Rooftop solar generates clean energy made from the sun. But have you ever wondered how solar works?

Simply put, a solar system consists of key electrical components including an inverter and solar panels. It generates, converts, and distributes electricity to power your home and all your electrical appliances.

How solar works diagram
How solar works
  1. The solar panels on your roof convert sunlight to DC power.
  2. The solar inverter converts this power to 240-volt AC power.
  3. This energy powers your home and all your electrical appliances.
  4. You export the energy you don’t use back to the grid. An electricity retailer pays you a tariff for this energy – your feed-in tariff.
  5. A meter measures your production and consumption. 

Solar seems pretty straight forward, right? Install solar, produce energy from the sun, wipe your electricity bills.

But it’s not that simple.

When solar doesn’t work

Many people fall into the trap of buying a 6.6kW solar system, then get hit with electricity bills every quarter. Solar is a scam they scream. And rightly so.

So, what’s going wrong? Why isn’t the solar working like the salesperson said it would? There are a few things going on here. And it’s important to look at them all so you don’t make the same mistake.

How well your solar operates and how much money you will save depends on the following:

  • the size of your solar power system and the direction of the solar panels
  • your usage and usage patterns (day v. night)
  • where you live (more sunlight = more energy), and
  • your electricity retailer tariffs including the feed-in tariff (FIT).

It’s therefore critical to consider all these factors when preparing a solar design and quote. When a solar company doesn’t consider all these factors, then you might find your solar doesn’t work like you thought it would.

Why you should avoid cheap solar

Ads for cheap solar are everywhere…on TV, across social media and all over the internet. You know the old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Sure you might save yourself $1,000 in a EOFY solar sale or clearance, but what will it cost you in the future? And is it worth the risk? Look out for:

  • a poor-quality system, with cheap, ineffective components (such as rail, isolators etc)
  • inexperienced salespeople preparing a one-size-fits-all quote over the phone, and
  • inexperienced solar installers and designers who don’t have the appropriate industry accreditations.

If you want to cut your electricity bills and put money back into your household budget, don’t risk it with cheap solar that may not work long-term. Instead, invest in a quality solar system designed specifically for your home and your needs.


When you get it right, solar works. It saves you money and protects you from the rising cost of electricity. When you get it wrong, it could cost you thousands. So, avoid cheap solar, and above all, make sure you get a solar quote from a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer that completes an energy assessment and a site inspection.

When solar performs well, it will usually pay for itself in 3 – 5 years. After that time, your system will deliver you clean energy free from the sun. Want to learn more about how many solar panels you need? Click here or get in touch.