Everyone wants to save money when it comes to their energy bills, no matter what situation you’re in. Now, whilst solar panels might not have seemed like a viable option to most people 10-20 years ago, they are much more widely available these days, not to mention more affordable than ever.
Not only have solar panel prices dropped by as much as 60% in that past ten years alone, but solar PV (photovoltaic) prices have also decreased by over 80% as the technology has improved and renewable energy sources continue to be pursued.
As things stand, you could save hundreds each year by installing solar panels and relying more on green, renewable energy. So, in this post, we thought we’d try to answer the following questions: how much are solar panels and what further benefits do they come with?
Solar panel price ranges
It might sound too good to be true and, of course, this is the lower end of the scale, but depending on the size of your house and the number of occupants, you can start kitting out your home with solar power from as little £1,500.
However, if you are looking for a national average, most homes opt for a 4kW system – which covers approximately 29 square metres of roof space – and this will set you back around £6,000. It is worth mentioning that this is also the top-end of the price range for 3kW system, which whilst less powerful and efficient for running a busy family household, this is where you’ll find your cheapest options.
On the other hand, this is about the baseline for a 4kW system and if you need to cover a larger surface area, your solar panel costs, these prices can be closer to £8,000. If you choose to go even more powerful, i.e. a 5 or even 6kW system (not really necessary for the average family home), the numbers start to get more serious – sometimes as much as £10,000 and north of that figure the bigger the roof/size of the job would be.
Main benefits of solar panels
As mentioned, these figures will vary depending on the size of your property, so don’t be put off big those larger numbers: if you’re just looking at the standard solar panel price for, say, a three or perhaps even four-bedroom house, the average estimates we’ve given above should put you in good stead.
However, putting the costs of the total modules and installation costs aside for a moment, there are a vast number of reasons why investing in solar panels could be the best thing you choose to do to your home this year. Here are just a few of them:
1. Energy efficiency and savings
We’ve already touched upon the reduction in solar panel prices over the past decade, but we’ve yet to go into too much detail on just how much you can save by installing solar panels and relying on renewable energy, as opposed to traditional carbon-based fuels.
According to Money Saving Expert, it is estimated that homes in Northern regions, like Liverpool or Manchester, can save between £95 and £230 on their energy bill per year; homes further south with more sun, such as in London or Brighton, should expect to save slightly more – anywhere from £100 to an impressive £250.
This kind of renewable energy is much more cost effective in the long run and these figures are only estimates: the potential savings can only go up from there…
2. Smart export guarantee
As if that wasn’t enough, your overall savings can increase if you choose to sign up for something known as the smart export guarantee (SEG). This is a relatively recent government scheme – introduced at the start of 2020 – which essentially ensures you only pay for the energy you use.
This might sound fairly commonsensical as most people assume they only pay for the gas and electricity they use anyway but, in most cases, what you actually do is pay for the amount of energy you generate. The best way of explaining this is if you set your boiler to come on and don’t use all of the hot water in the tank (people rarely do), you still pay for the amount of hot water filtered into the system.
In contrast, the smart export guarantee allows you to be paid for the residual energy you’ve drawn into the system, with the idea being that it is once again sold and no power goes to waste. Sticking with Money Saving Expert, you could earn anywhere from an additional £75 to as much as £120 on top of your overall savings through SEG.
While the previous scheme, Feed-in Tariff (FIT), was more an incentive for people to install solar panels, the SEG scheme covers various sources of renewable/green energy, so it’s worth looking into further. Which leads us nicely on to the next benefit.
3. Reduce your carbon footprint
As if it wasn’t obvious enough, the biggest upside to installing solar panels for everyone is that it helps reduce your carbon footprint in a major way. Whether it’s driving cars, disposing of non-recyclable rubbish, or the simple act of using electricity every day in our homes, we all impact the environment whether we like it or not. However, we can all do better and using solar energy is a great way to start.
It is estimated that using solar energy can reduce the average carbon footprint of your household by around 80%. What’s more is that you should already have a vested interested in doing so because of the financial benefits we have already mentioned, so you would be doing your bit to save money and save the planet.
Ideally, we’d like to be totally reliant on renewable/green energy sources at all times but whilst progress is being made each and every day, we’re not quite there yet. So, if you’re looking for a way to do your bit in the fight against global warming that it is 1) feasible and 2) will have a direct and significant impact that you can see in the lightening of your purse strings, solar panels should be on your list.
