When not to get solar panels and batteries?

Fast read

It may not be worthwhile to purchase solar panels and batteries in a number of circumstances. Installing a large enough solar system to reduce your electricity bill significantly might not be feasible if you have a tiny roof or no space for a ground-mounted installation.

Before installing solar panels, it may also be required to repair or replace your roof if it is in poor condition, for example, if it is composed of asbestos fibre or is prone to shattering.

It might not be economical to purchase solar panels if your home is frequently shaded or you have a low electricity expenditure. Buying a solar system if you plan to move soon and can't take it with you

What are the situations where it’s not worth getting solar and batteries?

Some people should not get solar panels for a variety of reasons. Some solar salespersons are not always ethical and may try to persuade you to purchase solar when it’s not in your best interest.

When the following information applies to you, we recommend you not get solar.

Too much shade can make solar production fall significantly

Shade is a significant obstacle for solar. Yes, there’s a technology that can handle shade on panels. If only part of a solar panel is shaded, microinverters can make each panel work independently. If only a portion of a solar panel is shaded, microinverters can enable each panel to work independently.

However, if certain panels are shaded throughout the entire day, they will generate minimal electricity. This also applies to the panels that are connected to them when using string inverter technology.

Suppose your roof has many trees surrounding it and is completely shaded and/or is shaded most of the day. In that case, solar might not be the solution for you. Maybe apply energy efficiency measures to reduce your electricity bill in those cases.

solar system with bad shading
Installing a solar system where bad shading occurs is heavily inefficient

Solar doesn’t work with a small roof

If you have a small roof, you will have less impact on reducing your power bill. Some city properties don’t have enough roof space for a large solar system, like townhouses or terraces. The smallest solar PV system an installer typically sells nowadays is a 3-4 kW system.

If you use 400W panels, you’ll need ten panels to create a 4 kW solar system. To install a 4 kW system, you need a roof that is at least 20 to 30 square meters. This is because each panel in the system measures approximately 1.8 x 1m.

Nowadays, a basic solar system usually starts at 6 kW, which requires at least 15 panels. However, residential systems can also reach up to 10 kW or even higher.

If you have a roof with many gables that point in many different directions, it will be difficult to fit many panels. Therefore, when you can only get a very, very small solar system on your roof, it’s not even worth getting solar in the first place.

If you have a big backyard, you can choose a ground-mounted solar panel system. This system allows you to fit many panels on a separate frame. Nevertheless, in inner city tight roof terrace houses, the backyards are often small, and one will most likely lack backyard space for a ground mount array.

Do not install if you have asbestos tiles, brittle terracotta tiles or rusted metal roof sheets

One of the most important things I found when I’m on site is if somebody has an asbestos roof. You do not want to put solar on it because you have to drill into the tiles, which is not advisable.

So if you have a roofing material with asbestos roof tiles or just a roof in poor condition, the best way to spend your money is to replace that roof before you move on to solar.

Regarding the roof, old terracotta tiles can be extremely brittle. Installing solar on such a roof is next to impossible because when the installation crew members walk across the roof, they weigh 90 to 100 kilos, especially if they carry a panel on top of it. The result will be many broken tiles and potential water penetration into your roof post-install.

Brittle terracotta and concrete roof tiles will make the installation next to impossible. One has to have tiles in good condition for solar to go on. If the roof is in bad condition, it’s better to fix it before installing solar panels.

If you are wondering whether or not you have asbestos in your roof, you can read our guide for more information here.

brittle roof tiles

Do I need solar if my electricity bill is already small?

Also, if you have a low electricity usage and a small electricity bill, maybe $150 to $250 per quarter, in those cases, I wouldn’t go for it. Check your bill to see how much electricity you consume daily.

It may be difficult to justify the financial benefits of solar power if you use less than 10 kWh daily. If you don’t think solar is worth the investment for your particular situation, you can read our guide on how to save electricity without investing in solar panels.

You will not be living in the house for a long time

Suppose you’re thinking of selling your house in two or three years. In that case, it’s probably not worth putting solar on right now because the return on investment will usually be between three, four, or five years, depending precisely on the type of solar energy system you’re purchasing. For more information, you can read the City of Sydney’s guide to home solar.

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