As electricity costs continue to soar and put an ongoing strain on our budgets, solar energy has become a more affordable and attractive option to beat the price rise.

State Government rebates and significantly cheaper systems are leading to more homes making the switch. Solar Power Direct operations manager Paul Maiolo says now is the time to take advantage. “The cost (for a system) over the past six months has dropped dramatically and now it’s more affordable than ever,” he says. “You can probably pay the system off in three to five years.” Mr Maiolo says prices for solar start at $1700 for a 1.5kW system up to $9000 for a 5kW system. He says this compares favourably

with prices five years ago, where a 1.5kW system cost $4000 to $5000 and a 5kW system cost $25,000 to $30,000. “You know electricity prices are not coming down so this is a great chance to save long-term,” Mr Maiolo says.

The State Government’s Water, Energy and Environment Department advises a 16c a kilowatt-hour feed-in tariff will be offered for electricity exported to the grid until September 30, 2016, for households that receive approved permission from ETSA to connect to the grid between October 1, 2011, and September 30, 2013. However, households

that receive permission after September 30, 2013, will not receive rebates for electricity exported to the grid. The optimum temperature for solar panels is 25C to 35C. They should be installed facing in a northerly direction to maximise the sun’s potential. Homeowner Terry Sarris, who is having a 4kW, 16-panel system installed at his Henley Beach home, says the rising cost of electricity convinced him solar was the most cost-effective way to go. “The carbon tax was a big issue as well and basically we are ensuring in the future we keep the costs down and also adding a little bit to the environment,” he says.