As solar panels are still not the standard for most homes, there are plenty of questions that people are quick to ask regarding not only the pricing, but what it is they provide and whether they are worth it overall. Here’s some of the most popular queries:
Do you really save money with solar panels?
Yes, absolutely. Whilst the initial outlay of your solar panel installation cost is certainly something you should consider, as with most home improvements, think of this as an investment.
Once you have your solar energy systems all fitted and ready to go, you will save more throughout the year, especially during the warmer months. You only need to look at the figures we’ve shown already to see the kind of savings you can make.
How much does it cost for one solar panel?
A single solar panel will cost you somewhere between £380 and £505, before any service/installation costs. The average singular solar panel is around 4m but, obviously, you will need larger-sized individual panels and more of them the bigger your home is.
While this won’t really be enough to support the everyday energy usage of a home, this can help prop up your efficiency and reduce your outgoings to a degree.
How many solar panels do I need?
As always, this will depend on what type of property we’re talking about, but most people tend to require around eight panels. This should cover the surface area of a roof for an average three-bed but, of course, you will have to adjust accordingly to get the most bang for your buck.
What solar panel brands are good?
The following brands are currently rated the best manufacturers of solar panels in the UK:
- Q CELLS
- Canadian Solar
- Trina Solar
How long do solar panels last?
On average, the current standard of solar modules last around 25 years. However, if they aren’t overworked and used in tandem with enough panels total to manage running your home, they can last as long as 30 years or more.
Are solar panels worth it?
We think so, definitely. Before you begin any DIY or home improvements, setting yourself a budget should be the first thing on your list. With that being said, if you have the spare cash/savings to cover the initial solar panel cost and stick to your budget, it will be more a case of the time taken to finish the project, as you will ultimately save money in the long run.
Going off the average costs mentioned above, it is projected that most homes will look to breakeven after around 15 years – even sooner depending on how often your home/how much energy you tend to use every day.
What are the 2 main disadvantages to solar energy?
As we’ve already covered throughout the course of this blog, there are plenty of advantages to solar panels that are plain to see. Nevertheless, we always want to be as informative and objective as possible in these posts, so whilst there aren’t many of them, it is worth asking whether there are any disadvantages.
Aside from aesthetics, the general consensus on the drawbacks of solar panels typically comes down to two things:
Once again, you can’t get round the immediate overheads: as well as the costs of the parts and materials, you’ve also got to consider your installation/labouring costs. In a similar vein, with such a specialised kind of part, any potential repairs you might have to carry out will likely be quite expensive. On the other hand, to reiterate, the money you will ultimately save should more than make up for this.
The second and most subjective disadvantage is their reliability on weather/climate. Solar panels will continue to work regardless of how little sunlight there is but, obviously, places the UK and the north, specifically, can be pretty cloudy from time to time!
However, contrary to popular belief, modern solar panels are made to function in all daytime weather; in fact, their ideal temperature is around 10 degrees centigrade and they are more likely to degrade the hotter it is.
Depending on whereabouts you live, this will obviously factor into the wider cost-effectiveness of this home improvement, at the very least in terms of how long it will take for you to breakeven. Nevertheless, it’s clean energy and money saved either way.
Of course, this is by no means an extensive list. For one, lots of people still can’t get over the look of solar panels on a purely aesthetic level and many worry about how well they can be disposed of and/or repurposed.
Now, whilst they can’t yet be fully recycled, their 25-30 year life expectancy means this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about for a long while; moreover, the technology is advancing year upon year, so both the aesthetics and the likelihood they can be repurposed will have improved by then.
In conclusion, whether you decide on getting solar panels installed or not, the accessibility and affordability these days is vastly better than it was even five years ago, so don’t think this job is beyond your budget.
Furthermore, if it’s the pennies you’re worrying about, this is precisely the kind of home improvement you should consider. The potential ceiling for just how much you can save by utilizing solar energy is hard to imagine but should be reason enough.
Furthermore, will DIY is often limited to how it merely impacts your property and the people in it, this kind of renovation is an opportunity to do your bit for the greater good. We like to think of going solar as a great way to set a good example and encourage others to be more environmentally conscious.
Until next time!