The 3kW solar system price varies a lot depending on the brands, with the price of a good quality solar system starting from around $4,500-$5,500 fully installed. A smart 3kW solar system powered by Enphase is around $300 more expensive, and we also recommend looking at high-efficiency solar panels from LG Solar. As solar system prices continue to fall, the average system being installed in Australia in 2020 is currently from around 5kW to 10kW. Despite this, a 3kW solar system can be a great system for a small to medium-sized home, either with limited roof space or low day-time energy consumption.
Talk to the Solaray Team today for more information and personalised pricing.
A 3kW system typically has a 10 panel array and can save you up to around $300 a quarterly power bill if all of the solar power is used in the home. As solar prices continue to fall, it is now possible to get a return on your money in 4 to 5 years using top quality brands!
3kw Solar System Price
As a price guide, a good quality 3kW solar system in Sydney will cost from around $4,500 for a simple installation, or around $85 a month over 5 years using good quality panels from China such as Trina Honey Modules, and a European-Madeinverter from SMA.
Expect to pay up to around $5,000 to $7,000 for a ‘smart solar system’ including a top of the range high-efficiency panel such as the LG Solar 345W NeON 2 module and panel-level output using Enphase MicroInverters.
This is after a government incentive of around $1800, and it is fully installed and connected to the grid. Our price is always a fully inclusive price, subject to confirmation by our system designers who will often need to conduct a site inspection.
Over 80% of our installations now feature panel level output, powered by Enphase. Of course, these prices will depend on a number of factors, which our solar team can confirm with you either over the phone or during a site inspection when required.
This article will look at the benefits of installing a 3kW system, the main brands you should be looking at and provide detailed information to make sure this size system is the right fit for your household.
The Output of a 3kW Solar System
According to the Clean Energy Council Guidelines, A 3kW solar system in Sydney will output around 12 kWh a day (averaged out across the year), outputting more on the long summer days, and less in winter. It is important to understand that this 12 kWh of solar power will be produced during daylight hours, and typically as a bell curve as illustrated below. Depending on how much power you use during the day, typically you would want to have a quarterly power bill of around $400 to $600 (approx. 24 kWh a day excluding any off-peak hot water) to make good use of a 3kW system.
A solar system will peak when the sun is shining directly onto the panels, so for an array facing north, this will be for approximately 4 hours during the middle of the day. You can see in the graph how shade from clouds immediately results in a drop off of solar power, and that in summer the system will continue operating until nearly 8 pm if you have the panels installed to catch the late afternoon sun.
An important point to take away from this image is that a 3kW system will almost never reach its peak output. For that to happen, it has to be the right time of the day and the right time of the year. In this example, the system is installed on a tile roof with a normal pitch of about 20 degrees.
In Sydney during summer, panels that are installed flat will be working at their peak efficiency because the sun is so high in the sky. For this system installed at 20 degrees, the peak output will take place in spring and autumn. So as we can see, the peak output on this system during a sunny December day is only 2.37kWs.
But here is the beauty of buying a quality system that is installed and designed by our experts here at Solaray – total system output for the day was 19.9kWs, well above the average. In fact, over the life of this system, it is outputting around 130% of the expected figures, which is fairly typical for our installations.
Reducing Your Power Bill With A 3kW Solar System
With a good quality solar system, you can expect to significantly reduce your power bill if you are able to use around 70% or more of the solar power as it is generated.
*Savings are based on 70% or 100% of solar power being used in the home as it is generated, an average cost of electricity of $0.28 + GST, and a feed-in tariff of $0.12 per kWh. Prices assume a 3% rate of inflation. The output is based on Clean Energy Council Guidelines for an unshaded north-facing roof. All figures are indicative only and are not specific to your system or household.
The Benefit of a 3kW Solar System
A 3kW solar system in Sydney facing north with no shade will output around 4,271 kWh a year according to the Clean Energy Council Guidelines. That works out to be around 11.7 kWh a day as an average. Based on our own output figures taken from thousands of systems across Sydney, our opinion is that this figure is a conservative guideline.
If you are on time of use billing and you pay an average of around 35 cents a kWh for your power, a 3kW system will save you up to $1,281 a year off your power bills. This can be even higher if you have your panels facing west of north.
If you pay a flat rate for your power, for example, 28c a kWh + GST, a 3kW system will save you up to around $37,000 over the life of your system. If you don’t use the solar power as it is generated, the solar power will automatically go out to the grid, and you will often be paid a feed-in tariff for this power by your energy retailer. Typically, this FIT is around 12c a kWh and it will come off your power bill as a credit.
3kW Solar Panels
As technology improves we are now seeing high-efficiency panels drop in price, such as the LG Solar 355W panel, while the Trina Honey Range now has a 330W panel as standard. This means that for a 3kW Solar Installation in Sydney, Solaray designers are putting together 9 to 10-panel arrays, either in series with a string inverter or as a 3kW Micro Inverter System.
