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Solar Panels in the UK
Solar panels can provide your home or business with a renewable energy source, reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money. A 4kWp domestic install can generate upwards of 3,400kWh of solar power over the course of a year depending on your site and where in the UK you are located. In general, your solar PV system has a higher potential in more southern areas of the country and on roofs that face south or near south. That said, solar has been successfully installed in the far north of Scotland so don’t rule it out before seeing what you could save.
Solar Panel Costs
Solar PV systems in the UK can vary quite a bit in cost. 2019 research from Green Business Watch found that the median price quoted for a 4kW typical domestic install was £5,657.50. That’s the installed cost, including the panels, inverters, scaffolding, labour and VAT. Prices quoted in the survey ranged widely with the cheapest quotes just under £4,500 and the most expensive at £7,500. The panels and inverters used in the installation are a large part of the price variation and different solar panel installers will make a case for different setups based on their experience.
Savings and Earnings
With electricity prices rising steadily, solar panels offer savings over the long term and can isolate the homeowner from growing bills. A typical home will use around 3,800kWh of electricity per year. A typical 4kWp solar install in the UK will generate around 3,400kWh per year (more in sunnier locations like the South of England). That’s a significant amount of solar energy those panels can generate. Obviously, solar panels will generate more in the summer months and less in the winter. They will also generate their energy during the day. Depending on your circumstance, lots of your energy use is likely to be outside these times and the amount you can save will depend on these factors. It is important to discuss these issues with your installer to accurately assess your potential savings before you invest in solar.
Electricity you do not use on site is ‘exported’ to the grid. Under the new Smart Export Guarantee, exported solar electricity will receive a payment. The Smart Export Guarantee is not in place yet and payments will vary from one energy company to another so the amount you can earn will depend on the tariff you sign up for. Although the SEG is not yet started, there are a few electricity companies already offering tariffs.
Electricity you consume in your home or business is charged at a retail price so costs more than the wholesale price you will be paid for exports. So, earnings from your system will be greater, the more of your solar energy you use in-house rather than exporting. The balance of these factors and how they affect your earnings is something that you can model with your installer based on the generation.
Why compare quotes and installers
Buying solar PV for your home is a major investment, so it’s important to find the right system and the right installer. As the popularity of solar has risen, so too has the number of companies claiming to be cheaper, better, faster than their competition.
It’s important to choose a solar installer who is accredited, referenced, reputable and trustworthy, so you don’t’ end up with a bunch of cowboys working on your roof. See our article for more tips on how to select the right solar PV installer for your home.
We recommend getting at least three solar panel quotes from installer companies, so that you can ensure you are getting the right product at the right price.
Solar panels and battery storage
Solar battery storage can help to take up the excess power created by panels so that this energy doesn’t go to waste. Your panels will generate electricity during the day and for much of that time you may not be in the house to use it. Batteries can be used to charge during the day and then supply your home with power in the evenings when most homes have higher usage. The retail price you pay for your electricity will be much higher than the export tariff you would be paid by sending electricity to the grid. So it makes sense to use as much of your generated electricity in the home as possible, rather than have it bleed back to the grid. Battery storage is one of the ways this can be achieved. If you would like to explore a combined solar and battery storage installation you can get 3 quotes by filling in the form above.
Solar thermal - solar hot water
Unlike solar photovoltaics, solar thermal does not produce electricity. The panels are designed to warm water which, depending on the set up, can be used to supply hot water to the home or even to heat water for swimming pools or small central heating systems.
Solar thermal systems use the heat from the sun to warm a special heat transfer fluid inside the collector plates. This fluid is either passed through a heat exchanger in a hot water storage tank where it warms the water inside or in some cases is returned to the cylinder directly, and then returns to the plates to be heated again.
Solar thermal (solar hot water) is a popular choice for many householders, mainly because of the relatively low capital cost and the ability of the system to benefit a wide range of houses.
Solar thermal systems can provide up to 60% of a households hot water requirements and need very little maintenance. In terms of cost savings, reported savings range from £40 per annum up to £100. If you are interested in exploring the option of solar thermal and you can find solar thermal installers serving your area by visiting our directory.