Residential Solar - My perspective

Monday, September 27, 2021
Andrei Sablinskis

Knowing the processes and the ins and outs of solar and renewable energy is my job but it’s also my passion. 

This is my story of how I had solar installed at our house, the steps involved and how surprisingly easy it is once you make that decision to really want to do it.

Anyone can do it!

You wont regret it. 

We have lived in Heathmont, Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne (near Ringwood) for 10 years. 

In that time, I've gotten married, bought a dog , had 2 kids, done a 3  bedroom reno and decked out my man cave (especially good to be in during covid times where you need your place of zen!) 

When we first moved in 10 years ago, solar was never a word even on my radar. 

But with developments in tech and the price point becoming more attractive year by year - it's something that my wife Jenny and I started talking about 3-4 years ago. 

Increasing energy loads

My energy loads have gone from 6 kWh per day 6 years ago (no kids), to now using 14-15kWh a day year round (with a 6 year old and 3 year old!) 

We have always been as conservative as possible as a family and we really educate the kids on being as renewable as they can be. 

Veggie scraps in the compost, don't leave lights on if you are not in the room and put certain plastics in this tub so we can take it to Coles and recycle it better”.

Solar Victoria Home Rebate

The Solar Victoria home rebate was the tipping point for my family in terms of getting solar finally, in the sense that they would take off an initial $1,400 from the bottom line, and an interest free $1,400 loan, which is taken out via direct deposit at about $30 a month for 5 years INTEREST FREE. 

(my solar savings are twice this, so I don't even see it!

Looking at what my roof could hold without a major shading loss/ load profile, we decided on a 3.3kW PV system with 3kW inverter. 

A typical residential  system can usually go up to 6.6kW panels with a 5kW inverter. Most distributors allow this, but ensure you do a pre approval to see what export is allowed. 

Solar System size

This 3.3kW PV system complemented our load profile of how we use energy at home.  

This was important. Size a system around what you use, not what you can export at a rate which will ultimately come down dramatically as the years go on. 

It was $0.60 per kWh 15 years ago, $0.25 6 years ago, $0.10 last year, now about $0.07 for residential systems.


There are so many brands and so many opinions on what components to use. Stick to high quality tier 1 products and you can't go wrong. 

I went with our track record as a company. Knowing what we see in our installs and operational maintenance work some brands are obviously better than others. 

Consult others, get a few quotes. True value lies within the way it is installed by reputable companies and design is paramount.

Panel wise - Canadian Solar 370W Tier 1 CEC panels were my choice. 

Why? - Because they are reliable long term. They self clean really well when it rains. Robust and economical vs return on how they perform. 

Inverter wise - Fronius 3kW Primo (1PH) inverter.

Why? - Again, reliability. 

We install Fronius on the majority of our residential  jobs due to the fact that they offer a 10 year warranty, are easy to install and have brilliant internal components. 

Sure, Chinese manufacturers have caught up to the European standards of quality, but I'm really happy with my decision. In hindsight, I would probably also have looked at a hybrid battery inverter in more detail. But that's a discussion for another blog and another day.

First things first

Know your roof. I live in a house that was built in 1954. It’s 67 years old. It has terracotta tiles.

Breakage of tiles is sometimes unavoidable when installing solar but luckily I had extra tiles under the house, and knowing what to expect (being Greenwood’s Account Director) I'd had previous experience in how brittle some tiles can be from other clients.

Typically a 3.3kW system will take a day to install go-to-wo with 3 skilled workers who hold A-Grade and CEC electrical and renewable energy qualifications.

Site visit and feeling good

A site visit before we installed it was mandatory. Going over cable runs, where the inverter will be, how panels will be installed and a game plan is the only way to go.

Put nothing to chance.

As our team was installing the panels, I remember looking up at my roof thinking this is one of the best things I’ve done for our house and family. So many levels to it.

Helping the environment, reducing energy bills, teaching my kids what renewable energy really is were some of the things I was really proud of as a customer. Especially as it was Greenwood installing it. To see our team in “work mode” was enlightening. 

All up - it took the team a day to install properly and commission.

The Inspection

An inspector came out about two weeks later and spent a good hour on the roof and methodically went through everything Greenwood had done.  He passed the compliance and sent through the CES which certifies the system is good to turn on. 

(which the inspector will do - as a customer, you don't need to touch a thing!)

Grid connection was handled quickly. It should take the retailer / distributor about 2 weeks max to get their side of the deal done.

The system was installed and grid connected in Feb 2020. Instantly my power bill went down 50%.

We went from spending $180 per month on average without solar to now using $80-$90

Solar Apps

As the months went on, I kept a keen eye on 2 apps on my phone. Fronius Solar Web, and more so - Energy Australia, which showed actual billing vs day to day use so I could see how much the system was truly saving me $ wise.

As a family, it was wonderful to see how much actual $$$’s were being saved and how we were doing our bit for the environment. The savings we were making off our energy bill went into our savings for a holiday once covid is over. 

So far since install of our 3.3kW install we have saved $624. 

Bill before solar Feb - August = $1,320. With solar = $696.

We’ve become really passionate about knowing what energy sources in our home are using the most energy and how to look at maybe reducing / changing that appliance to bring down the costs.

Like most people, I scroll through Instagram and I saw an advert for POWERPAL, a free dongle which goes in your meter board which measures exactly that.

The Powerpal process is simple. Show interest on instagram via their prompts and wait for a sms to come, confirm - then when an installer is in the area - you will get a text message indicating they will install that day.

It's a 10 min process to install. The installer goes through it in detail (covid safe)


The app is cool. It shows what appliances are currently using the energy. For example, put the dryer on and it will actually show how much $$$ it is actually using. The way it shows this is by reading your bill (installer inputs all details - all you need to do is open the door)

Best part of all. It is absolutely free. Thanks Government (probably one of the best things Dan Andrews has ever been involved with - don't get me started)


So from nothing, we now have a solar system on our home which is taking care of the majority of our day time loads, my kids are really into learning about how it works. My 6 year old often says “I can charge my iPad for free!!!!!” when the sun is out.

We utilize the solar system to use energy intensive power loads when the sun is out. Wait an hour to do the washing, knowing that it won't cost as much if it's a nice day, vs doing it at 6:30am when the kids wake us up and it's dark. 

Having solar is about being smart. Excess generation and export is superficial and not worth much so the best way to get the most out of your system is to have it work for you.

Having solar to reduce our energy expenditure, paired with the Fronius solar web app and the Powerpal app / dongle have given our family a wonderful head start to reducing bills and educating the next generation on how to not only reduce our power bills, but more importantly how to live cleaner.

If only we could get rid of the iPads, our lives would almost be complete!

Andrei Sablinskis

Account Director

Greenwood Solutions

If you’d like to see what Greenwood Solutions get up to in the real world of renewable energy, solar, battery storage and grid protection check out our industry and commercial pages:

About the author

Andrei Sablinskis

Account Director
Andrei has over 23 years of international and domestic sales and management experience. He is passionate about renewable energy and doing his bit to make the planet a better place for his children.
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