Solar panel kits offer the perfect solution for off-grid energy generation in the UK and mean you don’t have to worry about researching all the components you will need as they include the complete set-up.
They provide all the instructions and components you’ll need to install and operate a solar system off-grid.
Solar panel kits are excellent for DIY projects and help eliminate the guesswork and middlemen.
They are often the ideal option for sheds, shipping container homes and mobile offices.
In this guide, we’ll explain what solar panel kits are, what they include, advantages, limitations, costs, considerations and our own solar panel kit recommendations.
Solar Panel Kits Quick Summary:
- Solar panel kits contain all you’ll need to operate the system right out of the box.
- They do not need to be connected to the grid, however, in many cases, this is possible.
- Planning permission is not required in most cases, as they fall under permitted development.
- The solar panel kit you need will depend on the amount of energy you require and the space you have to house them.
What Are Solar Panel Kits?
Solar panel kits are packages or bundles containing everything you’ll need to install and operate a solar energy system.
Sizes can range from compact solar kits you can use to charge a cell phone or hook up anywhere other than your primary residence, like a campervan or shed, to roof panels designed to power an entire house.
What Do Solar Panel Kits Include?
Solar systems can vary in size and use, and the available kits feature different packages and components to account for different needs.
Most solar panel kits will include the essential elements needed for a solar system installation, including the following:
Solar panels are the main component. They convert sunlight into electricity, which you can use to power your house or devices.
The features and capabilities of the panels inside a kit can vary based on the materials used in production or the installation location.
Manufacturing materials can include thin-film, monocrystalline, or polycrystalline.
Panels for residential locations usually feature 60 cells per panel, while commercial panels have 72 cells per panel.
Panels for RVs, vans or marine areas are designed to be mobile and can be flexible, rigid or portable.
A battery ensures a continuous power backup and practically helps you through the night when there is no sunlight.
Battery banks consist of multiple batteries connected in parallel or series with various power outputs.
Most solar panels and inverters operate on regular battery voltage, around 12V.
Charge Controllers and Power Inverters
Power inverters convert input power from batteries to output power and are essential for on-grid solar solutions.
For off-grid solar systems, you’ll need solar charging controllers. Most solar panel kits feature Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) or Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controllers.
The solar power controller protects the battery and ensures optimal operation by controlling how much power gets through.
Some inverters are hybrid and will come with in-built solar charge controllers.
Cables and Mounting Hardware
You can’t install a solar system without cables and mounting hardware, but some solar panel kits may come without them.
When selecting, ensure that the solar panel kit has cables and mounting hardware.
Ensure you know what you require and choose a kit that matches your needs.
Some suppliers provide you with all-in-one solutions, while others only feature some components and require that you buy the rest separately.
Ensure each part is of similar quality or from the same brand to ensure they’re compatible and match the solar panels and batteries.
Advantages of Solar Panel Kits
The initial costs of solar panels, plus labour and installation, can be expensive.
You can save money on labour and installation and enjoy a lower overall price if you use solar panel kits to set up the system.
Easy To Upgrade
Solar panel kits allow you to add more panels in future depending on your energy needs and increase your power generating capacity.
If you’ve ever done any DIY project and are comfortable with power tools, you can easily install a solar system using solar panel kits without help from a professional.
Simply follow the instructions, which will take you through the process.
Limitations of Solar Panel Kits
Here are some of the major limitations of solar panel kits you should be aware of:
Risk of Damage or Improper Installation
Installers usually need extensive training and registration to be qualified and meet safety and quality standards.
Without such training, installing solar panel kits can be dangerous as you’ll be working on the roof, lifting heavy panels and handling electrical wiring equipment.
No Warranty (Or Limited)
Most solar panels come with industry-leading 25-year warranties, but registered solar installers must install them.
You’ll likely not get such a lengthy warranty with solar panel kits. Some parts may come with a warranty for a year or two, and you may need to get your panels repaired at your cost if they stop working.
How Much Do Solar Panel Kits Cost?
Solar panel kits can cost anywhere from £200 to thousands of pounds.
Most kits don’t exceed £10,000 and are considered a good investment that can pay itself over through savings on electricity bills.
Most people choose solar panel kits due to their cost-saving potential and ease of installation and use.
Remember, it’s a long-term investment that will bring you savings in the long run.
Considerations When Buying Solar Panel Kits UK
What Is The Solar Panel Kit For?
You can use solar panels in several places, so the first step is deciding what you plan to use the solar panel kit for.
Do you want a small or large system to power your home, shed, campervan, cabin, or other off-road locations?
The location will also influence the type of solar panel you need.
Do you need something portable like a briefcase, or do you want flexible panels that can fit the curves of your caravan?
The Size of Panels You Need
You must determine your electricity use to choose a suitable panel kit that best fits your needs cost-effectively.
A reliable way to determine this is to consider the power use of all electrical devices you use in your home or other location.
Think of it in terms of watts and how much power you need.
Most solar panel kits in the UK have power ratings that detail how much power the panel provides in standard conditions.
Recommended Solar Panel Kits in the UK
1. Renogy 100W – Long-lasting with excellent performance
2. Topsolar Kit 100W – Affordable quality option suitable for RVs, boats or cabins
3. DOKIO 110w 18v Portable Foldable Solar Panel Kit – Very lightweight and suitable for off-grid and travel options
Solar Panel Kits FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding solar panel kits in the UK:
What is included in a solar panel kit?
Solar panel kits includes solar panels, panel mounts, a charge controller to convert DC current into usable AC current, wiring and cables to connect everything together and batteries to store the electricity they generate.
Do you need to connect to the grid to use a solar panel kit?
No you do not need to connect your solar panel kit to the national grid, however, if you want to do this, it’s certainly an option.
Do I need planning permission for a solar panel kit in the UK?
In most cases planning permission is not required as it falls under “permitted development”.
However, there are exceptions, including listed buildings, properties in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas and newer properties with restrictive covenants.
Solar Panel Kit Final Thoughts
Solar panel kits provide a cost-effective option for an eco-friendly energy system in your home or anywhere else.
You can install it on your own even without expert skills and benefit from a clean and independent power source.