3kW Solar Inverters
3kW Micro Inverter System
Solaray is the largest installer of Enphase Micro Inverter systems in Australia, and our system design team are experts at putting together a professional solar array that will maximise solar output in all conditions.
The main benefit of microinverters is that each panel is independent of the others, making it possible to design arrays in different orientations and at different angles. A common panel layout is to have some panels facing north, and the others west – to spread out the output of solar power across the day, making it easier to use most of the solar power as it is generated. Having panels west is also advantageous if you are on time of use billing, where you typically pay around 50c per kWh between 2 pm and 8 pm for your power.
More information: Smart Solar powered by Enphase
3kW Standard Solar Inverter
If your roof is unobstructed by shade, is orientated north of either east or west and can fit 12 panels (1.7m by 1m), a string inverter system will be the best value option for your home. It is important to make sure the roof is clear of shade, as even if just one panel is slightly shaded, the whole array will drop down to the output of the worst performing panel.
An important point regarding a 3kW system using a string inverter is that it is not best practice to have split arrays. typically we like to see a minimum of 7 panels in each string as this creates enough voltage to run the inverter properly. If you give our team a call, we can run through the pros and cons of a split system, match you up with a good quality dual input inverter and try to convince you to buy an extra two panels (we will give you a good price, I promise), so that you have a highly efficient system that works really well in all light conditions.
With Solarmax recently disappearing, along with a long list of smaller manufacturers, it is critically important that you stick to the main brands when choosing an inverter. This will ensure adequate support post-sale in the event that you need to claim on the warranty.
The two main European 3kW Inverters are the Fronius and the SMA Sunny Boy 3kW. Both of these options come with a 5-year warranty as standard, and you can extend it to 10 years if you register the inverter online with the manufacturer, which you should definitely do once the system is installed.
3kW SMA Sunny Boy Inverter
The SMA Sunny Boy inverter is considered the best residential string inverter on the Australian market.
More than an inverter — the new Sunny Boy 3kW is the next generation of the globally successful Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL range.
SMA Sunny Boy – Smart Connected Service
The big new feature that is included with all SMA Sunny Boy inverters is the integrated Smart Connected service, offering true ease and comfort for PV system owners. After connecting your new system to the internet, automatic inverter monitoring by SMA analyses inverter operation and immediately informs you of irregularities, ensuring optimum service and maximum system availability.
With the Sunny Boy, you as the system owner and us as the installer are always up-to-date. Additionally, thanks to current communication standards, intelligent energy management and SMA storage solutions can at any time be flexibly added to systems with the Sunny Boy.
A Bonus Tip
With solar prices so low these days, we find many customers buying 4kW and 5kW systems even when their quarterly power bills are around $500 or lower. By installing extra capacity and taking advantage of generous government incentives, we see many households increasing their power usage to invest in their lifestyle by running pool pumps, air conditions and even spas from solar power.
As solar batteries become more popular, installing a large enough solar array to power your house on solar power 24 hours a day ensures you are 100% ready to invest in batteries when you choose to do so. Please contact us for more information about battery-ready solar systems to discover what your options are, as not all systems are easily expandable.
HOW TO BUY SOLAR PANELS
Are you thinking about buying a solar panel system but don’t know where to start? You came to the right place!A Really Great Read
Before we dive in to the specifics of solar panels (a.k.a. PV modules, solar electric panels), let us remind you that energy efficiency and conservation are the best ways to reduce your energy foot print and your electrical bill (see our Energy Efficiency and Your Home article). Please actively explore and incorporate all avenues of efficiency before pursuing a home solar panel system. That being said, solar power is an exciting clean-energy option that is becoming more and more popular. Solar electricity is a fascinating topic. To really feed your curiosity, we highly recommend the book PHOTOVOLTAICS: DESIGN & INSTALL MANUAL.
What shapes, sizes and types do solar panels come in?
Solar panels vary in length and width and are often about 2 inches thick. They are generally about 30 pounds or less, but the larger solar panels can be cumbersome to carry onto the roof. We carry a wide selection of solar panels for home use: framed, foldable, and rollable.
- Framed solar panels are the industry standards. They are the most cost effective and applicable for most home solar panels applications.
- Foldable solar panels are lightweight (less than 5 pounds) and can fold up and fit easily in a backpack.
- Flexible (or rollable) solar panels are also lightweight but bulkier than the foldable panels. Many people use these rollable solar panels on boats because they are durable and can be easily stowed after use.
Generally thin-film laminate type of solar panels (foldable & flexible) are more expensive per watt and require more square footage to produce the same wattage of an equally sized framed module.
