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Steve and Noelene built their 'forever home' in Drouin, about an hour out of Melbourne in the hills of west Gippsland. As part of the build, they installed rooftop solar panels and a solar battery to lower their energy costs.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on the evolution of solar panels and seen how much they've changed in the last 15 years. They've really come along in leaps and bounds and so now, with the prices of backup battery systems becoming affordable for a domestic environment, it just made sense,” says Steve.

With a professional electrical background, Steve knew the benefits but initially Noelene wasn’t convinced. “I'd never had solar before and I didn't want to have solar because I really didn't understand it,”

Two and a half years in she now laughs “I thought you had to do all your stuff at night so you used your battery! But Steve convinced me that wasn’t the case and so I thought, right oh well let's do it!” she says.

Noelene is now a big fan.

“It's no different to just using your power, but when you get your bills it's very different,” Noelene says.

“You reap the benefits as soon as you get your first power bill. I was astounded we got a credit in the summer and it carries over into the winter,” she says.

Steve and Noelene installed 24 panels, with half on the east and half on the west on their north-south facing home. This set up gave them good coverage to soak up as much solar energy as possible.

“Over the summer, and even on the good winter days, the battery backup system is charged by early afternoon. So by peak afternoon, we’re basically exporting everything. It's pretty significant in running all of our lights, the TV, washing machine, dishwasher and dryer,” says Noelene.

“I just encourage as many people as possible to take it up. If you can and if you've got a bit of money that you can put aside, buy the biggest and the best system that you can afford now, because it'll pay back, there's no doubt about that.”

To enable more households to afford solar, Solar Victoria offers a rebate of up to $1,400 off the cost of solar PV, with the option of an interest-free loan up to the rebate value.

Reviewed 16 November 2022