable to a future purchaser of your home. If you think about it, it is a money saving asset, so most prospective buyers like to see it on a house they are thinking of buying and are therefore likely to be prepared to pay a little bit extra. Momentum Energy suggests houses with panels tend to sell faster as well, thus adding more value and helping offset or more than offset installation costs.


Consider purchasing a battery

If your budget extends to installing a battery then this will enable you to use more of the electricity generated from solar panels by charging the battery during the day with ‘free’ power and then using it during the evening. It is expected that the costs of batteries will drop significantly in the next few years, similar to what has happened with solar panels. Victoria offers a battery rebate as an alternative to the solar PV rebate for eligible households. Check out Australian Energy Foundation’s comprehensive guide here.

A real barrier is finding a trusted installer - this is where the MCPH Solar Program can provide independent advice

A real barrier is finding a trusted installer – this is where the MCPH Solar Program can provide independent advice

So just how to get started?

It can be confusing knowing where to begin. Our suggestion is to do your homework first – yes, it may take a little time, but this will be well worth it considering you are buying a system that is expected to last for 25 or 30 years! 

Metro Community Power Hub Solar Program Info Night 

Interested in solar and want more information? You can register here on the MCPH contact form.


Trusted, independent advice

Our first suggestion is to seek some free advice from the Metro Community Power Hub (MCPH) Solar Program, led by not-for-profit  Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF).

MPCH is a non-profit organisation set up to help people get started in solar and provide free energy advice: 

“The MCPH is the first of its kind in metropolitan Melbourne.

We’re a group of like-minded energy practitioners, climate action groups and passionate citizens – all coming together in the Hub to share practical climate solutions with the wider community.

As one of seven community power hubs statewide funded by the Victorian Government through Sustainability Victoria, we’re working hard to build Melbourne residents’ awareness of, and involvement in, community renewable energy projects.

The Yarra Energy Foundation is delighted to be the lead agency for this landmark project.” said Dean Kline, YEF’s CEO.


November 3rd Info Night

November 3 Make Solar Easy

Lighter Footprints and MPCH held our first ‘Make Solar Easy’ night on Wednesday, November 3rd. 


Solar Buyers Guide 

Other great resources include the Solar Buyers Guides published by the Victorian Government 

These will lead you through the key issues and factors to be considered including:

  • Why install a solar system? 
  • What rebates and incentives are available for Victorians?
  • Grid connected solar explained
  • Finding the right solar panels, inverter, batteries and components
  • Working out costs and benefits
  • Planning your system
  • Finding the right installer and steps to installation
  • Consumer protections
  • Ensuring the job is done safely


For more information on the benefits of solar PV systems see also Sustainability Victoria solar pages.


The Lighter Footprints community is embracing solar and many members are starting the journey towards all electric homes

The Lighter Footprints community is embracing solar and many members are starting the journey towards an all-electric home


Other Useful Links


Russell Williams says there is nothing better for your credibilty then starting in your own backyard

Russell Williams says there is nothing better for your credibility than starting “in your own backyard”


Further Information

Metro Community Power Hub

Yarra Energy Foundation 

Australian Energy Foundation

Lighter Footprints


Lighter Footprints has arranged access for Boroondara residents to the MCPH Solar Program, which offers discounted prices with trusted suppliers. However, please note that whilst Lighter Footprints has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct, individual circumstances will vary and it is important that you undertake your own research to best cater for your preferences and situation.