What size solar panels do I need for my home and how many?
The number of solar panels you will need depends primarily upon the amount of electricity you are trying to produce and the insolation in your area. Solar insolation can be thought of as the number of hours in the day that the solar panel will produce its rated output. This is not equivalent to the number of daylight hours. Read more about insolation in our How To section and get an idea of the insolation in your area: Solar Insolation Map – USA.
You’ll find solar panels in a variety of wattages. Watts are the main measure of a solar panel, along with nominal voltage. For a rough idea of how many watts of solar panels you will need for your home, start by dividing your electrical usage (in watt-hours per day) by the solar insolation in your area. Bump that number up by 30-50% (to cover system inefficiencies) and you’ll have an idea of the number of watts of solar panels total you will need. If that number is more than 1000 watts, you are talking about $4K to $8K or more for the solar electric system. (Could we take this opportunity to mention the importance of energy efficiency again?!) If you could still use a little help with the math, please give us a call and tell us how much electricity you are trying to produce (in kwh/month or watt-hours/ day) and your location, and we’ll help get you started.
What types of solar panels are there?
Most solar panels can be classified as monocrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous. This is based on the silicon structure that comprises the cell. It’s not quite as complicated as it sounds. Basically a 100 watt monocrystalline solar panel should have the same output as a 100 watt polycrystalline solar panel and a 100 watt amorphous solar panel. The main difference is the amount of area which the solar panel occupies. Because the monocrystalline structure is more efficient than amorphous (and only very slighlty more so than polycrystalline) in turning sunlight into electricity, the amorphous solar panel of the same wattage will be physically larger. By the way, when talking about efficiency of solar panels, keep in mind that solar panel efficiency is still only about 13-18% efficient in turning sunlight into electricity. Often amorphous solar panels are less expensive than the crystalline panels. If space is not an issue, then an amorphous panel could be a great option. Additionally, amorphous solar panels perform better than crystalline solar panels in very hot temperatures and are also slightly more tolerant of partial shading.
Solar Energy for Home Heating & Cooling
Please keep in mind that solar panels produce electricity, and should not be used to produce electricity for heating or cooling sources. If heating is your main issue, be sure to check out Solar Air Heaters and Solar Water Heaters. Solar air heating and solar water heating are examples of solar thermal technologies which produce heat, but not electricity (and are much more cost effective than solar panels). While solar electric panels are not an economically feasible choice to power your air conditioning, a solar panel can power an attic fan that can help reduce the amount of time you use your AC.
Locating your Panels – Very Important!
A key factor in the effective use of solar electricity is proper placement of the solar panels. Make sure to locate the panels where they will receive full sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Be sure that the solar panels will not be shaded by shadows from tree branches, chimneys, other structures, etc. Once again – NO SHADE! You will be mounting the solar panels on the roof, the ground or a pole. For more information on the proper placement solar electric panels, please checkout the How To for Solar Panel Mounting article.
How Long will Solar Panels Last?
Solar panels use the sun’s light to generate electricity. They generate electricity during sunny daylight hours and can be used in a system with batteries so that the electricity can be used at other times as well. Also known as Photovoltaic (PV) modules, solar panels are the main component of a solar electric system. Along with an inverter, mounting system, batteries and Solar Charge Controllers, solar panels can produce electricity to power the energy efficient appliances and lights and appliances in most households. Solar panels themselves generally last over 25 years, and require little maintenance. Many of the first solar panels produced in the 50s are still in use today. Many of the solar panels have a 20 year warranty or more. A common warranty states that the panels will produce at least 80% of their rated power after 20 years.
What else will I Need with a Solar Panel?
In addition to the solar panel mounting hardware, there are additional components that you will need for a safe installation. If you plan on using just one solar panel in a battery based system (an off-grid system), you will need a solar charge controller and overcurrent protection to protect each major component of your system: solar panels, solar charge controller, deep cycle batteries, and inverter. If you plan on using more solar panels in your system, you will also need to safely wire the photovoltaic solar panels together and to the charge controller. An easy and safe way to do this is by using MC (multi contact) connectors. These connectors connect to the cables coming from the solar panel and can be cut in half to expose bare wire. Combiner & pass-through boxes are used to collect the bare ends of the wire from multiple solar panels; then from the combiner box you can run just one set of wires to the solar charge controller. For each series string of solar panels, you will need an appropriate sized breaker.
That’s a lot of components to figure out! If after reading all this you are a little confused but even more excited about solar energy, what’s next? Well, you can read more about solar panel systems. Also, our AltE U offers in-person workshops in Massachusetts and Ohio, as well as free education online videos. If you are considering installing your own solar electric system or installing PV (photovoltaic panels) as a business, be sure to check out our series of three classes beginning with our Basic Photovoltaic and Site Assessment class.