Victoria charges up 4-year interest-free Solar Battery Loans of up to $8,800, but has one severe limitation

    The start of the new financial year has arrived and with it comes an update to the Home Battery incentives offered by Solar Victoria. Today they replaced a battery rebate with an interest-free battery loan, designed to reduce the upfront cost of installing a battery, with repayments made over a four-year period.

    There are 4,500 loans of up to $8,800 available in 2023-24.

    One of the most popular Home Batteries on the market is the Tesla Powerwall 2. Earlier this year I had a quote for around $15k installed, the equation under this scheme would be just $6,200 out of pocket, plus $183.34 each month for 4 years. This makes Home Battery storage far more approachable.

    There are many great reasons for adding home battery storage, some of which include:

    • Reducing energy costs
    • Tackling climate change,
    • Achieving energy independence,
    • Back up in case of a black out; and
    • Moving to whole of home electrification

    Once you have battery storage installed, you can join a Virtual Power Plant that allows your energy to power homes nearby, which earns you credits and saves the energy provider from generating excess power, much of which is lost in transmission. Joining a VPP like Tesla’s Energy Plan, also increases the Warranty on the battery from 10 to 15 years.

    Naturally, there are some eligibility criteria, but thankfully the previous restriction around having used the solar homes program previous (like putting on solar), has now been removed, opening the door for more solar customers to make their way to adding home battery storage.

    To be able to apply for a loan you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

    • you are the owner-occupier of an existing property where the system is to be installed
    • the combined household taxable income of all owners is less than $180,000 per year
    • the property is valued at under $3 million
    • the property address has not previously received a solar battery rebate
    • the property has a solar panel system with an inverter capacity equal to or greater than 5kW, or will have one installed in conjunction with the solar battery installation.

    The combined taxable income limit of $180,000 feels way too low, particularly if a property is valued between $1-3 Million, your income would need to be greater than this to service the loan, so that doesn’t make a lot of sense. This is likely to eliminate many who would have taken advantage of this incentive. The goal here is ultimately to encourage the adoption of home battery storage, so this limit should be increased to $250,000.

    Solar Victoria does highlight that Battery storage may not be suitable for all households and circumstances, and we recommend doing research and checking if a battery will be suitable for your home as the first step on your battery journey.

    The process of getting one of these interest-free loans is significant, with a number of steps and approvals required before you even get near the actual installation. This is making a multi-year financial commitment, so the is understandable, although there is room to streamline and make it simpler.

    The steps to apply are:

    Step 1: Do your research and assess suitability

    It is important to do your research, and before you begin you should answer the following questions to understand what product is right for your needs.

    • How do you use energy in your home?
    • What system size should you choose?
    • What is the installation cost vs expected savings?
    • What else should you consider?
    • Are you ready for a battery?

    You also need to consider whether you want the battery to operate in “standalone” mode, your energy needs in such a situation and whether any additional wiring or electrical upgrades may be required.

    Step 2: Find an authorised solar retailer

    Once you have done your research and are satisfied that a battery is for you, you can start the process of finding retailers to provide designs and quotes for your system.

    To be eligible to apply for an interest free-loan product, your installation must be completed by a Solar Victoria Authorised Solar Retailer. Authorised retailers meet Solar Victoria’s requirements to participate in the Solar Homes program and are bound by terms and conditions. They employ A Grade electricians, who are Clean Energy Council (CEC) Accredited and hold a Battery Endorsement.

    We strongly recommend that you get at least three quotes of roughly the same system size and functionality.

    Before you sign a quote acceptance with any supplier, carefully research the company, look up their customer reviews and ask as many questions of them as you need to feel comfortable that the proposed battery system is a good investment FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES.

    Solar Victoria does not recommend signing a quote acceptance or paying a deposit before receiving confirmation that your interest-free loan application has been fully approved and that you have fulfilled all eligibility and credit check requirements.

    As a minimum, you should confirm with your retailer that any deposit you pay is fully refundable.

    Your authorised solar retailer will need to provide you with a written quote that contains the information you need to make an informed decision. They will also upload your quote into the Solar Victoria Portal which will enable you to start the online eligibility process.

    Pre-approval for battery connection to the grid

    Your retailer must obtain approval for grid connection from the Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP) before they can upload your quote to the Portal.

    DNSPs are the organisations that affect whether your solar panels or solar battery can be connected to the grid. Find out more about DNSPs by reading Distributors – what are they and why are they important?

    You should check with your retailer that pre-approval has been given and whether any solar export constraints have been imposed. Export constraints impact feed in tariffs available to you and your ability to take part in Virtual Power Plants, so it is important to be informed about this.

    When you retailer has uploaded your quote to the Portal, you will receive an email notification containing a link to complete your initial eligibility application.

    Step 3: Complete your initial eligibility application

    When you retailer has uploaded your quote to the Portal, you will receive an email notification containing a link to complete your initial eligibility application.

    Customers can submit their eligibly checks from 17 July 2023.

    Step 4: Complete your loan application

    When you have completed and submitted your initial eligibility application you will receive an email from Solar Victoria confirming your eligibility and outlining the process to complete your loan application.

    To complete your loan application, you will be required to complete a credit check through Equifax.

    Equifax offers free credit checks and takes around 10 minutes to complete. For information on how to complete a credit check you can review the guide below.

    Step 5: Arrange your installation

    Following confirmation from Solar Victoria that your loan application has been approved, you can contact your retailer to book your system installation.

    On the day of installation, your installer is required to scan the QR code contained in your loan confirmation email.

    Customers will have 120 days to complete the installation from the date the loan application was approved.

    Once installation is complete, pay the retailer the amount you owe them. This is the total amount minus the interest free loan amount and any other Solar Victoria rebates you may have applied for.

    Loan repayments will be debited from your nominated account and will take place 30 days after the installation is approved by Solar Victoria.

    Step 6: Make the most of your system

    For more information, or to apply for a Solar Battery loan, head to Solar Victoria.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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