Are Solar Panels Worth It In The UK?

Last updated: April 19, 2024

Is solar worth the investment in the UK? How much can you expect to save? How long will it take you to break even? Here, we explore the potential numbers.

If you are asking if solar panels are worth it in the UK, you are not alone, in fact, it’s one of the most common questions we receive.

Determining whether solar is worth it for your property is not always straightforward since there are many variables involved, and it also depends on your personal goals.

The current cost of electricity, the size and quality of the system you plan to install, and how much of the solar energy you use vs drawing from the grid are all significant factors.

But in this guide, we’ll attempt to provide some actual estimates based on common UK scenarios.

Is Solar Worth it? Key Takeaways:

  • Solar energy can help to reduce your electricity bill, regardless of your location in the UK.
  • The break-even period (the point at which you will pay back the solar installation) is dependent on many variables, but will typically be between 10 and 18 years.
  • The amount of energy you consume from your solar vs grid has a major influence.
  • Your behaviour and the quality of the system are also significant factors.
  • You can sell excess energy you don’t use via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) but this is not always the most financially wise choice.
  • You may also be able to reduce the total cost if your household is eligible for certain solar grants and funding, e.g. the Home Upgrade Grant.

How Much Can You Save With Solar Panels UK?

As mentioned, the exact numbers are difficult to estimate with 100% accuracy since there are so many variables involved and solar installations are very rarely identical.

Factors that can influence the amount you can save with solar include the following:

  • The amount of energy you use per year.
  • The size and quality of your solar system.
  • Whether you sell excess energy via the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
  • The current and future costs of electricity.
  • Whether you have solar battery storage or not.
  • Whether you can receive funding to reduce the overall costs.

However, based on the average 3.5 kWh solar array system size in the UK, you could potentially save up to £465 per year (this is based on the current Energy Price Guarantee). 

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You could also earn an average of £120 by selling excess energy via the Smart Export Guarantee. 

Please note: Energy prices often change, so always ensure you check the current prices before you start running the numbers.

Watch our quick video on how to vet a solar panel installer:

How Much Does Solar Cost?

A solar panel installation includes the solar panels themselves, plus the inverter(s), brackets and all the other components you will require.

As well as the system size, the final price is heavily influenced by the brand and quality of the system you choose.

Local labour costs are also a major factor since they vary so much throughout the UK.

However, on average, a typical 350-watt solar panel costs between £600 and £800 and the average system is around 10 panels.

In terms of a complete solar array, the average cost in the UK is around £5,500 for a 3.5-kilowatt system.

Please bear in mind that the figure above is for the solar array and does not include solar battery storage.

What is the Break Even Point for Solar in the UK?

The break-even point or payback period is the amount of time it takes for the energy savings to exceed the cost of installing a solar system.

As mentioned, the break-even point can be very different based on a whole host of factors, including:

  • The amount you paid for your solar system.
  • How much energy do you consume per year?
  • The lifespan of your solar panels – is typically determined by using the warranty period.
  • The current and future costs of electricity.
  • Solar owner behaviour – prioritising solar energy use is essential to reducing the break-even point as much as possible e.g. ensuring your main appliances are powered by your solar during the day when the sunlight and therefore energy production is at its peak.
  • Whether you have battery storage or not.
  • How much you earn via the SEG – the highest rates are around 12p per kWh.

However, in terms of providing an average figure, in the UK it can take anywhere between 10 and 18 years to break even with solar.

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Although this is a wide range, as mentioned, the break-even point can vary so much due to the many different variables involved.

What About Increasing Energy Costs?

If you are curious as to whether solar will become a better investment with increasing energy costs, the answer is probably yes.

In fact, surging energy costs has meant that the potential savings and break-even point is now arguably better than it’s ever been before.

Additionally, energy prices are set to increase, in fact, energy inflation in the UK is projected to be 4.6% per year, which means that over the next decade, energy prices are set to increase substantially.

The Climate Change Committee predicts that electricity will increase by around 24% by 2030.

Is Solar Worth It? Conclusion

Whether installing solar is worth the investment largely depends on your personal goals and budget.

Although the upfront costs of solar can be substantial, in the long term i.e. several decades your solar array will pay for itself and save you a significant amount via energy bill savings.

If you want to proceed with a solar install, the first step is to start determining your average annual energy use – which you can do by referring to your energy bill.

You will then need to find out how much roof space you have available, as well as the amount of energy you plan on generating.

The best person to help you with this is a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified installer or solar provider.

We advise that you always seek advice and quotes from at least three independent solar contractors/companies. This will give you a good idea as to how much you can expect to pay.

References used in this article:

FAQ: Solar Panels UK

1. How much does it typically cost to install solar panels in the UK?

Answer: The average cost of installing solar panels in the UK ranges from £4,000 to £6,000 for a standard 3-4kWp system. This price can vary depending on the size of the system, the type of panels used, and the complexity of the installation.

2. Are there any government grants available for solar panel installation in the UK?

Answer: As of now, there are no direct government grants for solar panel installations for most homeowners. However, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme allows solar panel owners to earn money by selling surplus energy back to the grid.

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3. How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

Answer: The payback period for solar panels in the UK typically ranges from 9 to 15 years, depending on factors like initial installation costs, electricity usage, and how much energy you sell back to the grid.

4. Can solar panels increase the value of my home?

Answer: Yes, solar panels can increase the value of your home by making it more energy-efficient and attractive to prospective buyers who are interested in reducing their energy costs.

5. What warranties come with solar panels?

Answer: Most solar panels come with a performance warranty that guarantees 80-90% performance after 20-25 years and a product warranty from the manufacturer covering defects for 10-15 years.

6. Do solar panel prices vary by region in the UK?

Answer: Generally, solar panel costs are consistent across the UK, but installation costs can vary slightly due to local labour rates and other regional factors.

7. What are the maintenance costs for solar panels?

Answer: Solar panels require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning and occasional checks by a professional to ensure all components are functioning correctly should suffice. This typically costs around £100-£150 per year.

8. Are there different types of solar panels, and do they affect cost?

Answer: Yes, there are mainly three types of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Each has different efficiencies and costs, with monocrystalline being the most efficient and usually the most expensive.

9. How does shading affect solar panel performance?

Answer: Shading can significantly impact the efficiency of solar panels. It’s important to install them in a location with minimal shading from trees, buildings, or other structures, especially during peak sunlight hours.

10. What is the environmental impact of installing solar panels?

Answer: Solar panels significantly reduce carbon emissions by generating renewable energy and decreasing reliance on fossil fuels. They are considered a key technology in combating climate change.