Solar Panels For Renters: How It Works + Costs in 2023

Updated: December 6, 2023

3 million households in Australia have solar panels installed. Can the large population of renters also enjoy the benefits of solar power?

Renters can also have solar panels installed in the homes they live in. However, they have to wait for the landlord to install it. If they want to install the panels themselves, they have to agree on how to own the panels. They can also use community solar or purchase portable solar panels.

Solar power ensures that renters can also enjoy low electricity bills in their homes. Let us look further at how a tenant can get solar.

Solar Panels For Renters

Tracy Aviary | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

Before or upon installation of solar panels, landlords and tenants must discuss how the tenant will pay for the solar power.

Solar panel installation benefits the person registered on the electricity account. Hence the need for agreement.

Here are some of the common scenarios where landlords have installed solar in rental properties.

  • The electricity account is maintained in the tenant’s name. The tenant earns a feed-in tariff for excess power sent to the grid, which helps offset power costs.
  • The landlord’s name is on the bill. The landlord will pay the electricity bill and charge the tenant as part of their rent.
  • The landlord keeps the electricity account in their name. They will pay the electricity bill. They will then charge tenants the full amount of the bill less the credits from the feed-in tariff.
  • The landlord keeps the electricity bill in their name. They will pay the electricity bill, less the credits earned, and they will then charge the tenant the full bill. It allows them to cover the costs of solar panel installation. This is unfair to the tenant since solar should reduce the electricity bill.

Community solar

Community solar is a popular way for renters to access solar power. It is a project that provides solar to those who cannot install solar panels on their roof.

A community solar project involves installing solar panels in an open field near the homes of the beneficiaries of the project. It is known as a solar farm.

Members contribute a specified amount of money to support the project every month instead of paying an electricity bill.

The power generated from these solar panels enables the members of the project to get credits on their electricity bills.

How much does community solar cost?

Depending on where you live, members of the community solar project contribute a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $10,000 to set up the solar farm.

Users also maintain a monthly contribution to run the project.

Benefits of community solar

  • Improves the carbon footprint of the community. More people generate and use renewable energy instead of relying on fossil fuels.
  • Lowers electricity bills.
  • Allows renters access to solar energy
  • Sustainable energy project.
  • Job creation.
  • Benefits the community.
  • Build connections within society.

Portable solar panels

Renters can also use portable solar panels to power their homes. Normally, they are used outdoors when camping.

Portable solar panels can be installed on rooftops like the others. They capture sunlight, convert it to electricity and store it in suitable size batteries. You can also add an inverter to the portable panel system to make the power suitable for use at home.

Portable solar panels are easy to set up when camping or at home. They need little maintenance and are easy to use, and durable.

How much do portable solar panels cost?

There are several brands of portable solar panels you can buy. Most people who purchase these solar panels use them for camping.

Depending on the size of the panels, you will pay $500 to $1,000 for portable solar panels.

Pros of portable solar panels

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up.
  • Easy to fold. Renters using portable solar panels can uninstall them quickly, fold them and store them in small spaces.

Renter and landlord co-contribution

Renters and their landlords can agree to co-contribute and purchase a solar system for their home.

In this case, tenants contribute to the purchase of the solar panels to be installed.

It allows the tenant to have a low electricity bill. However, if the landlord took a loan to purchase the solar panel, the tenant must help the landlord pay the loan. There are various ways a landlord can charge renters for solar discussed here.

Benefits of installing solar panels in rental property

High-value tenants

When you install solar panels on your rental property, you are likely to attract high-value tenants.

Tenants living in rental properties installed with solar panels are more willing to pay higher rents in exchange for the low electricity bills.

Additionally, high-value tenants will know that they have a lower carbon footprint when they live in a rental property installed with solar panels.

Tenants in a solar-installed property are also likely to stay on longer.

Tax credit

As a landlord, you can claim tax deductions when you install solar panels on an investment property.

Solar panel installation can be seen as capital expenditure for the improvement of investment property.

You can claim the deductions for as long as you have solar panels on your property.

Tax deductions lower the expenses on your property and increase the money or profit you make.

Increase the value of the property

If you decide to sell your investment property that is installed with solar panels, you are likely to get a higher price for it.

The larger the solar system installed on the property, the higher the price you can fetch for your property.

Point of attraction

When tenants are looking for a property to rent, they find that many are all the same.

Rental properties with solar panels installed have a point of difference from other properties. It makes them more attractive to potential tenants.

Tenants enjoy lower electricity bills

Installing solar on tenants’ homes ensures that they can enjoy lower electricity costs.

The lower costs ensure that your tenants will stay longer in your property instead of moving to another with higher electricity bills.

Factors to consider when choosing solar panels for your rental property

  • Solar panel cost. There are many solar panel brands in the market. Each brand has its price and quality. Extensive market research ensures that you get the right panels for your budget and needs.
  • Size of the property. The larger the rental, the larger the solar system you need. Usually, larger homes have more electricity consumption.
  • Size and design of the roof. If you have a large roof, it can hold more solar panels of different sizes. The more panels installed, the larger your solar system.
  • Power consumption. The higher the consumption, the larger the size of the panels needed.
  • Your installer. Hire a CEC-accredited installer. You will get rebates on installation and ensure that your solar panels are correctly installed. Also, get at least three quotes from an accredited installer before you choose or hire.
  • Durability. Solar panels last up to 25 years. Check the warranty and ensure that it indicates how long the solar panel is likely to last. Purchase only solar panels with a guaranteed long life.

Solar panel assistance for Victoria landlords who want to install solar panels in rental property

Victoria has a landlord assistance program. To be eligible, you must:

  • Your rental property must be currently occupied.
  • The income of your tenants’ household income should be less than $180,000.
  • Your property is worth up to $3 million.
  • It does not have existing solar panels
  • The property has not received a solar rebate before.

Can landlords in other regions get assistance to install solar panels on rental property

Depending on where you live, landlords can access interest-free or low-interest loans to purchase and install solar panels in rental properties. These are available in QLD, NSW, and VIC.

Additionally, properties that have not had solar panels installed can enjoy a rebate on the purchase and installation of the solar panels.

Feed-in tariffs from electricity retailers for exporting solar power to the grid also help lower the cost of solar power installation and use.

Hire a pro to install your solar system matches you with three local solar installers voted #1 by previous users in your area. 

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  1. Scroll up to the top of the page and enter your postcode in the blue form.
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Ben McInerney head shotAuthor: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.