Sunshine Hours Map UK (Solar Radiation Map)

Last updated: April 19, 2024

Are you considering installing solar panels and wondering what the sunshine hours are in your area? It’s important as it impacts how much power your panels will generate annually.

Solar panels need sunlight to hit them to generate power i.e. electricity for your home, so knowing how much sunshine hours your area receives is an important consideration.

Knowing the annual sunlight in your area not only enables you to figure out how much electricity your panels will generate.

But it’s also important to know so that you can determine the “break-even point” i.e. the point at which you will have paid back your initial investment on having your solar panels installed.

Sunshine Hours Map UK Key Points:

  • UK sunshine hours vary regionally, with the South and East receiving the most and Scotland and Northern Ireland receiving the least.
  • Solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, so areas with more sunshine produce more energy.
  • The Energy Saving Trust provides a map of average annual sunshine hours across the UK.
  • Other factors affecting solar panel performance include shading, orientation, and temperature.
  • Have a professional solar installer assess your property’s suitability for solar energy and advise you on the best options for your needs.

Are solar panels worth it in every part of the UK?

Yes, they are and all panels will generate electricity, no matter where they are located.

What will vary is the amount of annual sunlight hours they receive and therefore, the amount of electricity your panels will generate throughout the year.

For instance, a solar PV system installed in the South West of England will generate up to 30% more electricity than one installed in the Shetland Islands of Scotland.

But this doesn’t mean they still aren’t worth installing if you live in a region with less annual sunlight hours as they can still make a huge impact and dent in your energy bills.

However, it does make sense to see it from the perspective of different regions of the UK having different break-even points i.e. the point at which your solar panels will have paid for themselves OR the initial installation.

The table below shows you the average break even points for different regions of the UK and the logic/calculations to come to these conclusions are shown below:

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UK RegionYears to break even
East Anglia9.3
South East England9.3
South England9.3
South Wales9.0
South West England9.0
East England10.7
North East England10.7
North West England10.5
North Wales10.5
East Scotland11.2
West Scotland11.2
Northern Ireland11.2
North Scotland12.4

Sunshine Hours Map UK

The map below shows the incident solar radiation in the UK over the course of one year, as you can see the annual average varies across the country.

Are Solar Panels worth it in your region of the UK?

So the question remains, is it worth investing in solar panels where you live?

As mentioned above, yes it is, but what will differ is your break-even point (the point at which your solar panels will have paid back the initial installation costs) which in the UK averages around 10 years.

How did we calculate the solar panel break-even point?

In order to determine the average break-even point for installing a solar PV array in the UK, we considered the following:

The average household with a 4.2 kW solar system could save as much as £514 a year on its energy bills (based on the new October 2022 energy price cap).

If you also use a solar battery, you could save even more, in fact, without one around 50% is returned back to the National Grid.

So by using a solar battery you could save an extra £230 on average or sell the energy back to the grid using the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

The SEG allows you to sell the energy you generate back to the grid and depending on the supplier you choose you could sell it at 7.5p for every kilowatt hour (kWh).

Therefore, to conclude you could save as much as £744 a year for the average sized home (that’s the £514 from the energy generation itself and £230 in SEG revenues you’ll generate for the year).

Home Energy Scotland 0% Interest-Free Loan

Home Energy Scotland Loan is an interest-free loan designed to help finance various energy efficiency initiatives and renewable systems like solar panels and solar batteries.

You can get a loan of up to £6,000 for a solar PV system, and £5,000 for a solar battery storage system.

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The repayment period is between 5-10 years, depending on the installation. For specific eligibility criteria, you can visit the Home Energy Scotland website.

Other than that, there are no direct grant or loan offers in the UK but there are ways to save money with schemes like Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and VAT reduction.

Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

As previously mentioned, you can use the Smart Export Guarantee scheme that allows you to earn money for exporting stored electricity you don’t use to the national grid.

Export tariffs depend on the supplier tariff and the area of the country you reside, but the best tariffs can be as high as 15p per kWh, so make sure you shop around.

For reference, this means a typical household based roughly in the middle of the country could make between £80 and £110/year (based on a rate of 3.99p per kWh).

VAT Reduction Scheme

The other scheme which is value-added tax (VAT) reduction means that the VAT on certain energy-saving materials has been reduced to 0%.

Those eligible for this offer only need to pay 5% VAT on products like solar batteries and solar panels as opposed to the regular 20% VAT.

The scheme is in operation from April 2022 to 2027 which means that vulnerable households will pay less to make upgrades that meet the requirements of the scheme.

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The lifespan is an important factor contributing to the cost of solar battery storage.

A longer lifespan means fewer replacements while a shorter lifespan can add up to future costs.

For example, a lifespan for a solar panel is typically around 25 years which means a battery having a life span of 10 years will need to be replaced once during the lifespan of the solar system.

Meanwhile, a battery with a lifespan of 5 years must be replaced multiple times which adds to the overall cost of the battery during its lifespan.

The average lifespan for lead-acid batteries is 5 to 7.5 years while the average lifespan for lithium-ion batteries is around 11-15 years.

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.

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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.

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.