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How much do solar panels cost in the UK?

Solar panels seem like expensive options, but can offer great long-term savings on your energy bills.

5 min read

With increasing demand for green energy in UK households, solar panels have become a great option for producing renewable energy. But despite the many advantages of solar panels, many people still consider them to be unaffordable.

In this article, we will tell you all about solar panels and their cost. We will break this cost down into its different components and talk about their return on investment, so you know what to expect if you want to install solar panels on your roof.

How much do solar panels cost per kW system?

There is no fixed cost for solar panels, as the price can vary depending on the size and type of the installed system. A determining factor in the final price is the amount of energy produced per hour, which is calculated in kilowatt hour (kWh).

3kWh

One of the smaller domestic options, this type of solar panel costs £5,000 - £6,000 including installation.

4kWh

This is a very common domestic size, with installation costing £6,000 - £8,000.

5kWh

Installation for this panel costs £8,000 - £9,000.

6kWh

The larger domestic panel, with an installation cost ranging between £9,000 and £11,000.

As you can see, the prices for each system installation are only estimates, as they can vary greatly from system to system. Let’s take a closer look at what affects the installation costs of solar panels.

Factors affecting solar panel costs in the UK

Solar panels
There is no fixed rate for installing a solar panel, as the conditions for installation always vary, with multiple factors coming into play. The following factors will determine the cost to get solar panels installed in the UK.

System size

The largest determining factor is the size of the solar panel itself. In essence, if the solar panel is larger, then the installation will be more costly. The preferred size of the solar panel will vary from household to household, depending on the size of the roof and the energy consumption of each household.

Type of panels

There are three different panel types that you can install on your roof. The first are monocrystalline panels, that are the most efficient but also the most expensive. Monocrystalline panels come in at £1 - £1.50 per watt.

More affordable options are polycrystalline panels, less efficient yet coming in at £0.90 - £1 per watt.

Thin-film panels are a much less common option for domestic purposes, as they require much more space than the average UK roof has to offer. They are also less efficient than the crystalline options. Their appeal, however, comes from their very low cost, as they are very easy to mass produce.

Installation process

When it comes to installing your panel, you can undertake the installation process yourself or you can call in a trained professional. It will be cheaper to install the panel yourself, but you will still need a hired professional to get an MCS certification on your panel. To know more about how to install a solar panel, read our dedicated article.

Additional components in the system

You have the option to install a solar battery with your solar panel, which gives you the ability to stock electricity. This is a great option if you’d still like to use your electricity after it gets dark!

The addition of a solar battery will increase initial installation, with the cheapest battery coming in at £3,400 and the more expensive one for domestic use costing around £5,900.

Read more about the specifics of a solar battery here.

There is also the option to pigeon proof your panel, so that those pesky birds won’t interfere with your electricity production! The cost of pigeon-proofing depends on the accessibility and size of your solar panel. For a standard 3-4 kW system, estimated costs are £500 - £700.

Location and labour

When determining the final solar panel price, the cost of labour is a determining factor. With average UK labour costs, the panel installation will come to £300 - £500 per person per day. Most installation jobs for domestic purposes take one day to complete.

Of course, the cost of labour will depend on your location in the UK. Make sure you are aware of the relevant costs in your region.

How much does solar panel maintenance cost?

One of the major benefits of solar panels is that their maintenance costs are extremely low. They need to be cleaned once a year, so as to maximise efficiency. You can clean the panel yourself if you want to, for a very low cost - roughly £5 - £15 per panel.

Solar batteries will increase your maintenance costs, as their lifespan is twice as short as the panel itself. One panel will last you 25 to 30 years, whereas the battery itself needs to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

How much can you save with solar panels in the UK?

All these costs you have just read about may seem daunting, but considerable reductions in energy bills compared to traditional energy sources mean that you will see returns on your investment.

You will see the most savings if you spend more time at home during the day, when solar energy production is at its highest.

As a first example, let’s take the most common solar panel size: 4kWh. Installation costs are £6,000 - £8,000 and estimated yearly savings on energy bills are between £210 and £514, depending on the size and efficiency of your system.

With these savings, after 25 years you will have £5,250 to £12,850 in savings on energy bills -- potentially enough to pay back the solar panel.

With the larger 6kWh panel, your installation costs are £9,000 - £11,000 and yearly savings are £430. This means that after 25 years, you’ll have saved an estimated £14,533!

So, the larger the solar panel, the higher the installation costs but also the higher the savings. Larger solar panels are thus a more profitable investment in the long-term. Furthermore, if you decide to add a solar battery to your system, your energy bill savings will increase.

How much can you get paid by the supplier under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?

Another way to save money through your solar panel is to use a grant such as the Smart Export Guarantee. With this grant, you can export your excess produced energy to the national power grid for money. The rates differ, yet a good average price comes around 4-6p/kWh.

Once again, the bigger your solar panel, the more money you will make. On average a 3kW panel can gain around £75 each year, whereas a 5kW panel can average £120 per year.

This grant, then, will help pay for the cost of a solar panel.

To sum it up

The initial installation costs for solar panels can be rather off-putting. The long-term savings on energy bills, however, should more than make up for the initial costs. Solar power is, then, a clean and affordable energy option for UK households.

For a more comprehensive look at your options, contact us here.

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FAQs

How much are solar panels?

Solar panel costs vary depending on their size and installation costs.

Are solar panels affordable?

Although they seem very expensive, solar panels pay for themselves in the long-term through yearly savings on energy bills.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?

The SEG is the ability to sell surplus electricity produced by your solar panel back to the national power grid.

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