What are solar panels?
Solar panels are a renewable energy source. They are fitted to a building and turn the sun's rays into energy. They can power your home by capturing energy from the sun and turning the energy into electricity.
How do solar panels work?
A solar photovoltaic (PV) system converts sunlight into electricity. The resulting electricity is then converted into AC power by an inverter so you can use it in your own home – or if you have an excess, this can be stored in a battery for use later in the day or it can be fed into the National Grid and you'll get paid for it. Currently, all domestic PV systems are deemed to export 50% of the energy they generate which is rewarded by the Export tariff. Find out more about how the Export Feed-in Tariff works alongside the Feed-in Tariff on the GOV.UK website.
Is my home suitable for solar PV?
- You own your home
- You have a south facing or south-east to south-west facing roof
- Your roof has sufficient space (at least 9.6m²)
If you're not sure that your home is suitable and want to find out, send us your details and one of our preferred installers will get in touch with you.
Before you can install a solar PV system, your home needs an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). An EPC rates a building’s energy efficiency from A (the most efficient) to G (the least). To install a solar PV system, you will need a rating of D or above. An accredited energy assessor will grade your home’s energy performance. To find an energy assessor, visit this GOV.UK page which will find one local to you.
Installing solar PV
You will need a certified solar panel installer to advise you on all the regulations surrounding solar PV. Our partners can handle the entire process from initial enquiry to final installation.
Whoever you choose as your installer, they will need to visit your home to perform a detailed technical survey. This will ensure you get the right system for your property, a detailed quote for your installation and an accurate projection of the amount of power you’ll be able to generate.
Once your solar PV system is installed, it’s very easy to maintain. Your installer will give you a troubleshooting checklist and details of regular maintenance checks. Provided your panels are kept clean and clear of overgrown foliage, they should last 25 years or more.(1)
Our partners also offer service, maintenance and repair services on any solar PV system already installed. Get in touch to through our form to discuss your solar needs.
Advantages of solar PV
With a solar PV system you can become less reliant on non-renewable energy sources and lower your impact on the environment by generating your own, clean electricity. According to Government figures, each kWh of solar electricity represents a saving of 0.43kg of carbon dioxide. That means a typical 2kWp sized solar PV system could save nearly a tonne of carbon dioxide per year.(1)
When there is enough daylight, you can use clean electricity generated by your own home system. Because you’re not drawing your supply from the National Grid, this means you could reduce your electricity bills significantly.
You can enhance the capability of your home generating system by installing a battery storage solution that helps you to use the electricity generated by your solar PV system even when the sun goes down. Our preferred partners can give you advice and guidance on battery storage for your home.
A solar PV system can generate income as well as power. The UK’s Feed-in Tariff, introduced in 2010, means that anyone generating electricity from small-scale, renewable sources like solar PV can receive a payment for the energy generated.
How much do solar PV panels cost?
This depends heavily on the kind of home you live in, and the size of the solar PV system you can have. The weather will also determine how much electricity you can generate and how much you need to use. But to give you a rough guide, the Which? guide to solar PV says that the average cost of a domestic solar panel system is between £5,000 and £8,000.
Ways to pay
Not everybody has that kind of cash hanging around, which is why our preferred installation partners (and Which? trusted trader) can offer a range of payment options(2). These are:
- Direct purchase - You purchase the system outright, either with a cash payment or your own, self-sourced finance or a mixture of both (subject to standard payment terms).
- Free solar - You agree to a lease arrangement, effectively leasing your roof space. You get free solar electricity and the investor collects the payments from the government's Feed In tariff.
- Power purchase agreement - EDF Energy's BlueLab is currently trialling a scheme called Sunplug where a solar PV and home battery storage system is installed at low upfront cost of £999 to £1,499. In return, you agree to purchase all the energy that you use from the system at a significantly lower rate than normal, which is fixed for a term of 25 years and subject to RPI increases of 2.5% per year giving you peace of mind.
- Finance purchase or personal loans – it's worth checking with the installer if they offer any alternative finance options, many do. You can think about mortgage borrowing and personal loans too as an option to consider.
Request a call from one of our preferred installation partners and you'll be able to ask them about their payment options.
How much could solar PV save me?
Once installed, a solar PV system could start saving you money straight away. The table below gives a good example of how much electricity a solar PV system could generate, the Feed-in Tariff income and the savings you could make in the first year of use.(1)
Maintenance of your solar PV system
Although PV systems are fairly robust, regular maintenance can improve the performance of older systems, preventing expensive repairs and faults.
As well as servicing, simple things such as regular panel cleaning, electrical system inspections and shading management will prevent losses and damage due to natural influences such as shading and dirt build up.
Besides keeping your system healthy and your investment safe, there are potential cost saving benefits to servicing your PV. Inverter servicing and panel cleaning can prevent the amount of solar power generated by your system from slipping below what it should be.
If your PV system needs a repair or you think it could be performing better, send us your details and one of our preferred partners will be in touch to discuss your needs.
Some things to bear in mind
Unfortunately, not every property is suitable for solar PV. You need adequate roof space for the installation of solar panels. Your roof also needs to be south-facing. It will need to be unshaded by taller buildings or trees and ideally, have a 35°- 40° angle.
You may also need planning permission issues if your property is:
- In a conservation area
- In an area of outstanding natural beauty
- In a national park
- A listed building
If you're interested in getting solar panels fitted on your home, or just want to enquire whether your home is suitable, send us your details through our enquiry form and one of our partners will get in touch with you. Consultation is free and there's no obligation to buy.