Are Solar Panels Worth It?

More and more homeowners in the UK are switching to solar, with national statistics showing a total of 15.8 GW of solar capacity in the UK across 1,468,652 installations as of February 2024.

Solar panels are increasing in popularity thanks to their ability to generate clean, renewable energy, lower carbon emissions, and reduce energy bills.

With soaring energy costs and increased awareness of environmental sustainability, solar panels are an attractive option if you’re looking for a way to save money in the long run and reduce your carbon footprint.

However, solar panels frequently feature high installation and maintenance costs, and the size of gains can differ from one home to another.

This guide evaluates the cost-benefit of solar panels in the UK to help you decide whether it’s a worthwhile investment for your home.

Here’s what you’ll discover:

  • The average domestic solar panel system of 3.5kW costs around £7,000 to install
  • Generating your electricity reduces your reliance on the grid and can save you up to £630 annually on energy bills.
  • Installing solar panels impacts the environment positively and leads to a more sustainable future.
  • You can sell excess power back to the National Grid, offset the cost of your solar panel installation, and generate additional income.
  • A solar panel investment can pay itself back in 15 to 20 years or less, depending on your energy savings and earnings from financial incentives.

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What is The Cost of Solar Panels in the UK in 2024?

Knowing how much solar panels cost can help determine their worth. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average domestic solar panel system of 3.5kW costs around £7,000 to install. Various factors can influence the total costs of a solar panel system, including:

  • The size of the system required or how many panels you need.
  • The type and brand of the solar panel.
  • The property type or kind of building.
  • Labour and installation costs.
  • Additional system components like PV diverters and solar storage batteries.

The larger your household’s energy requirements, the more power your solar panels will have to generate, increasing the system’s total cost.

If your property type has problematic roof access or needs extra mounting rails, the installation cost will increase.

Costs can vary between products and installers, so get quotes from at least three reputable MCS-certified installers to get a more accurate estimate tailored to your needs.

Benefits of Solar Panels

Generating your electricity through solar panels provides various benefits, including:

Cost Savings

Generating your electricity reduces your reliance on the grid and lowers energy bills.

The amount you can save will depend on the size and type of your solar panel array, your home’s location, and your energy consumption.

Data from the Energy Savings Trust based on current fuel prices show that you can save up to £630 annually in London if you’re at home most of the day.

Environmental Protection

Solar panels help protect the environment by reducing emissions and reliance on fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas.

Solar panels are a renewable source of clean energy, and using them to power your home contributes to a healthier, cleaner environment and helps combat climate change.

Installing solar panels can lead to a more sustainable future, allowing you to take a more proactive approach that can positively impact the planet.

Check out our video on selecting solar panels in the UK:

Extra Earnings from Excess Electricity

You can sell excess electricity from your solar panels back to the National Grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

The SEG is a government scheme that requires all licensed energy companies with 150,000 customers or more to provide at least one SEG tariff, allowing you to earn money from the surplus energy you produce.

SEG rates are usually more competitive than the retail price of grid electricity, and your earnings will depend on the electricity supplier you sell to.

The earnings can help offset the cost of your solar panel installation and generate additional income over time, making solar panels a more attractive investment.

Add Value to Your Property

Greener homes are more attractive and valuable, and research shows that homes fitted with solar panel systems sell at higher prices than equivalent homes without them.

Homes equipped with solar panels command premium prices, and the more time you spend in your home with solar panels before moving, the more significant the uplift in house value.

How Long Can Solar Panels Take to Pay Themselves Back?

Determining how long solar panels can pay themselves back is critical when evaluating the cost-benefit of solar panel investments.

The payback period refers to how long it takes to recoup the cost of the solar panels through financial incentives and energy savings.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that it can take someone living in the middle of the country, in a typical home, anywhere between 15 and 20 years to recoup the costs of installing panels based on the current energy price rates.

How long it will take for your solar panels to pay themselves back will depend on various factors, including:

Roof Conditions

The location, angle, size, shading, and orientation of the roof can affect solar panel efficiency and the energy it can generate.

Your panels will perform best when installed on a pitched, south-facing roof with minimal shading.

Ensuring optimal roof conditions can help you make the most of your panels by generating more electricity, resulting in more significant and faster savings and earnings.

Regional Differences

The output from solar panels can vary depending on your property’s location.

The hours of sunlight received in a particular area can impact the amount of power solar panels can generate.

Some places receive more daylight hours than others, and such regional differences can result in different energy generation depending on your location in the UK.

How Much of the Electricity You Can Use

The amount of time you spend at home can affect how long it takes to make your money back.

If you spend more time at home, you’ll use more electricity and can run appliances while the panels are generating solar energy, translating to more significant bill savings.

Maximising how much electricity you use in daylight hours can help you cut the time for the solar system to break even.

Related solar guides:

Final Thoughts

Solar panels are a worthwhile investment for UK homeowners. They provide significant environmental benefits, cost savings, and earnings while adding value to your property.

Increased affordability and government incentives make them an increasingly attractive and viable option if you’re looking for a more sustainable energy source.

Sources used in this article:

  • https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/solar-photovoltaics-deployment
  • https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/solar-panels/
  • https://ww3.rics.org/uk/en/journals/property-journal/affirming-the-value-of-solar-property.html