Do you think solar panels are too expensive to invest in? Think again. Whether you live in a flat or a mansion, knowing how much solar panels cost is just the start of the conversation. It doesn't consider income tax credits and other factors that can make solar panel systems affordable without subsidies.
Many have been confused by various information when deciding whether or not to invest in solar panels for their home, such as the initial price being too high or the payback period seeming too long. But it all comes down to perception, and the fact is that solar panels are becoming less expensive than they used to be. So, how much do solar panels cost in the UK, and how much can you save? We’ll help you break down this complex concept in this article.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in the UK?
Simply put, a solar panel captures the sun's free energy and converts it into electricity to power your home. Each panel consists of silicon cells that, even on overcast days, absorb heat from sunlight and send it through an inverter, transforming the sun's energy from direct to usable alternating current.
If you are wondering how much solar panels cost in the UK, well, the answer is determined by several factors. However, as a quick guide, understand that the greater your household energy needs, the more power your solar panels must generate, thus increasing the total system cost.
A typical residential solar power set-up would generally range from £2,800 to £13,000 upfront, but the initial cost may be significantly higher depending on the system you choose to install, with the solar module accounting for most of the expense. Aside from this, there are several other things that you need to consider.
1. The Necessary System Size
Solar panel systems are measured in kilowatts (kW), with one kW equaling 1,000 watts of electricity, and most panels are designed to produce between 250 and 400 watts per hour (kWh). A 4-kW system, the most common size, utilizes 16 panels and can generate approximately 2,850 kWh of electricity annually.
On average, a UK home has 2 to 3 occupants and uses an average of 8 kWh of electric power daily. This means that one home spends 2,900 kWh annually or 242 kWh monthly, though it could vary significantly based on the number and types of electrical appliances you have and how often you use them. For example, you can anticipate higher electric consumption if you have devices that use quite a lot of electricity or just a large number of these devices. The temperature and length of time that you have your heating on also play a more significant role than ever in your home's electricity usage.
2. Solar Panel Type
There are two primary types of solar panels—monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are usually more affordable but are considered less efficient when generating energy. In contrast, monocrystalline panels like the BLUETTI PV200 may be slightly more expensive than their polycrystalline counterparts but offer higher energy conversion efficiency.
Because of this higher efficiency, you would need fewer panels to produce the energy your home needs and thus spend less in terms of total investment. For the same reason, monocrystalline panels are also ideal for houses with less roof space available for installation due to their higher energy output.
3. Roof Angle and Condition
In the UK, solar panels should ideally be installed at an angle of 35 to 40 degrees to generate the maximum amount of electricity because greater sunlight exposure leads to higher efficiency and more significant savings. If your roof needs to be set up to achieve this angle for your solar panels, you may need extra mounting rails, which could raise your costs.
Another factor that could significantly add to your expenses is the actual condition of your roof. Before installing your solar panels, it is best to have your roof checked for any repairs or maintenance requirements because once the system is in place, any repairs will necessitate the fitter's return to remove panels before starting the work.
4. Roof Access And Available Space
Access to your roof space is necessary for installing solar panels, and installers typically set up scaffolding and a platform to work safely. Thus, the cost may significantly increase if the roof access is challenging and time-consuming since it will become more labour-intensive.
Generally, a 3kW system would utilize 12 panels and need approximately 22 square meters in roof space, while a 6kW system uses 24 panels and needs 43 square meters. If you don't have enough roof space for the system size you need, consider getting portable solar panels like the BLUETTI PV420, which are durable, splash-proof, foldable, portable, and come with a kickstand for an easy set-up.
5. Installation And Labour Expenses
As a rule of thumb, the larger the system, the higher the installation cost. For example, a typical 3 kW system would only need one person to work for one day and cost around £700, while a 6 kW system usually requires two people working for two days and can cost as much as £1400.
However, the actual expense still depends on your installers, and their prices can vary, so obtaining at least three quotes is recommended to find the most appropriate system at the best price. Although many suppliers already include installation labour costs in their solar panel quotes, it is best to confirm this before signing anything so you can avoid surprises down the road.
6. Additional System Components
When installing solar panels for the first time, you may incur extra costs for other system components. These include the metering equipment, various housing components, cables, wiring equipment, and the inverter, which converts the panel-generated direct current into the alternating current used by home appliances.
Some homeowners also opt for a home battery backup system like the BLUETTI AC500 + B300S Home Battery Backup as an extra consideration. Solar storage batteries enable you to gather excess energy, which you can use later, such as during nighttime. Storing this energy decreases your dependence on electricity from the National Grid, further reducing your electricity bills. Moreover, a solar battery system can transform your off-grid solar set-up into a reliable backup during power outages.
Making The Most Out Of Your Solar Panel Investment
As electricity prices continue to rise, the time it takes to recover your investment in solar panels has decreased. Now that you know how much solar panels cost in the UK and how much you can save in energy bills, you can see that solar panels can give you a return on investment in about four to five years, with the average UK family potentially saving up to £1,000 per year.
On top of this, you can also do a few more things on your end to further make the most out of your investment. Here are some of them:
1. Plan The Location Of Your Solar Panels
The location of your solar panels is crucial because this can significantly affect the amount of sunlight received and converted to energy. For example, solar panels facing south can capture as much as 100% of solar energy, while those facing north can only receive 55%.
This is because over half of the UK’s light energy is reflected off clouds, the ground, and buildings, making solar panels less dependent on direct sunlight. Remember that the more sunlight your panels receive, the higher their output and the more you will save on your electricity bill.
2. Be Conscious And Strategic About Your Energy Usage
Your household's electricity usage patterns influence the amount of money you can save when using solar panels. Because solar panels generate electricity during daylight hours, your home will get its energy needs from the grid at night, and you will be charged at your regular rate unless you have a solar storage battery installed.
To maximize your savings, you should learn how to use your appliances strategically. If you are outside the home most of the day, consider operating energy-intensive appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, during peak production periods. You could also incorporate a PV diverter into your solar panel system, so you can also redirect the generated energy to heat your hot water during the day or charge your electric vehicle, resulting in additional savings.
3. Take Advantage Of Government Programs That Support Clean Energy
Solar panels help reduce your home’s carbon footprint, which supports the government’s drive to promote renewable technologies to power the country. As such, the government is offering various grants to assist with the costs, including a program giving 0% or 5% VAT on renewable energy home improvements until 2027, depending on your location and eligibility.
Another government initiative is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) which enables small-scale low-carbon generators to receive payments from electricity suppliers for electricity exported to the National Grid, provided certain criteria are met. This scheme is designed to reward households and businesses in the country for generating their own renewable electricity and covers various small-scale, low-carbon energy generation technologies, such as solar panels, hydropower, and wind power.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost (UK) FAQs
How much do PV panels cost in the UK?
The cost of PV panels in the Uk can range from £4,000 to £12,000, depending on the size and quality of the system.
How much does solar energy cost in the UK?
Solar energy costs in the UK vary depending on the size of the system and the location. Generally, prices range from £5,000 to £20,000 for a residential system. There are government grants in place to help offset this cost.
How much do commercial solar panels cost in the UK?
Commercial solar panel costs vary substantially based on the size and complexity of the system. This could be anywhere from £10,000 to over £100,000.
How much do solar panel batteries cost in the UK?
Batteries used to store solar energy typically start at £1000, depending on the size and capacity of the battery. Find current solar battery prices here.