The overall process for installing solar power includes the following steps:
• First decide whether solar power is financially suitable for you.
•Check with your electricity retailer about whether you are eligible for a feed in tariff for the
excess electricity you export back to the grid. If you are satisfied with the retailer’s feed in
tariff offer and the associated terms and conditions, ask them about signing up for it. You will not automatically start receiving a feed in tariff simply because you have installed a
•Check with your retailer whether you are likely to need a new meter and about any changes
to your electricity consumption tariff structure and rate. You can shop around for a better deal from another electricity retailer at any time.
•Choose a reputable solar supplier – the company that will sell you a solar PV system and
install it for you. Check whether the company uses accredited designers and installers. You
have to use an accredited installer to get a benefit from the Federal Government’s Small-
scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). You can use this to reduce the upfront cost of your
•The solar power system is then installed by the solar power supplier. Check with the supplier about all the paperwork that goes to your distributor (the company that owns all
the electricity poles and wires). The paperwork includes a solar connection form (SCF), an
electrical works request (EWR), and a certificate of electrical safety (CES).
•A Certificate of Electrical Safety is provided by your solar power supplier. A copy should go to your distributor (the company that owns the poles and wires that supplies your power)
•Your electricity meter might need to be changed by your distributor to be able to measure
the excess solar power you sell to your retailer.
•Advise your retailer that you have solar power and apply for a feed in tariff. The actual installation of the solar panels and associated equipment involves:
•Installing mounting frames on your roof
•Attaching the solar panels to the mounting frames
•Installing the inverter, usually on an external wall near the fuse box
•Running electricity cables from the solar panels to the inverter
•Installing new safety switches in your fuse box for the solar power system
•Connecting the inverter to the fuse box
•Placing stickers to notify electricians and emergency services of the presence of your solar
How long will the installation of solar panels take?
The actual installation process should only take 1 day, however some solar PV system suppliers have a long waiting time of several months before they will install your system. Once your system is installed your meter may need to be changed before you can be paid for your exported solar power.
If you do need a new meter there can be a delay of a few weeks between the installation of the system and the changing of the meter. The changing of the meter itself takes approximately 1 hour.
Will my power be interrupted during installation?
Your power might need to be switched off for short period during installation when the electrician connects the electrical components, and again for a short period if your meter needs to be changed.
Who can supply solar power systems and connect them
to the grid?
There are many companies offering to sell and install solar PV systems including many electricity retailers. Some of these companies advertise actively. Any company is allowed to sell the solar power equipment but the companies that install solar power systems and connect them to the grid must be accredited, so your system can be counted for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). Some companies will use accredited subcontractors to carry out the installation and connection process. All installers are required to photo identification which you can ask to see.
Who does the paperwork?
The paperwork for connection includes a Certificate of Electrical Safety. Your installer must provide a copy of this certificate for your distributor. Ask your installer who will be doing the paperwork for you to get the Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) and for you to be paid a feed in tariff by your electricity retailer.
Will I need a new meter and will I have to pay for
If you have an older style accumulation (spinning disc) type meter then you will need a new meter to support your PV system. The meter may be called an interval, bi-directional or smart mater. Smart meters are being rolled out across Queensland over several years. You should confirm with your distributor whether a new meter is required at your address, what kind it will be, and what it might cost. You may be charged for a meter upgrade through the electricity bills that you receive from your retailer. If you have a smart meter and get solar p
anels later, the meter may require some adjustment.
Who supplies my meter?
Your distributor is responsible for supplying and maintaining your meter and retains ownership of your meter at all times. Any charges for your meter are passed on to you through your retailer.
How long will it take for a new meter to be installed?
In most cases your new meter will be installed with in a few weeks of the solar power system being installed. This time is required for paperwork regarding your installation to be passed to your distributor for review and for your distributor to arrange a service crew to visit your house and carry out the meter change. If there is a long delay in installing the new meter you should contact your solar panel supplier and your distributor.
If I get solar power, do I automatically get a smart meter?
Smart meters are currently being rolled out across Queensland over a number of years. If you do not already have a smart meter and you get solar power installed, your distributor might either bring your house forward in the queue for a smart meter, or they may install a temporary interval meter until your smart meter is installed at a later date. This depends on the way in which the distributor is planning their work to roll out smart meters in your area.
Have there been shortages of meters?
There have been some delays in installation of interval meters. The roll out of smart meters is being done over a number of years because of the large amount of work required, not because of a shortage of smart meters. Across Queensland, about 2.5 million meters need to be replaced and it is most practical and efficient to spread this workload over several years.
How do I read my new meter?
The interval meter or smart meter installed when you get solar power is an electronic type of meter that has a digital display, usually operated by a push-button on the face of the meter. There are different brands and types of interval and smart meters, so the specific operation and style of display can differ. Generally, pressing the button on the meter will scroll the display through different pieces of information including the total amount of imported electricity in kWh, the total amount of exported electricity in kWh, and the current time and date. Some meters will also show the rate at which you are currently importing or exporting electricity. If you have three phase electricity connected to your house or business, information for each phase as well as total figures are displayed. For detailed information about reading your specific interval meter it is advisable to contact your distributor