Solar Panels Cost Guide

Solar panels now feature on the roofs of over half a million British homes as their installation has surged in popularity over the last decade.

For those looking to improve their home, it provides a unique benefit. When you install new windows, a conservatory, or a kitchen, you have to wait until you sell your house to see financial gain from your investment.

With solar panels, it’s different. As soon as they are installed and up and running, you see the benefits in your pocket every month through lower electricity bills.

Why should I get solar panels?

Money isn’t the only reason to invest in solar panels for your home though, although it’s important.

With growing concern over global warming, much of which is caused by fossil fuels used by power stations to create electricity, solar panels offer environmentally-conscious homeowners the opportunity to reduce their own carbon footprint.

Solar panel costs

For solar panel installations to your home, you’ll need a budget of between £1,500 and £8,000.

Each solar panel you install on your roof will add to the cost. However, each solar panel will also generate revenue from your home and cut down on your electricity bill for the following 25 years.

A solar panel generally measures about four square metres. It will produce 425kWh in electricity for every year it’s in operation (that amount will go down slowly over the years as the solar panel reaches the end of its productive life) and the cost per panel, including installation, will be around £450.

For most of the last twenty years, the price for each solar panel has come down because the techniques used to manufacture them have got better as has the technology behind them. Please be aware that most people in the industry don’t see prices continuing to go down over time because there isn’t much room for savings left. Now may well be the best time to invest.

In 2010, a 2kWh solar power installation would have set you back around £8,000. Today, homeowners will pay £3,400 to £4,000.

To get quotes from 3-4 experienced and reputable solar panel installers in your area, please fill in the form below. There’s no obligation to buy from any company and our service is free.

Solar panel installation

When you see solar panels installed on other people’s homes, most of them will be a 3kWh systems. Nestled next to each other above the roof tiles will be twelve of these panels.

This type of system will generally cost you between £5,000 and £8,000 to install.

However, unlike most home improvements, cost is not the only consideration. Take a look at the questions we get the most here from Tradesmenprices.co.uk.

Solar panel FAQ

What are the types of solar panel?

There are two main types of solar panels – the solar panels themselves and a newer development called solar roof tiles.

You’ll probably already be familiar with standard solar panel technology as there are so many homes in the UK that have invested in this money-saving technology. As mentioned earlier, they tend to be four square metres in size and fitted snugly next to each other on a house’s roof. There are different types of solar panel technology available all offering different benefits.

Solar tiles use exactly the same technology but they look different – in fact, they’re meant to look as close as possible to normal roof tiles meaning that many people wouldn’t actually be able to see you’ve had them installed. They are much more expensive than solar panels because the individual tiles are higher in price and it takes a lot longer for a fitter to install them.

Solar tiles are often used on listed buildings or where a customer’s home is in a conservation area because they’re much more likely to get planning permission than solar panels.

Solar panel benefits

The biggest benefit you receive when you install solar panels onto your home is monetary. You save money on your electricity bills and you also get money back through something called the Feed-In Tariff.

The Feed-In Tariff was reduced by the government by two thirds in 2016 but, despite that, the money you receive for the electricity your solar panels generate still make it a worthwhile exercise.

There are two parts to the Feed-In Tariff. The generation tariff is paid to you and it’s paid on every kWh of electricity your solar panels produce. The export tariff is an additional payment for electricity your solar panel generates but which you then sell back to the National Grid.

At the time of writing, these are what the tariffs are currently paying out to homeowners:

Time period Date range Generation Tariff Export Tariff
Q1 1st Jan – 31st Mar 2018 3.93p per kWh 5.03p per kWh

The government will only pay out these rates to homeowners whose Energy Performance Certificate rating is D or above. If you live in an E, F, or G rated home, the rates you receive are a lot lower.

The payments you receive on your system are free of tax meaning that, if you fill in a Self Assessment form, you don’t have to list the money you receive as income. The Feed-In Tariff scheme is locked in at the price at the time your system was installed and will continue to pay you at that rate for 20 years.

How much money would this actually mean for your household? A 3kWh system will generate you, at the current Feed-In Tariff rates, around £250 worth of revenue and savings from your system for the first twenty years – that covers a typical £5,000 installation.

