Your Complete Guide to Going Solar In 2024


Ready to demolish your electricity bills with solar, but feel like you’re stepping into the Wild West?

I’ve just released the 2024 edition of my plain-English video guide to solar. It has all the info you need to confidently buy solar from a great installer.

If you don’t feel like watching – here’s a summary.

Why get solar?

I hope this is obvious by now, but with electricity bills going up and up, a well-designed solar system (and a good electricity plan) can eliminate bill shock for good.

How many panels should you buy?

My advice is simple – put on as much solar as you can reasonably fit and afford. Aim for at least 10kW (which is about 24 modern panels).

Roof full of solar

I have almost 20kW of solar on my roof – even the south-facing sections

Even if you ‘don’t need’ a large system, buying an electric car and/or battery will make you glad you have one. I’ve never heard anyone complain they put on too much solar.1

Anatomy Of A Solar System

A solar system is made up of three main components:

  • The solar panels, which convert sunlight into energy
  • The inverter, which turns the DC from your panels into AC electricity your home uses
  • The monitoring, which lets you see how your system is performing

Solar Panels

Here’s the truth about solar panels these days: The Chinese have gotten so good at making high-performing, inexpensive panels that they’re now a commodity. Some wholesalers who sell high-end gear will get mad at me when they read this, but it’s true.

Check out my panel comparison table, and you’ll see the specs are all similar.

Ten years ago, there was a big difference in performance and warranties between a budget-end panel and a premium-end one. Now, most panels come with 25-year warranties, and – as long as you avoid the crappy brands –  the difference in performance is marginal.

Brands I recommend

panel brand chart march 2024

What’s the difference in price for a system using top-end brands over entry-level ones? Approx $400 per kW installed.

Solar inverters

This box of tricks converts the DC electricity from your solar panels into the AC electricity everything in your home uses.

You have three choices here:

String inverters are the cheapest and most straightforward choice. They’re a box mounted to your wall, and all the panels are wired into them:

A Fronius Gen24 inverter

A Fronius Gen24 ‘Primo’ single-phase string inverter

Hybrid inverters are a more expensive type of string inverter. They contain the electronics to handle both solar and batteries.

Their downside is you’re locked into using batteries compatible with your hybrid inverter model. And if you want to buy the inverter first and add batteries later, it’s possible that compatible products could be discontinued. You’re also spending extra dollars for a feature you’re not using yet.

Sungrow hybrid inverter with attached battery

My Sungrow hybrid inverter + Sungrow battery

Finally, microinverters are book-sized inverters bolted on behind each solar panel:

Drone shot of microinverters on roof

These are actually SolarEdge optimisers – not microinverters, but the installation method is similar.

What are their advantages?

✅ They’re safer thanks to the DC > AC conversion happening at the panel.

✅ They can be your only choice if you have a complicated roof layout

✅ You can monitor the performance of each panel individually. (This gets old after two weeks unless you are a complete nerd.)

The downside?

❌ They’re significantly more expensive than string inverters. Expect to add 20% or more to the cost of a system if you’re using microinverters.

Inverter brands I recommend

Inverter brands I’d recommend to a friend


To check how your system is performing and see the energy your home uses (and when), you need a smart meter (aka a consumption monitor) that goes inside your switchboard.

A consumption monitor

A single-phase Fronius smart meter

This is confusing because your electricity meter is also called a smart meter:

Finn pointing to electricity meter

My electricity meter

What’s the difference? Your electricity meter only shares its data with your energy retailer. A consumption monitor shares it with you – in real-time.

Consumption monitors are optional, but in my opinion, they are an essential part of a solar system and should be considered mandatory. If you can’t keep track of your energy use, you can’t change your habits to maximise your savings from solar.

Consumption monitoring screenshot

The more you keep your usage inside the ‘solar curve’, the lower your bill.

Do You Need Tilt Frames?

The typical Aussie roof has a tilt of 15 to 22 degrees. While the ‘perfect’ angle to maximise your generation annually is usually closer to 30 degrees, the performance gain is marginal.

So – don’t worry about using expensive tilt frames to get the perfect angle. Mount your panels flush with your roof.

The exception to this is if you have a flat roof because your panels won’t self-clean in the rain. If your roof is flat, get tilt frames – but if you have limited roof space, tilting them north can kneecap your total system size. Consider east-west tilts to fit a larger system on your roof:

A roof with east-west tilted solar panels

Brilliant east-west tilt design by the installer

What About Shade?

Shade kills solar.

If your roof is heavily shaded, any installer worth their salt will run a shade analysis (in-person with a SunEye or with shade mapping software) and be able to tell you exactly how much generation you’ll lose.

Shade mapping software screenshot

A screenshot from the shade mapping software Pylon

Never buy solar from an installer who has only squinted at your roof and said, ‘She’ll be right’.

And don’t think you need more expensive micro-inverters or optimisers if you have shade. From all the data I’ve seen, premium string inverters (like Fronius) perform as well in shady conditions.

Why Not Get One Of Those Cheap Deals Off The Telly?

A dirt-cheap system may last a decent amount of time. But I wouldn’t bet money on it.

Aussie cricket legend Rusty Balls

Cricketers selling solar?

Good, sustainable solar companies need to sell systems at a fair price that lets them:

  • pay their Australian staff a fair wage (so they take their time with an install and don’t rush from one job to the next)
  • buy good equipment backed by a local Australian support team
  • and provide good after-sales service.

When you buy cheap, all incentives point towards a rushed install of crap brands and no-one in Australia to pick up the phone if you have a problem.

Well, What About That ‘Great Deal’ The Nice Doorknocker Offered?

Commonly, doorknocking solar companies pad their quotes with fat margins, hoping you won’t get any quotes for comparison and realise you’ve been ripped off. You’d hope by overpaying, you’d at least be getting a well-installed system for all that cash. But it’s all too common to see shoddy work from overcharging companies.

A dodgy solar doorknocker

Do not open your door to this man!

Too Cheap! Too Expensive! How Do You Avoid Shonks?

  1. Don’t go with the cheapest company you can find.
  2. Avoid door knockers and direct mail.
  3. Research a company’s online reputation. Don’t just look at one source of reviews (like Google) – check multiple review websites (Trustpilot, Facebook, Product Review,, amongst others)

The SolarQuotes website has an extensive database of solar installer reviews to help you out here.

Haven’t Got The Time To Do All That Research Yourself?

This is why I created SolarQuotes 15 years ago. My website makes it easy to get quotes for comparison from installers I have personally vetted and trust. You can feel confident you’re being charged fair market rates for good quality gear.

If you want to take the plunge and get quotes, fill in my form and I’ll do my absolute best to match you with up to 3 installers I have personally vetted and trust.


  1. Just be aware this is general advice for the typical Aussie home. Of course, if you have freakishly small energy consumption, then you don’t need a big-assed solar array on your roof.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *