The average solar panel installation is a 3 kWp system costing approximately £10,000 (incl. VAT). This same system can generate over 75% of a typical household’s electricity, all while saving over a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
What are the installation costs of solar panels?
Installation costs of solar panels will of course depend on the size of your system. Solar panels cost proportionally less if you buy a larger system, since economies of scale come into play. A 3kWp system will set you back around £9-10,000 (including VAT at the reduced rate of 5%). However, the government has predicted that the cost of solar PV panels will be dropping so make sure you shop around and get a range of quotes from different solar panel installers and companies. Even if the cost of the panels themselves is being reduced, some installers may be keeping their prices artificially inflated in order to make the most of the extra profit.
How much could I save by converting to solar power?
Even though each year a typical solar panel installation will generate over 75% of your homes electricity usage, you won’t save as much as you think on your electricity bill. This is because the electricity cannot be stored and so, has to be used when it is generated. Since your panels will be generating all of their electricity during the day time when the sun is shining, you will still have to pay for the electricity that you use at other times of the day. However, there are ways to make the most of your solar electricity. The amount that you will save on your electricity bill is typically £90-£180 per year. Don’t let this put you off though, because any surplus electricity can be used by other homeowners, earning you a tax free income in the process.
How much could I earn from Feed in Tariff Payments?
If you are eligible for the Feed in Tariff scheme and your solar panels were installed after March 3rd, 2012, your feed in tariff rate will be 21p/kWh. A typical 3kWp system would earn you approximately £600 per year completely tax free. Installed before March 3rd, the same system would earn you around £1000 annually, at a rate of 43.3p/kWh. This is a large difference and should be taken into account when considering solar panels. Also consider though, that the prices of solar panels have dropped in recent months resulting in a lower initial outlay. Your solar panels must be installed by an MCS accredited installer so ensure that your installer is MCS certified by checking the MCS website.
Are there any maintenance costs?
There are very little in the way of maintenance costs associated with solar PV panels. Most importantly, you need to make sure your panels stay relatively clean and that any nearby trees don’t grow excessively so that they overshadow the panels and block out the sun at any time throughout the day. The panels should last at least 25 years, but in this time you may need to replace the inverter, costing around £1000.
How would I be helping the environment?
One of the greatest benefits of installing solar panels on your home is the positive impact they will have on the environment. Not only will you be generating a portion of your electricity in an environmentally friendly way, but thanks to the Feed in Tariff scheme, you can supply other homes with green electricity too, should you not use it all. Currently, most of our electricity is generated by the burning of fossil fuels or through nuclear power. Both are damaging to the environment, but of particular concern is the quantity of carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere and it’s ties to global warming. One 3kWp system can save over 1 tonne of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
Energy Saving Grants
There are many grants available to people willing to make their home more energy efficient. Check out the Energy Saving Trust’s Grant Search to see if you are eligible for any of the grants.