You can also receive additional payments from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme. Once your panels have been signed off as installed by your solar panel company, you will be paid 20.06p for every kWh generated by your system for seven years, if you stick by their rules.

Solar panel drawbacks

Given that most solar panel systems break even over time, it’s a cost-free investment. However, to make the money, you do have to spend money up front.

Many installers work with Financial Conduct Authority-approved personal finance companies. Rather than paying for a solar panel system upfront, you can ask your installer to apply for finance on your behalf to purchase your system.

While your loan is active, the amount of money you earn from the Feed-In Tariff and, if you have joined it, the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, will cover some but not all of your repayments. Once your loan has been paid off, you can use all of your earnings from your solar panel system to offset your electricity bill.

Although we live in a beautiful country, it’s not the South of Spain. The sun does not always shine here and when it’s not sunny, a much lower of electricity is produced for your home. If yours is a working household, the chances are that most of the electricity will be generated while you’re out the house, further reducing the benefit.

If you roof faces north, there will be no benefit to installing solar panels. You will only see the full benefit in terms of the electricity produced if your roof is south facing. For rooves facing east or west, there is a reduction in the amount of electricity generated by about 15%.

Solar panel planning permission

In most cases, you won’t need planning permission to install your solar panels. They are what is know as a permitted development.

There will be certain rules you have to follow with your solar panel installation. The panels must not be installed at a point which is higher than the highest part of your property (but that does not include your chimney). It must be fitted sensitively so it doesn’t stand out any more than it needs to. And the solar panels themselves must not be installed higher than 20cm from your roof’s surface.

It is possible that a building control officer might want to visit your home prior to your installers starting the work.

You will have to get planning permission if your installation does not meet the regulations set out above. If you live in a listed building or on a world heritage site, a different type of permission will be needed.

Solar panel installers

There are over 1,000 solar panel installers in the UK meaning that, when you come to the decision to invest in them, there will be healthy competition for your custom. This offers you peace of mind that you won’t be paying too much for your solar panels, that they will be installed correctly, and that they will be of high quality.

It’s always better to go for multiple quotes and never be pressurised by any sales representative to sign before you’re completely ready and happy to go ahead.

Should my solar panel installer belong to any organisation?

It’s really important that you choose an installer who is registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). They have an online list of their members here.

The MCS is there to offer homeowners and businesses wanting to install solar panels an assurance on quality. MCS is part of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

In order for you to be paid your Feed In Tariff and Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, your system must be put in by a member of the MCS.

It’s also worth considering choosing a member of the Solar Trade Association (STA). The STA is a not-for-profit body and to join the association, installers, distributors, and manufacturers must follow their strict code of conduct.

How long does it take to install solar panels?

Generally, your solar power system will only take one or two days to fit, although that may stretch into a third or fourth day depending on the complexity of your installation. Be wary of those if they quote a time that feels too long for a roof of your size – you may be being overcharged.

When you get quotes for your solar panel system, the company representatives will send out a qualified surveyor and a customer service representative to your home. At this time, they will give you an indication on how long the system will take to install.

What questions should I ask my solar panel installer?

The best experiences that customers have with solar panel companies are when you feel that they properly understand what you want from your new system. Clear communication and a mutual understanding of each other is very important.

Don’t forget that before, during, and after installation, your solar panel installer is there to help you and answer any questions you may have.

Try to get answers to the following questions:

  • Which type of solar panel do you recommend that I install and why?
  • Can you offer finance to spread out the cost of the system?
  • Will you calculate how much my solar panel system is likely to save me over a year?
  • How disruptive will the installation be?
  • What happens if one of the panels fail? What are my rights then?

Solar panel quotes

Buying in solar panels for your home is an investment in both the long-term value of your home and the amount of money you can reduce your electricity bills by. They take a few days to install and it means you’ll be changing the appearance of your home.

Make sure you give yourself all the facts first and that there are multiple potential suppliers competing for your business second. You can get 3-4 quotes from quality-assured, local, MCS members by filling in the form at the top of the page.

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