A guide to solar panels

Solar panels are far easier than you may think to install in your home and as soon as they are up you can start benefitting from solar power. This simple, step-by-step guide will take you through the process of getting solar panels – from buying, to fitting and using, we have your solar panel questions covered.

What you should know first:

  • You don’t have to live in an area with wall-to-wall sunshine to generate solar energy. Solar panels work even through clouds. However, the more sunshine you get, the more energy you’ll generate. Ideally, you’ll need a south-facing or south-west facing roof but with the latest technology most homes could benefit from solar PV. Only north facing roofs aren't suitable. 

  • Feed-in-tariff (FiT) is a Government scheme for people with solar panels. It allows you to get paid for the energy you create. The current rate of payment is 4.07p/kWh, and it’s paid via your energy supplier.

  • You’ll need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a rating of D or above to qualify for a FiT and dated before your PV system is commissioned . An EPC rates a building on its energy efficiency, A is the most efficient and G is the least efficient. Gov.uk can point you in the right direction of an accredited energy assessor.

  • The cost of installing solar panels will vary but the average price in 2017 for a 4kW system is between £4,000-£6,000. You can get a quote from one of our chosen partners. Just fill out this form to register your interest

Step 1: Think about the suitability of your home. Ideally, your roof will be south or south-west facing for maximum energy, but anything else that's not north facing could work too. You shouldn’t need planning permission, but if you live in a listed building, one with a flat roof or in a conservation area it’s best to check first. Your installer will be able to help with all of that. Read our tips on making sure your house is suitable, on our solar PV page.

Step 2: Find a qualified solar panel installer. It’s important you choose a certified installation company because they will be able to advise you on all regulations. It's best to talk to a few installers and get their estimates. Most of them will give you an idea of costs over the phone before arranging a survey on your home. Ask them how long the work will take as well as what the warranty and/or guarantee for their work is and if any guarantees are insurance-backed - this will help you avoid any surprises later. If you're looking to qualify for FiT then your system will need to be installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited installer. 

Step 3: Get a solar energy survey.  Before you begin the installation process, your installer will need to do a survey of your property. This is a valuable part of the installation process that will ensure you get a system and design that is right for your property. Ensure you see a surveyor not a sales person at this stage. Your surveyor should assess your property and talk you through your shading analysis for the most accurate projected figures. They should leave you a written, fixed cost quote, including projected performance of your system. You don't have to commit to anything on the day. Ideally, get a few written quotes from different installers - three is a good number. 

Step 4: Get the most from your solar panels. After your solar panels have been installed, it’s time to enjoy the benefits of solar power! You’ll be generating clean energy and helping to reduce your energy bills, although you’ll still have to pay for any energy you use that you don’t generate yourself.Think of programming your appliances for daytime to get the best our of your system. You may even want consider getting battery storage or other smart devices that let you make the most of your free energy. 

If you’re an EDF Energy customer, you can find out more about going solar with us on our solar PV page.

If you’re not ready for this step, but are trying to be more environmentally-friendly, then take a look at our low carbon tariff.