GUIDES & RESOURCES

Compare Solar Plans

Keep reading to learn more about solar power, including how it works, and some factors to consider when comparing solar energy plans.
Solar panels on tiled roof

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We all know that solar energy is getting a lot more popular, and we've seen solar panels appearing on the roofs of an increasing number of houses. And it makes perfect sense. After all, Australia does have the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.

What is solar power?

Solar power is produced by capturing the sun’s heat and light energy and converting it into usable energy, like electricity to light, cool, and generally, power, our homes.

As a renewable energy source, solar causes a lot less pollution and damage to the environment. And thanks to rapid cost reductions over recent years, it’s one of Australia’s fastest growing energy sources.

How does solar power work?

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency outlines two main types of solar power energy, solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal.

Solar PV.

Solar PV uses a semiconductor cell, or solar PV cell in a solar panel, to convert sunlight directly into electricity. This produces a DC current which is then converted into AC by an inverter.

Solar Thermal

Solar Thermal uses the sun’s energy to heat water, creating steam which then drives a generator to create DC electricity which is then converted into AC via an inverter. On a smaller scale, solar thermal energy can be used to heat water in a solar hot water system, or for space heating.

What is the difference between Net Solar Metering and Gross Solar Metering?

This is something you should definitely know. It’s about the way you get to use the solar power your home generates.

Gross Metering.

With Gross Metering, the energy is instantly taken into the grid directly, you then power your home with electricity from the grid.

Net Metering.

Net Metering works the way we outline in the feed-in tariff section below. Your solar panels make the electricity and you use what you need; then the unused portion goes back into the grid.

Which option is suitable for you could vary. It’s worth noting that the cost of electricity is more than the price paid for feed-in tariffs, so it could well work out cheaper to stay with Net Metering. In some cases, though, Gross Metering can pay dividends, so it’s certainly something you should consider when comparing plans.

What is a Feed-in Tariff (FiT)?

You may have heard people talking about selling excess electricity back to the grid. What they’re referring to is known as a ‘Feed-in Tariff’.

This is possible because, unless you have a solar battery, you have to use your solar electricity as soon as it’s generated. If you don’t, it goes back into the electricity grid for general use by everyone. For this excess energy, households can get a small payment, or tariff, which comes as a reduction in your electricity bill.

How much is the tariff?

It varies, but the sum paid per kilowatt hour is only relatively small; perhaps a few cents. If you have a high feed-in tariff, it can still help dramatically cut your energy bills. So when comparing solar plans, keep a lookout for a plan with a good feed-in tariff.

Beware of high usage rates.

It’s important to be aware that some providers may offer high feed-in tariffs just to attract customers. When you look closer, though, the plan’s usage rates may be higher too, making your tariff worthless. It’s a balancing act, high feed-in tariffs are not the only factor to look out for.

Should you choose a discounted energy rate or a higher Feed-in Tariff?

Good question. The answer depends on a few variables, like the size of your solar system, when you use most of your electricity, and do you have a battery? Obviously most retailers balance these two and a high tariff can easily be offset by a higher usage rate.

If you have a large solar system which generates a lot of electricity and you’re not at home during the day to use it, then you probably have a fair bit of excess to sell back into the grid. In this case, the higher FiT could be a good choice for you.

If, however, you can store your electricity in a solar battery for when you need it, or you’re home all the time and don’t have much excess to sell back, then perhaps you should think about going with the higher discount.

How can you find a good deal on solar energy?

We’ve already discussed the trade-offs with tariffs and usage rates and the difference your own usage patterns can make to your choice of a plan to suit you. So hopefully you have a grounding in solar to help you start comparing plans successfully. But the whole process will be a lot easier with our help. We have a range of quality solar providers and we’re ready to help you compare available plans now*. So get started online or give us a call on 13 19 20.

Last updated: 31/01/2021

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