Are you thinking about installing solar roof panels and want to know how much they cost and what electricity savings you can expect? You have come to the right place, we have investigated the average cost of installing these panels in the United Kingdom and have done a tonne of research so you can make an informed decision.
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Don’t forget; in addition to our research into solar panels, you will find our complete price list is here.
Solar PV or Solar Thermal
Solar photovoltaic (solar PV) are panels that convert the sun’s rays into electricity. They are the most common type of roof panels in the UK.
Solar thermal panels are usually tubes that warm the water in your property, so less gas or electricity is used to heat up the water.
The researched price guide on this page is for solar PV roof panels and should not be compared to prices for installing thermal systems.
How Reliable is Our Quote?
We gathered solar roof panel prices from 6 national installers and took an average figure.
The property quoted for was based in the south of the United Kingdom and we last updated the figure in November 2016.
As we are sure you are aware, every installation is different and there are always caveats and limitations to our data. Due to the unpredictable prices currently being experienced in the solar panel industry, we suggest you gather your own quotes for your property.
The good news is that solar prices are falling and are predicted to drop even more in the future.
Solar Panel Price Variations
The solar panel prices quoted on this page are for standard solar panels installed onto a typical tiled and sloping roof.
Flat roofs will require a different system to support the panels; this is usually a supporting frame secured to the timber rafters under any flat roof felt or fibreglass.
Installers often find it harder to install panels onto roofs with slates instead of traditional clay or slate tiles.
Unusual roof shapes and designs could mean you need lots of smaller panels rather than one or two larger ones; this may cost more in both materials and labour fees.
The easiest and most cost-effective solar panel installation is on a property with good access to the roof, common tiles and just one aspect requiring the panels.
How Long Does it Take to Install the Panels?
Here is a typical works schedule for installing solar panels on one side of a roof to a three bedroom property:
Initial inspection of the property, existing electrics and measuring of the roof – 1-3 hours.
Scaffold erected to one side of the property – 3-6 hours. Depending on access difficulty
Installation of panels on one side of the roof – 4 hours.
Installation of all electrics including an inverter – 3-6 hours depending on the property.
Removal of scaffold – 2-3 hours.
Based on the timetable above, you can expect a typical installation to take one day with additional time for the survey and scaffolding.
Cost to Install Solar Panels
The system is a typical 4kwh product with a real world output of approximately 3.5kwph, and the panel coverage area is around 25 square metres.
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|Solar Panel Cost - 3-Bed House||£6250.00|
As you can see from the table above, the typical cost to install solar panels in the UK is £6250.00. This is for a full purchase and ownership of the panels, with no loan or sharing agreement.
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Realistic Long-term Savings
Every solar panel installer will be more than happy to tell you how long it will take to recover your investment, but these are almost always best case scenarios.
Below is a list of factors that may reduce the amount of electricity you generate:
- A very steep roof, too steep and when the sun is at its highest the rays will hit the panels at an angle, this reducing the efficiency of the panels considerably.
- North facing roof – in a nutshell, you will not generate much electricity with panels on a north facing roof, so we don’t recommend placing them on this part of the roof.
- East/west facing roof – your power generation will be much less than a south facing roof, you will need to look very carefully at the projected electricity output of these panels to determine how long it will take before you get your investment back.
- The south of the United Kingdom has more daylight hours than the north of the country, so a property with solar panels in Brighton will generate more electricity than an identical system in Glasgow.
- Trees, buildings and other objects that shade your roof. These can all lower the projections you receive.
If you can install panels that meet all of the “best case” situations, then there is no reason why you can’t recoup your investment within the suggested timeline which is usually just over 20 years for a typical three bedroom property with panels to a south facing roof.
Feed In Tariff
The feed-in tariff is the amount of money you get back based on the amount of electricity you generate.
There are two parts to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT):
- Payment based on the total amount of electricity you produce.
- A second payment based on the amount you do not use but feed back into the grid.
At the moment these figures are estimated for typical installations (larger installations require a meter, though). However as Smart meters are now being installed in homes, these may soon be used to measure the exact amount of electricity sent to the grid.
The feed-in tariff for the generation of electricity is guaranteed by the government for 20 years so you can calculate how much money you will get back (you can find a calculator at the base of this page).
To get the full benefits of the feed-in tariff your property must have an energy rating certificate of “D” or better. You can improve the rating of your property by improving its thermal efficiency, meeting current regulations for insulation and installing double glazed windows, etc. can all help you achieve a “D” or above.
If you have a rating below a “D”, then your property will be put on a different, less profitable feed-in tariff.
Free or Heavily Discounted Panels
Watch out for these offers; some companies will install the panels for free and collect the “feed in” payments for themselves. You, of course, get free electricity. However, when you come to sell the property, the buyer will have to agree to take over the contract, which is usually around 20 years. This could be an issue if the panels are old, of obsolete design, are inefficient, or the buyer doesn’t like their location. Some buyers disapprove of cheap unsightly panels secured to a front aspect roof, and some people may simply not want to tie themselves into a contract.
Do think about the long term effects of installing panels that form part of any ongoing contract.
Effect on House Price
A recent survey by the National Association of Estate Agents revealed that just over 70 percent believed it had no effect on house value. 14 percent felt it increased it while another 14 percent said it would decrease.
Obviously, a system that has been fully paid for is more attractive to a buyer than a system that still has to be paid for, either by a loan attached to the property or by a contract.
It’s also worth remembering that a saving on electricity bills is desirable to some, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of kerb appeal. Panels fitted to the rear of a property are considered acceptable by most people, but there are those who disapprove of panels secured to the front aspect of the roof.
Get The Most From Your Panels
The best way to recoup your investment is to make changes to your lifestyle, so your property uses more electricity during the day and less in the evening.
This could mean setting timers on such things as washing machines and clothes dryers.
The graphic below shows peak solar panel electricity generation and also peak time usage.
Solar Panel Maintenance
Solar panels are usually maintenance free for at least 20 years, but you may need to replace the inverter after 15 years or so.
Do consider other aspects of your property before installing solar panels. Will you want to extend your property or convert your loft at a later date? What about the condition of the tiles and roof in general? Will you consider replacing the roof within the next 20-30 years?
Make sure any home insurance policies you have in place cover the solar panels. These could be the single most expensive item in many homes.
Check Out These Resources
We think these websites are great resources and worth exploring before you decide to go ahead with a solar panel installation:
The Energy Saving Trust has more information about panels and the Feed-in tariff.
An energy saving calculator can be found here. Use it as a guide but understand it’s not 100% accurate.
Latest solar panel news from the trusted Money Saving Expert website.
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